Music underpins eclectic array of Toronto film festival features

Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:30pm EDT
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - From dramas about mentors and their apprentices, to imaginative musicals, biopics, and documentaries, music underpinned an eclectic swathe of movies appearing at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

These ranged from high profile galas like Francois Girard's 'Boychoir' and the Canadian premiere of Sundance favorite 'Whiplash' to Ethan Hawke's intimate and well received study of a former concert pianist.

Girard, who also made 'Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould' and 'The Red Violin', said he does not want to be pigeonholed as a director of music-related projects, but that once again a story centered around this theme spoke to him.

"Music is important to all film makers. It's a very important part of the film vocabulary and we all cherish the tool," Girard told Reuters. "I trust music more than the words when it comes to depicting emotions."

Girard's 'Boychoir' and director Damien Chazelle's semi-autobiographical 'Whiplash' both portray students striving for greatness under genius teachers - one simply demanding and one monstrously abusive.

In 'Whiplash', which premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, Chazelle uses drumming as a visual and tension-building tool to drive the film to its energetic climax.

In 'Boychoir' the focus is on voice, and the efforts of a traditionalist choirmaster played by Dustin Hoffman to bring harmony to the life of an angry, orphaned 11-year-old attending an exclusive boarding school.

The heartbreak of broken dreams form the basis of two musicals which had their world premieres at 11-day festival, which ends on Sunday: Richard LaGravenese's 'The Last Five Years' and Jeffrey St. Jules' debut feature, 'Bang Bang Baby'.   Continued...

Cast member Dustin Hoffman and his wife Lisa arrive for the premiere of the film "Boychoir" at TIFF in Toronto, September 5, 2014. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill