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Oscar season just over the hill

The famed Hollywood sign sits atop Mt. Lee in Hollywood.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Doug Krizner: This year's Toronto Film Festival gets underway in two weeks. 349 films from 55 countries will be screened. The festival's a paradise for movie lovers and a party for Hollywood power-brokers. Mike Speier is executive editor with Variety here in LA. Mike, what does the Toronto Festival mean for the film business?

Mike Speier: The Toronto Film Festival is like the bridge between the summer blockbuster season and the Oscar season and Toronto is the kickoff of that, so you get all the prestige movies that come during the fall season and the winter season. They all kind of want to position themselves to get the best buzz and Toronto is that 'here we are, watch us, we're good and we're Academy contenders.'

Krizner: Are there any surprises that come to your mind, films that debuted in Toronto that turned out to be kind of sensational or blockbuster type films?

Speier: The one that comes to mind right off the bat is last year's Borat. I mean that was a movie that no one really understood what was going on with it and then it went to Toronto and the only movie that anyone talked about out of Toronto last year was Borat.

Krizner: So what kind of business gets transacted, what kind of deals get done? Is it all about distribution at that point really?

Speier: There's a couple of things that Toronto serves as. One is just a showcase for these movies that already have distribution. Then there are movies that get there that are independent that can be picked up by smaller companies, people can shop for films and buy them and do something with them later down the road.

Krizner: I guess for many years I mean independent films have really been the big surprises. Do you expect that trend to continue?

Speier: I would if this was Sundance or if this was Cannes because those, Sundance was made for independent films. Toronto, Venice, these kind of places where the festivals happen in September, those are more prestige festivals, festivals that are around just to showcase both the movie stars and the presentations themselves.

Krizner: So Mike give me the names of a few films that are on your radar in so far as Toronto is concerned.

Speier: Well to prove that this is a festival that showcases kind of big Hollywood films or films that are coming up that everyone's excited about, I mean there's, you know Jodie Foster has not been in a lot of movies in the past few years and her big movie coming up is called The Brave One and it's kind of a death wish revenge movie and that's showcasing there. Ang Lee, who won the Oscar for Brokeback Mountain as a Best Director, he has his movie Lust, Caution there. There there's stars and their movies like Jessica Alba has a movie there, Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, there's a war story from Brian De Palma . . .

Krizner: Sounds like a who's who of Hollywood.

Speier: Yeah, that's what this is all about, I mean a lot of these people haven't had movies this year at all and this is a place for them to showcase that.

Krizner: Mike Speier is executive editor at Variety here in Los Angeles. Mike always a pleasure, thanks for joining us.

Speier: My pleasure.

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