​TIFF Director Spotlight: Atom Egoyan, who will screen a restored version of 'Speaking Parts' at TIFF

Atom Egoyan is one of Canada’s most celebrated filmmakers, though his new feature, The Captive, will not screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

The film, which stars Canadian Ryan Reynolds and Rosario Dawson, was widely panned by critics after premiering at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. But while new work is absent from the TIFF lineup, the Chloe director will definitely be present.

Atom joins the TIFF Cinematheque category showing a new, digitally restored print of his 1989 film, Speaking Parts. The film tells the story of a struggling actor who works as a hotel custodian by day and a gigolo to his supervisor by night. The film, which was nominated for six Genie awards, explores a tangle of bizarre relationships that culminate in a shocking conclusion.

The 54-year-old director has really done it all. In 1987 and 1988, he directed two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and in 1989 he directed one episode of The Twilight Zone.

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As for his feature-making career, Atom told journalist Robert K. Elder that his successes wouldn’t be possible without having seen Ingmar Bergman’s Persona.

The director said, “[ Persona] gave me an incredible respect for the medium and its possibilities. To me, Persona marries a pure form and a very profound vision with absolute conviction. It’s very inspiring. I felt that it was able to open a door that wasn’t there before.”

That door, once opened, gave way to celebrated works like the critically acclaimed The Sweet Hereafterin 1997, which was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars.

A film that drew considerable attention was 2002’s Ararat, due to its exploration of Armenian Genocide. Ararat was the first film to discuss the subject since Henri Verneuil’s Mayrig in 1991, which is what inspired much of the controversy surrounding Atom’s effort.

From high profile features to lesser-known projects, Atom’s filmography begins as early as 1984, when he directed Next of Kin, casting his now-wife, Arsinée Khanjian, in a starring role. She has since starred in a variety of his work, including Calendar, The Sweet Hereafter, Speaking Parts, Exotica and Ararat.

The accolades for this esteemed director paint a picture of continued success. Atom won the Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Achievement in Direction Genie Awards in 1994 for his film Exotica.

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The Sweet Hereafter was also widely praised, as he received the Toronto Film Critics Award for Best Feature and Best Director in 1997, along with the Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film and three Cannes awards: the FIPRESCI Prize, the Grand Jury Award and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

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