Sunday, September 16, 2007

2007 Festival Wrap-up

Well, another festival done for the year. I was down a bit from last year; I saw 26 films or discussions, totalling 43 hours, 26 minutes.

Things that worked well:

  • The festival trailers were all short and to the point again this year, which was much appreciated, although I can't that Feist tune out of my head that they used for the Bell Lightbox spot (not that that is a bad thing - I'm actually going to miss it the next time I see a movie). The Cadillac People's Choice Awards were funny, although there probably weren't enough of them to not seem repetitious by the end of the 10 days (can anyone say 'Death Shark', 'dance fight', or 'two men, one horse'?).
  • The volunteers did a great job yet again, despite at least one industry or press wag not appreciating their efforts: http://www.blogto.com/film/2007/09/tiff_today_september_15_2007/. Believe me, the regular film-going public certainly appreciates the work the volunteers put in every year.
  • The VISA Screening Room lounge was nice again this year, especially with the addition of the freshly-made Lindt chocolates.
  • I thought the online box office worked slightly better than last year, in that I didn't get any cryptic error messages or timeouts (at least most of the time).

Things that could be improved:

  • There were times, especially at the start of the festival, when the main festival website and the box office site were extremely slow to respond.
  • There seemed to be a major shipping problem with the out-of-town packages, more so than normal. If they don't already, the festival should get someone from FedEx to help them ensure their shipping goes smoothly, because it sounds like part of the problem this year may have been bad data entry.
  • VISA Screening Room tickets went on sale early this year with the Gala tickets. According to the festival, there are supposed to be separate sets of seats for these individual sales vs. those for the advanced ticketing. Nevertheless, I wonder if there was still an impact on the amount of tickets available for pass and ticket book holders compared to previous years.
  • While the early VISA Screening Room ticket sales have opened up those films to more people, a lot of the die hard festival goers seem to view this more as a money grab for the festival by letting them charge higher rates for the tickets. I did find out that if you bought a VISA Screening Room pass (but not for individual tickets), you actually got preferred seating in the balcony (except for one night at least, when Bell took up a lot of the seats in the middle of the balcony for their people and clients).
  • A lot of regulars expressed disappointment at the elimination of the 30-film ticket book.
  • The festival moved some of the Wavelengths programs to the Varsity 7, which only has 138 seats. More than a few people reported not being able to get tickets this year, which was a big disappointment to them.
  • Those industry people and others who insist on using their Blackberries during a film. There's one volunteer who is quite aggressive about getting people to turn off their phones and PDAs when she catches them being using during a film; maybe they should do that more.

Other notes:

  • Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Funny at first, overdone in the middle, and funny again by the end of the festival. If you don't know what I'm talking about, everyone was making noises like a pirate by the end of the week, every time the warning about not taping the screen came up or the festival personnel mentioned night-vision goggles in the intro. Director Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow) thought that was extremely funny.
  • Interestingly, a lot of people mentioned they specifically avoided seeing The Stone Angel because they had to study it in English class for school. I'd have to add myself to that crowd.

Overall, I had a pretty smooth festival experience this year. Of the 26 films or discussions I attended this year, below are my favourites. Note these are only from the things I actually saw; there were a lot of other really good films at the festival this year judging by some of the conversations I had in line with others:

  • Favourite film: Jason Reitman's Juno. The writing was great, funny, and witty, and the cast was uniformly good, especially Ellen Page who wowed in a number of festival films this year.
  • Funniest film: Tie between Juno and Garth Jenning's Son of Rambow, with Rolf de Heer's Dr. Plonk not far behind. My friend recommends Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl.
  • Best dramatic film: probably a toss-up between Julian Schnabel's Le Scaphandre et le papillon and Ken Loach's It's a Free World.
  • Best documentary: Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World. My friend recommends Amir Bar-Lev's My Kid Could Paint That.
  • Best Canadian film: Martin Gero's Young People Fucking.
  • Best action film: Wilson Yip's Flash Point.
  • "WTF?!" Award: Christian Frosch's Silent Resident, although the last half of Takeshi Kitano's Glory to the Filmmaker! isn't far behind (although I really enjoyed the film).
  • Green Award for the film that saved the most trees by having the least amount of dialogue: Dans la ville de Sylvia (José Luis Guerín), with honourable mention to Dr. Plonk (Rolf de Heer) and Le Voyage du ballon rouge (Hou Hsiao-hsien).
  • Best film involving an older man seducing a much younger woman: Andrew Wagner's Starting Out in the Evening.
  • Screening with the most celebrity wattage: probably a slight nod to Juno (Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, and bonus points for Ben Affleck in the audience) over Melisa Wallack and Bernie Goldmann's Bill (Aaron Eckhart, Timothy Olyphant, Kristen Wiig, Elizabeth Banks, and most of all Jessica Alba).
  • Films that I want to see when they are released: Shake Hands with the Devil, Eastern Promises, Atonement, and Lars and the Real Girl.

I have a lot more reviews and Q&A notes to post up in the next few days before I close off this year's festival coverage, including: Dr. Plonk, Reclaim Your Brain, Jar City, A Gentle Breeze in the Village, Flash Point, Chacun son cinema, Chrysalis, La Fille coupee en deux, Son of Rambow, and Sukiyaki Western Django. Hopefully people found the blog useful this year, and I hope to be back again next year with more ticketing tips, reviews, and Q&A's. Thanks for reading!

TIFF Awards

While the festival does not have films in a juried competition like Cannes, awards are given out in a few different areas:

  • Best Canadian Short Film: Chris Chong Chan Fui's Pool.
  • Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film: Stéphane Lafleur's Continental, un film sans fusil.
  • Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film: Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg.
  • DIESEL Discovery Award, voted on by the festival press corps: Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán's Cochochi.
  • Artistic Innovation Award, for a film in the Visions program: Anahí Berneri's Encarnacion.
  • Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize): Rodrigo Plá's La Zona.
  • Cadillac People's Choice Award, voted on by festival goers: David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises (which is now out in theatres). The first runner-up is Jason Reitman's Juno (an excellent film that I saw this year) and the second runner up is Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's Body of War.
Full details can be found in this press release:

http://www.tiffg.ca/content/mediacentre/viewrelease.asp?recordId=504

Friday, September 14, 2007

Déficit

The directorial debut of Gael García Bernal, Déficit is centered around a party being held at the country home of Bernal's character Cristobal. Cristobal is outwardly happy, but struggles with the weight of parental expectations and relationships, and now has to deal with his sister (Camila Sodi) and her friends, who have showed up at the house on the same day. When Cristobal's friends arrive, they have in tow Dolores (Luz Cipriota), an Argentinian who captivates Cristobal, despite the fact that his girlfriend Mafer is on her way to the house. Cristobal also has a rival for Dolores' attention in the form of the gardener Adán, who grew up with Cristobal. As the party runs into the night, fuelled by alcohol and more, Cristobal will eventually reach a breaking point.

This was a good freshman directing effort, but wonder if it might have been a bit more effective if Bernal wasn't also in the starring role. Still, it probably worked better than many other self-directing efforts.

The story could have been a bit stronger. Perhaps because of the short length, there wasn't much opportunity to develop more of the characters, or to develop the main characters a bit more deeply. I did like Luz Cipriota; she came across as very natural and relaxed. The film did do a good job with its undercurrents of class and racial divisions (very Upstairs, Downstairs).

