This year the Toronto International Film Festival features a mind-melting 352 films and over 500 guests from across the world. It’s no wonder, then, that not only is the press conference in which they announce the majority of these almost impossible to keep up with but that we’ve spent the last couple of hours just trying to think of a way to approach this post to give you the maximum amount of information without overwhelming you. We could just start yelling stuff out that we learned today randomly, we guess. Did you know there are 12,855 registered volunteers for this year’s festival, and that for the sixth consecutive year their most popular name is Jennifer? (Sucks to be you, Jennys of the world)
Oh, you don’t care? That’s not what you came here for? Fine, then! We’ll talk about the movies. But never forget how important the volunteers are!
Nathan Phillips Square was beautiful this morning, perhaps a little too beautifully sunny and warm, if anything (it’s a good thing TIFFG were giving away water and soda) and the pigeons were broody but the baby seagulls were active and terrifying. We watched them in a massive scrum tearing something apart. We think it was a little girl.
After we escaped Nathan Phillips Square’s evil birdy overlords, we heard all about what wonders TIFF has for us this year. We’re going to pick and choose so we’re not here all day, but let’s start with the Galas they announced today – which include scheduling information. They’re all on at Roy Thompson Hall, as usual.
Ridley Scott’s A Good Year (Sept. 9th, 6:30pm) – Russell Crowe plays a stock broker jerk who inherits his uncle’s French vineyard. In attempting to fix it up for resale he probably goes through a miraculous character transformation, or something. That, or he drinks all the wine and beats everyone up. Based on Peter Mayle’s novel. It ain’t Blade Runner, that’s for sure.
Anthony Minghella’s Breaking And Entering (Sept 13th, 6:30pm) – Jude Law doesn’t spend much time with his wife and kid because he’s working all the time, and then his work is robbed (oh no!) He finds out who wot dun it and follows him to the grimy side of London (with retribution in mind?). He probably then goes through a miraculous character transformation. Just a guess, and Jude Law’s personal life is too complex for us to make a succinct joke about (i.e. Russel Crowe, above).
Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book (Sept 13th, 9:30pm) – Eww. Ewww. Ew. Paul Verhoeven. Finding out there’s a new Paul Verhoeven film coming out is a bit like finding out there’s a new STD doing the rounds, but this is apparently a proper, serious film, so let’s give it a chance. In 1944, the Jewish Carice van Houten and her family attempt to escape the Nazis (as you would). She apparently escapes a horrific bloodbath, joins the resistance and has to seduce a Nazi officer, for some reason or another. This sounds utterly ripe for Verhoeven to turn it into a sex and gore sleazeathon (as per usual, but this time in even worse taste) but, ahem… We promise we’ll give it a chance.
Douglas McGrath’s Infamous (Sept 14th, 9:30pm) – Another film about Truman Capote? Eh? We hope this one features music from “Paul McCartney” (skip to 7:10). Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rossellini, and Sigourney Weaver are all in it. We can think of nothing else to say about it, copy and paste some stuff from last year’s Capote film.
Oh, the closing night gala is Michael Apted’s Amazing Grace.
Yes, the galas with their red carpets and their stars are the big noise, but there’s always some amazing stuff going on outside of that. You absolutely only have to look at the Mavericks programme. Michael Moore is coming to discuss (and show clips from) his films Sicko, and the (previously unknown?) The Great ’04 Slacker Uprising. John Waters is coming and is going to have a chat with the director of Shortbus, John Cameron Mitchell. And, exciting to over a billion fans (and my mum) Shah Rukh Kahn and Amitabh Bachchan (“swoon” – my mum) are coming to have a discussion about Bollywood.
That’s honestly amazing.
There were 34 films added to Contemporary World Cinema today, which is why even the press release about it is kind of… A bit busy. We just managed to decipher that James McAvoy will also be seen in Tom Vaughan’s Starter For 10, which is about a student’s attempt to get on the beloved UK televisual institution University Challenge, and, frankly, we gave up on trying to undestand any more of it. Take a look yourself!
11 films were added to the Special Presentations line up, we note Johnnie To’s Exiled (joining a double feature of Election 1&2… Awesome!); Marc Evans’ Snow Cake, featuring Alan Rickman, shot in Ontario; and Hong Sang-soo’s Woman on the Beach.
The Visions line-up gets 15 new films and an award: The Swarovski Cultural Innovation Award, a juried prize given to the best title in the programme. Will it be… D.O.A.P, Gabriel Range’s drama? What do you think it stands for, readers? We’re thinking “Donkeys on a Plane”, right? They’re scarier than snakes (to men-folk with self esteem issues, anyway). It could be Belle Toujours, Manoel de Olivera’s tribute to 1967’s Belle De Jour. We already hope it goes to Zidane: Un Portrait Du XXIéme Siécle, because a) we love football b) Zidane is arguably the greatest player since Pelé, c) Mogwai did the soundtrack!
Wavelengths was fully announced, which is one of the most unique and important programmes in the festival, featuring the kind of experimental and artistic films it’s almost impossible to see anywhere else. Sadly, we know little about the scene, and can’t really pick what would be good off the top of our head. We hope to learn about it this year. This year will feature work from Abbas Kiarostami, Mika Taanila, Jay Rosenblatt, Nathaniel Dorsky, Christoph Girardet, and Matthias Müller.
Masters and Vanguard also gained several films today, Vanguard picking up Ethan Hawke’s The Hottest State, and Dialogues features several exciting talks, but our pick, above all others, is Costa Gavras screening and discussing Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine, an absolutely superb film.
And that’s everything, we think! Check out the TIFFG website, read the press releases, and complain about all the movies that we didn’t mention!