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Friday, September 9, 2005 | return to: arts


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Jewish fare at Toronto film fest

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toronto (jps) | Just as the Canadian summer is winding down, Toronto is heating up with film festival frenzy.

The 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, one of the biggest in the world (and a reported favorite of filmmakers and movie stars), has just announced its final lineup. Starting this week, the festival is the place to find celebrities like Keanu Reeves, who grew up in Toronto, and Isabella Rosselini, filmmakers like Neil Jordan and journalists and fans from all over the world, who descend on Toronto (or "Hollywood North," as it's otherwise known) to feast on nothing but all things film — including glamorous parties thrown by the likes of Vanity Fair and InStyle magazines — for 10 days straight.

A number of films showing at the festival hold special allure for a Jewish audience. Israeli director Amos Gitai's "Free Zone" stars Natalie Portman as an American living in Jerusalem, whose engagement has been broken and who goes along with an Israeli taxi driver (played by Hanna Laszlo, who won Best Actress award for this role at the Cannes Film Festival) to the Free Zone in Jordan to pick up some money, which, according to a Palestinian woman whom they meet and befriend, isn't there.

Actor Liev Schreiber wrote and directed "Everything Is Illuminated" (based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer). The film stars Elijah Wood as a young Jewish American searching for the woman who saved his grandfather in a Ukrainian town that was demolished by the Germans.

Director Radu Mihaileanu's "Va, Vis Et Deviens" takes place in 1984, where a Christian Ethiopian 9-year-old boy, urged by his mother, masquerades as a Jewish orphan and moves in with a French family living in Tel Aviv.

Set in 16th-century Spain, director Pasquale Simeca's "The Passion of Joshua, The Hebrew" tells the tale of Joshua, who becomes involved in the Passion Play during the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims. In Laios Koltai's "Fateless" (based on the novel by Imre Kertesz) a Hungarian Jewish boy lives through Nazi concentration camps and tries to reconcile those experiences with his experiences afterwards.

The festival will show 335 films (256 features and 79 shorts) from 52 countries. Of the features, 215 will be premieres.


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