Women directors shine at Toronto film festival

Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:45pm EDT
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By Julie Gordon

TORONTO (Reuters) - Madonna may have stolen the lion's share of the headlines, but there were plenty of films by women directors earning a lot of buzz at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, which draws to a close on Sunday.

From the invention of the vibrator to the aftermath of a school massacre, women brought comedy and complexity to the event that helps launch Hollywood's Oscar season.

From Madonna's "W.E." to Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz", many of the films delved into familiar themes of relationships, marriage and children, but it is unfair to label them as "chick flicks", said Canadian actress and director Polley.

"If you make a movie about a woman, whether it's by a woman or from the perspective of woman, then it's (labeled) a 'chick flick,'" she said. "But there's no matching marginalizing term to talk about a movie that stars a man."

"I guess if it's from a man's perspective and a man directs it, it gets to just be a movie," Polley added.

Her new feature, "Take This Waltz", was one of three female-helmed films to get a high-profile gala screening at the festival. The movie stars Michelle Williams as a young married woman tempted into a relationship by a handsome neighbor.

Madonna's "W.E.", about the 1930s marriage of King Edward VIII and American divorcee Wallis Simpson, was also given the gala treatment, although headline-grabbing talk about the pop star outweighed the interest paid to her film.

And Tanya Wexler's crowd-pleasing Victorian vibrator comedy "Hysteria" rounded out the top-billed female films at Toronto.   Continued...

<p>Director Madonna pauses to sign autographs at the premiere of her film "W.E." at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) September 12, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill</p>