Sunday, August 29, 2010

TIFF 10: Random Favourites

A great sadness for me in this year’s festival is no new film with Juliette Binoche! I had hoped that Kiarostami’s Copie Certifié would land at TIFF but no. Instead, however, I get to enjoy two films with Kristin Scott Thomas, whose work of late has been extraordinary (thinking especially of Il y a longtemps que je t’aime). Alain Corneau's Love Crimes unfortunately looks like a French version of the cable show Damages. I have greater hopes for Sarah’s Key, directed by Gilles Pacquet Brenner, which is the story of a journalist whose investigation into a holocaust round-up profoundly influences her own life.

Several years back, I saw a Canadian film about lost seigneuries in Quebec, shot with a gorgeous stillness by Catherine Martin. Martin has returned this year with Trois Temps avant la mort d'Anna (Mourning for Anna), about a woman coping with the loss of a child who was a promising violinist.

Deep in the Woods bears all the signs of a Benoît Jacquot film, with its characters following uncontrollable forces and propelled to likely catastrophe, but once again I am opting for the filmmaker not the movie write-up.

Once upon a time, not very long ago at all, the Festival had a marvelous programme called “Dialogues: Talking with Pictures”. It has vanished, but instead we seem to have something very similar: “Essential Cinema In-Person Events”. Okay. Well, what’s the difference? The difference is that the films being screened are not chosen by directors who have films in the festival. The films are culled from the Essential 100 list of films that the festival and its industry patrons helped generate last year. The presenters may, or may not, have new films in the festival themselves, and/or are re-screening old favourites. And it all happens after TIFF is done. While there is much to applaud in this idea, it’s disappointing to lose the Dialogues program, only because there was always a vital electricity to the older series, with the combined excitement of a filmmaker’s current work juxtaposed (in a larger context) with the works that influenced them. Now we are slave to some list that has been created, which is controversial in its inclusions and exclusions as lists always are.

That said, however, there are many “In-Person Events” that will be too compelling to miss. I hesitate to mention first Walter Murch’s introduction to Acopalypse Now Redux only because this filmmaking legend has already written and spoken much on his reorganization of the Coppola masterpiece. But then again, this is a man who is never not-interesting. Watch out also for his speech on the “State of Cinema”, which imagines what would have happened if film had been invented one hundred years earlier, scheduled as a post-TIFF event on October 10th. I will likely attend “A Night in Nashville” with Michael Murphy and Jacob Tierney.

The standout events in this series will be Molly Haskell, the first feminist to assess women in cinema from both an academic and an accessibly populist perspective, as she introduces Maurice Pialat’s à Nos Amours. And wild horses and natural disasters could not detain me from Isabella Rossellini introducing her father’s Voyage to Italy alongside her own work shown in previous festivals, including the cult-hit Green Porno.

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