The Toronto International Film Festival madness began today with this year’s Canadian press conference—whereas last year we were unprepared for the experience, this year we were ready. We didn’t eat lunch, instead eating our fill of the finger food on offer. Result!
No one was prepared for the appearance of Viggo Mortensen on stage however, discussing perhaps the biggest announcement of the day: Eastern Promises. It makes sense, of course. Last year they had a dude in make-up pretending to be a zombie on stage, so this year, why not a Hollywood star who naturally looks like a zombie? A sexy zombie, we were told my many of the ladies in attendance later, but a zombie nonetheless.
Eastern Promises casts Mortensen as a Russian gangster in London, trapped in the apex of a “chain of murder, deceit, and retribution.” It joins Denys Arcand’s L’Âge Des Tènèbres as a Gala presentation.
Special Presentations include Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg, to be accompanied in its screenings by live narration from Maddin himself, Clement Virgo’s Poor Boy’s Game, winner of the Telefilm Canada Pitch This! competition in 2001 and Roger Spottiswoode’s Shake Hands With The Devil, based on Lieutenant-General Romèo Dallaire’s award-winning book about the Rwandan genocide.
Martin Gero’s childishly titled Young People Fucking, a comedy which “intertwines the stories of five twenty-something prototypical couples over the course of one evening,” is the opening film of this year’s Canada First! programme, which also includes 2005 Telefilm Canada Pitch This! winner Richie Mehta’s Amal, Ernie Barbarash’s They Wait and Ed Gass-Donnelly’s This Beautiful City.
Contemporary World Cinema includes Allan Moyle’s Weirdsville (where Scott Speedman and Wes Bentley play Dexter and Royce—two men who get in over their heads after the overdose of a friend leads them to an abandoned drive-in to dispose of her body), Bruce Sweeney’s American Venus and Laurie Lynd’s Breakfast With Scot.
Real to Reel includes Vice co-founder Suroosh Alvi and VBS producer Eddy Moretti’s Heavy Metal In Baghdad, which we hope is more intelligent than the Vice Guide to Travel. Which was just kind of annoying.
Short Cuts Canada presents 43 shorts this year, including A.J. Bond’s Hirsute (a physicist is visited by an arrogant, time-traveling, future version of himself), Adam Brodie and Dave Derewlany’s Knights of Atomikaron and Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski animated Madame Tutli-Putli.
And finally, his year the Canadian Retrospective showcases the work of director and cinematographer, Michel Brault, and Francis Mankiewicz’s Les Bons Débarras is this year’s Canadian Open Vault.
Are any of these films going to be any good at all? We honestly have no idea. But we’ll endeavour to tell you as our coverage ramps up for TIFF 2007. Right now, satisfy yourself by checking out the festival’s website.