Not that it wasn't already. But now the fun begins. On Wednesday, TIFF announced 73 new titles, and with it the substantial portion of the programming, including the lion's share of Special Presentations, Masters, Visions and Vanguard. Another Juliette Binoche film is in the mix: Amos' Gitai's Désengagement, a film about a woman searching in Israel for the daughter she lost at birth. In our one degree of separation game, Gitai (pictured above) is also one of the filmmakers participating in Chacun Son Cinema, a celebration of the Cannes Film Festival by 35 directors whose lives have been changed by the French event, including Canadian Atom Egoyan.
There are so many ways to go one step forward from this film!
Among the 35, is the already mentioned Hou Hsaio-hsien, whose Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge is discussed below. Another director, Youssef Chahine, has his own festival entry, Chaos, about the tyrrany of a single policeman in a Cairo neighbourhood. Contributors the Coen Brothers, are bringing No Country for Old Men to the Special Presentations programme. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who has debuted almost all of his feature films at TIFF, and who wowed festival audiences last year with Babel, is another one of the 35 Cannes artists, though he has no other film in the festival. Still, he is worth mentioning because of his skill with the short format. His entry in the September 11 shorts project, 09'11"01, was arguably the best, alongside Samira Makhmalbaf's (see last post). I have been teaching ever since, his use of black screen and expressive sound in that memorable piece.
Another festival favourite, Ken Loach, winner of last year's Palme D'Or for The Wind That Shakes the Barley, will be bringing his latest film, It's A Free World to this year's TIFF.
And speaking of Palme D'Or's, the top prize at Cannes this past May was for Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, which critics have been quick to name one of the finest films of the year. The Romanian filmmaker's movie is about the oppression of Communism in that country and about a woman seeking an illegal abortion in a bleak political and social reality.
The social realism of Iran in the 70s is the setting for Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, an adaption of her own award-winning graphic novel about growing up in the Iranian revolution. Other women filmmakers to watch out for include Lone Scherfig (pictured below), whose previous films, Italian for Beginners and Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself both debuted at TIFF and who returns this year with her latest film, Just Like Home. Her movies always have a slightly black comedic element. In this film, a streaker runs through the streets of a small Danish village, sparking depression among its residents. The ever sensational Catherine Breillat, whose deep preoccupation with the sexual and sensual nature of humanity is expressed in previous films like Romance and À Ma Soeur brings to this year's festival, Une Vieille Maîtresse about a bridegroom's secret passionate life among the French aristocracy and featuring Italian sensation Asia Argento in we-can-guess which role.
With about two-thirds of the programming now announced, the final ranks will be filled out on Tuesday, when the full and final film list will be presented in a press conference and announced on-line. Final list? I remember the days when movies came in over the transom at such a last minute that they didn't make the programme book. One such case was a documentary on a small auto town in Michigan made by a newcomer. That debut screening was held in the tiny Cumberland 4, and I still remember an excited but slightly bewildered filmmaker lumbering to the front to gratefully talk about his work. It would be the last time his movies could screen in such a small venue. Why? The filmmaker was Michael Moore. And the movie, Roger and Me.