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TIFF: Steven Spielberg’s Heartfelt ‘The Fabelmans’ Premieres to Boisterous Ovation



The world premiere of The Fabelmans — the autobiographical drama from Steven Spielberg — was a family affair, with his three sisters sitting in the audience alongside Paul Dano, Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and other actors playing the fictionalized versions of the legendary director’s kin.

“This film is a way of bringing my mom and dad back,” said the filmmaker after the screening at the Toronto Film Festival. “And it also brought my sisters closer to me than I ever thought possible. That was worth making the film for.” (Spielberg’s mom, Leah, died in 2017 at the age of 97. His father, Arnold, died in 2020 at the age of 103.)

The logline for the film reads: “Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, a young man named Sammy Fabelman discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.”

During the screening, performances that got the biggest reaction from the crowd were Judd Hirsch as the wacky and art-loving Uncle Boris, Gabriel LaBelle as the young Sammy Fabelman — a stand-in for Spielberg, himself — and David Lynch in a surprise cameo. . After the screening, the audience inside the Princess of Wales theater gave the movie a lengthy standing ovation to the point where TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey had to ask everyone to sit down so they could start the Q&A.

The Fabelmans marks the first time the Oscar winner debuted a movie at the film festival. “I want to say I am really glad we came to Toronto. You got to watch it without all of the subtitles,” said Spielberg.

After the premiere, the director talked about the inception of Fabelmans, with writer-producer Tony Kushner playing the role of therapist. He elaborated, “When COVID hit, we had a lot of time and we had a lot of fear. I don’t think anyone knew in March or April of 2020 what was going to be the state of art or the state of life even a year from then. As things got worse and worse, I felt that if I was going to leave anything behind, what was the thing that I need to resolve and unpack about my mom, my dad and my sisters?”

Spielberg added, “This is something I have been thinking about for a long time. I didn’t really know when I was going to get around to this. This is not because I am going to retire and this is my swan song, I promise.”

The Fabelmans will be released Nov. 11 via Universal.

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