Toronto boosts select Canadian indies

Blaine Thurier, Rob Stefaniuk pics generate heat

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TORONTO -- Rock musician-turned-film director Blaine Thurier loves his new double life at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"When the lights are down and the doors close, you have a captive audience," the keyboardist for the Canadian band the New Pornographers said after debuting his guns-and-gangster genre pic "A Gun to the Head" at the Scotiabank Theatre.

Thurier also wrote the script for the Canadian indie, which portrays a reformed criminal, played by Tygh Runyan ("Snakes on a Plane"), reuniting for an evening with a former partner in crime, only to be enveloped into a world of drugs, women and violence.

A cartoonist before he joined the New Pornographers and started directing their music videos, Thurier said he'll continue in filmmaking as his day job.

"Film is the closest that you come to a virtual reality, where you're in the dark and can penetrate the audience's consciousness," he said.

His next project: the $3 million comedy "Teen Lust," in which an awkward virgin in small-town Canada destined to be sacrificed to Satan must have sex to avoid death.

Other Canadian diamonds in the rough in Toronto include Atom Egoyan's "Chloe," which has buyers circling.

"I'm confident the film will get released. It's just a question of scale," Egoyan said at the press conference for the Julianne Moore/Liam Neeson starrer.

Egoyan is an exception in Toronto because, despite the festival being held in their backyard, few Canadian directors see their films break out at TIFF and many get lost in the clutter.

Another music-inspired breakout Canadian indie in Toronto is Rob Stefaniuk's vampire pic "Suck," which has scored sales to Alliance Films for the Canadian market and Universal Pictures International Entertainment for European, Australian and New Zealand markets this week.

Director Stefaniuk said he's left his sales agent, Joker Films, to the deal making as "I drink the free booze, eat the finger food and do the Q&As."

The Canadian indie stars Malcolm McDowell, Jessica Pare ("Wicker Park") and Dave Foley ("Kids in the Hall") in a portrait of rock and roll wannabees in search of fame and vampires.

Buyers have picked up on an ensemble cast that includes rockers Moby, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins and Carol Pope.

The Toronto festival ends Saturday.
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