Posts Tagged ‘Toronto International Film Festival’

TIFF ’11 Dispatch: So Long, and Thanks for All the Films

Friday, September 16th, 2011

This was a pretty fantastic year to be at TIFF. I saw many solid films, a fair number of fair-to-middling films, only one film bad enough to warrant a rare walkout, and even a few that were great.

The area around the Lightbox and Scotiabank felt like a real live festival center this year, complete with a few days of thronging crowds and celebrity gawkers blocking the sidewalk, but more importantly, on the P&I side, a real sense of a fest community, with lots of gathering at Second Cup and the Canteen by day and the bars and restaurants lining King and John streets by night. Nothing yet that quite matches the ambiance of the Petit Majestic bar in Cannes late nights for industry folks drinking and talking films and deal making, but many of the restaurant/bars with patios along John St between the Lightbox and Scotiabank especially, had a bit of that feel this year at TIFF.

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 ….

I Just Flew Into Toronto, and Boy, Are My Arms Tired

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

After a full day of travel, I finally landed in Toronto around 10PM tonight. I spent part of the flight watching screeners — I’ll have a review of Swedish film Behind Blue Skies up soonish, but in brief: it’s kind of a Swedish Holy Rollers (the Jesse Eisenberg, Hasidic Jews smuggling ecstasy flick), set in the ’70s, and stars Bill Skarsgård (Son of Stellan) in a soulful, impressive lead performance.

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

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

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