TIFF may be the Festival of Festivals, but Cannes, is well, Cannes. Like any festival, it has both critics and supporters, but regardless of where you sit on this divide (if you care at all), for better or for worse, it’s impossible to not acknowledge the festival’s power to launch a film into the critical and/or popular realm.
Since 1962 there has been a parallel section to the festival, one run by (and in a way, for) critics, La Semaine de la Critique, which has elevated films for the past 50 years.
To celebrate this gold anniversary, TIFF has invited eight film critics (and as their press materials state: “opinion-makers”) to choose a film from the past 50 years of La Semaine de la Critique‘s selection, curating a condensed “Best of.” La fete (how continental!) begins this Wednesday with a double bill of The Spirit of the Beehive and Clerks. The films are an odd pairing—the former being the choice of Toronto Star critic Peter Howell and the latter coming from presumed “opinion-maker” George Stroumboulopoulos—as Spanish art-house under the rule of Franco will be followed by American indie 1990 slackerdom. In the former, director Victor Erice captures the inner life of the young Ana, who after seeing Frankenstein drifts deeper into her own world. In the latter, Kevin Smith gives us a black-and-white day in the lives of two clerks (one in a convenience store, the other at a video rental store) who make salsa sharks and capture the ethos of Generation Y. Or something.
The series runs all week, with the Globe’s Liam Lacey’s pick, Walkover, screening on Thursday, and Fabien Gaffez’s choice of Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes showing on Friday. If the aforementioned first double bill doesn’t suit you, we highly recommend Saturday night’s pairing of the film critic and author Jonathan Rosenbaum introducing Living Together, followed by NOW’s Norm Wilner on Man Bites Dog. The last night has the National Post‘s Chris Knight on Loving Memory, and the Toronto Sun‘s Liz Braun on The Orphanage.
All the above critics and opinion-makers will be in attendance with their opinions to defend, or rather elucidate, their respective choices, all in the name of celebration, cinema, and criticism.
This post originally said that TIFF’s Cannes Critic Week would consist of movie selections by nine critics. The actual number is eight. Also, the post has been altered to reflect the fact that all the critics involved will be attending the films they picked.