MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE...WITH A FEW FILMS ON THE SIDE
Sunday, my last day at the Festival and what should be my 9th & 10th films, however, nine seems to be my limit in so short a time. I’m all screened out. I’m skipping The Silence in order to visit The Boulevard Private Club on Lake Shore. I couldn’t get into any Festival parties or press conferences, but I do have some connections. Actually, I need to visit the club for business--having a multi purpose agenda while in Toronto has been like driving, while on a conference call, with a kid in the back seat, you’re doing it all but…
Goal 1) to have a real film festival experience, not just see films, but be a part of the happenings. I should have known from Philadelphia Film Festival attendance, that this isn’t possible unless you are connected to a film or the press or the festival itself.
Goal 2) I wanted to believe I’d innocuously strike up a conversation with someone where the chat turned to talk of brilliant screenplays, giving me an opportunity to mention my screenplay, which is a compelling blend of suspense, spirituality, humor, and romance. The person would turn out to be connected with a production company and say “send it to me, I’d like to read it” and the rest would be history!
Goal 3) Celebrity spotting--Camping out in front of the Four Seasons and Roy Thompson Hall for the Gala Premieres, is quite time consuming. Although, my four-hour stint on Saturday was also quite exhilarating! There’s a sense of camaraderie among the crowd you’re pressed against. You can feel the palpable excitement as you wait and watch and then someone screams and everyone shouts “Who, Who do you see?” and then you see them and you scream and try to get a good shot. Then you want to slap the security personnel trying to push you back; you don’t care if a Town Car’s side mirror strikes your hip and comes dangerously close to running over your new boots; you hit someone in the head with your camera, trying to get a shot above your head, and the person laughs, knowing it’s all a part of the celebrity hunt! My time was rewarded, my naked eye got to see: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher (sans Demi, unfortunately) Zach Braff, Emma Thompson, Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, and….. BRAD PITT! Goal 4) To be a tourist--walk and explore the city, visit the CN Tower, enjoy good meals, wines & beers, shop along Bloor Street or at least window shop.
Goal 5) I wanted to have industry stuff to report for the A-List, probably should have seen one of the few urban films showing during my stay, like EMPz 4 life (Allan King, Canada). Should have contacted the press office once more to at least get a press release on it, but, I really didn’t want to see the film--sorry.
Still all-in-all, even though my cab ride (no trolley, cause I only had a $20) way west to the Drake Hotel was a night it was closed for a private party, I accomplished a lot and got the good out of the TIFF and Toronto. When next I return, my film will be premiering and I’ll already know the lay of the land.
FILM REVIEW SHORTS
(Festival ballots instruct viewers vote 1 as awful & vote 5 as great)
THE MAGIC FLUTE (Kenneth Branagh)--I’m not an Opera buff, but neither am I a Shakespearean enthusiast, so why did Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing come to life on the big screen and this did not? Festival Vote: 1
REQUIEM (Hans-Christian Schmid, Germany)--Exorcism is a deadly cure for epilepsy. I gave it a Festival Vote: 2
THE JOURNALS OF KNUD--(Zacharis Kunuk, Norman Cohn, Canada/Denmark) I have great respect for revealing past traditions, philosophies and spiritual practices of a culture of people. However, off-key Inuit singing should always be edited to snippets, not whole songs. Festival Vote: 2
CONFETTI (Debbie Isitt, United Kingdom)--Brilliant screenplay, but guess what? No screenwriter, the actors adlibbed! Festival Vote: 5 AN EVENING WITH MICHAEL MOORE (moderated by Larry Charles)--A hot ticket for a good reason. Moore is a modern day, unassuming prophet. We got to witness snippets from his next film Sicko. This will be more than an expose on our atrocious health care system in the U.S., but it will comment on how our health care system is a reflection on American society on the whole, particularly in contrast to other countries. Also, I love that Moore learned film making on the fly during Roger & Me. Festival Vote: 5
VOLVER (Pedro Almodovar, Spain) --There’s something here in this Pedro Almodovar creation, but it needed a strong Sophia Loren type to play the main character and Penelope Cruz’s presence isn’t big enough in my opinion. Festival Vote: 3
STRANGER THAN FICTION (Marc Forster, USA)–Queen Latifah is wasted in her unnecessary role, but otherwise it’s a quirky and very engaging flick.
Will Ferrell plays it straight-- well, sorta, but it works. Festival Vote: 4
ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (Midnight Madness showing, USA)- The Director, Jonathan Levine, looked 15 years old, which is probably why he was able to concoct a fun ride of teen gore and sex. No surprises in this film, but it still delivers. Festival Vote: 4
A GOOD YEAR (Ridley Scott, USA)--Predictable, but entertaining. Russell Crowe is somewhat secondary to the wonderful chateau winery set in Provence, which becomes the key character of the film. Festival Vote: 3. --Le Anne Lindsay
TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL LOG #1
PRESS SHUTOUT, FIRST SCREENING WALKOUT, & FINDING OUT ABOUT TORONTO
I have a fear of logistics. I don't know what the proper phobia term would be, but, I hate making arrangements, reservations and game plans. Hate, I realize is not a phobia, but the hate derives from my fear of it all falling apart someplace or realizing I forgot some crucial step. I'm always anticipating my reservations, be it hotel, flight or entertainment, being lost with no record of my having made them. Or that I've confused dates, times, places etc... and that one mistake turns the whole thing to crap.
For me attending the Toronto International Film Festival was akin to a claustrophobic caught between floors in a tenement elevator.
First, TIFF really puts any new publications through a grueling process for press accreditation after which, The A-List was shut out! Urban, online reporting of the Festival was not a voice they cared to hear from.
They don't make purchasing Festival pass/coupons any easier: Late release of films & times; single tickets only available after the 6th, otherwise it's a minimum purchase of 10 coupons; $150 Fed Exed ticket ordering system, that gets held up in customs and doesn't arrive until the 31st of August, but must be in the hands of TIFF Box Office staff by 12noon Sept.1st; Ticket pick up vouchers that don't help you get through the line any quicker than single ticket buyers...However, I'm here!
All my logistic phobias were unfounded. I got to my first film Kenneth Branagh's The Magic Flute (pictured, left) just in time! Only to walk out, following the lead of several other viewers. It was UNBEARABLY boring.
Toronto itself seems like a wonderful city, however seeing as I'm an industry outsider, I'm not sure I'll be able to find my way into the mix. Sure, I'll see my 10 films, but where's my entree into the parties? Where's the Celebs? Well, if I make any headway I'll report back in, if I wind up just seeing my Non-A-List type films, than this will be my one contributor's "Round Up" on the 31st Annual Toronto International Film Festival.--Le Anne Lindsay