Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the final week countdown

T minus 8 and counting... ! While the lottery watch is on at the public festival and there is quiet and not-so-quiet criticism about screening limitations, I'd like to celebrate one of the truly great bureaucratic decisions of this festival in recent years - and that is providing us with the entire festival programme book online. This hefty manual which is as expensive as a gala screening ticket, but online for free, is an invaluable resource - since the full program write-ups are an essential part of planning. We all have our favourite programmers and that's where I always begin. I take the hit list gleaned from a summer of press releases and then check out my programmers and see how things line up.

Let's here it for the programmers. I notice their pictures are all online too this year, so we can put faces to those names we always circle at the bottom of the page, for better or worse. This works both ways, by the way. There are programmer names I circle and stay away from like the plague! Through years of experience, I have learned! Two in particular come to mind but I'm not into dissing them here. Some of the great bygone programmers I credit with having introduced me to some of my all time favourite films. Among these are the late David Overbey, who through this festival, introduced me to the work of Hou-Hsiao Hsien twenty years ago. I remember hearing a CBC radio interview with him and his rhapsodic descriptions of the great Asian filmmaker's works sent me directly to that screening. The movie? Dust in the Wind. I also remember the great Kay Armatage, whose feminist voice and penchant for high-style were an important presence in this festival. Frankly, she has yet to be replaced. Bring her back! Of those who are indeed here, I am a fan of Dimitri Eipides probably first and foremost, Andrea Picard, Jane Schoettle (who also runs Sprockets), and I am increasingly beholden to Giovanna Fulvi. Check them out on the Programmers page and find your own heros.

Press/industry market screenings begin next Thursday, early in the day, as usual. Here are the screenings competing for my attention on each day. Public folks take note, my scheduling is from the logged-in Industry site. These P/I screening times do not appear on the regular public festival pages. Asterisk means an unmoveable programmed element!

I have listed here only the first two days - as the post would get way too long! Watch out for reviews of some of these films on each day.

Thursday, September 4 (Industry schedule)
Snow, Begic
Dimitri Eipides says there are "unforgettable moments" - that's enough for me in a film about Bosnian women coping with loss.
*L'Heure d'Ete, Assayas
Though released earlier this year in France, Assayas rarely disappoints.
Laila's Birthday, Masharawi
I loved Masharawi's Ticket to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, I won't see this til the following week because of L'Heure D'Ete but I won't miss it.
*Two-Legged Horse, Makhmalbaf
This family of gifted Iranian filmmakers manages to give us one a year. A must-see. (pictured at top)
33 Scenes from Life, Szumowska
The Kieslowski influence is calling me to this one. (pictured above)

Friday, September 5 (Industry schedule)
Waltz with Bashir, Folman
Ever since Richard Linklater and Waking Life, I thrill to animation springing from captured video.
Faubourg 36, Barratier
A musical set in Paris - what more do you want?
Empty Nest, Burman
A movie about a playwright is too close to home to resist.
Comte de Noel, Desplechin
An award-winner at Cannes, and already much ballyhooed.
Heaven on Earth, Mehta
From the woman who brought us Water, one of the best films of recent years.
Appaloosa, Harris
Harris' previous movie about Jackson Pollack was confident and assured.
24 City, Zhang-ke
It features the wonderful Joan Chen.
4 Nights with Anna, Skolimowski
From the new wave of Polish cinema, a quiet movie about obssession.
Woman in Berlin, Farberbock
Though I was disappointed in his Aimee and Jaguar, the era and subject interest me for a project I'm working on.
Country Teacher, Slama
Being gay in a small Czech village can't be fun but I'm going with Dimitri on this one.
Hunger, McQueen
Irish hero Bobby Sands, and one of the most interesting British visual artists of our time, as subject and director respectively.
*Wavelengths 1, Dorsky/Straub
Much written on this already, below.

Stay tuned for more one-line tips and daily screening picks!

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