TIFF Countdown ’09: British film picked to open festival

There’s no better way to kick off Toronto’s biggest party than with a room of shocked reporters. For the third time in the 34-year history of the Toronto International Film Festival, a non-Canadian film has been selected as the opening gala. Creation, a British biopic on Charles Darwin, will kick off TIFF on September 10 and will set the tone for the rest of the nine days. The film stars real-life couple Paul Bettany as Darwin and Jennifer Connelly as his religious wife.

Co-directors Cameron Bailey and Piers Handling made the announcement yesterday morning at a press conference at the Hyatt Regency. The first question on the media’s mind: Where’s the CanCon? Asked if Creation has any homegrown connections, Bailey said, “This is the film that sets the tone for the type of conversations we hope will happen around the film fest.” So the answer is no. Still, the film—described as “part ghost story, part psychological thriller and part heart-wrenching love story”—fits what Bailey says is the theme for this year: “The eternal conflict between faith and reason.” A separate press conference announcing the Canadian lineup is scheduled in the coming weeks; the full lineup will be out on August 20.

The directors were also asked about how TIFF is handling the recession. “We’ll see the effects next year more than this year. A lot of productions started before the downturn, so it’ll be very interesting to see what will be in store for 2010, particularly with the $20- to $30-million films,” says Handling, adding that the organization has been making internal cuts, like shortening work hours.


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