Wednesday, July 01, 2009

TIFF 09: first programming announcements

In my post below, I spoke of films to look for at TIFF that have originated at Cannes. Two of those have now been announced: Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, and Haim Tabakman's Eyes Wide Open. I discussed earlier the reasons why these two films have captured my interest. Other previously festival-exposed films of this year announced by TIFF for September include Tsai Ming-Liang's Visage (Face) which has been named in the Visions series. I can't say I have really understood this director's vision, nor have I ever sat through an entire feature. But I am likely to see this one, if anything for its portrait of artistic process and the fact that it features Fanny Ardant (pictured). Jessica Hausner's Lourdes interests me for a bevy of personal reasons, though I am otherwise unfamiliar with her.

Those one-liners that the Festival releases with these announcements (until the programme book descriptions are ready later in August) are often frustratingly banale or really usefully insightful teasers. One falling into the latter category for me is the description of Asli Ozge's Men on the Bridge (pictured here): "The stories of three men working at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul are told by the original characters, in this mosaic depicting real persons exposing their lives and aspirations." I have no idea what that will amount to but it sounds intriguing!

One of the most exciting developments is the introduction of a brand new programme: City to City. Films will profile a particular metropolis every year. TIFF 09 is focussing on Tel Aviv in honour of that city's centennary in 2009. A great start, as the festival has left largely unrepresented of late Israeli cinema. The films of this country usually come in under the rubric of the Masters programmes where noted filmmakers like Amos Gitai show their latest works. The fact that there are enough new films to support an entire programme is exciting to me. The films themselves have not yet been announced.

The first press releases have now begun to dribble in and with them the Festival season begins. Don't know if it's true, but everything has seemed a bit "late" this year. Still no opening night film announced for instance, but there is much already to cheer for - summed up by the Festival's "Customer Service Improvements" press release. Last year's festival was steeped in public discontent in the wake of a ramped up corporate privilege scheme (no doubt tied in part to how Bell Lightbox has changed the financial dependency of the festival on its sponsors). The good news is - they listened. This year some of the dropped privileges for public passholders have been restored. The festival is now offering repeat Gala Screenings to ticket package-holders. And the Elgin has been given back to the public in a mix of public and industry/corporate screenings. Single ticket sales will be available well in advance of the beginning of the Festival now and and the advance review process window for early balloting of ticket choices has increased to a week. Check out the TIFF site to find out more - the 09 site is now officially launched.In the past, I was allowed two public screenings per day in addition to the Industry screenings, but unfortunately, my budget required me to opt for the Industry pass without the festival tickets this year. But I will be watching closely what happens with the public festival as well. More to come!

No comments: