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Kidman set to roar with Lion in Toronto

AAP logoAAP 6/09/2016 Peter Mitchell

Nicole Kidman's pursuit of a second Oscar will officially begin on the weekend when her acclaimed new drama, Lion, has its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

The Canadian festival marks the traditional start to Hollywood awards season, with glowing reviews in Toronto launching a film's Oscar campaign and cold receptions quickly sinking a movie's prospects.

"Lion is an extremely accomplished piece of work," Toronto Film Festival programmer Jane Schoettle told AAP on Tuesday.

If Lion is a hit, it could foreshadow a bumper night for the Australian film industry at February's Oscars, just as George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road amassed a swag of gold statuettes at the last Academy Awards.

Kidman, who won the best actress Oscar in 2003 for The Hours, co-stars with David Wenham while fellow Australians director Garth Davis, screenwriter Luke Davies, producer Emile Sherman and cinematographer Greig Fraser could be in line for awards for Lion.

Shot in Melbourne, Hobart and India, Lion follows the story of a five-year-old Indian boy Saroo Bailey (played by Dev Patel) who gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, is adopted by an Australian couple and 25 years later sets out to find his family in India.

The Toronto Film Festival runs from Thursday to September 18, with 397 films screened.

Other Australian films in Toronto include Joe Cinque's Consolation, based on the true story of Australian National University student Anu Singh killing her boyfriend by lacing his coffee with Rohypnol and injecting him with heroin at a dinner party.

Based on Helen Garner's book, the film is directed and written by Sotiris Dounoukos and stars Maggie Naouri, Jerome Meyer and Gia Carides.

Boys in the Trees, written and directed by Nicholas Verso, also screens in Toronto.

The film is about two alienated teens who begrudgingly find themselves walking home together on Halloween 1997, their last night of high school, and then embark on a surreal journey through their memories, dreams and fears.

Another film with Oscar buzz and testing the critical waters in Toronto is Joel Edgerton's Loving.

The Australian actor plays Richard Loving, who along with his wife Mildred Jeter, were arrested and sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 because they violated inter-racial marriage laws.

Each year Schoettle travels to Australia seeking movies for the Toronto Film Festival.

Often films are not finished or she takes DVDs back to Canada to view and then extends invitations to a handful.

"It's a long combination of meetings, screenings and many many flat whites get consumed," Schoettle said.

The film festival veteran is particularly bullish about Lion's prospects during Hollywood award season.

"These things are notoriously difficult to predict and often a film may not have distribution support that's correct in order to really get out there," Schoettle said.

"But in terms of the cluster of films that everybody has been talking about, I absolutely think it is going to be in that pack."

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