Many of the films will be world premieres, including Jonathan Demme's Man From Plains, a documentary about Carter's peace agenda in the years since he was U.S. president. Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter will be present at the screening. The Carters are also the fully engaged subjects of Everything to Gain: A Conversation with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, which will be moderated by TVO's Allan Gregg. But the world premiers do not interest me as much as those movies adapted for the screen from bestselling novels. There are plenty here this time, but the ones that caught my fancy are as follows:
(the pictures and write-ups are courtesy of the TIFF website)
1.The Brick Lane
Country: United Kingdom
It was one of the most celebrated British novels in years, and it opened a window on a community that lives in plain sight but is seldom understood by outsiders. Now Monica Ali’s Brick Lane has been brought to the big screen in an adaptation as insightful and moving as the story was on the page.
In the film’s breathtaking opening scenes, Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee) recalls her childhood in Bangladesh. Her village had an idyllic beauty, but its oppressive social landscape sent her mother to seek her own death. Nazneen is married off to a man she has never met and flown to London’s Brick Lane neighborhood to meet her new husband...
Country: Canada/Greece Year: 2007
Lyrical and complex, Fugitive Pieces builds into a breathtaking mosaic as fragments of the past and present reveal the inner depths of a writer who cannot let go of the ghosts that haunt him. Acclaimed director Jeremy Podeswa powerfully fulfills the poetic intelligence of Anne Michaels’s beloved novel. He brings lush visuals and a sensual approach to Michaels’s beautifully vivid imagery, which earned her the prestigious Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction in 1997. Rarely have a filmmaker and a novelist been so perfectly matched as in this landmark collaboration between two formidable Canadian talents – or rather, three. Fugitive Pieces also bears the distinction of being the tenth film by acclaimed Canadian producer Robert Lantos to open the Festival.
3.The Jane Austen Book Club Robin Swicord
Book clubs are everywhere these days, captivating readers with the imagined lives and loves of ages past. Little wonder, then, that Jane Austen so completely entrances a modern group of friends in the sparklingly witty The Jane Austen Book Club. In the almost two hundred years since her death, Austen has become more popular than she was during her lifetime. Her indelible characters – such as Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse – stand among the most memorable women in English literature. Austen perfected the romantic comedy and continues to be beloved by readers of all ages and nationalities.
So when director Robin Swicord transports Austen’s enduring stories to the sprawling, congested urban setting of Sacramento, California, the leap in time and place seems perfectly apt. Based on the best-selling novel by Karen Joy Fowler, this joyous film portrays six present-day friends who converge at an “all Jane Austen all the time” book club to devour Austen’s six novels.
4.The World Unseen:Shamim Sarif
Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is the much-anticipated animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed series of autobiographical graphic novels. Satrapi’s darkly humorous take on her experiences as a spirited young Muslim woman coming of age in Tehran – during the rule of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution and the gruelling Iran-Iraq War – makes for a bracingly original story.
Country: United KingdomYear: 2007
Adaptations of favored novels are never an easy task. However, Ian McEwan’s bestselling and critically praised Atonement has been brought to the screen by the duo of director Joe Wright (whose Pride and Prejudice was a Gala presentation in 2005) and playwright Christopher Hampton (best known for Les Liaisons dangereuses) with great success. Fully mining the emotional terrain of the novel, the film also effectively visualizes both pre-and post-war British society, as well as the harrowing events of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation, a key element of the book. Hampton has also managed to find a structure in which to contain McEwan’s extraordinary story of a young girl’s indiscretion, which rips apart many lives and ultimately scars her own.
7.No Country for Old Men:
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
A masterful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s best-selling novel, No Country for Old Men is the Coen Brothers’ finest film since Fargo. McCarthy’s elegiac prose might seem an odd match for the Coens’ smart-ass slickness, but the filmmakers rise to the challenge, turning this tale of a seething psycho killer (Javier Bardem, sporting a comical pageboy do), a world-weary sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) and a drug deal gone bad into thrilling, perfectly calibrated cinema.