Sunday, September 03, 2006

roads to.... venice and toronto

Well, here we go. Down the short road to Thursday when all roads will lead to cinematic wonder. That gorgeous image you see here just might belong to my most sought after film of the festival: a half hour short by the Iranian master filmmaker, Abbas Kiarostami, called predictably Roads to Kiarostami. Most of those programme book entries for films read like either Ph.D. dissertations or the fluid purple effusions of highly-caffeined programmers. But the succinct entry for this Wavelengths 5 piece is simply this: "In Roads of Kiarostami the Iranian master looks back over decades of his photographs of landscapes with roads, ruminating on his fascination with these spaces and touching on the path as a longstanding motif in Persian poetry. The film's theme subtly broaden, culminating in a haunting and unexpected final image." Can't wait. I seem to have an affinity for Iranian filmmakers. A great Canadian Iranian filmmaker is a dear friend. I have been blogging for a year on his beautiful new film, Roxana - which you can find linked from my profile page. Or just go to Roxana.

The serenity of that image above will be hard to find in just a few days. Even now I can feel the slow-growing cloud of sound that will evolve into the storm of industry colleagues arriving from Venice. Every year, I endure the first day or two of waiting for Industry screenings to begin and listening as critics lament their jet fatigue and Venetian accomodations while still aglow with all the gossip. I can already hear it now: My room looked into a wall. The little canaletto near me smelled. Did you see Helen's outfit at the premiere? Many films that have gone to Venice wind up also at Toronto for their North American premiere. Sadly, The Queen, Stephen Frears new film about the Diana tragedy, in which Helen Mirren plays Her Maj, will not be one of them. This pic, pulled from BBC coverage, will be the closest we get to that movie for now!

This year the Sales and Industry passes have a fantastic new option: a pass which includes all industry screenings, plus two tickets a day to public screenings. We redeem these tickets at our own industry box office at the Sutton Place. This means that for the first time ever, I did not have to do any presale work at all at the Public box office - nary a line, nary a coupon book. And since the entire catalogue is online, I didn't even have to prebuy the catalogue.

For the uninitiated, the Sales & Industry, or market side of the festival has its own screenings, chiefly at the Varsity cinemas. These screenings are largely scheduled just slightly in advance of the public screenings. I remember the glory days when you could stroll in with your coffee to an industry screening about five minutes before it started. Instead, we too must line up only there's no sense of camaraderie or excitement. Watch out for a spurned critic who needs a particular review and has been turned away from that movie's only screening! And then there's each member's entourage. Electronic entourage, that is. Laptops, blackberries, penlights, cell phones. You would be amazed at what people manage to do during a screening. As a screenwriter/story editor and teacher, I love watching the moments at which suddenly all the penlights go on --- either a great line, or an exquisite proof of the failure of the film. Yikes!

Well, I wish I could be in Venice - maybe one year! Instead, I am content to sit back and get ready for Toronto. My film list, of 52 films I am highly anticipating, is in place, complete with screening times. Among my most highly anticipated features is Anthony Minghella's next film, Breaking and Entering featuring the extraordinary Juliette Binoche. Binoche fans are blessed for the second year in a row with three separate films in which she appears (the other two are Quelques Jours en Septembre and Paris, Je T'aime). The Sales & Industry office has sent out a combined Industry/Public screening schedule for all movies. What a way to make life simpler! By the way, if you're a public festival goer reading this, check out Steve Almond's tiff database. It's awesome and more tightly organized than the TIFF database, chiefly because it eliminates that annoying middle stage of pulling up the movie title after the search is done, and having to click again. (An extra click! - oh the horror!) He too is linked from the TIFF blogs. Or you can find him at parabola.

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