Torotong film fest announces latest acquisitions

LOS ANGELES - So much for the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival being a slow one for sales. After almost a week of slugging activity on the acquisition front, a slew of announcements came out Wednesday.

By (Retuers)

Published: Thu 15 Sep 2011, 10:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:56 AM

In the last one of the day, Cohen MediaGroup bought U.S. rights to Luc Besson’s “The Lady,” with its awards-potential performances from Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis.

Prior to that, IFC added Lynne Shelton’s “Your Sister’s Sister” and Abel Ferrara’s “4:44 Last Day on Earth” to a TIFF slate that already included “The Incident.”

Earlier in the day, Oscilloscope acquired North American distribution for Andrea Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights,” while Palisades Tartan acquired the rights to Jafar Panahi’s and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb’s “This Is Not a Film,” which was covertly filmed after Panahi was arrested and barred from making films by the Iranian government.

MPI Media Group picked up “Yelling to the Sky,” with Gabourey Sidibe and Zoe Kravitz. When it comes to public screenings, most of the highest-profile films have already debuted. Wednesday saw the first public TIFF screenings of the Duplass brothers’ “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” which has been well-received, as well as Joel Schumacher’s “Trespass,” Julia Leigh’s “Sleeping Beauty” and Canadian director Ken Scott’s “Starbuck.”

In some ways, Steve McQueen’s sexually explicit “Shame” continues to be the talk of the festival, prompting a spirited Twitter exchange on Wednesday between pundits David Poland, Kris Tapley, Scott Feinberg, Brad Brevet and Garth Franklin over whether the film implies that the brother and sister played by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan ever had sex.

Another “Shame” note: Anthony Kaufman reported that a female patron sitting in front of him passed out during a graphic scene (but not a sexual one) late in the movie.

“I can’t imagine Fox Searchlight, the company that announced its acquisition of the film over the weekend, were aware that the film could make viewers pass out,” wrote Kaufman at indieWIRE. “Let’s hope it doesn’t stop them from mounting a vigorous release of this stunning film.”

Searchlight executives probably had a flashback at the “Shame” screening, since they experienced so many faintings with “127 Hours” last year that the sideshow threatened to take away attention from the quality of the film. But they should be safer this time around; “Shame” seems likely to prompt lots of controversy, but not many fainters.

According to indieWIRE’s criticWIRE feature, incidentally, “Shame” has received the most positive reviews of any film in Toronto. The site tallies letter grades from dozens of critics and will publish a full rundown of TIFF grades at the end of the festival - but now that the festival is in the homestretch, they’ve published a preview of which films are doing best, and Peter Knegt says that “Shame” is at the top of the list.

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