Festivals

The End and the Beginning (2006)

“We want to hear stories,” director Eduardo Coutinho says early in this film, which is built almost entirely from interviews he conducted over a two-week period in Paraiba, a backlands town in in the northeast of Brazil. Specific stories. Intimate, personal stories.

SFIFF 2007

This will be my second trip to SFIFF, and I’m really excited about my lineup. I’ll get a second shot at a few TIFF favorites (Colossal Youth and Private Fears in Public Places), I’ll get to see a couple that I missed the first time around (Daratt, Opera Jawa, and The Island), and, of course, there will be several new discoveries. I’m especially excited about Forever, the latest from Heddy Honigmann, who will be in town to receive the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award.

Silk Ties (2006)

After seeing the Jennings film and Nathanial Dorsky’s Song and Solitude on the same program, I walked away wishing I could recalibrate my view of the world around me, which, I guess, is one of the more noble functions of a-g cinema.

In a Nutshell

The Toronto International Film Festival is exactly the right length. After seeing thirty or forty film programs in nine-and-a-half days, I’m always ready for it to end. I hate that it’ll be another year before I get to walk down Yonge Street again, discuss movies over sushi with friends again, and discover so many great new films again, but, for the time being at least, I’m glad to be home.

History and Politics

These Girls is a difficult film to watch. Rached avoids over-sentimentalizing her subject, and, frankly, the girls have been hardened to the point that, at times, I found it difficult to muster the appropriate sympathy for them. (I say that with embarrassment.)

Three for Three

Perhaps it’s simply the inevitable result of paring down my schedule from 44 films in 2005 (only 35 of which I actually saw) to “only” 33 this year, but my sense while researching and planning over the past weeks was that TIFF’s lineup is stronger, top to bottom, this time around than in previous years.

TIFF 2006

Late last night I received a confirmation email from the Toronto International Film Festival box office, notifying me that I would be seeing all thirty of my first choice films. Given that so many of my friends are still awaiting similar confirmation, mine appears to have been one of the first orders processed — just lucky in the lottery draw this year, I guess.

Impossibly, Even Scarily, Geeky *

The idea of creating an Excel file to collect information about each of the 300+ films occurred to me two years ago, when a friend (and TIFF veteran) told me he chose his films based on very particular and personalized criteria.

Le Temps qui reste (2005)

I hadn’t planned to write about Le Temps qui reste, but then, while typing up notes this morning, I tripped over this line from E.L. Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel: “My sister and I can never inflict total damage — that is the saving grace. The right to offend irreparably is a blood right.”

Un Couple parfait (2005)

Look closely at the image above. It’s Un Couple parfait in miniature — a story told in body language.

And Then There Were None

A friend’s line last year was, “Thank God there are no more movies. I wish there were more movies.” That about sums it up, I’d say. A last batch of first impressions.

Losing Touch with Reality

I haven’t decided if the quality of films is improving or if I’m simply developing calluses to sentimentality and failed ambitions, but I’ve seen several good films (though few great ones) since my last update — and not a dud in the lot.

The Very Best Intentions

After three days, 14 films, a brilliant Sufjan Stevens concert, several fantastic meals, and too little sleep, I’ve abandoned my ambitions of blogging a brief capsule review of everything I see. There’s too little time, and I don’t want my TIFF experience to be hampered by blog guilt. Instead, here are some brief comments — first impressions and unsupported opinions, mostly.

Blogging TIFF

I have tickets for 44 films this year, plus a ticket to Sufjan Stevens’ sold out concert at the St. Paul’s Centre. 44 tickets. It’s absurd. But with a 50-film festival pass, I decided to schedule as many as possible, knowing that I’ll end up skipping a handful along the way.

Christmas Morning

The plan is to spend the next few hours poring through the catalog, obsessing over the schedule, and checking titles off of my spreadsheet — yes, I created a spreadsheet — all in hopes of creating the most efficient and dud-free lineup of films possible. I then overnight my ticket requests back to Toronto and hope for the best.

Feelin’ Tingly All Over

TIFF has released its new poster.

SFIFF 2005

San Francisco, in case this hasn’t been said often enough, is a great city, and I spent most of my time there doing all of the touristy things one is obligated to do during a first visit — riding cable cars, walking through Muir Woods, taking pictures of the Golden Gate bridge, browsing through record and book shops, and eating to the point of exhaustion.

Quick Update

The real highlight, though, has been discovering Toronto, which, especially this week, is possibly the most international city in North America. I’m introverted by nature but have really enjoyed striking up conversations with strangers in line and in the theaters. So many interesting lives intersecting here.

Moolaade (2004)

Sembene introduced his film by reminding his mostly white, mostly Western audience that Africa — the entire continent, its nations, its governments, and its people — is experiencing a period of unprecedented transition. There was no moralizing or condemnation in his tone, not even a suggestion of the catastrophic crises and genocides that fill the back pages of our newspapers. Africa is in transition, he told us, and this film is about that transition.

Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow (2004)

Angelopoulos introduced his latest with very few words. It is to be the first of three films about the life of a Greek woman who manages to survive the 20th century, and its concern is “the human condition.”

Schizo (2004)

Omarova’s debut takes its title from a nickname given to the main character. Schizo (Olzhas Nusuppaev) is 15 years old and a bit slow; his classmates abuse him and exploit his gullibility. He is soon hired by his mother’s thug boyfriend (Eduard Tabyschev) to recruit unemployed laborers for illegal boxing matches.

Tell Them Who You Are (2004)

Tell Them Who You Are has the best opening scene of any film I saw at this year’s festival. Haskell Wexler is standing in his camera equipment room, taking stock of his inventory for an upcoming sale.

Earth and Ashes (2004)

Days after his village is destroyed in a bombing raid, Dastaguir (Abdul Ghani) and his five-year-old grandson Yacine (Jawan Mard Homayoun) jump from the back of a pickup truck and take their seats at a desert crossroads, where they wait and wait for a ride to a nearby mine.

10e Chambre, instants d’audiences (2004)

During the screening of 10e Chambre, instants d’audiences, I was quite disappointed by the film, but even then I knew that my disappointment was with the audience rather than with the film itself.

3-Iron (2004)

Jae Hee plays Tae-suk, a young man who breaks into homes, prepares meals, bathes and naps, then repays the homeowner’s generosity by performing small acts of kindness: washing clothes, repairing broken electronics, and the like.

Childstar (2004)

I decided to see Childstar mostly for the opportunity to hear McKellar introduce it — I’ve been a big fan since first seeing him in Atom Egoyan’s Exotica — and his introduction set up the best laugh of the morning.

My Summer of Love

My Summer of Love received a lot of “buzz,” as they say, in Toronto, and I would guess that most of it was generated by Press’s performance, which is a lot of fun to watch.

Nobody Knows (2004)

After Life is one of my favorite films of the past five years, so for that reason alone, I was very much looking forward to Kore-eda’s latest, Nobody Knows, the story of four young siblings whose mother abandons them to find work in another city.

TIFF Film Schedule

I’ve put in my ticket requests for the Toronto Film Festival. By choosing to fly in on the 11th and out on the 18th, I’ll be missing two of my most highly anticipated films, Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest, which will be introduced by Chantal Akerman and which I’ve always wanted to see on the big screen, and Godard’s latest, Notre Musique.

TIFF

I’ve purchased my airfare. Any advice for a first-time visitor to the Toronto International Film Festival?