Director/star Gael García Bernal, screenwriter Kyzza Terrazas, and actors Camila Sodi, Luz Cipriota, and Tenoch Huerta Mejía were in attendance for a Q&A:

  • It took 5-and-a-half weeks to shoot the film.
  • Déficit was originally just a working title that Terrazas came up with, but as they went they found meanings for the title. Among other things, it is a word his generation has grown up with (like deficit, crisis, devaluation, democracy, impunity).
  • And every character in the film lacks something; they are all orphans in a way. They want to find closeness in some way - it's a new beginning for everyone. They all lack a sense of being comfortable with the place they live in. They don't know their place in the world yet. As well, deficit is a word the rest of the world understands.
  • There is an Ontario license plate on Tenoch Huerta Mejía's truck in the film because Canada has an immigrant working program which is different than what the US has.
  • The town in the film is south of Mexico City. There is a wall of mountains surrounding the town, so whatever you do (clap or fart) there's a lot of resonance.
  • The sound of fireworks going off in the background just happened, they are not part of the film. It's reality, and sometimes reality draws beautiful metaphors.
  • On Bernal's character's relationships with women in the film, Terrazas talked about an age at which women are just something guys play around with. He didn't feel in the film like it was a macho or gender thing. This character thinks that on one level he controls the world and everything around him, not just women, but the servants, the country, the economy.
  • Bernal said that the script offered a strong base to play around with. Since the events in the film occur over one day, a lot of things happen simultaneously, and you get a lot of things happening in the background you have to invent a story around.
  • One of the actresses (I think Camila Sodi) said that the film was pretty much based on the script (i.e. not widely improvised); Bernal as a director gave them a lot of freedom, so they did improvise a bit around what was written, which might have helped with the natural feel.
  • Bernal talked about the huge challenges working on the film, finding himself working against himself. You have to act like you know what you're doing; you know what you want to reach but not how, but you have to act like you do.
  • It was quite frustrating sometimes because he couldn't get upset or anxious because he had to go act himself. He had to be chilled out. It's the month he's slept the least.
  • Mejía said that when an actor who is a director is directing another actor, there's a special relationship built because they understand each other and it makes the actor feel more comfortable because he knows the director understands what he's going through. He guides you but gives you room to explore.
  • On if more directing is in his future, Bernal said that practically, directing will take time away from plays and films but he thinks it is the start of a sweet revenge.
  • They did the movie in a simple and organic way; in economic terms, it would be like organic produce. They did it from the beginning to the end with their resources and a lot of passion and effort and the result is what they wanted, and they learned a lot. They want to challenge themselves with this learning. As some one once said, you first film only helps your second. But he doesn't want a career as a director, he still wants to be an actor.
  • The story was a bit accidental. At the beginning, they wanted to make a TV series that would serve as a platform to make stories set in different states in Mexico with cinematic rigor. But the only way to do Déficit was to convert it into a film. There were practical reasons, but the ball was already rolling. They found the story to tell, and there comes a point where you know where to go on whatever path they encountered.
  • The film was shot on video.

Dans la ville de Sylvia (En la ciudad de Sylvia)

José Luis Guerín’s Dans la ville de Sylvia finds Xavier Lafitte's unnamed artist returning to Strasbourg and searching for a girl he met six years ago. He sits in a cafe, observing and sketching the women around him until he spies one that looks like the girl he knew (Pilar López de Ayala), and then we're off on a walking tour of the beautiful city as he follows her around.

This is a very quiet, observation film, spare with its dialogue (there's perhaps one scene in the film with any amount of talking). You feel very much like you are people-watching on the street, watching the protagonist watch others. The main scene in the cafe is especially captivating, playing with perspective and reflections. The soundtrack is provided by the natural sounds of the city; buskers playing in the background, shoes clapping against the street, car radios fading in and out as they pass by, and the trolley rolling on its tracks. And the camera continues to linger on a scene long after the characters have passed through the shot, giving you a feel of a living, vibrant city.

The film reminds me a lot of Ana and the Others (Ana y los otros) or Café Lumière in its feel and style.

Actor Xavier Lafitte was present and did a Q&A after the film:

  • At the end of the audition, José Luis Guerín asked Lafitte if there was anything else he wanted to add so they could get to know each other better. Lafitte has drawn since he was young, so he told Guerín that. Guerín gave him a pen and a page from his notebook, and asked Lafitte to sketch the casting director. She sat close to Lafitte and Guerín filmed them. Four days later he had to the part, and ten days later they started shooting.
  • The screenplay was about 60 pages. After each sequence there was a time written on the bottom of the page; e.g. this sequence must be two minutes.
  • Guerín liked to give the actors a frame with some tension in it. He knows what he wants, but also wants to let the actors be free. If the light was wrong or there was too much noise in the background, Guerín would yell cut and have them do it again.
  • The frame was precise like in the screenplay, and then the actors can go into the frame or the written pages, and then the film is brought to life.
  • The film was shot in Strasbourg in the eastern part of France. They shot mostly in the central part of the city, which is very old.
  • Lafitte said it wasn't hard not having to speak in most of the movie. He's French, and in French film they talk a lot. They rehearsed one week before shooting, and he practiced with Pilar López de Ayala the one scene with dialogue, and by the end of the week they were completely bored with the scene.
  • The first two days of shooting was for the train sequence.
  • For the rest of the film, Lafitte just had to focus on his character, which he envisioned to be a writer, a poet, and an artist.
  • Lafitte doesn't know if Guerín would agree with him, but in Lafitte's mind the plot is about getting inside the creative process of an artist. For example, in the first shot of the film, he is very focused on what he wants to write, and that is why he takes a long time to find the right words.
  • It's like a documentary about an artist whose main work is to study people in the street; in the world we are all alive, and the artist must show it in his way.
  • The sketches in the notebook in the film are not Lafitte's; he has a more precise style. A Spanish artist did the sketches, but they can't find the notebook now.
  • Guerín loves France and spent a lot of time in Strasbourg, so it was important for him to set the story there. He built the story with writers like Dostoevsky and Goethe in mind; Goethe wrote a lot in Strasbourg.
  • For most sequences, the people in the background are extras; there are very few scenes where they did a wide shot. Some actresses return in later scenese, and that is intentional.
  • Lafitte just did a short film in July for Channel 4 in England.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bell Lightbox Trailer

In case you've been wondering what music they've been using in the Bell Lightbox trailers before the films, it hit me today in Indigo when I was listening to the music they were playing over the intercom; it's I Feel It All by Feist, off her album The Reminder.

http://www.amazon.com/Reminder-Feist/dp/B000NPE7YC/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-9080102-9540667?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1189662611&sr=8-1

Encounters at the End of the World

His first documentary since 2005's Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World finds the filmmaker at McMurdo Station at the South Pole. Part nature film (but in Herzog's own words, not just another film about fluffy penguins), part character study, Herzog talks to the workers and scientists who have made their way to the pole, in between stunning shots of both land and sea.

Herzog captures on film the beauty and diversity of this isolated land, especially in the footage shot under the ice by his friend Henry Kaiser (who also did work on Herzog's Wild Blue Yonder). Then Herzog goes beyond the natural and looks at what type of person moves to the ends of the earth. There's the former Colorado banker who now drives the base's bus. There's the mechanic, who freed from years behind the Iron Curtain, always keeps a bag packed, ready to travel to the next adventure on a moment's notice. There are many more stories of these people, who in the words of one of them, have drifted to the bottom of the world because they've lacked and ties to hold them in place elsewhere.

