The 39th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) kicked off today, with a new slate of high-profile films making their world premieres at the festival, including a few that we’ve been tracking on this blog, like the Kevin Costner/Octavia Spencer drama “Black And White.”
Anthony Mackie co-stars in the film, which is written and directed by actor Mike Binder, with Costner co-producing alongside Binder and Todd Lewis.
The drama centers on Elliot Anderson (Costner) an attorney widowed after his wife dies in a car crash, and who also is raising his bi-racial granddaughter Eloise, since his daughter died in childbirth. As he struggles with his grief, Elliot’s world is turned upside-down when the child’s African American grandmother Rowena (played by Octavia Spencer) demands that Eloise be brought under the care of her African American father Reggie, a drug addict who Elliot blames for the negligence that led to the death of his own daughter. Elliot finds himself deeply entrenched in a custody battle and will stop at nothing to keep his granddaughter from coming under the watch of his reckless son-in-law.
Earlier this year, while he was doing press for his last film, “Draft Day,” we talked to Costner briefly about the film. A few related quotes follow:
“My whole life has been instinctual… I have instinctually thought I could do things in my life, and I followed that up by sometimes putting everything I have at risk – my money, my house – to make a movie. I just did it again with Black and White.”
He added that the film was “a rock that I had to push uphill just to make it”:
“Nobody wanted to make it. It’s my hope that you all see it. It’s my hope that it becomes as important as Field of Dreams or Dances [With Wolves]. I think it will be, because it’s about people. It’s funny, it’s poignant, it’s sad, and in the end it gives you hope.”
On the reactions he’s gotten from others who learn he’s made a movie about race:
“I realize that I’m not in battle. I’m not in combat. ‘Ooh, that’s very brave thing to do.’ Well, I’m not in Vietnam. I’m not in Iraq. And if I want to make a little movie about racism, I should do it. Maybe the studio should too.”
On how his projects will be received, Costner says he isn’t worried:
“I’ve never been afraid of things not working. I think it’s an underrated experience in life. I’ve had some wild, wild successes. I try to clean up the oceans, and I try to do things. I’m not afraid to be on the floor.
“I have a strong belief that what I’m doing, other people will believe in it too if I can get it just right. Not that people don’t let me down, not that I haven’t let other people down, but I have a tremendous belief in people and in the common experience.”
A first trailer for “Black and White” has surfaced and is embedded below: