Hard to believe we’re already at the halfway mark of the ten day long Toronto International Film Festival. The weekend held the biggest premieres, however more will continue during the week, so the fun’s not over yet.
This evening over at Roy Thompson Hall, Hyde Park On Hudson premiered. Starring Bill Murray as American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Laura Linney as his mistress, and fifth cousin, Daisy, the film follows the Roosevelt household when King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Coleman, who I can say, having seen the film yesterday, is absolutely brilliant!) come to visit. On hand on the red carpet tonight were Olivia Williams (who plays FDR’s wife Eleanor), Laura Linney, and Bill Murray, who looked like he was having fun, posing with a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man a fan passed to him.
While this was going on, Terrence Malick‘s newest film To The Wonder was having its debut at the Princes of Wales theatre, just down King street. However, both director and star Ben Affleck were missing from the premiere. Not a big surprise on Malick’s part, who is known as one of the most elusive directors in the business. Affleck, who was seen having dinner with Matt Damon on Friday when he flew up to support his friend’s film, must have gone on to bigger and brighter things over the weekend. However, the film’s other stars Toronto native Rachel McAdams and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko were there to support the project.
Today, I was thankful to be present for the premiere of Arthur Newman, which stars one of my favourite actors, Colin Firth. Canadian director Deepa Mehta was also in the crowd today to enjoy the film after debuting Midnight’s Children last evening, as was the film’s writer, Becky Johnston, who has also been responsible for Seven Years in Tibet and The Prince of Tides. There to promote the film were the aforementioned Firth, as well as his co-star Emily Blunt and the young Sterling Beaumon who plays Firth’s son in the movie. This was the first film by director Dante Ariola, who was admittedly nervous to show it for the first time.
After the screening, which was well received, the cast returned to the stage for a Q&A where Ariola relayed to the crowd what he learned making his very first feature film. “You respond to something in the script that has to strike a pretty deep chord with you if you’re going to follow the making of it,” he explained, “When you start making the film and start working with the actors, for me it was just fun to just allow space to let them find the characters.” However, he learned also to adjust to change as a director, saying, “Have a plan in you head and feel free to deviate from it.”
The crowd had a bit of fun with Firth today, singing Happy Birthday to him before leaving the theatre. A seemingly embarrassed Firth thanked the crowd saying, “It wouldn’t be my birthday if I weren’t in Toronto.” He joked, “I always seem to age here.”
A gallery of photos from The Arthur Newman debut are below.