Entertaining, educational, and visually stunning, Encounters at the End of the World is a different look at one of the last frontiers on earth.

Herzog had left the festival by this showing, but executive producer Julian Hobbs of Discovery Films answered questions:

  • Some of the footage used in Wild Blue Yonder is the same imagery that he used in this film. The link between the two films is Henry Kaiser, who is an underwater photographer. Kaiser is also a musician and worked on the Grizzly Man soundtrack. While they were working on that, Kaiser showed him some underwater footage, and shortly thereafter they made Wild Blue Yonder.
  • Herzog wasn't allowed to go underwater; Kaiser did all the filming.
  • Herzog was invited down to Antarctica as a poet artist-in-residence by the US National Science Foundation. He spent about a week of training, and then six weeks filming. The crew consisted of just Herzog doing his own sound, plus his longtime cinematographer (Peter Zeitlinger).
  • On the music in the film, Hobbs mentioned that Herzog has pretty wide-ranging tastes. Some of the music is original, others are Russian Orthodox chants, and his wife is Russian, so that might be an answer, although Hobbs said really that is a question Herzog would have to answer.
  • There was no set itinerary; Herzog had full access to all the facilities connected to the US scientific community down there.
  • On working with Herzog, Hobbs said that Herzog is the most unassuming, charming, fascinating, polite, easy-to-work-with person, despite his reputation to the contrary. Discovery Films gives him a lot of free range on his projects with them, because they are not there to push a Hollywood agenda on him.
  • It took about 6 months to prep and do pre-production, and editing took about 10 weeks.
  • This is the first movie Herzog has shot on video. Hobbs figures the ratio of footage he used was around 8:1. Most of the scientists he interviewed made it onto film, but Hobbs speculated that Herzog picked those who fit the editorial that he wanted.

It's a Free World

Director Ken Loach, who was at the festival last year with The Wind That Shakes the Barley, has returned with It's a Free World, a look at the underground market for immigrant and illegal workers in Britain. At the centre of this story is Angie (played by Kierston Wareing), a single mother who, fed up with working for others and sacked from her latest job, sets out to establish her own employment agency with her friend Rose.

Angie, whose constantly grandiose dreams often fall by the wayside, including to some extent her own son, struggles to establish herself. Along the way, her challenges start forcing her to make compromises between her sympathy for the workers and her own problems and ambitions. The film gives a rather bleak look at the hardships faced by those searching for a new and better life in another country, only to find a system more than ready to take advantage of them at every turn.

Wareing, in her first feature film (her previous credits include an episode of the UK mystery series Wire in the Blood), gives a strong, natural performance as Angie. The film is pretty much hers to carry as it is mainly Angie's story on offer. You can see Angie's descent as she becomes more and more willing to skirt and bend the rules, making little concessions until she finds herself miles away from where she started. It's kind of a heartbreaking film to watch, and may make you think about the price you pay (and not in a monetary sense) for cheap products.

Kierston Wareing did a Q&A after the film:

  • Wareing was about to give up acting after a 10-year struggle. She was studying to be a legal secretary and had two months left in her course when she got a call from her agent saying Ken Loach wanted to meet her. She auditioned between May and August and finally got the part.
  • The film was shot in east London, Poland, and Ukraine. They shot in Poland and Ukraine even though it was not necessary (you can't tell from the shots), which kept it as real as possible.
  • Wareing said that it was incredible to work with Loach because he's such a genius, and is a nice man, very down-to-earth. He can related to virtually anyone, from young to old. He directs very easily; everything is black and white. He has a fantastic sense of humour, so they had a ball on the set.
  • She didn't have much of a chance to interact with anyone outside of the context of the film, since she was so busy, being in virtually every shot of the movie.
  • Wareing definitely doesn't agree with Angie's actions in the film; she hopes that people in this business take a second thought about what they are doing.
  • Despite the natural tone of the movie and dialogue, very little was ad-libbed. It was about 90% scripted.
  • Wareing got portions of the script every day; she didn't know what was going to happy to Angie at the end of the movie. She received her first cut of the script when she was flying to Poland on the first day of the film; Loach handed her the pages and told her to read them for tomorrow. On the first shooting day, she was in an assembly hall for supporting artists, and she felt overwhelmed. But she's glad Loach threw her into the deep end as it made everything else easier.
  • When she got the part, Loach just told her to get her motorcycle license (and she hates motor bikes). Then, he told her she was going to set up her own business, and that she had a son (she doesn't have any children in real life). She asked for the script, but he said no and told her not to worry about it.
  • Wareing said that apparently Loach works this way on all his films.
  • On an average scene, Loach likes to get two good takes. A lot of the scenes are cut into short parts.

Possible minor spoliers below:

  • Wareing likes to think that if the movie continued on past the end, Angie would stay on the same course and just get more ruthless.
  • For the scene where she's attacked in her house, when she first read the script, her only line was 'Jamie, where are you?' She asked if that was really her only line, and thought it might be an easy day of shooting. She said her line, and then got jumped on by the men. They had been rehearsing with the stunt coordinator all day, but she didn't know that. She apparently collapsed in the first shot of the scene, which Loach loved, but Wareing said she didn't even remember doing that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Le Scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

Le Scaphandre et le papillon is based on the real life of Jean-Dominique Bauby, an editor of Elle, who became the victim of a condition known as 'locked-in syndrome' after suffering a massive stroke. Bauby, played by Mathieu Amalric (probably most familiar in the west as Louis the arms dealer in Munich), is trapped within his body (much like within the titular Diving Bell), his mind active but unable to move anything but his left eye and eyelid. With the help of one of his therapists, Henriette (played by Canadian Marie-Josée Croze), Bauby learns to communicate through blinking. At first dismayed, even suicidal, over his predicament, Bauby soon comes to accept his fate, and through a translator, Claude (Anne Consigny), dictates out his life and experiences.

Warmly received at Cannes, where director Julian Schnabel won the best director prize, the movie was very powerful, and Amalric showed Bauby's frustration and eventual acceptance despite being restricted to moving a single eye. Initially, the film takes place from the perspective of Bauby, communicating his disorientation and isolation. As he opens up and accepts his fate, the camera is free to move in the third-person perspective and even flashback as Bauby recalls parts of the past.

Director Julian Schnabel, Emmanuelle Seigner (who plays the mother of Bauby's children), Marie-Josée Croze, and Olatz Lopez Garmendia (who plays Bauby's physiotherapist) were in attendance. Schnabel started with a few words to introduce the film, but there was no Q&A, as it typical of films shown in the Elgin.

Vexille

It is the late 21st century, and no foreigner has set foot in Japan in a decade. Shielded from the eyes of the outside world by an electromagnetic shield, no one has any idea what has happened in the country since it withdrew from the UN because of international condemnation of Japan's melding of robotics and bio-technology. Japan's only remaining link to the global community is through the robots it exports from mega-corporation Daiwa Heavy Industries.

Tipped off to a mysterious meeting organized by Daiwa, a special forces unit named SWORD soon discovers a plot that may threaten the rest of humanity. Now, SWORD must penetrate the veil of secrecy surrounding Japan, and figure out what the country has done and planned in those missing years.

From director Sori, who was visual effects director for the 2004 version of Appleseed, with a soundtrack by Paul Oakenfold, Vexille is a stylish, visually appealing blend of anime and CGI. With some elements of Philip K. Dick, an intriguing near-future universe is created for the story, which provides a foundation for this look at what it means to be human.

The film isn't perfect, though: parts of the ending would seem to belong more to a James Bond movie, there could be a bit more depth to the story and characters, and the animation could be a bit more convincing in some of the emotive scenes. Still, Vexille is an exciting ride that at least takes some time to ask bigger questions.

Additional Photos

I added pictures to the entries for the Bill Q&A (Aaron Eckhart, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Wiig, and Jessica Alba) and the Religulous Mavericks discussion (Bill Maher and Larry Charles).

Lars and the Real Girl

I didn't attend the screening of Lars and the Real Girl, but my friend did, and he took some shots of the Q&A:

Patricia Clarkson, Kelli Carner, Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer, and Ryan Gosling:


Patricia Clarkson, Kelli Carner, Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer, and Ryan Gosling:


TIFF Photos

If you want to see some great photos from TIFF, check out this photo blog from local photographer Sam Javanrouh:

http://wvs.topleftpixel.com/

His shots of the madness of the crowd waiting for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to show up for the screening of The Assassination of Jesse James are interesting:

http://wvs.topleftpixel.com/07/09/10/

Trumbo

Trumbo is a documentary about the life of Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter and novelist who was part of the Hollywood Ten. The Ten were a group of screenwriters, directors, producers, and composers who were brought before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the late 1940's to testify about their ties to the Communist party. When they refused to testify, claiming their rights under the First Amendment (freedom of speech), they were cited for contempt of Congress and sent to jail. As a result, the Ten and many others were blacklisted by the entertainment industry.

Trumbo the film is based on play written by Trumbo's son Christopher. It talks about Trumbo's life during the blacklisting (which lasted well into the 60's), and is punctuated by a number of actors giving readings from Trumbo's voluminous and witty correspondence. David Strathairn, Liam Neeson, Michael Douglas, Paul Giamatti, Brian Dennehy, Nathan Lane, Joan Allen, Josh Lucas, and Donald Sutherland all powerfully bring to life Trumbo's own words.

The film looks at the politics of the time but also looks at the impact on Trumbo's family. The financial hardships they faced, and the persecution his children encountered at school because of their father's stance. Interviews with people who worked with Trumbo also shed light on the man; Donald Sutherland worked with Trumbo on the film adaptation of Trumbo's novel Johnny Got His Gun (1971); Dustin Hoffman worked with Trumbo on Papillon (1973); and Kirk Douglas talked about how one of the things he is most proud of in his life was putting Trumbo's name on screen as the writer of Spartacus, which, with his on-screen credit for Exodus in that same year, effectively ended the blacklist for Trumbo (but it would continue for others).

Trumbo is a very interesting and captivating documentary, with relevance today to those who would have their debate silenced in the name of patriotism.

Director Peter Askin, Trumbo's son Christopher, and one of Trumbo's daughters, Mitzi, along with Donald Sutherland did a Q&A after the film:

  • Sutherland talked on how he loved working with Trumbo, if only for a couple of days on Johnny Got His Gun. He actually read the last four pages of the book to troops in the US and south-east Asia (although not in Vietnam), in between working on the film and when the film was finished. Sutherland went back and told Trumbo that he really needed to put those last pages in the film. Ron Kovic apparently said that those last 5 pages were responsible for his writing Born on the Fourth of July.
  • Sutherland also mentioned how he had hired Mark Lane and Donald Freed to do a script for the movie Executive Action, about the Kennedy assassination, and Trumbo came on board to finalize the script.
  • One older gentleman made a comment implying that the US government of the time was justified in its actions persecuting its own citizens in the entertainment industry because of the actions and atrocities of the Soviet Union at the time, and that the government was justified to be worried about these screenwriters spreading communist propaganda, with which Sutherland vehemently disagreed.
  • On the actors who did the readings in the film; Askin talked about how Sutherland was well aware of Trumbo and his works, Michael Douglas knew Trumbo as a young man, and some had acted in the play on which the film is based (Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy).
  • When asked if there were ever any apologies, Christopher Trumbo talked about how all of the guilds made a response (screenwriter, directors, actors, and extras), apologizing for not standing stronger in 1947 and 1951 and 1953, because they might have been able to stop the blacklist in its tracks had they had the courage to do something.
  • Someone asked about the family's reaction to Elia Kazan's honorary Oscar in 1999. Askin talked about the divided reaction that night to the award, acknowledge that Kazan was a great artists, but that he did what he did; he's not sure if he would've stood or not had he been there that night.
  • Christopher Trumbo talked about how it is a complicated question. He mentioned how the board of governors of the Academy voted to give Kazan the award (even though he already had 2 Oscars), but that only a day or two later some of the board members began to have second thoughts. Later on, there was a lot of commentary across the country as to whether the award was appropriate. They were protests outside the ceremony, but Christopher Trumbo did not attend. He is actually friends with Nick Kazan, Elia's son, and Trumbo did not want to be put in the position of his children seeing a friend of theirs protesting in this way - his own experiences are what led him to take that action.
  • He wrote an article for the LA Free Press expressing what he thought was the difficulty with the whole process. In his mind, it came down to the people who would applaud this award would be the members of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, that it was their victory. Sutherland added that people should listen to one of Dalton Trumbo's comments, about those who inform upon their friends, and do you want to be associated with those type of people at the end of the day.
  • Someone asked if the Trumbo children have a lot of painful memories of that time. Christopher Trumbo talked about how he never was afraid because his parents never communicated fear to him. He never felt that his parents hid anything from him. He felt he had a normal childhood that was just different than others.
  • Sutherland further added an anecdote about being at the University of Toronto in 1953, as a freshman at South House at Victoria College, and on Halloween night burning Joseph McCarthy in effigy. They were all disguised under sheets, and they were photographed by Time magazine, which had inflated their numbers from 15 to 1500 raging students. Sutherland's mother in Nova Scotia phoned him and said she recognized his ears in the photo.
  • Someone asked about Trumbo's wife Cleo and the other Trumbo daughter, neither of whom appeared in the film. Christopher said both are fine, his mother is 91, and his older sister is a psychotherapist in Seattle. She decided she didn't want to participate; Christopher had originally told Askin that he thought his older sister would want to participate but that his younger sister wouldn't, and it turned out the reverse was true. His mother had appeared in one documentary before, but she regretted it to such an extent she refused to do anything like that since.

Everything to Gain: A Conversation with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter

Everything to Gain: A Conversation with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter was a discussion to help support the Jonathan Demme documentary Man From Plains, and to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Carter Center. Allan Gregg, host of Allan Gregg in Conversation With… on TVOntario interviewed on stage former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter. The discussion will appear on Gregg's show at a later date.

This discussion was an interesting contrast to the previous day's Mavericks session with Bill Maher and Larry Charles. While Maher and Carter are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to faith and religion, they seem to end up in the same place on many issues (political and spiritual).

