Kiwi film Mister Pip has been lauded with positive reviews and a standing ovation at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
The film was selected to feature in the prized ''special presentation'' section at the TIFF, which runs until September 16. The film, which screened yesterday morning, is an adaptation of the critically acclaimed novel by Wellington writer Lloyd Jones.
Mister Pip tells of the last white man on the war-torn island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, who reopens a school and inspires pupils by reading Great Expectations.
Actor Hugh Laurie, formerly of the Blackadder series and star of the television series House, stars as eccentric teacher Mr Watts.
He described the film as a touching yet completely unsentimental story of love: "It is unlike any script I have read or any story I have heard - plus I get to go to New Guinea and call it work."
The film's director is New Zealander Andrew Adamson, whose Chronicles of Narnia and Shrek series of films have earned more than $US4 billion at the box office worldwide.
Reviewer Kerry Doole of Exclaim calls Mister Pip ''a powerful and poetic film''.
''The production values are of the highest order, as you'd expect with the participation of such Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings alumni as production designer Grant Major and costume designer Ngila Dickson.''
An Iceberg Ink blog reviewer said he was truly affected by the movie. ''I'd easily vote it as one of the best so far this year. Hopefully this comes out wide in release as I feel it's a very important film ... we need to take stock of the things we take for granted in Western society and how it affects the world.''
The reviewer said Hugh Laurie was absolutely wonderful in his role as Mr. Watts (Pop-Eye), but it was Xzannjah Matsi (who plays 12-year-old Matilda) who stole the show.
''Xzannjah especially could easily hold her own amongst the bigger stars of Hollywood. She should be very proud of her achievement here as she pulled off an Oscar-worthy debut performance and the rest of the audience and I agreed as we gave her a standing ovation.''
The TIFF is one of the most important and influential media events on the film and entertainment journalism calendar with its unique position as a launch-pad for likely Oscar nominees.
- The Dominion Post