By Jenna Zucker
TORONTO (Reuters) – Actors Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard brought Hollywood glamour to the Toronto International Film Festival for their family drama “Memory” amid strikes that have kept most celebrities off the carpets.
The film received an interim agreement from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), allowing the stars to promote their work at a festival that’s been mostly star-less due to the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes.
Sarsgaard joins the North American premiere of the film after taking the prize for best actor at the Venice Film Festival, which marks the start of the awards season and regularly throws up big favourites for the Oscars.
“Memory” is a drama about Chastain’s character, Sylvia, trying to overcome the abuse of her past while struggling to build a future. For director Michel Franco, the story is important because it centres on people who are often ignored in society.
“It came from my need to shine a light on broken people,” he said. “These are mature characters that seem to have no opportunity to be happy.”
For Sarsgaard, who plays a man with early-onset dementia named Saul, the film is about connection and working through trauma.
“This type of movie is to connect people back with … what it’s like to be a human being, in whatever way that is,” he said.
Sylvia and Saul build an unlikely relationship after he follows her home from a high school reunion, leading the characters to confront their past.
“There is a way out of trauma through love,” said Chastain, and she hopes this film helps the audience realize that in their own lives.
(Reporting by Jenna Zucker; editing by Miral Fahmy)