Toronto film festival raises curtain on "Creation"

Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:48am EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto International Film Festival made a rare break with tradition at its gala opening on Thursday night, debuting British drama "Creation" at the key event long considered a starting point in the race for Oscars.

For more than three decades, the Toronto film festival has usually opened with a Canadian movie to spotlight the industry within its home country, and its choice of Charles Darwin drama "Creation" has drawn the ire of local filmmakers.

But the controversy seemed fitting to festival organizers because the film looks at evolutionist Darwin's life as he struggles to write his seminal book, "On the Origin of Species," which inspires debate even today.

"We said we wanted to get people talking, and we did that," Cameron Bailey, festival co-director told the opening audience. "The story is 150 years old, but it couldn't be more current."

"Creation" stars Paul Bettany as the man whose theory of natural selection gave rise to the idea that humans evolved from a lower order of beings and were not created by God.

The story takes place when Darwin is in his mid-40's, after he has traveled the world exploring and collecting samples of animal life.

He is certain his theories on natural selection are correct, and he is being pressured by colleagues to write a book that will challenge man's belief in God. Yet his wife, a devout Christian portrayed by Bettany's real-life spouse, Jennifer Connelly, is just as certain he is wrong.


<p>Charles Darwin's great-great-grandson Randal Keynes arrives for the gala presentation for the film "'Creation" at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto September 10, 2009. The "Creation" screenplay is adapted from Keynes' book "Annie's Box". REUTERS/Mike Cassese</p>