Posts Tagged ‘TIFF’

TIFF ’11: City-To-City, Buenos Aires Titles

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Toronto – The Toronto International Film Festival® proudly welcomes back its City to City programme for the third consecutive year with today’s announcement of the 10 feature-length films encompassing the 2011 lineup. Earlier this year, Cameron Bailey, Co-Director of the Festival, confirmed that the 2011 spotlight would shine on Buenos Aires and introduce audiences to a newly inspired generation of Argentine filmmakers. The City to City series is an exploration of the urban experience, highlighting the best in emerging cinematic talent in a particular locale.

“We found an impressive new generation of filmmakers in Buenos Aires and a thriving film culture,” said Cameron Bailey. “We can’t wait to present these films to the world’s film critics and distributors, and especially to our audience.”

“Argentine film has been inspiring international audiences since the late 1990s, but with this programme, we wanted to consider to what extent this success is an urban phenomenon rather than simply a question of national cinema,” added Kate Lawrie Van de Ven, City to City Programmer. “The array of perspectives we’ve seen while programming this series speaks strongly of the diverse influences this community of filmmakers is bringing to the screen. There’s a dynamic film scene in the city, and many of the new directors are working in contrasting dialogue with the styles established in the 2000s by leading Argentine directors like Lucrecia Martel, Lisandro Alonso and Pablo Trapero. There’s a rich array of cinematic styles emerging across Buenos Aires, from more experimental narratives to sly genre reworks, and we’re excited to bring a sampling of that diversity to TIFF.”

Additionally, TIFF is pleased to present the return of the City to City symposium, a thought-provoking dialogue between the visiting city’s filmmakers and experts on urban culture. This year’s panel, “Buenos Aires – A Conversation,” will take place on Tuesday, September 13 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, and will be open to the public. Admission is free. Further details on featured panellists and invited guests will follow.

Caprichosos de San Telmo Alison Murray, Argentina/Canada World Premiere A portrait of the working-class musicians and dancers of Buenos Aires’s San Telmo neighbourhood, who have channeled the city’s many cultural influences into the street performance called Murga.

The Cat Vanishes Carlos Sorin, Argentina International Premiere When Beatriz picks up her husband Luis from the sanatorium, she is not quite sure if she should believe his psychiatrist’s pronouncement that he is fully cured. Her usually churlish, academic husband is suddenly friendly and cooperative, even willing to take a trip to Brazil’s beaches. When their cat Donatello disappears, Beatriz’ suspicions lead her to question her own sanity. The tension is on high throughout in Carlos Sorin’s latest feature, The Cat Vanishes.

Crane World Pablo Trapero, Argentina Pablo Trapero’s reputation-making feature debut was a seminal work in the Argentine New Wave of the 2000s. An unadorned look at the life of a man trying to make a living as a crane operator in Buenos Aires, Crane World introduced a new talent and a new realist aesthetic to the city’s cinema.

Fatherland Nicolás Prividera, Argentina World Premiere This rigorously structured and visually engrossing essay film explores Argentina’s fractious modern history through the words of writers – both founding fathers and oppositional voices – who lay buried in Buenos Aires’s famed Recoleta Cemetery.

Invasion Hugo Santiago, Argentina Canadian Premiere Invasion is the legend of a city, imaginary or real, besieged by powerful enemies and defended by a handful of men who may not be heroes. In this rare inclusion of a retrospective title, Santiago’s protagonists will fight to the end without suspecting that their battle is endless.

A Mysterious World Rodrigo Moreno, Argentina/Germany North American Premiere After his girlfriend suddenly breaks up with him, a young man’s life transforms into an erratic urban journey inexplicably connected to his temperamental communist-era car. The latest film from Rodrigo Moreno (El Custodio) is an affectionate, singular portrait of one guileless protagonist’s quixotic journey through a period of uncertainty.

Pompeya Tamae Garateguy, Argentina North American Premiere A junior screenwriter is hired by an established film director to write his new film: a gangster movie set in Buenos Aires. In each meeting, the filmmakers create a story that takes place in an imaginary Pompeya neighbourhood, plagued by secrets, political disputes and crime. When pure fiction and reality are completely corrupted, the unexpected happens. In her first solo feature, Tamae Garateguy simultaneously lambasts the Buenos Aires filmmaking scene and the gangster film, ingeniously stirring up a volatile alchemy of genres.