Below is a summary of what was discussed in the session. Note that these are not all exact quotes, and that in some cases I've paraphrased and summarized what was said:

  • The impetus for doing the film Man From Plains was Jeff Skoll, former president eBay and now CEO of Participant Productions (the company behind An Inconvenient Truth, Syriana, and Good Night and Good Luck). Skoll had always wanted to do a film on Carter, and Carter said he would do it if Skoll could get the best director in the world; Skoll came up with Jonathan Demme.
  • Rosalynn Carter said she wasn't crazy about all the cameras following their every move. Demme was using very small cameras so he was able to get very close up, and Rosalynn Carter said partially in jest that she dreaded seeing the film because of that. The Carters have seen an early version of the film, and thought it was great, although they had hoped to get more of the Carter Center in it. They had mentioned that to Demme, so they were hopeful the final cut would have more of the Center.
  • Jimmy Carter said that he hoped people would get an insight into the things they've done since leaving the White House, and he considered it to be a bit of a bio of his adult life.
  • On the topic of his most recent book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, he hopes it will help to precipitate more peace. He considers it to be one of the most important political issues in the world, and is frustrated over the lack of peace talks in the last seven years. He hopes discussion can encourage countries in the region, the UN, the EU, and the US to more aggressively pursue peace.
  • The Carters first travelled to Palestine in 1972, and have been back to the region 3 times since to help monitor elections (when Arafat was elected, then Abbas, and more recent parliamentary elections). This is one of the things the Carter Centre does a lot of, and one of its conditions is unfettered access. He said he was dismayed over Israeli incursion on Palestinian rights, but also said he recognizes and supports need for Israeli security and peace. He thinks the way Palestinians are treated is counter-productive to those goals, and would like to see good-faith talks between the two sides.
  • On the issue of the current Israeli security fence, Carter talked about how a wall was first proposed by Yitzhak Rabin to be built along 1967 borders. After Rabin's assassination, his successors ended up building the wall within Palestine. The International Court of Justice, as does Carter, agreed with the boundaries of the first proposed wall, but not the current one.
  • On the Camp David Accords that led to the peace between Egypt and Israel, Carter talked on the 13 days of intense negotiations to get an agreement. Rosalynn Carter talked about how she was in a room next to the negotiations and could hear people shouting at one another after the first day; after that ,President Carter had to shuttle back and forth between the parties as they wouldn't meet face-to-face. In the end, President Carter gave Begin signed photos for each of Begin's grandchildren, which Rosalynn carter thought was one of the factors that drove him to sign an agreement - he wanted peace for his grandchildren.
  • On the lack of any progress in recent years, Jimmy Carter talked about the current administration not trying, and the Clinton administration putting forward proposals in its last months, but nothing that would be acceptable to either side. With the current International Quartet, Carter feels that with the US dominance in that group, the country needs to take a leading role. Palestinians are now in a more desperate situation.
  • When asked about what would be the key to breaking this deadlock, Jimmy Carter talked about getting an agreement based on the formulas laid out in the 2003 Geneva Accord. He also talked about how most Arab nations would explicitly recognize Israel's right to exist if it returned to its 1967 borders.
  • He does not consider the Palestinian situation to be directly linked to the war in Iraq, but the current animosity towards the US and the recruitment of extremists are linked to the inability to deal with the Palestinian issue. Carter feels that there could be an end to the war in Iraq if the US had the support of other Arab nations, which it has lost.
  • When asked if people should be worried about the potential for the US to next target Iran, Jimmy Carter said that people should be concerned, and that he believes that there is a need to open communication. He talked about how he opened up a dialog with the revolutionary government in Iran after the overthrow of the Shah. He feels that the current administration's position is that if a country doesn't agree 100% with the US in advance, then the US won't deal with that country.
  • He feels that there is danger in alienating Iran; the country is currently a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but that a threat of invasion only encourages them to pursue nuclear weapons.
  • Rosalynn Carter talked about one advantage of being a former First Lady is that she can call on nearly an expert in the world for help with their causes. Her own passion is mental health, since her husband's time as governor of Georgia.
  • Jimmy Carter talked about how instead of just speaking on the lecture circuit, he wanted to help others have a better life, and to deal with the most neglected and intransigent problems, and not to duplicate effort on problems already being addressed by other governments and organizations.
  • On the founding of the Carter Center, Rosalynn Carter described how they didn't get the chance to do everything they wanted before leaving the White House, through, as Jimmy Carter described it, his "involuntary retirement". Rosalynn Carter was angry that incoming President Ronald Reagan had abandoned mental health legislation that she had worked to get through Congress shortly before the end of her husband's term.
  • Jimmy Carter talked about how the Carter Center was envisioned to be a mini Camp David, where parties could come to get assistance in resolving their conflicts. Its mandate expanded to address health care. He talked on the Center's work with dracunculiasis, or guinea worm, a parasite that can grow up to 2 to 3 feet long in the body and is absorbed by drinking contaminated water. A program funded by the Carter Center (and other groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) has succeeded in reducing guinea worm from 3.5 million reported cases in 1986 down to about 16,000 cases worldwide in 2004.
  • The Carter Center is also active with agricultural programs, teaching farmers how to increase their crop yields. Since the Center is active in many countries, people there often ask them to tackle other issues, rather than going to the US or the UN for help. One task upcoming for the Center is to help Nepal draft its constitution.
  • Rosalynn Carter talked about how over the last 23 years she has become quite the carpenter through their work with Habitat for Humanity. The Carters reserve out a week a year in their busy schedule to devote to helping build houses around the world with the group.
  • She talked about how working with the people who will live in the house allows them to get to know and love them, and how owning a home changes people immensely.
  • Jimmy Carter talked about how the organization desperately needs help to build homes, especially in areas like New Orleans.
  • Last year, they worked with Habitat for Humanity in Mumbai. It was supposed to take 5 days to build the homes they wanted, but it only took 4 when Brad Pitt showed up, generating a lot more interest and volunteers.
  • Jimmy Carter said his faith informs what he does. He talked on how everyone bases their life on faith, be it faith in family, parents, or nations. He believes in Jesus Christ as a foundation for his life, but he's never found a conflict between his faith and his political life.
    Carter said that he'd like to think that even without religion he would still pattern his life on the same principles of peace and love.
  • He is opposed to fundamentalism in religion; he talked about how fundamentalism always involves a dominant man considering himself superior, and generally the first group that man considers himself to be superior to is women. That man believes he has a direct relationship to god, and therefore those who disagree are wrong, even subhuman. Carter talked on how fundamentalism has intruded into US politics as well as into terrorism around the world.
  • Carter said he doesn't believe that the left has abandoned religious moral stances to the conservative right in the US. He does believe that moderates, including himself, believe in a separation between church and state, and that the trend is being reversed with people being more concerned about the intrusion of religion into politics.
  • Rosalynn Carter talked about the difficulty in writing their book Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life. Jimmy Carter has written 20+ books, and can write a chapter in an afternoon. Rosalynn Carter takes much longer, and that discrepancy was very stressful to their marriage. She said that her husband would write a chapter so quickly that she would consider it a draft, but because she would spend so much time and effort on writing hers, that she didn't want a single word changed.
  • Jimmy Carter talked about how the US is so politically, economically, militarily, and culturally dominant in the world. When the US loses its influence, the world loses an inspiration to turn to for higher ideals, like human rights. With such things as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, other nations searching for guidance no longer look to the US, and Carter thinks that's a loss for both sides.
  • Jimmy Carter talked about how the Carter Center's relationship with Canada is one of the most helpful. When asked if he had any advice for Canada, Carter did encourage people to be more outspoken, aggressive, and independent about promoting Canadian values, and to not be afraid of expressing disagreement with US policies.
  • When prompted for a prediction on the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Rosalynn Carter diplomatically deferred, as she has a policy of not endorsing anyone in the primaries. She thinks the Democrats will win the presidential election, but that she'll support whichever of the candidates takes the Democratic nomination.
  • When asked about their family, especially daughter Amy who was so prominent during their time in the White House, the Carters said their 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and now 1 great-grandchild were all doing great.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bill

Aaron Eckhart is the eponymous Bill of the title, a man who has all but given up. He's fat and flabby from sneaking Snickers bars everytime he gets stressed (which is a lot), he works in his father-in-law's bank in a made-up position, and his marriage to wife Jess (Elizabeth Banks) has lost all its passion. On top of it all, he's been roped into mentoring a smart-alec high-school student (Logan Lerman).

