Deepa Mehta's controversial Indian movie WATER will open the Toronto International Film Festival on 8 September (05) - five years after violent protests forced Mehta to cease shooting the project in India.

In 2000, hardline Hindu's burnt down the film's sets in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh because they believed the movie - which deals with child widows in the 1930s - was an unfair representation of Indian culture.

Mehta, who has Canadian citizenship, received death threats and was forced to finish the project in Sri Lanka after taking a break to shoot romantic comedy BOLLYWOOD/HOLLYWOOD.

She says, "The film is absolutely not anti-Hindu ... the script was read and passed by the very government that protested, so you wonder about that. When I talk about it, people think that I'm talking about Indians. It's not that. It's a group of Indian fundamentalists, which is not India. India has been very supportive of me."

Mehta beat off competition from fellow Canadian film-makers DAVID CRONENBERG and Atom Egoyan to be offered the opening screening at the festival which is widely recognised as one of the most influential in the world.

Mehta adds, "I'm in good company. Atom and David are filmmakers I respect and admire deeply, so I feel doubly thrilled."

29/06/2005 05:55