20/08/2010 | By

Nothing that you take for granted is fixed…..

Controversial Joaquin Phoenix doc to screen at TIFF

Casey Affleck’s controversial movie about Joaquin Phoenix’s attempt to launch a hip-hop career will screen at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival, but organizers are keeping mum about the project.

Whether "I’m Still Here" is a documentary or a staged mockumentary has been the subject of much discussion online, but festival co-director Cameron Bailey refused to categorize the movie.

"Well, I think what Casey’s calling it is a portrayal of Joaquin Phoenix and the last couple of years in his life," Bailey said Tuesday.

"I think what he wants to do as the director is to show what Joaquin’s been experiencing and the changes he’s been going through and leave it to each viewer … to make their own conclusions from that."

The much-discussed Phoenix flick — which marks Affleck’s directorial debut — is among a new set of gala films and special presentations unveiled on Tuesday by the festival, which will also include offerings from Oscar-winners Clint Eastwood, Danny Boyle and Dustin Lance Black.

Phoenix caused a sensation last year when he declared his intention to quit acting in favour of music.

A series of bizarre appearances followed, including a memorable guest spot on "Late Show with David Letterman," during which a mumbling Phoenix — sporting a shaggy beard and sunglasses — was mostly incomprehensible.

The incident prompted many to wonder if Phoenix’s music career was an elaborate put-on in service of a film project from Affleck, who is his brother-in-law.

Buzz about the film hasn’t exactly been positive. Details of an advance screening for film buyers were leaked to the L.A. Times, with reports circulating that the film featured more nudity than a pornographic movie and a scene in which another individual defecates on Phoenix while he sleeps.

But Bailey, who called the film "fascinating," warned that viewers’ preconceptions about the film are likely to be upended.
"What I can tell you is that if you think you know what the whole last couple of years for Joaquin Phoenix (have been) all about, and you think you have firm conclusions about that, the film is going to throw that wide open again," he said. "Nothing that you take for granted is fixed.

"What I like about the film and what I like about what Casey Affleck does generally, is that he asks questions more than he offers you conclusions. And I think when you finish watching the film, you’re going to have to rethink what you may have thought about this actor."