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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Hindu widows film opens festival
director Deepa Mehta (centre) on set
Deepa Mehta [R] completed Water in Sri Lanka after protests in India
The movie Water, which triggered violent protests while being filmed in India, will open the Toronto International Film Festival.

Directed by Deepa Mehta, the movie follows the lives of Hindu widows.

Filming in India was abandoned five years ago after hardline Hindu protesters burned its sets, claiming the movie distorted Indian culture.

Filming was completed in Sri Lanka. Its world premiere will open the festival, which runs from 8 to 17 September.

Death threats

Water beat movies by better-known Canadian film-makers Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg for the prestigious opening slot.

Mehta, an Indian-born Canadian citizen, received death threats while shooting Water in north Indian city Varanasi.

The script was read and passed by the very government that protested
Water director Deepa Mehta
"It had started becoming more about doing the film at any cost, which is not healthy for the film, so I said 'stop,'" she said.

Mehta made romantic comedy Bollywood/Hollywood before returning to complete Water.

"The film is absolutely not anti-Hindu," she said. "The script was read and passed by the very government that protested, so you wonder about that."

Water completed a film trilogy that included Earth and Fire, which portrayed a lesbian relationship and was temporarily pulled from distribution in India after cinemas showing it were attacked.

Deepa Mehta
Deepa Mehta completed Water in Sri Lanka after protests in India
Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies and Cronenberg's A History of Violence, which stars Lord of the Rings actor Viggo Mortensen, will be screened as gala presentations during the festival.

Both movies were previously shown in competition at the Cannes film festival in May.

"We all know that Cannes is terrific and fun, but this is the real festival," said Cronenberg, who also directed The Fly and Naked Lunch.

"We go out to Cannes and we play and then we bring it back home, and that's the screening that's really the most meaningful to us."

Film highlights widows' plight
09 Sep 04 |  South Asia
Safe filming promised for Water
24 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Director fights Indian film ban
09 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Controversial film 'Water' cleared
03 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Plug pulled on sacred city film
30 Jan 00 |  South Asia


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