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Toronto Jewish Film Festival opens with Midas Man about ex-Beatles manager Brian Epstein

Toronto Jewish Film Festival Epstein
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd plays Brian Epstein in Midas Man.

The 32nd Toronto Jewish Film Festival will open with a U.K. biopic about the so-called Fifth Beatle. Brian Epstein managed the Fab Four from 1961 until his death at the age of 32 in 1967.

In Midas Man, which screens at 8 p.m. on May 30 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (The Queen’s Gambit) plays Epstein. He was a businessman managing a family-owned Liverpool music store when he learned about the Beatles.

Eddie Marsan plays Epstein’s father Harry and Emily Watson is cast as his mother Malka.

One of Epstein’s tasks as the Beatles manager was to fire the drummer, Pete Best, played by Adam Lawrence. That’s because the band wanted him replaced with Ringo Starr. Epstein also advised the Beatles to embrace a cleaner and more upscale wardrobe and grow shaggy hairstyles.

Campbell Wallace plays Ringo in Midas Man, with Blake Richardson cast as Paul McCartney, Jonah Lees as John Lennon, and Leo Harvey-Elledge as George Harrison. Jay Leno appears in the film as TV show host Ed Sullivan.

Midas Man is directed by Joe Stephenson (Doctor Jekyll). He came in after previous directors Sara Sugarman (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen) and Jonas Akerlund (Spun, Lords of Chaos) withdrew from the project.

George Harrison and John Lennon spoke about Brian Epstein shortly after he died.

Epstein biopic is part of Pride at TJFF2024

Epstein was gay and that led to some ribbing from Lennon. However, Epstein’s sexual orientation did not dissuade the Beatles from working with him at a time when the LGBTQ+ community faced intense discrimination.

Midas Man is one of five films at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival listed under the banner “Pride at TJFF2024”.

Another feature-length dramatic film in this series is Shauly Melamed’s Hebrew-language documentary Taboo: Amos Guttman. Guttman, a Romanian-born Israeli director, made four features before dying of AIDS in 1993. It will screen at 7 p.m. on June 3 at Innis Town Hall.

A third feature-length film in Pride at TJFF2024 is Unspoken, which is directed by Jeremy Borison (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Kings of Summer). It’s a U.S. coming-of-age film about a teenager, played by Noam Stein, who’s having difficulty coming out to his religious parents. But then he discovers a love letter written by his grandfather to another man before the Holocaust. It screens at 8 p.m. on June 5 at Alliance Francaise.

The other two films in the series are available virtually. One of them, Amazing Grace, which was Guttman’s final film. Released in 1992, it’s a Hebrew-language love story that deals openly with AIDS. The other, “More Than Friends”, is a 2023 Hebrew-language Israeli short directed by Omri Laron. It’s about a lesbian mom who finds a love letter written by her 11-year-old son to another boy.

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival runs from May 30 to June 9. For showtimes, visit the website. Learn more about the communities that make up Canada on the Toronto Spark website. Follow the Toronto Spark on X @TOSparkOfficial.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Toronto Spark editor Charlie Smith has worked as a journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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