Latest on the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival

by W. Andrew Powell
TIFF 2003
TIFF 2003

Ready for 10 days of movies, parties, celebrities, events and as little sleep as you can survive on? Well, the Toronto International Film Festival Group announced their plans today for the Canadian film portion of the festival, naming Gary BurnsA Problem With Fear as the Opening Night film for Perspective Canada.

The world premiere of Deepa Mehta‘s The Republic of Love was also announced as a Gala Presentation, along with Allan King‘s Dying At Grace, a world premiere, joining the Masters lineup, and Guy Maddin‘s The Saddest Music In The World, which makes its world premiere as a Special Presentation.

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz was also announced as this year’s Canadian Open Vault film, and pioneer Nell Shipman was announced for the Canadian Retrospective.

A Problem With Fear, the latest film by Gary Burns (Waydowntown) is the Opening Night film for this year’s Perspective Canada. Burns’ fourth film in the Festival, A Problem With Fear tells the story of Laurie Harding who fears almost everything, making him the perfect consumer for Global Safety Inc.’s incredible new product: The Early Warning 2 Safe System. The problem is, fear is now running rampant through the city as people are dying from the very things Laurie fears most.

Deepa Mehta returns to the Festival with the Gala Presentation of The Republic of Love. Based on the late Carol Shields‘ tender and romantic tale, the film screens as a world premiere. Tom Avery is a charismatic late-night talk show host whose unconventional upbringing has made him a little too quick to fall in love and marry. Fay McLeod is the total opposite. When mutual acquaintances bring them together, both believe they’ve found ‘true love’. But a catastrophe in Fay’s family life shakes her faith in love, causing her to re-examine her relationship with Tom. Dying At Grace from veteran documentary filmmaker Allan King, is a world premiere in Masters. Taking an unflinching look at death, the film records the individual experiences of five patients, their families, and the staff in the palliative care unit of Toronto Grace Salvation Army Health Centre.

Guy Maddin‘s latest feature, The Saddest Music In The World, screens as a world premiere in Special Presentations. Winnipeg beer baroness Lady Port-Huntly announces a global competition to determine the ‘saddest’ music in the world during the Great Depression. Musicians flock to the wintry city to win the $25,000 prize. Meanwhile the estranged Kent family confronts the wretched secrets of their past while locked in competition.

This year’s selection for the Canadian Open Vault is Ted Kotcheff‘s 1974 internationally heralded, award-winning smash hit The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Based on the classic Mordecai Richler novel, the film is considered one of the most highly acclaimed Canadian films of all time. Canadian Retrospective honours director/writer/actor Nell Shipman. Programmed by Kay Armatage, Festival Programmer and author of the recently published “The Girl From God’s Country: Nell Shipman and the Silent Cinema”, the retrospective includes eight films, a collection of features and shorts.

This year’s Perspective Canada lineup includes 17 features, 13 of which are world premieres, and 38 shorts. Comprised of entries from across the country, the programme includes six feature debuts and 28 returning filmmakers. The themes for this year’s programme run from animated to experimental films; from comedies to stories of loss. Perspective Canada opens on Friday, September 5, with Gary Burns’ A Problem With Fear. (Perspective Canada is made possible through the generous sponsorship of CHUM Television.) The 28th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4-13, 2003 – find out more on the festival over at

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