Suspicious of his wife and a smarmy local TV anchor (Timothy Olyphant), Bill decides to find out the truth. which sets him on a path of self-discovery, led ironically enough by Lerman's character, who helps Bill to stand up for himself and consider other possibilities.

The main cast is filled out with a host of characters, including Jessica Alba as Lucy, the salesgirl that Lerman's character is constantly hitting on and who helps Bill to change his image; Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis as the owners of a donut franchise that Bill wants to buy into; Craig Bierko and Reed Diamond as Bill's brother Sargeant and Sargeant's boyfriend, respectively.

Bill was written by Melisa Wallack, and was co-directed by Wallack and her husband, Bernie Goldmann. This is the first feature film for the pair as directors/writer.

Bill is an entertaining film, and Eckhart does a convincing job as the sad sack title character, making him sympathetic, but not completely pathetic. Elizabeth Banks' Jess ends up showing a little more depth than just the stereotypical rich, bored, neglected wife. I wouldn't go as far to say the story was absolutely remarkable, but it has a fair balance between the comedic and the serious, and Wallack does eschew the conventional ending.

While Wallack was in Toronto, she could not attend the screening as she was looking after her sick child. However, her husband an co-director Bernie Goldmann was there, along with much of the cast, including Eckhart, Banks, Lerman, Alba, Wiig, and Olyphant. They did a Q&A after the film:

  • When asked what he looks for in a script, Eckhart joked, "who's the girl, and then how much, and where's it shooting". Seriously, though, if he can see himself doing it and gets excited and loses himself in the script, then it's a good indication he can do the character, and then he looks at who he's playing with and who's directing. He liked the character and the script.
  • Eckhart gained about 30 pounds for the film, and wore a fat suit over that, and was constantly eating.
  • Goldmann commented on how for he and his wife, the film is about shedding everything and starting again; he talked about how when you are trying to hold on so tightly to your life it's like holding on to a wet bar of soap.
  • The genesis of the story was that Goldmann and Wallack had heard at a dinner party about a man who had put a tape recorder under his bed and caught his wife having sex with another man, and they both thought they had to do a movie about that.
Logan Lerman, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Wiig, and Aaron Eckhart:


Kristen Wiig, Aaron Eckhart, and Jessica Alba:

Religulous

Religulous was a panel discussion with Bill Maher (host of Politically Incorrect and now Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO) and Larry Charles (producer/writer/director on Seinfeld, Curb Your Entuhsiasm, and Borat), moderated by Thom Powers of the festival. The panel was in support of the film of the same name that Maher and Charles are currently working on. The clips that were shown indicate a funny movie that asks some interesting questions and provokes people to think; it will probably offend a whole lot of devout people, but that's not the audience they are targeting.

Below is a summary of some of what was discussed in the session. Note that these are not exact quotes, that in many cases I've paraphrased and summarized what was said:

  • Because of the success last year with the Mavericks session involving Michael Moore for Sicko, Lionsgate requested a similar session this year for this film.
  • A number of rough clips were shown, which generally consist of Maher interviewing religious peoples of all stripes. He talks to Jews, Christians, Muslims, polygamists, satanists, and Raelians, although the focus of the film will be on the first three.
  • The title of the film is a combination of Religion and Ridiculous, which combined equals Religulous. Charles said it made for a better meme than a more conventional title like "Bill Maher is Going to Hell".
  • Maher had always wanted to do a movie on religion; producers suggested he link up with Charles. They both felt it was something that needed to be made and started shooting quickly.
  • On the topic of religion being a taboo subject generally in film and TV, Maher replied that it had never been an area he couldn't go with his audience, but he's sure others would be upset. Charles talked about an unspoken code to avoid discussing religion, but in Curb Your Enthusiasm they talk about it a lot, which can be controversial.
  • Both talked about wanting to challenge people's assumptions, getting them to question rather than just accept things at face value.
  • Charles' parents were secular, but they all lived in an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood. He actually wanted to be a rabbi at one point, but once he reached an age where he started asking a lot of questions, he ran into problems. Maher comes from a Catholic/Jewish background; in his early career, he would make fun of religion, but in the context of still beliving it. Evolving to his current position was something more gradual over his life. In filming this movie, and a segment with his 88-year-old mother, Maher learned something more about himself and his family.
  • Maher acknowledged that people want to believe, that they find comfort in it, and that his not having a faith is a luxury of his being financially and emotionally well-off.
  • Charles talked about how a punishing god never made sense to him, and that the common explanations are not adequate to the present reality. In his mind, search for answers is anathema to religion, because the answers are supposed to already be there.
  • Both commented that humanity should be able to be nice to each other without requiring relgion to do so.
  • What worries Charles is that most religions come to an end times, which inherently removes the motivation to work things out because what comes in the next life is better than the current one.
  • On the question of spirituality vs. organized religion, neither is willing to say that there is nothing greater out there, just that they don't know what is out there.
  • In addition to the traditional religions, they looked at newer ones like the Raelians. Charles said that even though a lot of these newer ones involve things like spaceships and aliens, if you break their stories and beliefs down, there are parallels.
  • It was actually straightforward getting people to talk on camera, because they generally went to people that are very passionate about their causes and beliefs. In the clips, they travel all over the world, including to Jerusalem and the Vatican. In fact, they mentioned that some of the most candid conversations were with two Catholic priests from the Vatican.
  • Charles believes that rationalism and reflective thought are coming to a crisis point.
  • They said the point of their film is to make people think. They said that using a humourous style helps to get the message across and probably stops people from immediately tuning out as they might with a more serious, earnest discussion.
  • Charles thought the film might come out in the spring, but that no release date had been set yet.
Bill Maher and Larry Charles:


Thom Powers, Bill Maher, and Larry Charles:

Silent Resident

Set in a futuristic high-rise complex called Neustadt (i.e. New City), Silent Resident follows Hannah (Brigitte Hobmeier), who works for the city government. Seeking to escape from her abusive husband Branco (Xaver Hutter), Hannah manages to secure an apartment on another floor with the help of her friend and co-worker Paula. But Hannah's new apartment, recently vacated because of the suicide of the previous tenant, Yoon, seems haunted by voices and strange visions.

Hannah soon comes to believe that she's become embroiled in some sort of larger conspiracy that includes her lover Hauks (Martin Wuttke), who works for the security service. But is Hannah seeing the truth, or is it all nothing more than an elaborate fantasy sprung forth from her fragile emotional state?

Silent Resident is a difficult film to describe. Neustadt is a seemingly Utopian environment, but the complex is being eaten away from the inside by class struggle, and being pressured from the outside by a vaguely defined declining of civilization outside its walls. Similarly, Hannah is seemingly being used by various people for their own ends, while internally, her own mind becomes more and more consumed by paranoia and fear and hallucinations. The film can be at times very surreal, further blurring the lines between Hannah's own sanity and insanity.

