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TORONTO ’07 | Gael x 3; Gillespie x 2

TORONTO '07 | Gael x 3; Gillespie x 2

“I wanted to do it eventually and this came up,” Gael Garcia Bernal told indieWIRE about his first foray into directing, “Deficit,” which is having its North American debut here in Toronto. “You need to find a unified reason why the film needs to exist and find the frontier of what you want to tell.” Bernal, also in Toronto as the star of Hector Babenco‘s “The Past” and as executive producer of Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guzman‘s “Cochochi,” sat down alongside “Deficit” screenwriter Kyzza Terrazas to discuss their experience. “Gael had this anecdote about this rich kid that had a party at his country house with some of his friends,” said Terrazas. “His girlfriend was supposed to come, but he meets another girl that he likes. He starts giving his girlfriend wrong directions as to how to get to the house. That was the skeleton that Gael had in mind, and he invited me to collaborate in the screenplay. What I tried to do was bring that world life.”

Bernal himself portrays the rich kid, Cristobal, as part of an ensemble cast that includes Luz Cipriota as Argentine beauty Dolores, Cristobal’s temptress. Though the plot initially seems suspiciously simple, what evolves is an honest and sincere commentary on the social issues facing Latin America’s class system. “I think it’s a film that is unique in the sense that it tries to talk about a certain social class that is not usually portaryed in that way,” said Terrazas.

On the topic of his varied body of work, including the array of acclaimed international directors he has worked with (including Pedro Almodovar, Alfonso Cuaron and Walter Salles), Bernal seemed divided. “There were certain situations where I thought about the mentors, Alfonso Cauron specifically,” he said. “But that precise moment you have to murder your mentors in a way.” Even so, Bernal admits that they were “really helpful,” particularly during post-production. “They were really good at mentioning a couple of things and I’d go, ‘Oh shit, yes, I know I have to re-edit this.”

Next up, Bernal just finished shooting Fernando Meirelles‘s “Blindness” just outside of Toronto, and will soon be starting work on Lukas Moodysson‘s English language debut, “Mammoth.” [Peter Knegt]

Craig Gillespie on the Quirky, Sincere “Lars and the Real Girl”

Craig Gillespie, whose first film, the long-delayed “Mr. Woodcock,” arrives in theatres nationally this Friday, is also promoting his upcoming “Lars and the Real Girl” here in Toronto. With “Real Girl,” Gillespie worked from a script by screenwriter Nancy Oliver (who was also a writer on “Six Feet Under,” a series very well represented here at Toronto with Alan Ball’s film also premiering) to tell a small and quirky dramedy that tackles an extremely peculiar plot. Lars (played by an astounding Ryan Gosling) is an emotionally crippled young man living in the garage outside the house of his brother (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer) after his father dies. When he begins “dating” a sex doll, the entire town, at the advice of Lars’ therapist (Patricia Clarkson), goes along with his delusion, hoping it will help Lars grow out of it. Gillespie and Oliver handle the plot with subtle grace and humor, allowing “Lars and the Real Girl” to come across as both hysterical and incredibly believable.

“Lars and The Real Girl” Director Craig Gillepsie. Photo by Peter Knegt/indieWIRE.

After receiving the script, however, Gillespie was initially hesitant. Producer John Cameron told him: “It’s about a guy who falls in love with a sex doll.” “I almost said ‘no’ on the phone right there,” laughed Gillespie, but later changed his mind–although because of his busy schedule, the script fell by the wayside for months. Luckily, his wife read it and enthusiastically encouraged Gillespie to take a fresh look. “I read it and that’s the movie. We barely changed a thing. It’s so tight and well-thought out and all the characters are so well-rounded.”

Gillespie met with Nancy Oliver and they agreed to do it together. “Four years later,” he notes. “We finally got it set up.” Gosling signed on immediately after reading the script. “He’s the perfect first choice,” Gillespie said. “He brings a gravity to [the role] and an uncompromising seriousness you need to address [in] the material.”

Considering the film’s subject matter, Gillepsie knew he had to be careful in his approach. “We knew we just had to be honest and never go for the cheap joke,” he says. “It’s the sharpest vision I’ve ever had for a film. I knew the tone from the get-go and fortunately, I was involved with a group of people who had the same point of view. People will end up laughing as much as they feel comfortable with. We approach every scene as if there was a reality to it.” [Peter Knegt]

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