Toronto Film Fest 2006: World Premieres

July 6, 2006, Toronto–ALL THE KING’S MEN, the latest film from Steven Zaillian (the Oscar-winning screenwriter of SCHINDLER’S LIST) receives its world premiere as a Gala Presentation at the 31st Toronto International Film Festival.

In this adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, ALL THE KING’S MEN stars Sean Penn as Willie Stark, a charismatic Southern politician whose idealism is marred by his own corruption, success and insatiable lust for power. Led by Penn, the film features an incredible cast that includes Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins.

Inspired by the career of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long and other political demagogues, the novel All the King’s Men had a profound effect on contemporary literature, serving as a model for some of the best-selling political novels of the past half-century, in which both the dark and light sides of life are explored.

In Zaillian’s adaptation of the novel, Sean Penn delivers a commanding performance as Willie Stark, an unlikely politician, who rapidly ascends the political ranks by way of his charm and passionate sense of idealism. With his “trusty” advisor always at the ready, Stark is able to captivate audiences and a huge following, allowing him to amass a great deal of power through his career. Jack Burden (Jude Law), an earnest reporter, befriends Stark early in his career, but soon comes to mistrust his intentions and investigate the merits of his ongoing success.

With a stellar all-star cast, Zaillian weaves a story rich with character and binds the lives of Stark and Burden, and those around them in a compelling, unimaginable way. The many layers of ALL THE KING’S MEN merge to render a saga of human nature, romance, betrayal, and above all the downfall of corruption.

Using politics as a framework to delve into the more profound dilemmas of human existence – sin, guilt, and redemption – ALL THE KING’S MEN explores the corrupting aspects of power, focusing on a once just man who has lost his moral centre and will use any means possible to achieve his goals. Steeped in the atmosphere of the South during the 1940s and 50s, it is a film with a message that is timely and relevant today.

Written and directed by Steven Zaillian, ALL THE KING’S MEN is produced by Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Ken Lemberger, and Steven Zaillian. Columbia Pictures presents this Phoenix Pictures/VIP 3A/VIP 4A production in association with Rising Star. The film is distributed through Sony Pictures Releasing.

Three world premieres from the U.S., BERNARD AND DORIS, THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY, and COPYING BEETHOVEN have been added to the lineup for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, joining today’s Gala Presentation announcement of the world premiere of ALL THE KING’S MEN.

These titles profile works by celebrated and up-and-coming filmmakers and feature performances by some of cinema’s biggest names, including Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Susan Sarandon, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Biggs, Isla Fisher, Ed Harris, and Diane Kruger.

The 31st Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7 to 16, 2006. Passes and Coupon Books go on sale for VISA cardholders on July 10. For more information call 416-968-FILM or click bell.ca/filmfest.

BERNARD AND DORIS

Bob Balaban, USA, World Premiere

Based on the life story of billionaire tobacco baroness Doris Duke, comedic and popular character actor Bob Balaban delves into the scandal about her will. Doris (Susan Sarandon) is an extravagant woman of much wealth and influence who amassed many high society friends in her lifetime. Surprisingly, upon her death in 1993, she leaves her entire estate in the care of her gay Irish butler Bernard (Ralph Fiennes), who is barely literate. Controversy erupts on how exactly Bernard came to be the sole recipient of his employer’s entire fortune. The film offers an intimate, humorous look at how the relationship between the two might have unfolded.

THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY

Michael Ian Black, USA, Special Presentation World Premiere

The directorial debut from Michael Ian Black, comedic writer, actor, and founder of the “Stella” comedy collective, brings family shenanigans to their hilarious extreme in this light-hearted portrayal of love’s ups and downs. After Anderson (Jason Biggs) suddenly loses the woman of his dreams, he sinks into the depths of depression, convinced that there is no other woman he could possibly be with. Resigned to being alone, he is surprised when his spontaneous proposal to a quirky, discontented waitress (Isla Fisher) finds him facing the best and worst of what love has to offer when their two families recklessly collide.

COPYING BEETHOVEN

Agnieszka Holland, USA/Germany, Contemporary World Cinema World Premiere

Young music student Anna (Diane Kruger) relentlessly aims to prove her own talent as a composer when she is offered the opportunity of a lifetime – to work alongside the masterful yet belligerent Ludwig van Beethoven (Ed Harris) and help publish his latest score, his exquisite Ninth Symphony. Her insight proves invaluable as their professional collaboration blossoms into a deep spiritual connection and she becomes the only one who truly understands him. Anna endures the scathing criticisms and belligerence for her love of music and brings the genius inside the monster to the surface.