Time to thrill Toronto

Impunity, a South African film featuring Cape Town actor Bjorn Steinbach, will be the only African feature film at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in Canada next week. Director Jyoti Mistry heard two weeks ago that her film had been accepted. by Bianca Capazorio

What followed was a mad dash to sort out the necessary visas and paperwork for her and some of the stars to attend. They leave on Thursday next week.

The festival is one of the biggest in the world and Impunity will be showcased among international films involving Hollywood royalty, including James Franco, Reese Witherspoon and Martin Scorsese.

Impunity is a thriller involving the murder of a cabinet minister's daughter.

It will screen from September 5 to 12 along with nearly 400 other films from 60 countries.

Steinbach plays the role of Derren, who is involved in an "unconventional love story of two people who try to prevent a crime but end up committing a crime".

"Myself and Alex McGregor, who plays Echo, end up forming a kind of a blood bond," Steinbach said.

Durban-born Mistry, who studied at New York University, has been working on the project for more than two years.

Steinbach said Mistry had been clear from the start about what she wanted and, despite the tight budget, had conducted nine months of weekend workshops in which the cast and writers hashed out scenes.

Said Steinbach: "It was difficult because you have to get in touch with parts of yourself that you're not so happy to admit are there. It scared the s**t out of me."

He is excited about the prospect of running into actor Benedict Cumberbatch and childhood hero Arnold Schwarzenegger - though reports yesterday indicated that The Terminator star had pulled out of the festival after his film had been picked up by a studio.

Steinbach has appeared in several international productions, but his focus lately has been on local productions.

"The smaller roles on international films pay better because budgets are bigger, but I find I learn more from a lead role so my focus for the past two years has been on South African productions."

His next film is called Marriage of Heaven and Hell, directed by Ross Rayners, in which he plays a paraplegic narcissist.


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