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The Outsider: Reel Life with James Toback

Eloquent and outspoken, James Toback's Reel Life interview promises to be an honest, passionate look at making films inside and outside of the Hollywood movie machine. A true maverick, writer-director...

Eloquent and outspoken, James Toback's Reel Life interview promises to be an honest, passionate look at making films inside and outside of the Hollywood movie machine.

A true maverick, writer-director James Toback has always forged his own path through the cutthroat world of filmmaking. But throughout his career his independence has cost him widespread recognition, and earned him constant battles with censor boards.

“Toback exemplifies the spirit of New American Cinema, never kowtowing to the studios, whatever the cost. And the cost is being largely written out of history” says EIFF Artistic Director Shane Danielsen.

Contemporary with New American Cinema directors such as Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma, Toback’s best loved film is the dark and gritty gangster story Fingers (1978). Starring Harvey Keitel in one of his finest roles, Fingers tells the tale of a doomed man, torn between his dream of being a concert pianist, and his daily reality of being a debt collector for his mobster father.

Toback’s outsider stance is often conveyed through the characters in his films. In his latest work, When Will I Be Loved, Toback revisits his favourite themes- societal disillusionment, sex as currency, and the intrigue of living a double life. Neve Campbell stars as Vera, a rich New Yorker caught up in a web of money, sex and various other carnal distractions.

Constantly blurring the line between his own life and his films, Toback’s best work contains a raw authenticity that other directors can only hope to emulate. His varied experiences- he holds degrees from both Columbia and Harvard; he says he once spent eight days on LSD (an episode which is reenacted in his film Harvard Man); he has battled a compulsive gambling habit for years; all make for a very compelling character- and a very interesting Reel Life.

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