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In this taut psychological thriller from director Ruba Nadda (Cairo Time), a doctor (Patricia Clarkson) takes in a mysterious man (Scott Speedman) when he washes ashore at her remote cottage with a gunshot wound — and soon discovers that his would-be killer (Tim Roth) is on his way to finish the job.

Writer-director Ruba Nadda has received acclaim for character-driven dramas such as Sabah and Cairo Time (winner of Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2009 Festival). Nadda's newest film October Gale brings her astute psychological insight to bear on a thriller set in the picturesque but often treacherous islands of Georgian Bay.

Toronto doctor Helen Matthews (Patricia Clarkson, also appearing at the Festival in Learning to Drive), mourning the death of her husband (Callum Keith Rennie), retreats to the isolated island cabin where they'd spent some of their most loving moments together. Her reminiscences are cut short when a mysterious man, Will (Scott Speedman), washes ashore, bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound. She tends to his injuries; he refuses to explain what happened. But when a nasty storm traps them on the island, and Will's would-be killer returns to finish the job, Helen and Will's ability to trust each other becomes a matter of survival.

Nadda and cinematographer Jeremy Benning show masterful visual command, carving up the space into stately wide shots and prowling camera moves that will keep you wondering what's around the next corner — or tree. But at its core, this is a story about a couple warily exploring their growing connection. Clarkson inflects her every gesture with telling detail, and Speedman delivers a fascinating characterization as the taciturn yet endearingly guileless stranger. Complementing this central pair with a riveting, surprising performance by the multivalent Tim Roth, October Gale is an intimate, suspenseful drama from one of Canada's most exciting filmmakers.

AGATA SMOLUCH DEL SORBO

Ruba Nadda

Ruba Nadda is a Montreal-born, Toronto-based filmmaker. She attended York University and the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. She has written and directed several feature films, including Sabah (05) and the Festival selections Cairo Time (09), which won Best Canadian Feature, and Inescapable (12). October Gale (14) is her latest film.

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