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September 13, 2001 2:00 AM
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TORONTO 2001: Festival Abandons Festivities; Biz Quietly Returns

TORONTO 2001: Festival Abandons Festivities; Biz Quietly Returns



by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE


>> Celebrations Canceled as Toronto Film Screenings Resume



(indieWIRE/09.13.01) -- "A festival is a gathering of people who are here
for the same thing," Jeanne Moreau told a group of reporters assembled at
a press conference here in Toronto yesterday, adding, "We are gathered here
because we have the same obsession."


The legendary actress made the remarks prior to discussing the Festival
screening of "Cet amour-la." It was the first film press conference after a
day hiatus in the wake of the tragic attacks in the United States. She
opened by saying that it is "hard to find words" to react to the news.


While organizers did their best to offer attendees screenings throughout
the day, the event has clearly been hit hard. Some showings had very small
crowds and other films may not screen at all, either due to problems in
securing prints, or because filmmakers are unsure about whether or not to
show their films.


"A pall has been cast over the Festival," Toronto International Film
Festival
Director Piers Handling said yesterday, during a press briefing.
"A Festival is about celebration; at this point, I don't feel it is appropriate for that [celebrating] to continue."


As a result, Handling and Managing Director Michele Maheaux announced
that a number of the more "festive" aspects of this year's event have
now been canceled. Gone are the red carpet press lines at nightly gala
screenings, while the closing night party and the awards brunch have also
been canceled. Gala screenings are continuing, and the festival will instead
conclude with a closing press conference.


"All of us are completely devasted by what happened yesterday," Piers Handling
said yesterday, during the press briefing.


In terms of canceled and re-scheduled screenings, an additional day of
showings has been added on Sunday and a number of changes have been announced.
The best way to access updates is via the Internet on official Festival sites
(www.bell.ca/filmfest and www.rogersic.com).


It certainly was not business as usual in the Rogers Industry Centre at the
Park Hyatt Hotel. While some attendees returned to screenings, sellers were
concerned about small attendance and the mood in which people were watching
their films. One producer openly discussed considering pulling his movie
from the Fest out of concern for how it might be received, while another
producer, waiting for a print to arrive, was considering pulling the movie,
which would have to be re-scheduled, for fear that buyers would be leaving
town.


Travel schedules were on the minds of many here throughout the day as
attendees monitored TV coverage and websites for updates on air travel.
Others secured train tickets or reserved cars for trips back to New
York City tomorrow or this weekend.


"Yesterday, I was just glad to be safe here," one New Yorker told
indieWIRE. "Now, I just want to go home." [Eugene Hernandez]


>> Dealmaking Resumes at Fest


(indieWIRE/09.13.01) -- As the Festival slowly got back in gear
yesterday, Lions Gate announced its acquisition of Nicole Holofcener's
"Lovely & Amazing." The film debuted in Telluride and its Tuesday
screening here was among those that were canceled.


Biz buzz indicated that Miramax is active, getting Walter Salles' "Behind
The Sun
" and pursuing Gregor Jordan's "Buffalo Soldiers." ScreenDaily had Sony Pictures Classics eyeing Jill Sprecher's "13 Conversations About One Thing."


Attendees here yesterday were barely focusing on biz matters, though,
buzzing more about the day's news developments than chattering about
film deals. [Eugene Hernandez]

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