Thursday, Aug 21, 2003
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By Gautaman Bhaskaran
The reasons for this are not far to seek. This year's crop of important movies is just not ready. They were not finished when Cannes's red carpet was unrolled in May, they are not cut and polished for Venice or Toronto.
Also, some of the producers do not want their films to be seen as ``festival fare''. Some others, though made by renowned directors, are not good enough.
With selection becoming a major headache, given the slim pickings in 2003, the chief of the Venice International Film Festival, Moritz de Hadeln, is reported to have said that ``it is becoming very difficult to choose and organise a programme at the last minute''.
It was thought that with the Oscar dates being advanced, Toronto would be a hot spot for companies trying to catch the eye of the selectors in Hollywood.
But there is no great banging on the Toronto door.
It now appears that many of the movies that missed the French Riviera will not be featured in either Venice or Toronto. ``Kill Birds'' which marks the return of Quentin Tarantino six years after ``Jackie Brown'' has developed a technical glitch. It is three hours long, and distributors think that the audience's attention span will not tolerate that.
So, they want to split it into two releases, and a lot of work needs to be done on the first part before it feels like one complete picture.
There are other works, which may not be screened at Venice. Wong Kar-Wai's ``2046'' would have been ready but for the SARS scare, which interrupted the shooting schedule in Shanghai. Peter Weir decided to get down to a more leisurely pace with his ``Master and Commander'', and his creation will not be seen at Venice. The Swedish master, Ingmar Bergman, said that he would not send his ``Saraband'' to Cannes. He has said that same thing for Venice and Toronto, and the auteur is said to be toying with the idea of premiering it at Berlin in February.
Other big names in the world of international cinema, such as Theo Angelopoulos (``The Weeping Field'') and Emir Kusturica (``Hungry Heart'') are yet to even shoot their climatic sequences.
However, there are a few others who have their films in cans, but are planning to skip the festival circuit.
The Coen Brothers' are not inclined to let their comedy, ``Intolerable Cruelty'', be viewed as arthouse stuff. Jane Campion's erotic thriller, ``In the Cut'', is reportedly mainstream fare, which may not go well with festival viewers. Well, Venice and Toronto will be poorer in a way without these great names.
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