By Anealla Safdar in Toronto
Over 1,000 watched “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” last night and gave a standing ovation as the political thriller made its North American premiere in Toronto’s 2,000 seater Roy Thomson Hall.
Director Mira Nair and actors Riz Ahmed, Kiefer Sutherland and Kate Hudson met fans and answered questions from the press on their way to the gala screening.
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is the latest international film financed by the Doha Film Institute.
Toronto International Film Festival director Piers Handling and director Mira Nair introduced the occasion, giving gratitude to those who made the film and telling the audience an interesting back story.
Here’s what they said:
Piers Handling, Toronto International Film Festival director:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist and its creative team have just come from opening the Venice Film Festival. Mira Nair has been a regular at Toronto since her international hit “Salaam Bombay”, made in 1988. Eleven years ago in 2001, she was in Toronto to present her film Monsoon Wedding, with one of the two galas scheduled for the evening of September 11.
Those days’ dramatic events resulted in the cancellation of the screening. A circle of some sort has been closed with her return to Toronto for her new film.
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is a deeply thoughtful look at the legacy of 9/11, how the events of that day impacted a young Pakistani studying in the US. Deeply in love with all things American, his life was dramatically altered. This is a necceary film, a film that penetrtes into the mind of Paksitanis.
An event like 9/11 leaves beind many legacies, and this story is one of them. Mira and her cast have done a wonderful job, navigating the complexities of his tale. This is filmmaking with a purpose and we applaud their courage.
Mira Nair, The Reluctant Fundamentalist director:
Salam, Namaskar. Thank you Toronto, you’ve always been such a passionate audience for my cinema, for any cinema, and it’s a great, great pleasure to feel your embrace.
This year film is a five-year oddessy, probably the hardest film that we have made since “Salaam Bombay” and I have to really thank a number of people, especially the Doha Film Institute, that gave me the gift of total creative freedom, which is an incredible gift.
I dedicate this screening to two men. One is Mohsin Hamid, who wrote the most elegant mind-game of a best selling book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. I wish he was here tonight…the second person is Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the great Pakistani poet laureate who inspired my father, who was raised in Lahore and inspired me. His poems are put to music in this film and his inspiration lives on within me every day.
There is a saying, a Swahili proverb, which says a person is a person because of other persons. And so to a film, a film is a film because of the other artists who bring along their talent and their artistry to make this film come alive and I have so much pleasure in introducing you my film family.”