TIFF 2011: Toronto International Film Festival

Thursday | April 24, 2014

'Argo' was in Affleck's 'zone of interest'


Actor and director Ben Affleck speaks at a news conference to promote the film 'Argo' during the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, September 8, 2012. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

TORONTO - Ben Affleck may have dropped out of university before he graduated, but at least he paid attention while he was there. Affleck said Saturday at the Toronto filmfest that he studied Middle Eastern history, politics and culture while going to the University of Vermont.

So the film Argo, which he directed and stars in, was a natural fit. "This was really in my zone of interest!" he says.

Argo, which is a popular hit at the Toronto filmfest, chronicles events of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and how Canadians and Americans worked together to harbour and then free six Americans who were under threat because they worked for the U.S. government in Tehran.

-- Bruce Kirkland

The Master is set after the Second World War for potent reasons, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson said Saturday at the Toronto filmfest.

"The area after the war is like food and drink to me in terms of an opportunity to tell a story. There is a mix of a tremendous amount of optimism but an incredibly high body count behind you. There was so much death around.

"It kind of gets you to a spot where you've got to kind of figure out where all the bodies are going. That creates situations where people want to talk about past lives, they want to talk about what happens to you after you die. Those were great ideas and stuff that was fascinating to me to write the story around."

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a "master" who founds a new religion in the wake of the war, much like L. Ron Hubbard did with Scientology. Joaquin Phoenix plays his associate, a man who begins to doubt.

-- Bruce Kirkland

The Impossible star Ewan McGregor spent his Sunday afternoon prior to his big premiere at Princess of Wales that evening catching up with his fans on Twitter. Announcing on his account he would have 20 minutes to answer questions, he responded to queries ranging from information about his films to whether he likes coffee or tea (For the record, his answer is "coffee. Black. Strong. Caffeine addict. #allIhaveleft.")

The final thought he left was to supporting Unicef in the U.K.

"The work they do is amazing and important. They put children's needs first," he said.

"I have to go. Thanks for following me. You make me happy. Sorry I couldn¹t answer all. Xxx. More later. Premier tonight. #wishmeluck."

-- Jenny Yuen

Festival time can be difficult on your digestion, especially if you're rushing from screening to screening.

However, if filmgoers find themselves in front of the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor St. W., they're in luck. TIFF has teamed up with a rotating roster of three food trucks during the duration of the festival until Sept. 16, from 7 p.m. to midnight.

The tasty options include tacos, pulled-pork sandwiches and lobster rolls outside the theatre. Trucks are accessible to both ticket and non-ticket holders.

"This is the first time gourmet food trucks have come to the Bloor and Bathurst area and the festival is excited to be back at the Bloor cinema, where they plan to showcase some of their edgiest films as part of their Vanguard and TIFF Docs programme," Mark Macdonald, who runs the Toronto Food Trucks Website, said in a statement.

-- Jenny Yuen

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