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Band denied exit visas

Staff

Acrassicauda might have got its film to TIFF, but its fight is far from over.

The members of the Iraqi rock band, featured in the doc, Heavy Metal in Baghdad, have survived the turmoil in their home country. They are captured with warmth and humour in the doc, helmed by Toronto-born directors Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi.

But Entertainment Weekly online reported yesterday that their lives are in danger. The website quoted the film's publicist as saying that the band is now living in a basement in Syria, and its members have been denied exit visas to attend TIFF.

Further, the publicist said that the Syrian government is threatening to send the rockers home, and added that "their lives are in real danger."

Keira gets fugged

At least they didn't put her in leggings.

The editors at Canadian fashion tome Flare were recently on the receiving end of some serious snark, when the sartorial schadenfreude website Go Fug Yourself turned its attention to the mag's September cover.

The Flare front features Keira Knightley - a choice co-ordinated with the ingénue's appearance at TIFF to promote her film Atonement - wrapped in a red, elaborately textured dress that appears to have a chokehold on the young Brit.

"K Kni is lovely indeed, but she looks so feverish and overly warm here that I feel the urge to fluff up her pillow, dab her forehead with a cool cloth and then spoon lukewarm broth into her mouth, whilst murmuring soothing things like, 'no, no, no one wants to strangle you. That's just your dress,' and 'Johnny Depp will be here at 4.' " Let's hope the Academy Award nominee gets kinder reviews for her acting.

More war for Podeswa

Jeremy Podeswa took Anne Michaels's tale of Holocaust survival, Fugitive Pieces, and turned it into Thursday night's very well-received TIFF opening gala.

Now the director is set to tackle the fight in the Pacific, working with no less than Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Podeswa was recently hired to direct an episode of The Pacific, the follow-up to the Spielberg- and Hanks-produced Band of Brothers. That TV miniseries followed a company of U.S. soldiers from training, through the Normandy invasion, and on to the end of the war in Europe.

The Pacific will follow a similar arc, following the fight against Japan. Podeswa has plenty of experience with such high-end TV, having helmed episodes of Six Feet Under, Rome and The Riches.

Lots of TIFF unfit to print

For a few years now, Canadian reporters have been pretty much shut out of print interviews with the biggest stars, having to cadge quotes from press conferences while their U.S. colleagues hog the one-on-one slots.

Now there's further evidence that print is a dying medium at TIFF: Even some of the biggest American print outlets seem to be feeling the pinch, with management shortening the purse strings on reporters' expenses.

Four staffers from People magazine, who used to stay at the Marriott on Bloor Street, have been bumped to the cheaper Marriott on Bay. Writers from Entertainment Weekly and Elle have also sought bargain digs, and reporters from New York's Daily News are way out of town: Their budget allowed for only one festival - Cannes or Toronto - so they're not here at all.

Finally, even TIFF's own Festival Daily news sheet is cutting back: It's accepting fewer articles from regulars, and paying less for them, from a high of 48 cents a word a few years ago, to a mere 30 cents now. Ouch.

De Palma sends in the cast

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