The Stones Román Cárdenas, Argentina International Premiere In a quiet interrupted only by the noise of boats, a couple lives without crossing each other’s paths. He is a writer waiting for the words; she is an alienated employee of a fumigation company. The Stones explores the increasing space between two people at the same time as it maps the short distance between urban Buenos Aires and its rustic flip-side in the neighbouring Paraná Delta. Román Cárdenas pairs a spellbinding visual acuity with thrilling eruptions of comedy in this feature debut.

The Student Santiago Mitre, Argentina North American Premiere The graffitied halls, run-down classrooms and surrounding streets of the University of Buenos Aires provide the ideal location for Santiago Mitre’s briskly paced debut, The Student. Mitre brilliantly exposes the backroom dealings and negotiations in the murky world of student politics, a microcosm for the world at large, in this fictional account of a young man’s discovery of his talent for politicking through his seduction of an assistant professor and activist.

Vaquero Juan Minujín, Argentina International Premiere Julian Lamar, a 33-year-old actor working on the fringes of the Buenos Aires film scene, wants to give his career a boost by landing a role in a Western a Hollywood director is going to shoot in Argentina. Vaquero, the debut feature by Argentine actor, Juan Minujín, gives an insider’s perspective of Argentina’s film community in this hilariously dark comedy.

6 Weeks To TIFF: a 20 weeks to oscar prequel (part 1 of 3)

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

I’ve been keeping my head in the sand. But August is here and I can feel the hot breath of Telluride & Toronto on my neck.

So before diving into a full Oscar column and 1st set of charts, a quick look at 15 titles that will be coming to TIFF without US distribution, but will be getting a LOT of attention nonetheless. About 2/3 of them arrive with a good amount of Oscar pedigree, if an American distributor is willing to take the leap. The fact that they have not already been snapped up suggests that there may not be a Best Picture candidate in the group, but you never know. And there are potential acting nominations all over these things.

Of course, the issue of quality is always floating out there. In the weeks to come, I will get a better sense of which films have been seen and passed on by which US distributors. But all it really takes to get a movie rolling forward these days is one big wave of media love.

First, the HIGH profile titles that are not likely to be on Oscar charts this year… but which will draw a lot of buzz and could find buyers. (alphabetical order)

Chicken With Plums – The next film from Persepolis co-/directors Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. It’s another adaptation of another of Satrai’s graphic novels, though this time, it’s a stylized live-action film, starring the great Matthieu Amalric and Isabella Rossellini.

Dark Horse – After not making a movie for 5 years, Todd Solondz now is putting out his second film in 2 years. (He was already shooting this one when Life During Wartime came out.) Selma Blair is back working with Solondz and he promises an odd romance. This filmmaker has lovers and haters… and both will be anxious to check out what he’s come up with this time.

Friends With Kids – Jennifer Westfeldt is famously the writer and star of a hot indie film, Kissing Jessica Stein. She also became Jon Hamm’s significant other. She brings her years of experience, her husband, and a lot of friends to her first directorial effort. She also benefits from having The Next Kristen Wiig Film. Shot on a shoestring, Westfeldt wrapped the movie in February and has pushed to get it ready for Toronto.
(EDITED, 5:18p for marital status.)

The Oranges – Dark-tinged unsold sex comedies with celebrities are always something to fear at a film festival. Last year, it was The Joneses. This year, it’s Hugh Laurie, Leighton Meester, Alison Janney, Oliver Platt, and Catherine Keener coming to town with The Oranges. The director is a TV guy. The writers are newbies. The story? Neighbor dad gets it on with Next Door Neighbor Daughter… hilarity ensues. Smells like a phenom or phenomenally bad.

Trishna – Michael Winterbottom does a modern take on Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, which you may remember, was the Polanski film (Tess) that launched his then-girlfriend, teenager Natassia Kinski. Gemma Arterton also got the Tess treatment in a UK mini-series. And now, Frieda Pinto, directed by the man who made 9 Songs. Men in raincoats will be lining up to check it out. Who knows whether Winterbottom will go the full Pinto, but the film will also draw a lot of attention from the romance-loving ladies of Toronto. Everyone will be hoping for a happier turn for Ms Pinto in this year’s film with her character’s first name as the title.

