Emotional Arithmetic, a $5.8m production, features Susan Sarandon, Gabriel Byrne, Roy Dupuis, Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow and is produced by Montreal-based BBR Productions and Toronto's Triptych Media.
Adapted by Barzman and Jefferson Lewis from the eponymous book by Canadian novelist Matt Cohen, the film reunites three inmates of Drancy, the French transit camp on the outskirts of Paris known as the 'ante-chamber' of the Holocaust. Forty years later they connect in a bucolic Quebec setting.
Earlier today, TIFF unveiled its Canadian titles, including the world premieres of David Cronenberg's Canada-UK coproduction Eastern Promises, Francois Girard's Silk, Roger Spottiswoode's Shake Hands With The Devil and Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg.
Eastern Promises stars Viggo Mortenson as a Russian mobster who crosses paths with an innocent midwife, played by Naomi Watts, who has accidentally uncovered potential evidence against his syndicate.
Cronenberg's new film will screen as a Gala alongside Denys Arcand's Cannes closer Days Of Darkness, which makes its North American premiere. The world premiere of Jeremy Podeswa's Fugitive Pieces, previously announced, is the Opening Night Gala.
Girard's period romance Silk, starring Michael Pitt, Keira Knightley and Alfred Molina, will screen as a Special Presentation, joined by Spottiswode's adaptation of General Romeo Dallaire's Shake Hands With The Devil, starring Roy Dupuis as the embattled Canadian general during the Rwandan genocide.
Rounding out the Canadian Special Presentations are Maddin's My Winnipeg, a personal account of the idiosyncratic filmmaker's home town; Clement Virgo's boxing drama, Poor Boy's Game, starring Danny Glover; and Here Is What It Is, a documentary about the process of recording music from U2 producer Daniel Lanois, Adam Vollick and Adam Samuels.
Speaking at the packed press conference, Cronenberg offered an anecdote about the reality of Russians in London. 'The film is about the Russian mob but when we were there it got hot, radioactively hot.' He said his and Mortenson's accommodation was a short distance from the home of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berenovsky and that vans full of hazardous matter specialists were a constant presence.
Joining him at the podium, Mortenson added that the duo's earlier collaboration, A History Of Violence, was 'a long and complicated rehearsal for Eastern Promises.' He told the audience, 'You're in a for a pleasant and, in some cases, not so pleasant surprise.'
The Canada First! sidebar, which showcases Canadian filmmakers making their feature debut or presenting a film at the festival for the first time, will open with Martin Gero's comedy Young People F*cking. Other Canada First! titles include Richie Mehta's Amal, Rafael Ouellet's Le Cedre Penche, Stephane Lafleur's Continental, Un Film Sans Fusil, Chaz Thorne's Just Buried, Ernie Barbarash's They Wait, Ed Gass-Donnelly's This Beautiful City and Robert Cuffley's Walk All Over Me, starring Leelee Sobieski, Lothaire Bluteau and Jacob Tierney.
Several Canadian titles will screen in Contemporary World Cinema, including Bruce Sweeney's American Venus, starring Rebecca De Mornay, Bernard Emond's Contre Toute Esperance (which world premiere at Locarno), Carl Bessai's Normal, Weirdsville from Allan Moyle (Pump Up The Volume, New Waterford Girl), starring Scott Speedman and Wes Bentley, and Kari Skogland's adaptation of the Canadian classic novel The Stone Angel, with Ellen Burstyn in the lead.
Three Canadian documentaries will screen in the Real To Reel program: Peter Raymont's A Promise To The Dead: The Exile Journey Of Ariel Dorfman; Suroosh Alvi's and Eddy Moretti's Heavy Metal In Baghdad; and John Zaritsky's The Wild Horse Redemption.
Quebecois director and cinematographer Michael Brault will be the subect of the 2007 Canadian Retrospective while Francis Mankiewicz's 1980 feature Les Bons Debarras will be the featured film of the Canadian Open Vault.
All Canadian features are eligible for the C$30,000 Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film, while debut titles will vie for the the Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film. The feature jury consists of actor Colm Feore, producer Roger Frappier of Montreal's Max Films, Olivier Pere, artistic director of the Director's Fortnight at Cannes and filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, whose film Manufactured Landscapes won the Best Feature prize last year.
John Sayles, Tilda Swinton and Don McKellar are confirmed among the luminaries taking part in the fourth annual Talent Lab, a four-day intensive programme for emerging Canadian filmmakers.