Yesterday Torontoist received a surprise in the mail – our University Diploma, only about two years after we’d graduated. It’s perhaps because of that that we couldn’t help but feel a bit college-minded when heading off to the Toronto International Film Festival Group’s Canadian press conference – imagining a lecture theatre, or something, some boring speeches, people taking notes, and that being about it. Our first mistake was thinking that way – our second was eating lunch before we came out. Because, of course, this is a press conference, not a lecture, and what that means (as far as we can tell) is a room full of free booze and fancy foods, for which, sadly, we had no appetite.
The thing is, though, we were probably the only ones. Did you ever have a lecturer (or teacher) who made a really big point about not giving you notes? You know, all like “I’m not going to print out notes as you won’t pay attention.” Perhaps TIFFG should take that stance, or at least one which states “Hey, no food until the speeches are done”, because people are rude, man. Is it really to hard to stop piling your plate up with free shrimp for the paltry few minutes it takes to hear what kind of crazy interesting stuff TIFFG have chosen to show us from our national cinema this year? I’m talking to you, crazy old ladies and hyper smooth air kissers. Oh, also the odd journalist who knew he was getting a press kit anyway (but I won’t name names).
Of course, your erstwhile reporter Torontoist was there and we were paying attention, apart from the bit where the zombie was on stage and we were busy checking the exits/looking for a useful bludgeon.
Let’s start with that zombie, actually. They honestly announced way too much for us to go into depth on many, but the Canada First! Programme opens with Fido, Andrew Currie’s imagining of a 50’s style Earth where the reanimated dead are turned into house pets and domestic workers. Carrie-Anne Moss and Billy Connolly star. The programme also features the Douglas Coupland written Everything’s Gone Green, directed by Paul Fox. We’d talk about that more, but having just picked up Jpod and found out the first line it is ‘God, I feel like a character in a Douglas Coupland novel’ we kind of think the guy is a jerk.
There’s only one flick from Ontario this year in Canada First (Mazdak Taebi’s Mercy) the rest mostly from BC and Québec, but Nova Scotia pops its head in too.
Anyway. One director who certainly isn’t there for the first time is Allan King, celebrating his 5th decade of filmmaking with Empz 4 Life, a documentary centring on the lives of 4 teenagers in “Emps”, a suburb in Toronto. The world premier is at TIFF as part of the Masters programme.
Sarah Polley was there too, letting folks know her directorial debut Away From Her will be a Gala presentation. It sounds… Hearbreaking. After a 40 year marriage a wife, Fiona, played by Julie Christie, loses her memory and falls in love with another bloke.
I’m sad already.
In Contemporary World Cinema Michael Mabbott (of last year’s The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico) might cheer us up, I guess, with Citizen Duane, and there’s also Monkey Warfare, starring Don McKellar.
The Real to Reel documentary programme features three Canadian docs, including Jim Brown and Gary Bruns’ Radiant City, and Special Presentations includes a showing Guy Maddin’s new silent film Brand Upon the Brain! To be screened with live musical and foley accompaniment. There’s Short Cuts Canada, of course, featuring 38 shorts, and this year’s Canadian Retrospective showcases the work of Peter Mettler.
A lot of stuff, then! All the press releases are available at the Toronto International Film Festival Group website if you want to delve a little deeper yourself. It actually includes one we missed – they’ve also already announced their Spanish language titles, which includes Pan’s Labyrinth, from Guillermo Del Toro.