AMERICA UNDER ATTACK !!!
Shah Rukh, Santosh Sivan stranded in NY
Director Santosh Sivan's Asoka was a no-show at the Toronto
International Film Festival Wednesday.
Its press screening, like many others, was postponed as the
recovers from the aftermaths of the terrorist carnage in New York
"Santosh and Shah Rukh (Khan) were about to take off for Toronto when
the airports in New York closed down," a festival spokesperson told
rediff.com. The film might be shown Sunday. But by then, most of the
critics and acquisition agents might have left the city, as the
festival ends officially on Saturday.
The festival was shut down Wednesday soon after word of World Trade
Center collapse made headline news.
Across the border, many movie halls downed shutters; Hollywood
cancelled most of its events; Emmy Awards and other glittering events
were put down on hold.
But to more than 400 reporters and trade representatives watching
Mira Nair's bittersweet film Monsoon Wedding at the Varsity theaters
in Toronto, there was no inkling of the enormous tragedy.
The screening started at 0830 hrs. The press conference that was to
feature Nair and thespian Naseeruddin Shah at 1100 hrs was cancelled,
along with half a dozen other events. Over 100 journalists and trade
reps were expected to attend the standing-room-only event.
"I feel bad for my artistes," says Nair. "I would have loved them to
meet with the press. It is they -- and the writer -- who have made
this film memorable."
"Where will this take us?" Naseeruddin Shah said, referring to the
New York events. "When will all this end?"
Before the festival was shut down for a day, its director Piers
Handling talked to Nair and several other people including the
producers and distributors of the films that were to have their galas
"Everyone agreed that dark screens were appropriate," he said. "We
are a part of a social community that we have to remain sensitive
He also said that for a few minutes he had wondered if the festival
was to be shut down fully. He met with a festival crisis team for
Many people, including filmmakers and journalists, told him that such
an act would mean only one thing: the terrorists had further
succeeded in scaring people.
This was the first time ever that the festival had been shut down,
though for half a day. Handling said that in the past, security
outside certain theatres had been increased because they were showing
films about Balkan wars or Israel. There would be a general increase
in the security this week, he said.
The festival authorities promptly set up a counseling centre. Many
filmmakers, journalists and trade representatives have friends in New
York. Many of the attendees who watched the television coverage of
the attacks broke down in the pressroom and were consoled by their
friends - and festival volunteers.
Several filmmakers, directors, stars and journalists who had planned
to fly out of Toronto on Thursday were stranded. The list includes
the British actor Richard Harris, teen heartthrob Heather Graham,
character artists Harvey Keitel and Naseeruddin Shah.
"I came to Toronto with great enthusiasm," says Harris, who will turn
71 this month, "to introduce My Kingdom."
The film, a retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear, has one of his
finest performances. "And now the film seems to fade into total
insignificance," he sighs.
Arthur J Pais in Toronto
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