TIFF 2011: Cut it. Print it. That's a Wrap.
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TIFF 2011: Cut it. Print it. That’s a Wrap.

And just like that, 11 days later, TIFF '11 is a thing of the past.

Sundance gets Banksy. We get Mr. Brainwash. That's TIFF.

For lovers of film who fundamentally believe in some way or another that the medium provides the chance to (paraphrasing TIFF’s manta here, if only because there’s some truth to it) change the way we see the world, red carpets always rankle a bit. Painters and jazz musicians never seem subjected to all the flashbulbs and circumstance. All the fuss serves a weird function in artistically delegitimizing cinema, while also shoring up the system that allows cinema (or at least a certain kind of super-expensive cinema) to exist. Brad Pitt’s a fine actor, sure. But hanging over a guard rail just to get his signature seems so stupid.

There’s something about stars, though. About all the glitz and glamour that we invest ourselves in, and in the very idea of celebrity, that’s of course appealing. In the same way that believing in a god or feeling the need to have yourself physically dwarfed in the presence of big mountains or the Taj Mahal is appealing. But this is first-year cultural studies term paper stuff. The star system (and Hollywood, writ large) will probably always be at odds with the idea of a pure cinema: of something that facilitates empathy, expression, compassion, and awe like no other art form. Because when cinema is really, really good, not even the novel comes close. In a way, though, it’s the love-hate tension that makes TIFF so tolerable. It’s snarking and smirking at the celebs strutting their stuff down some length of fabric and hating them because they think they’re better than us (even though we actively create the circumstances that allow them to present themselves as better than us) and then racing to see their films. And, we’ll admit it, this is part of why we love TIFF. Because it elicits such a wildly divergent range of emotions. You know, like cinema.

Though we’ll also admit that, for reasons which are no fun to bring up, the person we most wanted to see in Toronto over the past two weeks won’t be getting anywhere close to a red carpet. But that Jafar Panahi’s (un-)film, This is not a Film, found distribution at TIFF, opening up avenues for larger audiences to experience the house-arrested Iranian director’s unqualified high masterpiece, seems to make the festival’s more grating aspects seem altogether worthwhile.