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Saturday, September 11, 1999 Published at 19:39 GMT 20:39 UK


Feasting on festivals

Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall: Adding veteran class to Deauville

Summer may be the time for taking a break but in the movie world the agenda could hardly be more full.

From Venice to Deauville and then Toronto, film festivals are all the rage.

Each has its own flavour and highlights but all boast a bursting A-list of stars.

[ image: Bob Hoskins's new film Felicia's Journey opened the Toronto programme]
Bob Hoskins's new film Felicia's Journey opened the Toronto programme
The latest to set cameras clicking was British rough diamond, Bob Hoskins.

The diminutive star of Mona Lisa and the Long Good Friday was in Toronto as his new film Felicia's Journey opened the town's 24th annual event.

Directed by Atom Egoyan, it tells the story of a pregnant Irish girl who, searching for the baby's father, runs foul of Hoskins's fastidious, middle-aged catering manager-cum-serial killer.

Taking Toronto

It is one of the highlights of the Toronto programme that will show 319 films from 52 countries until 18 September.

And in true festival fashion, the town expects to be awash with celebrities, including Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Denzel Washington, Claudia Schiffer, Robin Williams and Susan Sarandon.

Sarandon will be presiding over the premiere of her new film Anywhere But Here, from director Wayne Wang.

[ image: Susan Sarandon: A guest in Toronto]
Susan Sarandon: A guest in Toronto
Adapted from the novel by Mona Simpson, it stars Sarandon as a wayward mother who drags her daughter from Winsconsin to Beverly Hills.

Onegin, starring Ralph Fiennes, and directed by his sister Martha has been chosen to close the festival.

While new work from other celebrated international directors will also be on show, including Errol Morris, Charles Burnett and Woody Allen.

Of course, Allen's new venture Sweet and Low, with Uma Thurman and Sean Penn, was also one of big highlights at this year's 56th Venice Film Festival.

But comparisons with Toronto are otherwise few and far between.

Italian spice

Whereas Canada seems to have opted for the thoughtful and high-brow, Stanley Kubrick's steamy thriller Eyes Wide Shut set the Italian tone.

Among the 18 films competing for the festival's Golden Lion top prize, until 11 September, were a number dealing with erotic fantasies.

The winner of the best actor award was Nathalie Baye, for her role in Frederic Fonteyne's Franco-Belgian co-production Une Liaison Pornographique, a film about sexual fantasy gone wrong.

[ image: Nathalie Baye: Best actress]
Nathalie Baye: Best actress
While Lies from Jan Sun Woo was about a sculptor's sado-masochistic affair with a student. But not everything leant towards the X-rated.

Alongside Allen's light and affectionate work, another film, Being John Malkovitch, was applauded for its eccentric humour and original plot.

Starring John Cusack and Cameron Diaz, it tells the story of a frustrated clerk who finds a secret portal in his office that enables him to become the respected Hollywood actor, who appears as himself in the film.

But film festivals are not just about celebrating the new. Actor and director Jerry Lewis was also given a special Golden Award for his 50 years in Hollywood.

French reverence

Over in Deauville, France, at the American Film Festival, other screen veterans have been hogging the limelight too.

[ image: Robin Williams: Star of Jakob the Liar]
Robin Williams: Star of Jakob the Liar
Some of the world's entertainment elite from France and America joined forces to celebrate the festival's 25th anniversary on Wednesday, paying tribute to legendary British actor Michael Caine at the same time.

Caine, 66, was in Deauville to discuss his new movie, The Cider House Rules, directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

While two more great actors of mature years, Kirk Douglas, 83, and Lauren Bacall, 75, have also attended the screening of their new film Diamonds.

Another star behaving true to form at Deauville - which runs until 12 September- has been zany comedian Robin Williams.

He caused mayhem at a press conference for his new film Jakob the Liar - a tragicomedy about a poor Jewish cafe owner in Nazi-occupied Poland.

[ image: Adam Sandler: Bites off more than he can chew in Big Daddy]
Adam Sandler: Bites off more than he can chew in Big Daddy
While adopting a decidedly more quirky note in Big Daddy was Wedding Singer star Adam Sandler.

He plays a 30-year-old who, after his friend gets married and leaves him alone, begins looking for fulfilment.

He decides to adopt a five-year-old boy, but ends up with a lot more than he bargained for.

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