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.
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.
I had my first TIFF-related dream last night. It was kind of like that dream where you show up for a final exam after skipping class all semester, except that, instead of sliding into a strange classroom, I was wandering around Toronto with no tickets because I’d forgotten to submit my out-of-town form. I woke up feeling anxious.
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.
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.
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.
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.