PHOTO: John Sayles -- Chris Wahl, SUN


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Tuesday, September 9, 1997

T.O. FilmFest 'the best': Sayles

By BRUCE KIRKLAND
Toronto Sun

 MAN WITH MOVIE: Maverick American filmmaker John Sayles, whose Latin American social drama Men With Guns was a festival gala, finds Toronto the perfect fit.
 
 "I think for us it's usually the choice between Cannes and Toronto," Sayles said yesterday. "They both have a lot of marketing going with them. But there's certainly less glitz here. So, for a small movie, such as Men With Guns, you don't have to come and spend a lot of money just for somebody to hear a peep out of you. Whereas, in Cannes, you have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to be noticed, even if you're invited to the festival. Toronto, it's the best North American festival for showing your movie."
 
 NOT SLUMMING: Don't tell Timothy Dalton that he's slumming by starring in The Informant for U.S. cable's Showtime.
 
 The Welsh-born film star told the Toronto festival yesterday that he is happy to have the opportunity because The Informant is a complex and gritty look at the violence in Northern Ireland, a subject that he says he has been intimately involved in for 30 years.
 
 In the film, which is screening in the festival, Dalton stars as chief inspector for the Royal Ulster Constabulary who gets mired in a case involving a terrorist.
 
 Dalton told a press conference he was happy about cable networks. "They have the courage to take on projects that the major studios would not have touched." Films such as The Informant are "interesting and risky," and Hollywood has made movies about Ireland only when the coast looks clear.
 
 "If you're in the business and part of your joy and satisfaction comes from making movies that have something to say, then you go to them," Dalton said, ignoring the snobbery that prevents some major names from 'slumming' in TV.
 
 Dalton says that The Informant wisely refuses to take sides. "It's very easy and it's very expected that people will take one side or another. Taking sides is, I think, immature and irresponsible. People have been taking sides for 30 years. Taking sides has prolonged the conflict."
 
 BIGGER AND BETTER: Her corset is not as tight as usual and there are vestiges of modern 20th century life in the film, but Iain Softley's The Wings Of The Dove is still a period piece. And Helena Bonham Carter has become typecast as a costume drama, period piece actress.
 
 That didn't stop her at all from taking this one, which is based on a Henry James novel, she told a press conference yesterday. "Beyond the costumes, they're not that different. I really don't mind what I'm in as long as the writing and the character are good." Carter is convinced that women's roles, in particular, are almost always "bigger and better" when films are set in the past.
 
 PRAISE THE LORD: Robert Duvall held out for Toronto for his world premiere of The Apostle for the same reasons as Sayles -- to make a maximum impact for minimum money.
 
 Now, after investing his own money in The Apostle, as Sayles did for his, it has paid off handsomely. Even before his Toronto festival screening had ended, Duvall had sold his film to October Films for worldwide distribution.
 
 The rumor mill says the price was a handsome $6 million and Duvall is elated that the risk paid off on a project he worked 13 years to get done. "It's a business," Duvall says of the frustration in trying to get The Apostle off the ground because it's the story of a troubled evangelical preacher. "The bottom line is the dollar." Now the dollars look good.

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