Wednesday, July 29, 2009


In the fortnight (there's a word that needs to come back into common useage) since my last post, there have finally been some solid programming announcements. TIFF has now released a substantial list of films being presented in the Wavelengths, Midnight Madness, Vanguard, and Discovery programmes as well as the lion's share of Special Presentations and Galas. Wavelengths and Midnight Madness represent two (closer than you'd think) ends of the TIFF spectrum: from the art house to the horror house. Both have a finite number of possibilities, like the Dialogues category (in which filmmakers show movies that have influenced them and talk about why - not yet announced for this year) so it makes sense that they are announced first.

Readers of this blog in past years will know that I am a huge fan of the Wavelengths series, which presents gifted artists in the experimental and avant-garde scenes to an international audience. It is such an important venue in this way, one of the true 'maverick' programmes left in the festival unaffected by market and distribution politics. (It actually seems as if every time TIFF becomes aware of this lapse or gap in their programming, they add a new area to get it back. Vanguard, Discovery and even in its day Midnight Madness were/are all meant to be the cutting edge of the festival. But often these films have now come from somewhere else first, whether Cannes, Berlin or even Sundance. The premium on true world premieres is becoming compromised as years go by but that's for another post!) This year, the "City to City" programme is the new nuanced, 'vanguard' film viewing genre.

I always try to get to all of the Wavelengths screenings. As a sample I offer Wavelengths 1, the opening night programme, featuring T. Marie's 010101 (pictured above), described by the most articulate programmer in the festival, Andrea Picard, as "an incredibly meticulous digital painting, offering one minute, one second and one frame of shimmering and breathtaking beauty through its diaphanous and forever-changing palette." It is programmed with a cornucopia of films looking at artistic manipulation of form, from Heinz Emigholz' Two Projects by Friedrich Kiesler (the Viennese architect), to Klaus Lutz' Titan, which reflects on the filmmaker as voyager, to Ernie Gehr's Waterfront Follies, which observes Brooklyn Harbour as it is "interrupted by the flow of human interaction." Be sure to check out this always exciting programme, usually screening only in the first weekend.

What else surfaces? Well more of those Cannes hopefuls have dropped in. Ounie Lecomte's A Brand New Life (see post below) has now been slated and Susanne Schneider's The Day Will Come (pictured), the story of a woman facing the daughter she gave up thirty years ago to do terrorist underground work in Germany. Though I did not mention Schneider's film in my Cannes post, it did originate there.

The documentaries, split up among Real to Reel and the other programmes, also offer the usual possible riches. Michael Moore will weigh in with Capitalism, a voyage into American financial markets. There is no end to the brave bullying of this true maverick, whom I will never forget strolling down the aisle at his very first TIFF appearance twenty years ago. Don Argott's The Art of the Steal looks at what happened to the Barnes collection of impressionist art once the collector himself died.

I'm not the gal to guide anyone through Midnight Madness, but Rick Jacobsen's Bitch Slap (pictured) has caught my eye, since I loved the work of this helmer in the vintage Xena television series and the movie looks to be a campy take on the sexploitation classics. Jennifer's Body will be the undoubted draw in this category, as Juno sensation Diablo Cody returns with a script directed by Karyn Kusama and featuring the ubiquitous Megan Fox. Whether I will actually get to either of these - we will see.

From this end of feminism to a perhaps more socially observant one, if I could pick two films from the recent releases that most excite me, they would be Shirin Neshat's Women Without Men, which looks at the lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953, and An Education (pictured at top), the always wonderful Lone Scherfig's take on suburban teenaged life in 1960s London.

Still... despite these riches, there is much more programming to come. Up next will likely be the Canada First list (my prediction!). It is already being announced much later than usual, perhaps because a non-Canadian film is opening the Festival for the first time in quite some time. Stay tuned.

PS: It is now a day later, and I see from the TIFF home page that the Canadian programming is indeed slated for August 4th.

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