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August 27, 1999
East Is East To Show At Montreal Fest
Arthur J Pais
East Is East, the much praised British film starring Om Puri as a bitter, domineering Pakistani immigrant in England married to a white woman, is one of the big attractions at the Montreal Film Festival which opened on August 27 and will end on September 6.
The movie, based on Ayub Din-Khan's play of the same name, is directed by Damien O'Donnell. The film shows on August 31 and September 2. It will be distributed across North America in a few weeks by Miramax which also released the luckless, My Son the Fanatic, also starring Puri.
Puri's performance as an anguished Muslim cabbie in a British town who has to battle his own crumbling life as well as a rebellion by his fundamentalist son won him wide praise but the movie could not find an audience. It shut down with less than $ 300,000, a low return compared to the $ 3.5 million that Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, another work based on a Hanif Kureishi script, made nearly a decade ago when the admission rate was much lower than today's $ 6 average.
But the expectations for East Is East are much higher, and Om Puri's name is coming up repeatedly as a strong nominee for an Oscar.
Several films from India are also being shown at the festival, considered to be one of the more serious ones, and whose organizers stress that it reflects art and ideology from around the globe, rather than the star-driven marketplace.
The founder of the festival, Serge Losique, has had a mantra for over 22 years: "The films are the stars." And the Indian movies will try to prove that they too can offer movie magic. There are two Indian movies, The Throne of Death, Murali Nair's Indo-British co-production which opens on August 30 and will show on several days; and Godmother, Vinay Shukla's movie also opens on August. 30, and will be shown again.
One of the "small" movies that is creating a lot of buzz is Khyentse Norba's Bhutanese-Australian co-production, Phorpa.
The film-maker whose religious title, H E Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, identifies him as one of the important lamas of Tibetan Buddhism. The movie has an utterly interesting premise: How World Cup soccer disrupts the routine of a Tibetan monastery in the Indian foothills of the Himalayas (its title translates as The Cup).
Nearly 400 films from 68 countries are being screened in four downtown cinemas and one free outdoor site. Included in the list are the new works of Werner Herzog, Ettore Scola, Majid Majidi, Carlos Saura, Manoel de Oliveira, Bertrand Tavernier and Giuseppe Tornatore.
The festival also offers some high octane, adrenaline-pumping movies, including The Bone Collector, the Montreal-made police thriller starring Denzel Washington.
There is a century retrospective of Walt Disney, with an appearance by Hayley Mills.
The 23rd World Film Festival runs at the Imperial, 1430 Bleury St; Loews, 954 Ste Catherine St W; Parisien, 480 Ste Catherine St. W; and Cinema Complexe Desjardins.
Advance tickets are available at the Place des Arts and Parisien box office. Individual tickets are $ 7:50. Booklets of 10 coupons for 10 regular screenings cost $ 55. Booklets of 30 coupons for 30 regular screenings cost $ 135. A "9-to-5" pass for all screenings between 9 a.m. and 5 pm costs $ 200.
Individual tickets will be available in all theatres. The Info Film Bell line is (514) 848-3883. The Web site is http://www.ffm-montreal.org.
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