The soundtrack was very jazzy, giving the film a bit of a noir feel at times, but I felt there were times when the music went a bit over the top and overwhelmed the scene.

The film provides an interesting vision, but one that will probably appeal to a very select audience.

Director Christian Frosch was in attendance, and did a Q&A after the film:

  • It took eight years, on and off, to get the film made, mainly because of the difficulty in obtaining financing (one of the first companies to finance in the early years went bankrupt - not because of this film, though).
  • Depsite the long timeframe, he still largely ended up with the cast he wanted. The lead actress he found her one year before shooting; the other parts were written for the actors, as he likes being with people he's worked with before.
  • The print was only completed two days before the festival, so this was the first time Frosch had seen the complete version in a theatre. At the screening, he was more interested in hearing and listening to how the audience reacted to the film; where they laughed, what noises they made, etc.
  • Frosch feels that what is on screen is what he wanted, i.e. he didn't have to compromise his original vision.
  • Growing up in Vienna, Frosch was familiar with the Alt-Erlaa complex in Austria, which was a bit of a social experiment in the late 70's/early 80's. He thought about the building when writing the script, but thought that he did not want to shoot there. He looked at a number of other locations, but came back to it in the end.
  • He liked being able to use Alt-Erlaa to show the complex being a bit out-of-time, to show the futurism of the past.
  • He made use of some computer-generated effects to make the complex look a little more impressive in the film.
  • Frosch answered "yes and no" when asked if he some of the ideas or commentary he was trying to communicate in the film were based on that social housing. It is supposed to be more of a metaphor. In the film, you never really get out of the complex or see what kind of system it is. There is no outside anymore; it is like the last isle of what we call 21st century civilization.
  • The reality of the location was inspiration for a lot of details; when dealing with metaphor, it is important that it also has life, so it was useful having this real thing there.
  • He finds more influences in paintings than in other films.
  • The title of the movie was originally Resident; the international distributor actually suggested Silent Resident, and Frosch was happy with that one. But he doesn't feel like the title is a key for films.

Juno

Juno MacGuff (played magnificently by TIFF regular Ellen Page), finds herself pregnant, knocked up by her best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) on their first attempt at sex. Juno, with the help of her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), takes it upon herself to find some adoptive parents. Courtesy of the local Penny Saver, she soon finds childless couple Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner).

With the help of her surprisingly supportive father (J.K. Simmons) and stepmom (Allison Janney), Juno embarks on her pregnancy, which ends up affecting everyone in some unexpected and touching ways.

This was a great film, probably the best I've seen so far at the festival. Ellen Page gives a wonderful performance as Juno, convincingly portraying her as a real independent free spirit. Michael Cera was good and funny, although I occasionally had trouble divorcing his character from George-Michael Bluth. J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney did a nice turn as Juno's parents. Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman were great as the adoptive parents who, while seemingly the perfect suburban couple on the outside, have their own sets of issues on the inside. Bateman especially gave a great performance as Mark, who is worried about sacrificing his own dreams as he connects with Juno over a shared love of music and the reality of the baby sinks in.

This is director Jason Reitman's follow up to his first feature film, Thank You For Smoking, which also debuted at the festival on the exact same date and time in 2005. This is screenwriter Diablo Cody's first feature film, and she put together a refreshing take on the typical teen pregnancy story with some great dialogue for the actors. The audience laughed so hard at some of the lines, they drowned out the ones that followed.

Pretty much everyone involved in the film attended this world premiere, and they stayed for a Q&A after the show (pictures at the end of this post):

  • Everyone cast in the film was a first choice for their respective roles.
  • Reitman picked this as his follow up to Thank You For Smoking because he fell in love with the script; he was originally writing his own screenplay for a different film as his sophomore effort. He felt it looked at teen pregnancy in an open-minded way, with interesting choices at every turn. He felt he needed to direct it. And he joked that he had to show he had a soul after everyone assumed he didn't have one because of his first film.
  • On approaching the script, Page commented that she was blown away by how beautiful and honest the script was on reading it, and had some trepidation about being able to do it right.
  • Bateman commented that when you see a script with as distinct a voice as this one, and being able to work with Reitman and his technique, your instinct as an actor is to disappear as much as you can and let the script and the director be the star. The tone and style was underplayed and they spoke naturally and didn't try to spin things or look for laughs.
  • On the music in the film, Diablo Cody had originally written the script with specific music in mind. At one point, Reitman asked Page who she thought Juno would listen to, and she led Reitman to the Moldy Peaches (Page and Cera play one of their songs at the end of the film). Reitman then got connected with Kimya Dawson, who supplied the original music for the soundtrack.
  • On the inspiration for the story, Cody describe how like a lot of writers she sits down and cycles through ideas, she strikes on one that sounds great, and then it occurs to her that she's seen it done before. This was one idea that she felt hadn't been done before, looking at the bizarre dynamic between this pregnant teen birth mother and these prospective adoptive parents - "this would be hilarious" she joked.
  • When asked what is next for her, Cody joked that she'd probably "slink back into obscurity." She is actually working on a number of things. The script for Juno she did back in 2004 and it only took her a couple of months, so she's stockpiled quite a bit since then.
  • Someone asked Michael Cera is he rode in on the GO Train from Brampton (GO is the provincial commuter rail, and Cera was born in Brampton, to the west of Toronto). He said he was staying at a hotel downtown, to which Bateman added, "but his folks did".
  • Cody was asked how she came up with convincing dialog for Page and Cera and the other teens in the film. She replied that she was loath to use the term "arrested development" in this crowd, but she is in a bit of that state herself, so she doesn't have any problem writing like a teenager.
  • When asked if Juno's parents were supposed to be moral and good and the antithesis of the characters in Thank You For Smoking, Reitman replied he liked the characters in his first movie, and he didn't think of things that way. He didn't find Juno's parents' reaction to the pregnancy surprising, he felt it was real and not like an afterschool special.
  • For the scene in the mall where Vanessa feels the baby kick, Jennifer Garner shot it at 8 in the morning after shooting all night.
  • When asked if being a mother affected Garner in this role, she replied that she shot Juno after giving birth to her daughter, so that she understood on a different level the intensity of that need to have a baby.
  • Reitman first saw Page in Hard Candy (which premiered previously at the festival).
  • Page was asked if she is like Juno and did it take her a long time to get into the role. Page replied that if asked is she more like Juno than a sadistic human being who likes to pretend to cut off men's balls (a reference to Hard Candy), then yes, she is like Juno. :-) She said she can be as inappropriate as Juno, like Sarah Silverman on speed, but maybe not as racist. She got the script and loved it, bought Pregnancy for Dummies ("an awkward moment at Chapters") and she had a "friggin' blast" and is extremely grateful to have shot the movie.
  • On a side note, Ben Affleck was also at the premiere in support of Garner.
Pictures from the Q&A (thanks to my friend Gabriel for the photos!):

Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman:


Director Jason Reitman, Ellen Page, and Michael Cera:


Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, and screenwriter Diablo Cody:


Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and Allison Janney:


Jason Reitman, Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, and Diablo Cody:


Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney:



Young People Fucking

The first feature film from director/co-writer Martin Gero and actor/co-writer Aaron Abrams, Young People Fucking (bet this gets caught in a few web filters) is exactly as the title implies, with five completely unrelated storylines about people having sex. There is the ex-boyfriend and girlfriend, reuniting for an evening out just as friends; the best friends who see each other as a convenient way to relieve their pent up lust without having to turn to some random, poorly chosen pickup; the couple, whose love life in the bedroom has lost its spark; the first date, with a player trying to get lucky with a woman he just met; and the roommates, one of who tries to draw the other into a threesome with his girlfriend. The characters run the gamut of emotions; some are insecure, some are over-confident; some have baggage in their relationship, some want to be intimate, and others just want to screw. Intercut amongst one another, each story proceeds from a prelude through to foreplay, to the act itself, to an interlude, and finally down to the climax and its denouement. In the end, the stories are full of both beginnings and endings for all of the characters.

