Zac Efron and Orson Welles finally have something in common.

A period piece about a 1937 Orson Welles stage production of 'Caesar'? Not exactly what you'd expect from Richard Linklater, the man behind 'Dazed and Confused,' 'Before Sunrise' and 'Walking Life.'

A period piece starring Disney pin-up Zac Efron? Even less so.

But 'Me and Orson Welles' is one of the most pleasant surprises of the festival, thanks in large part to Efron's lead performance as a young wannabe actor who hustles his way into the Welles production -- and temporarily, into his inner-circle -- four years before the man would make 'Citizen Kane.'


Zac Efron and Orson Welles finally have something in common.

A period piece about a 1937 Orson Welles stage production of 'Caesar'? Not exactly what you'd expect from Richard Linklater, the man behind 'Dazed and Confused,' 'Before Sunrise' and 'Walking Life.' A period piece starring Disney pin-up Zac Efron? Even less so.

But 'Me and Orson Welles' is one of the most pleasant surprises of the festival, thanks in large part to Efron's lead performance as a young wannabe actor who hustles his way into the Welles production -- and temporarily, into his inner-circle -- four years before the man would make 'Citizen Kane.' The film paints Welles (Christian McKay) as an eccentric, egomaniac, genius, dictator, and massive a-hole; it'll certainly give you a newfound image of the movie icon. It will also give you newfound respect for Efron, who proves he can bring the drama (but don't you worry 'HSM' maniacs, he still sings, and his hair is just as impressive). Efron holds his own against the unknown McKay, which is saying a ton: McKay's portrayal of the larger-than-life Welles is a tour de force. I wouldn't be shocked if they tried to get this baby released in time for Oscar consideration.

Versatile British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom switches gears from his politically-minded last two efforts ('Road to Guantanamo' and 'A Mighty Heart') for the quietly affecting family drama 'Genova.' After his wife (Hope Davis) is killed in a car accident, Colin Firth moves his two daughters to the historic and picturesque titular Italian town. As they struggle to adjust, his oldest (Willa Holland of 'O.C.' fame) begins making bed buddies, while the youngest (Perla Haney-Jardine) starts seeing her mother's ghost. This isn't a ghost story, though (or if it is, it's not a very scary one), but a simple and touching tale about overcoming loss.