TORONTO 2000: Female Filmmakers Take the Lead in Toronto

by Aaron Krach

(indieWIRE/9.11.00) --Mother Nature tried her best Saturday to seduce festival goers away from darkened theaters by sending temperatures into the high 70s -- oh, excuse me, this is Canada, into the high 20s centigrade. But even the sunny last days of summer cannot repress the cinephilia of Torontonians who line up faithfully for every screening, even when they don't know what they are waiting in line for. Overheard in line outside the Royal Ontario Museum: "Do you know what we're seeing?" The answer: "Nope." And without further ado they hurried inside. Maybe it's the balmy weather, or maybe it's Toronto; more likely it's just early in the festival, but regardless, everyone appears to be having a very good time. Even the publicists -- dressed in head to toe black (revealing their New York roots), badges dangling from their necks and cellphones glued to their ears -- are smiling.

Perhaps Mother Nature warmed the scene in solidarity with all the women directors who premiered new work during this opening weekend, from first time directors to experienced veterans. Kathryn Bigelow, the first of only two women granted Gala screenings this week, premiered "The Weight of Water," starring Sarah Polly, Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurley. The time-bending, crime drama about the murder of two women off the coast of New Hampshire in 1873 inspired discussions of gender; whether or not Bigelow's identity as a women influenced the film, or whether or not the audience's gender will dictate their reaction to the film -- both surprisingly retro discussions for such a sophisticated festival. The other female director given a Gala presentation is Marleen Gorris, ("Antonia's Line") whose Nabokov-inspired "Luzhin Defence," starring Emily Watson and John Turturro, premieres Monday. Unfortunately, Bigelow's effort -- her latest since "Strange Days" in 1995