Monday, 16 September 2013

TIFF without the parties


Did you know that there are people who go to the Toronto International Film Festival who do not care about catching a glimpse of their favourite celebrity or attending exclusive parties?  Well, there are.  For ten days the city of Toronto is taken over by its love for film.  During my TIFF experience I met several people who had taken the week off of work to do nothing but watch film. A few of the chaps I spoke to had watched 30 films! That's three films every day for the duration of the festival.  Bananas!!!

In years past I have tried many different ways of experiencing the festival.  I've gone to galas and tried to sneak into some exclusive parties (not always successfully, but it's all part of the adventure).  This year I chose to focus on the important stuff: experiencing film.  I mean, that is what it's about after all. My selection process included reading hundreds of film descriptions and avoiding any films that were likely to be released in mainstream theaters.  Trailers for movies like "Gravity" and "Rush" have already been in theaters for months, so I didn't see the need to watch them in the festival.   I ended up with tickets to seven films in my hands.

I won't bore you with reviews, but I will share with you some highlights. 

I watched one Canadian feature film with Hollywood star Jake Gyllenhaal called "Enemy" that was based on Jose Saragamo's work called "The Double".  This screening left me with a lot of thoughts and even more questions.  I talk about some of those here.

I got to experience my first ever Anime Feature Film called "The Wind Rises".  It was beautiful.  My only previous experience with Anime had been such programs as Sailor Moon, so it was nice to be exposed to a deeper more artful side of Anime.  With limited words and picturesque scenes it was a moving story of perseverance, dreams and love.  This will continue to be shown at the TIFF Lightbox once the red carpets have all been rolled up.

I also decided to put on my big girl pants and go to my first ever Midnight Madness.  It was a screening for a Japanese film entitled "R100".  The energy was amazing! Midnight madness is traditionally reserved for horror films, of which I normally can't stomach (read, they make me cry like a little girl), so I was excited to hear about a dark comedy about a man being chased by a gang of dominatrix.  What I was not expecting was the audience reaction to Hitoshi Matsumoto.  I had never heard that name before that day, but I'll never forget the screaming, cheering and picture taking that occurred when he walked on stage.  The audience don' gone lost their minds! The film was weird, twisted and hilarious.  My first Midnight Madness was a great success!

I got a little extra Canadian-Content with a screening of Short Cuts Canada Program 6.  We watched 6 films of about 15-20 minutes in length covering all different themes, styles and experience.  All of the Canadian short films have been posted to You Tube.  The Winner was a film called, "Noah", but I also really enjoyed "Lay over".  If you didn't get to watch these in the theatre, I would highly recommend you check them out.  I mean, you tube is free and all.

I watch one total dud all festival called El Mudo.  It didn't go anywhere.  This probably would've been more successful as a short film instead of a feature length as it painfully dragged through the 90 minutes. 

Thank goodness for "Beneath the Harvest Sky" as it reaffirmed my faith in independent film.  It was a beautifully crafted film which was quite obviously a labour of love for many of the people involved.  And it somehow avoids being overly cliche as a bildungsroman about 2 teen boys with obvious differences in upbringing, character, and promising futures. I'm crossing my fingers that this bad boy gets picked up so that you all have the opportunity to watch it.

My final film was "All is By My Side", a bio pic about Jimi Hendrix played by Andre Benjamin.  He did a phenomenal job of capturing Hendrix' speech, his posture and his swag.  I was really impressed by his first foray into acting.  I would also like to commend the film makers on doing a great job in making a film about a musician without being able to obtain any rights to the music. 

And there you have it.  TIFF has come and gone and has left of with some movies that we can't wait for our friends to see, some that we hope never to see again and others that make us glad just to have been there.  If you didn't make it to any of the screening, check in with the programming at TIFF through the rest of the year as they often bring back some of the favourites.  

Enjoy the show!