Tuesday, August 19, 2008

super tuesday!

Well, it's here! Today is the Super Tuesday of the TIFF pre-festival programming announcements - the day when all the final lists of films go online. (Detailed descriptions and schedule follow on August 26). If you're like me, this is the last day to cling to hope for some so-far holdouts. As the unabashed Juliette Binoche fan (see many posts at right), I am a bit on tenterhooks to see if L'Heure d'Ete (Summer Hours) makes it into the final list. The film is scheduled for the New York Film Festival (along with many announced TIFF flicks). I am hopeful, and trying to put to rest the nagging sensation that it would have been announced by now. Filmmaker Olivier Assayas has already been named to participate in the Industry's Talent Lab, but without mention of bringing a film with him. Could be that New York scooped us on this one.

And speaking of the Industry events, yesterday TIFF Industry announced the participants in the Talent Lab for emerging filmmakers. This is a series of master classes with established directors. Besides Assayas, look for appearances by Terence Davies and Samira Makhmalbaf. Both of these are exciting to me. Davies' exquisitely (I am tempted to write 'tortured') autobiographical films are often based on painful episodes from his own life, wrapped up in beautiful moments of redemption. I think of the scene in Distant Voices, Still Lives when the family oppressed by a tyrannical father gathers to sing songs at a pub. Makmahlbaf I wrote a great deal about last year, when her sister Hana emerged on the scene with Buddha Collapsed out of Shame, one of the best films of TIFF 07. This breathtaking young Iranian woman debuted at 17 with The Apple, which made it all the way to Cannes. Both helmers are bringing new films to the festival: Of Time and the City and Two-Legged Horse, respectively. Two speakers well worth catching.

Stay tuned for later tonight or tomorrow for the upshot of the day's results. In the meantime, I want to take a moment to feature some of my highlights announced so far.

In the 1980s (yes, you read that right), I was an enormous fan of a great Canadian filmmaker named Lea Pool. Her movie Anne Trister had a profound impact on me and I awaited each new feature with excitement, never disappointed. Among my favourites was her 10 minute short, "Risponditemi" in the 90s compilation Montreal Sextet, which chronicled a woman's life in flashbacks during the ride from an accident scene to the hospital. However, apart from the occasional mainstream flick (like Lost and Delirious), Pool has more or less disappeared. It's therefore thrilling for me to see that she has a brand new film in this year's TIFF: Maman est chez le coiffeur. I have no idea whether it will focus on the narrative elements more common to her recent pics, or mark a return to the fluid lyrical style of her earlier films, but I cannot wait.

Some Cannes Festival favorites and award winners are headed our way, including Comte de Noel (Desplechin), Entre les Murs (Laurence Cantet), and the newest Dardennes brothers film, Silence de Lorna (pictured). The Dardennes are kind of the Coen brothers of France, though their grittiness is more in the nature of the human capacity for suffering, than narrative environment. What is it about filmmaking sibs? The industry is populated with some giants, including these mentioned, the Wachowskis and oh yeah, that famous founding family of bros, named Marx. Much has been written about the Cannes films, so I won't do more on them here til I see them.

Steven Soderbergh's much anticipated Che or Guerilla will debut at the festival in two long parts. A massively ambitious work, it features Benicio del Toro and a lot of the geography of South America. This man who is often credited with having re-launched the independent film movement with Sex, Lies and Videotape is always interesting.

Among the Real to Reel entries, I'm looking forward to Unmistaken Child, an Israeli film by Nati Baratz about the search for the reincarnated master Lama Konchog (pictured at top). Also enticing are new entries from Mike Leigh, and Charlie Kaufman, whose Synecdoche, New York brings together some of my favourite actors in the world.

Hands up if you're already tired of hearing about Bell Lightbox? Ai yi yi! The same paragraph is at the end of every press release. I'm all for this new venture, but it's hard to get excited about a hole in the ground. The Lightbox could easily be another condo tower going into the same area. Why not wait til there's more of substance to actually tell us? But whose kvetching...

Hang in there. More later, as the results come in..... !

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