Unnatural Attractions

What would draw sultry Latin films to chilly Canada? One huge festival

Kulchur befriended the sole American there, a writer for InStyle.

Got any good gossip?

"Nick Nolte's publicist is having a nervous breakdown," she offered with a shrug.

Gael Garcia Bernal, the talk of the Toronto International Film Festival, and the star of Bad Education (above) and The Motorcycle Diaries
Gael Garcia Bernal, the talk of the Toronto International Film Festival, and the star of Bad Education (above) and The Motorcycle Diaries

Of course, that was hardly news. Nolte, when he wasn't plugging his new film Hotel Rwanda, was earning boldface ink by smashing his glass of vodka down on a barroom floor, falling asleep during interviews, staggering into rush-hour traffic, and generally encouraging speculation that a return to court-ordered rehab was in his immediate future.

On the independent front, there were plenty of Miamians furiously networking. Photographer Bruce Weber made the rounds to promote his TIFF entry, the disjointed but gorgeously shot A Letter To True. Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival manager Jaie Laplante was scouting queer-themed prospects to show for his own event, while also celebrating the imminent American run of Sugar, a Canadian production he co-wrote.

Juan Carlos Zaldivar, previewing flicks for October's Florida Room documentary film festival at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, also got good career news. His own handiwork, Soldier's Pay -- co-directed with David O. Russell and intended as a real-life followup to Russell's earlier Gulf War drama Three Kings -- landed a deal with fledgling distributor Cinema Libre Studio after being unceremoniously dumped by Warner Bros., which felt its examination of the current Iraq war was too partisan for release during an election season.

Also making political waves was Fahrenheit 9/11's Michael Moore, who circulated the outline for his next project, Sicko, a critical look at America's health-care system, complete with an ending sure to endear him even more to el exilio's heart -- a visit to Cuba with several HMO-lacking American patients hoping to avail themselves of that island's socialized medicine.

Even presidential hopeful John Kerry's daughter Alexandra made the scene, attending a documentary on her father's Vietnam years, Going Up River, and developing another wardrobe malfunction in the process. In a sequel to her décolletage-baring Cannes appearance, where her sheer dress turned see-through under the glare of popping flashbulbs, Alexandra angrily tangled with a photographer who snapped a picture featuring her bra riding up out of her top. Reshoot it, she insisted, as the Kerry presidential campaign seemed about to take an even more surreal turn.

Then again, perhaps Alexandra was merely serving up a rejoinder to the Bush daughters's own take on family values. Or as Gael Garcia Bernal put it, correcting an interviewer who despaired at seeing Che Guevara's revolutionary legacy reduced to a T-shirt image: "Che would be troubled by poverty and war. But his face on a T-shirt, and underneath is a beautiful girl? He would not mind that."

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