I was completely swept up in the emotion of Vadim Perelman's first film, House of Sand and Fog, which had its World Premiere as the closing night presentation of AFI Fest in 2003. I was a festival volunteer at the time and both the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood and an adjacent overflow theater were completely sold out. I was exhausted but desperately wanted to see at least a few minutes of the film, so I sneaked in near an exit to take a peek -- and ended up standing for the entire 126 minutes! I've never done that before or since; for me it remains a testament to the magnetic power of the story and the performances, especially Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly.

Did anyone stand in the back for the entire 90-minute running time of Perelman's latest, In Bloom, when it screened in Toronto this week? I don't know, but distributor Magnolia Pictures was sufficiently enthralled to acquire North American rights to the film, according to Anne Thompson of Variety. She notes: "This is the first collaboration between 2929 [Productions], owned by Wagner/Cuban Companies, a vertically integrated group of entertainment properties co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, and its specialty arm."

Based on a novel by Laura Kasischke, In Bloom stars Uma Thurman as a woman suffering from survivor's guilt years after a Columbine-like shooting tragedy. Evan Rachel Wood plays the same character in high school. The subject matter sounds dark and depressing, but Thurman hasn't had a serious dramatic role for years, so I hope the results are impressive and memorable.