Inside Job, director Charles Ferguson

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Daydream Nation actors Kat Dennings & Josh Lucas

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

DP/30 @ TIFF ’10: Henry’s Crime actors Keanu Reeves, James Caan, Vera Farmiga

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

DP/30: State of the Union – Christine Vachon, producer

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

TIFF 2010: Photo & Video Array (all on iPhone)

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Up On The Roof (of the Park Hyatt)

The sad future of sell-thru DVD?

Kat Dennings & Josh Lucas do an interview for Daydream Nation in the back seat.

Sitting on the panel at Roger Ebert’s Tweetfest on Saturday afternoon

Will Ferrell clowns around (a little) at the Everything Must Go premiere


Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

A Film Produced by Creative Differences for HISTORY Films in Association with More 4

Toronto, ON (September 15, 2010) – IFC Films, the leading American distributor of independent and foreign films, announced today it has acquired all U.S. rights, excluding television, to Werner Herzog’s extraordinary 3-D documentary CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS. The documentary grants audiences remarkable access into the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave in southern France, which holds the earliest known visions of mankind. Although access to the caves has been extremely limited due to concerns that overexposure could damage the invaluable drawings, Herzog was granted permission to film by using special lights that emit no heat.

CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS is produced by Creative Differences in partnership with HISTORY Films and The French Ministry of Culture and Communication as a co-production with Arte France and in association with More 4. The documentary is produced by Erik Nelson and Adrienne Cuiffo with executive producers Dave Harding, David McKillop, Julian P. Hobbs, Molly Thompson, and Tabitha Jackson. Erik Nelson produced Herzog’s previous two feature documentaries GRIZZLY MAN and ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Jonathan Sehring, President of IFC Films remarks, “We were completely blown away by this tour-de-force from Wener Herzog. This is what great 3-D technology was created for and we really couldn’t be more excited to work with History Films, the producers, and Werner to bring this awe inspiring film to American audiences.”

David McKillop, SVP, Development and Programming, HISTORY says, “The discovery of the caves and access to them is historic and Werner’s film is unprecedented. HISTORY Films is thrilled with the distribution and collaboration with IFC and proud to be at the crossroads of the past and the future to bring this masterpiece to a broad audience in spectacular 3-D.”

Producer Erik Nelson says, “We’re very excited to be working with IFC, given their commitment and experience in supporting groundbreaking films. It feels like a good home for us.”

The deal for CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS was negotiated by Arianna Bocco and Betsy Rodgers for IFC Films, and Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment on behalf of the filmmakers with Marc Simon of Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP providing legal services.

This is the second acquisition for IFC Films at this year’s festival, following James Gunn’s dark comedy SUPER starring Ellen Page and Rainn Wilson.

About IFC Films
Established a decade ago, IFC Films – a division of Rainbow Media’s IFC Entertainment – is the leading U.S. distributor of independent and foreign film. Its unique day and date distribution model makes independent films available to a national audience by releasing them simultaneously in theaters as well as on cable’s On Demand platform and through Pay-Per-View, reaching nearly 50 million homes. IFC Films’ “IFC Midnight” label, launched in 2010, offers the very best in international genre cinema, including horror, sci-fi, thrillers, erotic arthouse, action and more. Some of the company’s successes over the years have included MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, TOUCHING THE VOID, ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, GOMORRAH, CHE, SUMMER HOURS, IN THE LOOP, ANTICHRIST, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK, and WORDPLAY. IFC Films has worked with established and breakout auteurs including Steven Soderbergh, Gus Van Sant, Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Miranda July, Lars Von Trier, Gaspar Noe, Todd Solondz, Cristian Mungiu, Susanne Bier, Olivier Assayas, Jim McKay, Larry Fessenden, Gregg Araki, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol, as well as more recent breakouts such as Andrea Arnold, Mia Hansen Love, Corneliu Porombiou, Joe Swanberg, Barry Jenkins, Lena Dunham, Aaron Katz, Daryl Wein and Abdellatif Kechiche.

About HISTORY Films
HISTORY Filmsä is the feature documentary production arm of HISTORYâ and seeks to bring cinematic stories by outstanding independent filmmakers to the widest possible audience. HISTORY Films seeks dramatic non-fiction films about extraordinary people and those singular moments in our past, present and future that stand out forever, demonstrating that History is Made Every Day. The HISTORY Films roster currently includes: Countdown to Zero (2010) (with Magnolia and Participant) and Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) (produced with Creative Differences and C4). Visit HISTORY at

About Creative Differences
Creative Differences is a Los Angeles and Vancouver based production company. Over the past fifteen years, Creative Differences has produced a wide range of programming for an even wider range of television networks, including: HISTORY, A&E, Animal Planet, Discovery, National Geographic, Fox, CBS, MTV and PBS. The company has produced notable series such as “Unsolved History,” “Time Warp,” “Blood Dolphins” and “Megadisasters” as well as the feature documentaries Grizzly Man and the Academy Awardâ-nominated Encounters at the End of the World.

Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

In the early days of the Toronto International Film Festival (then known as the Festival of Festivals) its chief nemesis was the World Film Festival in Montreal that immediately preceded it on the calendar. About a decade back the WFF imploded following government investigations and rival local events that nonetheless failed to put a stake through its heart. It still exists but at a considerably diminished level from its heyday.

Despite overlapping schedules, Toronto has never really viewed Venice as competition. The two events do share a significant number of films, particularly those from high profile filmmakers. Venice concluded yesterday with the announcement of its jury prize winners and all, with the exception of Somewhere by Sofia Coppola which took the top prize, are on the Toronto schedule.

One anticipated film that Toronto received the very first look see is Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter. It screened yesterday for press including the army of junket scribes that attend about 20 interview roundtables during TIFF’s opening weekend. They were grumbling about the filmmaker only doing two interviews during his stay and having to go to New York in October for the official press junket.

The film itself can glibly be described as Eastwood does Lelouch. The story, like many by the French writer-director, has multiple story lines involving people whose lives and tales are unconnected at least until the third act. At that point luck and coincidence take hold and, in the case of Hereafter, converge somewhat sentimentally as the principles deal with death and beyond. It’s a pretty good Lelouch and a pretty good Eastwood … but not great stuff.

Three days into the festival I’m feeling a little ambivalent about the paucity of press/industry screenings after 5 p.m. It appears that (at least during the weekend) the Scotia Bank multiplex is reluctant to give up evening screen time and the festival doesn’t quite have its home Lightbox in full operation enough to pick up the slack.

I say ambivalent because I’m using the night time to write and work and the routine of watching and writing seems significantly more grueling than in the past.

There also appears to be fewer regulars attending this year and I don’t feel like I’m getting the tom tom messages about interesting films. It may simply be the physical move this year that’s yet to establish a new buzz central or it might just be me. Grrrrrr.

Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie

Friday, September 10th, 2010

There’s a sliver of confusion that permeates the air between Queen and King and East of University in Toronto. That’s the new hub of the Toronto International Film Festival – about four subway stops South of where it resided for three decades. Reasonably speaking it shouldn’t exist and one imagines the wafting of anxiety will dissipate in a day or two. It’s just tough for some to break old routines and one can imagine veterans organizing a ceremonial march from the Sutton Place to the ManuLife Centre to commemorate miles logged in pursuit of the hot new film.

I’ve been told by people who know this sort of thing that orange is the most disturbing hue in the color spectrum. They say that it’s a shade that the eye naturally travels to and if you rest there too long it will make you ill at ease. So, the festival isn’t doing itself a favor by selecting orange for the t-shirts its hundreds of volunteers sport. It’s particularly disconcerting this year with the temporary staffers going out into the streets to distribute flyers on fest events and the organization’s new home – The Bell Lightbox – that opens officially this weekend.

“Have you been inside?” asked local filmmaker (and opera director) Atom Egoyan who I ran into on the street. “It’s great,” he enthused.

I confessed that I wasn’t yet at his enthusiasm level. However, my Lightbox experience to date had largely consisted on trying to get from point A to point B without being thwarted by confused throngs.

Still I’m favorably disposed to the new venue and reminded that TIFF has evolved into the template for what a contemporary film festival can and should be doing. I’ve read too many pieces (including a clutch by this scribe) over the years about the evolution and relevance of film festivals.

Pondering on those questions today, I’ve become convinced that film festivals ought to be the engine for other pursuits during the 50 weeks between annual programs. Sundance (even though its festival followed several years after the Institute’s establishment) does this rather well with such things as an eco-friendly consumer catalogue and selling its brand to cinemas and the like to maintain workshops and outreach programs all over the world.

Toronto has also evolved along these lines. It runs arguably the best programmed cinematheque in North America, touring film programs and underwrites scholarly research and publications that otherwise would be marginalized. The Lightbox marketing employs the catch phrase: The House That Film Built and, considering past good works, it should be a home base that’s both state of the art and sturdy.

