My capsule review & pics of “Parkland” North American Premiere Q&A at 2013 Toronto Film Festival

On Sunday, September 8, 2013 I attended the gala North American Premiere of Parkland at the Toronto International Film Festival. The sold-out screening took place in the historic 1000-seat Winter Garden Theatre. The film was a selection in the Gala Presentation section.

In the span of less than a week, Parkland premiered in Venice, played the Deauville American Film Festival in France, and had its triumphant North American debut in Toronto. Major buzz followed the movie around, no doubt in part due to its all-star cast including Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron, Colin Hanks, Ron Livingston, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Tom Welling, Mark Duplass, Jackie Earle Haley, and Paul Giamatti. But Parkland would surely have been just as much a magnet for audiences and the media given its subject matter.

Coming just a couple of months before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Parkland is unique in its singular focus on the people and events we rarely hear about, the doctors and nurses at the titular hospital where Kennedy was brought, the FBI and Secret Service agents who scrambled to make sense of what was happening, and, perhaps most of all, the man who shot the only film footage of the event itself. That reluctant icon of recent American history, Abraham Zapruder, is portrayed by Paul Giamatti. I’d call it one of his best performances but he’s among the cream of the crop of this generation’s greatest actors and that he nails this one goes without saying.         

Parkland is quite an auspicious directorial debut for Peter Landesman, who also wrote the screenplay. He first came to my attention as the writer of a 2004 article about human trafficking, "The Girls Next Door," which was published in The New York Times. That story became the basis for the narrative feature Trade, which was one of my Top 10 from the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and made my list of the best of that year. With Parkland, he tackles another fact-based narrative based on an extremely controversial subject.    

It was shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker). He was also behind the camera for United 93, Coriolanus, and Captain Phillips, the Tom Hanks picture opening next week. (Hanks is one of the producers of Parkland, which stars his son Colin.) The score was composed by one of the most celebrated musicians of our time, James Newton Howard, with eight Oscar nominations to his credit and a Grammy Award for 2008’s The Dark Knight (with Hans Zimmer). He’s written the music for over 150 features and dozens of television shows, with a string-heavy orchestral style that’s instantly recognizable to many. It's clear from the start that the creative team was passionate about the project and it shows.

Writer/director Peter Landesman introduced the film and returned after the screening for an enlightening Q&A session.  

Here are some pictures I shot during the intro and Q&A:

GALLERY (24 photos)


NOTE: I selected Parkland for my Toronto International Film Festival Top Picks. It has distribution in over a dozen territories worldwide, including Remstar in Canada and Exclusive Releasing in the US. It opens here tomorrow, October 4, at 217 locations.

Parkland Trailer HD (2013)

PARKLAND recounts the chaotic events that occurred in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, the day President John F.…
  • Video Release: September 02, 2013
  • Length: 2.43 min
  • Views: 1079


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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