Toronto film fest to screen Owen retrospective

Category: Beowulf & Grendel News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 2, 2005 | Publication: The Globe and Mail | Author: SCOTT DEVEAU
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When Don Owen's Nobody Waved Goodbye premiered in 1964, critics said it offered such a stifling picture of Toronto that even Torontonians were put off by the city.

Seems strange then that the Toronto International Film Festival would choose it as part of a retrospective to the film's director Owen at this year's festival.

The film was one of the first Canadian productions to criticize the WASPy culture of the city, the province and even the country at the time and that is why Owen's works are being featured this year at the festival, according to Steve Gravestock, associate director of Canadian special projects at the festival.

"There was no significant feature filmmaking in Canada before Nobody Waved Goodbye," Gravestock said.

The Owen's retrospective was announced as part of the Canadian program at the festival Tuesday, along with a group of films, that Gravestock said should be considered the highlights of the festival.

Two epic Canadian international co-productions will premiere this year, Thom Fitzgerald's Three Needles and Sturla Gunnarsson's Beowulf and Grendel.

Three Needles traces the AIDS pandemic across Africa, China, and Canada, and stars Lucy Liu, Chloë Sevigny, Olympia Dukakis, Stockard Channing and Sandra Oh.

Beowulf and Grendal is a "blood-soaked epic" about a group of Norse mercenaries who are dragged into a war without meaning, and smacks of the current situation in Iraq, Gravestock said. The film stars Sarah Polley, Gerard Butler, and Stellan Skarsgard.

Other Canadian highlights include cinema verité legend Allan King's documentary Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company, a hard look at people suffering from dementia at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto.

Gravestock said the film, "fleshes out experiences that we sometimes don't want to consider," and aims to debunk common myths about the condition.

Other documentaries making their premiere are Sam Dunn's Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, about the plight of the heavy metal culture, and Robin Neinstein's Souvenir of Canada, about the Canadian identity in the 21st century.

Gravestock said he is also proud of the strong Quebec films that will show at the festival, including Bernard Émond's La Neuvaine and Jean-Marc Vallée's C.R.A.Z.Y..

Louise Archambault's vibrant feature debut, Familia, will headline the Canada First! series which acts as a platform for new directors and those who have not shown on the festival circuit before.

The Owen's retrospective, aside from Nobody Waved Goodbye, will include screenings of 15 other features, shorts and documentaries by the director, including Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen, a documentary co-directed by Owen about a young Leonard Cohen coming to age in the mid-60s in Montreal.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 8 to 17.