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Toronto fest reviews

TORONTO -- Festivalgoers awoke Sunday to a cold and rainy Toronto, which seemed to mirror the initial mood of buyers looking for available film titles.

In a festival typically front-loaded with acquirable goods, there was no buying frenzy on the order of this year's Sundance fest or Festival de Cannes.

The biggest sale was Helen Hunt's directorial debut, "Then She Found Me". The romantic comedy/drama about a besieged woman whose adoptive mother finds her sported an all-star cast that helped it earn under $2 million from ThinkFilm for U.S. rights and under $1 million from TVA Films for Canadian rights. Negotiations stretched into early Saturday as competition from the Weinstein Co. and Roadside Attractions late Friday morphed into the Canadian co-deal.

In two smaller overseas sales, the Weinstein Co. picked up virtually all worldwide rights to the British child murderer drama "Boy A", and IFC Entertainment purchased North American rights to the Icelandic thriller "Jar City". Myriad Pictures picked up international sales rights to the ex-con tale "All Hat", premiering Tuesday at the festival and set for Canadian distribution by Alliance Films early next year.

Outside the fest but during the thick of it, Miramax plunked down just less than $5 million for U.S. rights to Fernando Meirelles' dramatic plague thriller "Blindness", starring Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore, which is now shooting in Toronto. Another out-of-fest buy was the cross-cultural relationship drama "Never Forever", starring Vera Farmiga. Arts Alliance America (formerly Hart Sharp Video) and Prime Entertainment picked up North American rights and is planning an early 2008 theatrical release.

Buyers fled the school shooting drama "In Bloom" before the end, but it wasn't necessarily a reflection on the film: They were running off to catch the other big title of the night and one of the most anticipated of the fest, Alan Ball's "Nothing Is Private". The shocking drama about a 13-year-old sexually abused Arab-American girl, starring Aaron Eckhart and Toni Collette, provoked wildly mixed, passionate and hesitant reactions along with talk that some scenes could garner it an NC-17 rating.


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