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TIFF, Day 9: A Going-Out-of-Business Sale?

Toronto finds an increase in deals and industry delegates, and Jennifer Hudson’s Winnie Mandela biopic debuts

It's (almost) all over but the buying.

There's not much time left, but the consensus out of the Toronto International Film Festival is that the final weekend is apt to see a spate of deals. Buyers are reportedly circling offerings as disparate as Oren Moverman's grim cop drama "Rampart," Christopher Plummer's acting tour de force "Barrymore" and Ron Fricke's wordless and plotless "Samsara" – and deals that aren't announced on Saturday or Sunday may well be coming in the days immediately after the fest's Sunday conclusion.

WinnieOn Friday, the TIFF press office issued a press release trumpeting "significant sales" during the festival, with "more than 31 films" sold in different territories around the world. The festival pointed out a 20 percent increase in industry delegates, to more than 4,000.

The release didn't list all of the sales, but did include these 26:

"The Awakening," "Beauty," "Beloved," "Elles," "Free Men," "Generation P," "God Bless America," "Goon," "Hysteria," "The Hunter," "The Incident," "Into the Abyss," "Killer Joe," "The Lady," "Last Days in Jerusalem," "Life Without Principle," "The Raid," "Sarah Palin –You Betcha!," "Shame," "Terraferma," "The Raid," "This is not a Film," "Trishna," "Wuthering Heights," "Your Sister's Sister" and "You're Next."

Last year's press release announcing "strong sales," incidentally, only cited 20 sales, including "Barney's Version," "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and eventual Oscar Foreign-Language nominees "Outside the Law" and "Incendies."

One title still up for grabs was Friday's highest profile premiere: "Winnie" (photo above), a biopic of Winnie Mandela starring Jennifer Hudson as the wife of South African leader Nelson Mandela. The film screened in an unfinished form, and Hudson did not attend.

Tweets following the premiere ran the gamut, from "very well done and eye opening" to "Who know [sic] a movie about such an inspirational couple could be so dreadful."

Scott Feinberg assessed the film's Oscar chances thusly: "J-Hud is very good as Winnie Mandela in 'Winnie,' but Terrence Howard is awesome as Nelson Mandela! He'll get a nod if film gets a distrib!"

Also premiering on Friday: "Tyrannosaur," Paddy Considine's film about the unlikely friendship between an often-drunk and usually-angry Irish widower and a Christian thrift-shop proprieter who's stuck in an abusive relationship. Peter Mullan is unstoppable as the aging pub denizen, Olivia Colman is heartbreaking as the woman he turns to for some kind of redemption, and the film is dark and brutal but moving and unexpectedly sweet.

Still, this one is a tough (if rewarding) sit: at the press and industry screening I attended, several people walked out after moments of extreme violence, including three who exited in the first few minutes after Mullan turns his anger on his dog.  

According to Patrick Mullen at Awards Daily, though, the film ("an honest and intuitive probing of a heavy subject") was greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation after its Friday premiere.

Saturday is the final day for premieres at TIFF, and the focus will turn to the festival's closing-night film: "Page Eight," a spy thriller featuring Bill Nighy and directed by playwright/director David Hare. The awards ceremony will follow on Sunday.