Meanwhile back at this year’s festival, the opening day program proved to be quite half hearted in large part the result of its un-serendipitous alignment with the Jewish New Year. The official curtain raiser Score: A Hockey Musical strived to be Glee on ice but it’s one of those unfortunate tuners that lacks a single memorable song. It also doesn’t help that its writer-director Michael McGowan decided to write the song lyrics. My most haunting memory of the picture is trying to remember what word he chose to rhyme with “saliva.”

Considerably more compelling was an unheralded Russian film titled The Edge that cannot be easily log lined. Set in Siberia after the Second World War, it truly conveys the physical and emotional devastation that lingered after the German surrender. It’s hard to explain how an abandoned train engine threads through the story and gives this complex tale cohesion … but it does.

Black Swan, like such diverse films of recent time as Brokeback Mountain, Redacted and Slumdog Millionaire, arrived in Toronto fresh from heated (mostly positive) response in Venice. One can carp at some of the metaphoric devices employed in the staging of a re-imagined Swan Lake, but the film’s very audacity is essential to what makes the it work. Ballet is cinema’s short hand for obsessive, often destructive, artistic behavior and the intensity filmmaker Darren Aronofsky exacts is both difficult to watch and brilliantly realized. If there’s a more original and potent vision this year, I haven’t seen it.

Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Try as I may, I’ve yet to conquer the feeling of apprehension that floods through me as the countdown to the Toronto International Film Festival enters the single digit phase. It is a wholly irrational emotion but it nonetheless persists.

Essentially it has no basis in fact or experience or, if it does, the nature of the vulnerability occurred so long ago that its retrieval would – at minimum –  require psychiatric hypnosis. Oh, there are so many films to see and how can I ever hope to keep to a set schedule, I could trill. But that would be frippery. Barring a filmmaker burning the negative, erasing all digital elements, and immolating any existing prints, it’s pretty easy to catch up with a movie missed in the festival maelstrom – considerably more so today then when Toronto was in its naissance.

Still the festival has relocated and, I suppose, getting one’s bearings could be worrisome. I’ve yet to hear word one on the functionality of the Bell Lighthouse, the Fest’s new home.

My method of coping is simply to ignore anything relating to the event until I have no other choice but to confront matters head on. (I’ll address how that policy manifests itself very shortly). Of course, in modes both conventional and novel, one assimilates information about programs and personalities.

Just yesterday I was surprised to learn that Somewhere – the new film directed by Sofia Coppola – won’t be going to Toronto or New York. The producers decided that a screening in Venice (initial word is positive) would be sufficient for their publicity needs. That suggests they expect Europe to embrace the film more warmly …

Frankly, the prior graph almost put me to sleep. And there are people “out there” spending way too much time speculating on what will screen where; who will be promoting movies; and how much is being spent on parties. I salute all those who filter out such nonsense and inconsequence.

About the only pre-Toronto item that I found intriguing was the two-day (maybe three?) news cycle involving the fact that opening night 2010 coincided with the start of the Jewish New Year – one of the few days that secular Jews set foot in a synagogue. To the best of my knowledge this confluence is a first in the event’s history. From time to time Rosh Hashanah has overlapped with TIFF but never has it fallen on opening day (the first Thursday following Labor Day weekend for decades).

In fact, there was more commentary than news over this fact. Weren’t the Reitman’s and other Jewish benefactors upset by the situation, some speculated?  The juicy stuff appeared to be that Barney’s Version, based on the novel by Mordecai Richler and produced by Robert Lantos, would not be the opening night gala. Instead, Score: A Hockey Musical (Glee on Ice?) will wave the colors for Canada and Barney has moved to a Sunday Gala slot.

Now, a rationale sort might wonder what would be so terrible about advancing or delaying the Toronto festival by a couple of days. There’s nothing legally binding about its position on the calendar. However, if it had opened even a day earlier, the prospect of an even greater overlap with Venice and Telluride might have put the involvement of several films and personalities in jeopardy.

What’s lost in the shuffle of Toronto is that it has evolved as more than just 11 days of movies and glitz. But more on that mañana ….

TIFF Vs. MWFF: Toronto Vs. Montreal Tiff Hots Up

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

TIFF Vs. MWFF: Toronto Vs. Montreal Tiff Hots Up