Really we were. Between the alcohol and the giddiness and the fact that we couldn’t think of anything intelligent to ask him about his new movie, Coopers’ Camera, we opted instead to snap a few photos from afar. And then when we finally did work up the nerve to approach him, he had just left, leaving us with memories of Homer and Mr. T.
Jones, along with countless other Canadian film industry and media types, and then also people like us, had crammed into the Royal York‘s Imperial Room Tuesday afternoon for the annual TIFF announcement of the Canadian films to play this year’s festival, an event that was equal parts party and press conference but which can be summed up most accurately as a free-alcohol-fuelled schmoozefest. It was fun. And there was corned beef. Limitless corned beef. Oh God yes.
So, Coopers’ Camera [which TIFF mistakenly refers to in their press info as Cooper’s Camera—Ed.]. Reteaming Ham & Cheese collaborators Jason Jones and Mike Beaver (who, in a photo better than the above, you would recognize from every Canadian TV ad ever), and starring themselves and Samantha Bee and Peter Keleghan, Camera is a “deranged comedy set in 1985 suburbia,” about the disintegration of a family as witnessed through the new camcorder of its youngest son. Ah, the eyes of a child. As TIFF Canadian programmer Steve Gravestock noted, there’s a remarkable “thematic coherence” running through this year’s Canadian programme, in which several movies focus on children of 12 years or thereabouts trying to make sense of the world: Warren Sonada’s Coopers’ Camera, Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu’s Before Tomorrow, Charles Officer’s Nurse. Fighter. Boy, Ingrid Veninger and Simon Reynolds’s Only, Philippe Falardeau’s C’est pas moi, je le jure! (It’s Not Me, I Swear!), Léa Pool’s Maman est chez le coiffeur, Francis Leclerc’s Un éte sans point ni coup sûr, and Rafaël Ouellet’s Derrière moi. And then there’s Toronto Stories, an omnibus with segments directed by Sook-Yin Lee (Girl Cleans Sink), Sudz Sutherland (Love, Sex and Eating the Bones), David Weaver (Century Hotel, Siblings), and Aaron Woodley (Rhinoceros Eyes), with each movement a story “witnessed by a nameless boy in the course of a single day.”
Palling around with our blogTO colleague, she admitted to having the same reaction to Deepa Mehta that we had to the Daily Show correspondent. Mehta certainly dazzles in this sort of context, where she was revered as a living legend as she hyped her new film, Heaven on Earth, about a young woman whose arranged marriage brings her from India to Canada.
Michael McGowan, who with Saint Ralph managed to turn the underdog sports cliché into a genuinely moving bit of Canadiana, will presumably take a similar approach with One Week, in which Joshua Jackson plays a man who opts to face his mortality via a cross-Canada motorcycle trip. We are assured the movie contains no Barenaked Ladies music.
Then of course there’s Fernando Meirelles’s third film, Blindness, adapted by Don McKellar from the José Saramago novel. Regardless of whatever may have been said when it opened Cannes, the prospect of the director of City of God and The Constant Gardener teaming up with the writer of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould and The Red Violin and Twitch City (and on and on) is exciting, as is the prospect of an apocalyptic film shot in Toronto by someone more talented than whoever made the second Resident Evil movie. (Thirty Two Shorts Films itself plays the festival as this year’s Canadian Open Vault selection, in which a classic Canadian movie is restored prior to touring around Canada as part of TIFFG’s Film Circuit.)
Frequent McKellar collaborator and Cowboy of College Street Bruce McDonald comes back to TIFF with Pontypool, a three-character, single-set horror movie taking place inside the universe of Tony Burgess’s novel Pontypool Changes Everything. Torontoist visited the set during principal photography a couple months ago, and got a chance to talk to McDonald about the movie, and we’ll have our report just ahead of the fest.
Pontypool would probably be the most out-there of this year’s crop of weird sex and snowshoes were it not for Cameron Labine’s Control Alt Delete in which a computer geek’s obsession with Internet porn gradually gives way to, shall we say, a more direct interface with the computer itself. The audience laughed at Gravestock’s description of the film (which, we presume, was the intended reaction), to which he responded, “I know, we have one of these every year.”
Something TIFF has never had, on the other hand, is a Canadian stop-motion animated feature. But then no one has ever had one of these before, as Neil Burns’s Edison and Leo is the first. Penned by Guy Maddin cowriter George Toles and jPod scribe Daegan Fryklind, the movie follows an alternate Edison (first name: George T.) as he “endangers his family in a quest to create a viable electric light bulb.”
If you’ve read this far into the article, you’ll probably be interested in La Mémoire des anges, Luc Bourdon’s documentary on the history of Canadian film and the National Film Board in particular. It’s sure to become a staple of film classes and Canadian Studies courses across the country.
You can read the synopses of all of the announced Canadian films on the TIFF’08 website, listed by programme: Canada First! (directors making their feature debut or feature debut at TIFF), Canadian Open Vault (a classic), Short Cuts Canada (short films), Galas and Special Presentations (high-profile movies or movies with high-profile talent), Vanguard and Real to Reel (edgy movies and documentaries, respectively), and Contemporary World Cinema (everything else).
TIFF runs from September 4-13, and ticket packages are on sale now.
Photos by Jonathan Goldsbie. Goldsbie works seasonally for TIFF, but of course none of the opinions expressed above should be taken as anything other than his own.