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IFC Sinks Teeth Into ‘Byzantium’ As Irish Wrap Up in Toronto
12 Sep 2012 : By Eva Hall
Saoirse Ronan in Neil Jordan's 'Byzantium'
Neil Jordan’s ‘Byzantium’ has been acquired by IFC Films following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.

IFC Productions has reportedly offered $2m (€1.5m) in a US marketing and distribution deal for the vampire feature which stars Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as mother and daughter vampires. The feature will be distributed by Studio Canal in the UK and Ireland.

The film has received mixed reviews since its screening at the weekend, although Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography has been praised among international critics.

Moira Buffini’s (Jane Eyre) script has also received high praise for its originality, albeit enveloped in a traditional vampire tale. Reviewers acknowledged the focus being on two female characters was a fresh twist on the age-old vampire tale, and pulled away from Jordan’s initial teeth-sinking thriller ‘Interview with the Vampire’.

Speaking of working with Oscar-winning Jordan, Carlow-native Ronan told The Hollywood Reporter in a Toronto diary: “He's very practical and it's not that he is sentimental or anything either but once he gets something he very happy to move on and keep telling the story and I was quite amazed at how quickly we would move through so many scenes in one day.”

‘Byzantium’ is one of nine Irish-attached productions that screened at TIFF this year. Kieron J Walsh’s ‘Jump’ was the last Irish production to screen, having its international premiere last night.

The crime thriller received fair reviews, with English actress Nichola Burley commended on her performance. Martin McCann, Richard Dormer, Ciarán McMenamin, Packy Lee and Lalor Roddy all star.

Other Irish-attached productions fared well overseas, with Martin McDonagh’s ‘Seven Psychopaths’ being compared to both a Quentin Tarantino film and a personal biopic. Playwright and director McDonagh spoke of the difficulty writing a script for the screen compared to the stage ahead of the film’s screening: “It just took an awful lot longer to get my head around writing a script because it can go to so many different places in the course of a page whereas a play, eight pages, 10 pages of scenes is really just a course of conversations.”

Colin Farrell stars alongside Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson. ‘Seven Psychopaths’ is released in Irish cinemas from December 7.

The good news coming from Toronto on Joe Wright’s ‘Anna Karenina’ is that the Irish links to the period drama adaptation are favourable. Armagh-born Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography has been described as “immaculate”, while it has been acknowledged Domhnall Gleeson’s character has been given more screen time in this particular adaptation than those that came before. ‘What Richard Did’ screened on Sunday, with star Jack Reynor emerging with a new agency in the form of WME.

Chris O’Dowd’s performance as Dave Lovelace in Australian comedy ‘The Sapphires’ has gone down well with Toronto audiences and film critics, while Blinder Films’ co-production ‘The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology’ is said to get audiences laughing while looking at their favourite films in a completely different light at the same time.

‘Call Girl’, which is based on real-life events and co-produced by Newgrange Pictures, was praised for its subject matter as well as its design and photography, while Sónta’s ‘Men at Lunch’ documentary was described as “charming”, “well-crafted” and “feel-good”.

Producer Macdara Kelleher of Fastnet Films remains in Toronto as part of the Toronto Producers Lab while most of the Irish make their way home after a successful trip overseas. TIFF runs until September 16.


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