Rob who? Kristen Stewart's out to wow
The Toronto Film Festival opened last night with the action movie Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but it was Kristen Stewart who attracted the biggest buzz on the red carpet at the star-studded event scattered with Oscar hopefuls.
Anticipation was high for one of the world's premier film festivals that, coming off the Venice Film Festival, helps mark the beginning of Hollywood's awards season. Filmmakers see it as crucial launching pad and Toronto has previously propelled movies like The King's Speech to success at the Oscars.
Ben Affleck, Selena Gomez, Halle Berry and Tom Hanks are among a line-up of top stars due to appear. But it was Kristen who wowed the crowd, signing autographs to streams of cheering fans in her first media appearance since that whole Robert Pattinson-Rupert Sanders affair.
Without directly referring to the scandal, Kristen told Reuters she was thankful "to know that everyone is here" and the support she described as "amazing" before she walked into the premiere of On The Road based on Jack Kerouac's seminal book of the post-war Beat Generation.
At a nearby theatre, Looper—a futuristic blockbuster featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, about an assassin haunted by his time-travelling future self—kicked off the 11-day festival that will screen more than 280 movies.
It was the first US-China co-production to open the festival, but isn't one of the movies being keenly watched by Oscar observers. It was chosen as the opening movie due to its perceived broad entertainment appeal in a slot once mostly reserved for Canadian productions or filmmakers.
Director Rian Johnson said that following China's input into the production, a Paris location was switched to Shanghai and that even a joke was later inserted into the script—when Joseph's character dreams of France he's warned by his future self of China's influence: "I'm from the future; you should go to China."
"VIOLENCE IS NOT JUST IN FILMS; IT EXISTS ANYWHERE"
Johnson and the movie's stars said they believed the movie had more emotional appeal than pure blockbuster entertainment value.
Asked about the violence in Looper—and the wider movie world coming off the Colorado movie house massacre where a gunman killed 12 people during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in July—Bruce defended violence in the movies as a part of their integral, emotional pull.
"Violence is one of the hard, bad things that exist in the world. It's not just in films; it exists anywhere," he told reporters. "And to pick one thing out and say 'Well, you shouldn't have violence in films or you shouldn't make violence a part of a film, would be like taking the emotion out of it."
The movie's themes also prompted question for the two stars about time travel and what they might change in the past. Joseph said he would like to see the future—"I consider myself an optimist"—while Bruce reflected: "I would remind myself every couple of minutes not to take myself seriously."
By the weekend, the festival will quickly turn toward some of the more anticipated movies already gaining Oscar buzz, including Ben Affleck's Argo, based on the story of how the CIA smuggled six Americans under the cover of a Hollywood production during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.
Also competing for critics and audience attention will be Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, and Cloud Atlas, an adaptation of the best-selling novel directed by Tom Tykwer and Matrix co-directors Andy and Lana Wachowski, and starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.
Summing up why Toronto has quickly risen from its launch in 1976 to become one of the world's most desirable movie destinations, Joseph noted its reputation for low-key serious moviegoers.
"This is a festival that is full of cinephiles," he said. "It doesn't have the air of glitz and glamour and I really like that about it. It's more about the films."
Published: 7th September 2012
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