Oscar Buzz from TIFF

The Toronto Film Festival begins September 4. Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly looks at four films screening at the festival that could be early Oscar contenders. Here are the trailers for the four films discussed.

Rachel Getting Married – starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie Dewitt, and Debra Winger (!); directed by Jonanthan Demme

The Duchess – starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes; dir. Saul Dibb

Appaloosa – starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen; directed by Ed Harris

Flash of Genius – starring Greg Kinnear and Lauren Graham; dir. Marc Abraham

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Death of a President Premieres at Toronto

Death of a President premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday September 10.

Death of a President is a fictional docudrama set years after the assassination of President George W. Bush, that investigates the still unsolved mystery.

I realize that the following two articles will anger some readers. Please read both articles in their entirety (the second specifically explains more about the film) before you comment.

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Bush Assassination Film Applauded at Festival [SOURCE]
By WENN Monday, September 11, 2006

HOLLYWOOD – A controversial British drama about the fictional assassination of President George W. Bush has been applauded following its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in Canada.

Death of a President, which shows Bush shot dead in Chicago in 2007, was recently slammed as “irresponsible” and “horrible” by American politicians.

However, director Gabriel Range claims critics are judging the film unfairly as they have yet to see it.

He says, “I think the film makes it clear it would really be a horrific event. I really don’t think that anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film.” He adds, “It is using the lens of the future to look at the present. It is about issues that have affected us all in the last five years. It is a film about America today.”

The central conceit of the film was that it is a drama, but told in the style of what we hope is a fairly authentic, classic, retrospective documentary. Clearly, if we had told a retrospective documentary with a fictional president, it would have undermined and undercut that central idea.”

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Bush Assassination Film Set for U.S. Release [SOURCE]
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TORONTO – After you kill off President George W. Bush in a fictional film, what do you do? How about make a deal.

Gabriel Range, the British producer/director/creator of Death of a President, the fictional documentary that sight unseen became one of the most talked-about movies of the Toronto Film Festival, has sold U.S. distribution rights to Newmarket Films, which handled Mel Gibson’s equally provocative movie The Passion of the Christ.

Newmarket, which reportedly paid $1 million for the film, is expected to give President a wide release within the next few months. It will air on Britain’s Channel 4 next month.

Range’s film opened on Sunday night to a sell-out festival crowd, which sat respectfully through it and applauded briefly at the end. Those who remained after the screening peppered the filmmaker with questions on how he achieved his special effects.

The film is shot as if it were a conventional television documentary, even though the events are fictional.

Range, who also co-wrote the film, uses footage taken of Bush during three visits to Chicago to create the scenes that lead up to the president being shot.

He also uses special digital effects to superimpose the head of the president on that of an actor pretending to be shot, and he creates a flowery eulogy delivered by President Dick Cheney at the funeral of his predecessor.

The movie opens with demonstrations against Bush as he visits Chicago in 2007. As he leaves a hotel after delivering a speech, he is shot by a sniper in a nearby building.

A police hunt leads to the arrest of a Palestinian man on flimsy evidence. Later the man is convicted of the assassination and kept in prison even as evidence points to another person as having committed the crime.

The reaction of the general public was very good,” Range said in an interview with Reuters about the opening night response.

People didn’t know what to expect. Our film has a very striking premise but it is not sensational or gratuitous. I hope people will see it as a balanced film and compelling drama. It is an oblique look at the ways the United States has changed since 9/11. We use the lens of the future to explain the past.”

The 93-minute film’s subject matter has led to protests in the United States, especially from conservatives. Range said he has received five or six death threats.

But he said that was because there was a rush to judgment about his film, without people knowing what was in it.

We portrayed the horror of assassination. … I don’t think anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film,” Range said.

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Death of a President seems provocative and intriguing so I will most likely scope it out.

But what do you think? Would you ever consider going to see a film about the fictional assassination of the current president? Does it bother you that a film like this can even be released in the United States? Feel free to discuss. Doesn’t matter what your opinion is.

By the way, Death of a President has already agitated Kevin Costner. He makes some valid points about the movie. Be sure to read what he has said.