The film definitely lives up to its title, but in a humourous, warm, and personal way. While there's stuff there that might make your grandmother blush, don't go in thinking you're going to get some sort of hard-core film or some generic teen sex comedy. It was easy to warm up to the characters and get a sense of their history and who they are without a lot of obvious exposition. The actors were good across the board, although Josh Dean's character was a bit too nerdly earnest for my taste. While you may not leave with any great, deep universal truths answered, the film got a lot of laughs and was enjoyable throughout, and hopefully it won't suffer for its title once it gets released.

Robert Kennedy's short, I've Never Had Sex, preceded the screening. In it, Kennedy asks people to respond to various questions, like "I've never had sex in a plane" or "I've never had sex with a married person". The responses he elicits are pretty funny, and this served as a good companion piece to set up the feature that followed. The short was shot entirely on a cell phone, and despite that was actually an Australian/National Film Board of Canada co-production (that got a bit of a chuckle from the crowd).

Director Martin Gero, co-writer and actor Aaron Abrams, and actors Josh Dean, Ennis Esmer, and Kristin Booth did a Q&A after the movie:

  • Kristin Booth's character in the film has a bit of a crush on Ian Ziering. No one realized when they cast her that she had actually been an extra on Beverly Hills, 90210 at one point.
  • They didn't really leave anything on the editing room floor. This was an independent movie, so there were only a couple of deleted scenes, but that was because they wrote them wrong - the scenes didn't belong in the film.
  • Asked about promoting the film with the title it has, Gero replied that is a question for the distributors. Gero and Abrams never thought they'd actually be able to call the movie that. They thought it would be a good opening shot for what the script was going to be like; frank, and funny, and honest.
  • When they took the title to ThinkFilm (the US distributor), ThinkFilm was all enthusiastic about the title. Abrams was convinced they didn't know what they were talking about, and that they'd suddenly realize there was a swear in the title, and all the buzz and fun would go away.
  • Gero did make mention of the fact that ThinkFilm distributed similarly titled films, including the Beastie Boys' "Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!" and the documentary "Fuck", plus they did Shortbus last year, so they are good at handling complicated films.
  • Gero and Abrams thought that newspapers wouldn't print the title, but for the most part they did, with the exception of The Toronto Star. The Star's editor-in-chief, the ironically named Fred Kuntz, directed the paper to censor the film's title in opposition to a request by the entertainment section of the paper (http://www.thestar.com/columnists/article/252151).
  • Abrams said that he and Gero have always been big fans of film, and in fact they both met at the Paramount (now the Scotiabank) theatres, where the screening was actually taking place. They are both fans of romantic comedies, but those usually end with that first kiss, and for them the real conflict and romance happens after that.
  • They are also big sex comedy fans, but a lot of those are usually about a guy trying to see his first boob. They wanted to see a sex comedy for people who have sex, something for adults, a romantic comedy with sex in it. They wanted to write something in their own voice, not something like "this movie" meets "that movie".
  • In order for the movie to be universal, it has to start from a personal place. They are both big Bill Cosby fans, and Cosby tells personal stories that come across as universal.
  • While there will be things in the movie that will make people go "What?!?!!", they hope that for every one of those, there will hopefully be another moment where people will say "I've said that" or "I've done that".
  • It was a difficult film to cast, in that they had to find three qualities in each actor; one, they had to be fantastic comic actors; two, they had to be attractive, because the distributors told them that didn't want the film to end up being 'ugly people fucking'; and three, the actors had to be comfortable with the material. The script reads harder than the film actually is, and since they don't read Harlequin romance novels, they couldn't write directions like "the bosom unfurled". Instead, they ended up with notes like "he's fucking her from behind", and then actors are all like WTF!? They had to calm people down in the audition and assure them that it was a real movie.
  • They also had to find actors with great chemistry; this was a lot of guesswork, as many didn't meet until shooting started.
  • The actors also had to not be "dicky", asking for a bigger trailer and such, because there are a lot of intimate things going on, so they needed people to have fun and have it translate to the screen.
  • Gero and Abrams commented on how the weird thing about sex is that it is something everyone does, but it's not something that we widely talk about. It's hard to talk about sexual problems, which is what much of the conflict in the movie is about.
  • Films, especially comedies, are a safe and cathartic way for a roomful of people to release. When everyone laughs at a particular scene, it's an admission that at one point everyone has thought or done that exact same thing.
  • A fun and safe place/thing to do in the dark is to watch your problems be reflected back to you on the screen, especially in a comedy.
  • Each story was mostly shot in chronological order, with the exception of the threesome, since they were all local actors. Each story was mostly shot in 3 to 5 day chunks all in a row. This is an actor's film, designed to be a love letter to actors.
  • The cast only had about a day of rehearsal time before shooting, so keeping things in chronological order really helped.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Le Voyage du ballon rouge

An homage to Albert Lamorisse's 1956 film Le Ballon rouge, Hsiao-hsien Hou's Le Voyage du ballon rouge focuses on the lives of Suzanne (Juliette Binoche) and her son Simon (Simon Iteanu). Into their lives comes Song (Fang Song), hired to act as Simon's nanny. Song, a film student, is a fan of Le Ballon rouge and shoots her own little version using Simon, but Simon also sees a red balloon while on his own, on the subway, in a museum, and so on around Paris. This red balloon of the title floats in and out of the film and is less a character in its own right and is rather more of a metaphor for the imagination of a child.

Like one of Hou's earlier films, Café Lumière, Le Voyage du ballon rouge concentrates more on peering into a slice of the lives of the characters, without necessarily having any defined narrative with any specific conclusion. There is an undercurrent of conflict, like Yoko's pregnancy in the former film and Suzanne's dispute with her tenant in the latter, but neither is there to drive their respective films forward; they are more just events that help to define the current state of the characters. The entire film is improvised, which gives some weight to the performances, especially those of Binoche and Iteanu.

Juliette Binoche did a Q&A after the film:

  • Each scene was a 10-minute shot done in only a single take, with no rehearsal beforehand.
  • Binoche commented on most of western cinema is done in such a way that everything is done for the viewer, without space for the viewer to dream a little or think of their own life.
  • When asked if the improvisational nature was frustrating, Binoche countered that it was 'just wonderful'. She enjoyed the freedom and being able to just trust the moment.
  • For the puppet show that Binoche is part of in the movie, Hou told her and others in the cast 2 weeks before shooting started that they had to put a show together themselves. So they wrote the story for the puppet show and made the puppets themselves; you see the show proceeding in stages in the film, because the actors were actually working on the puppet show as filming progressed.
  • Binoche mentioned that when she has a director that puts so much trust in her to do what she feels like, it brings out other layers she never thought of before. This changed her in the four movies she has done since this one, as she trusts her own being rather than seeking approval from others.
  • The actors only had a written synopsis before shooting, consisting of about 25 scenes, each described by only a few lines. The scene in which Suzanne has her piano moved was described simply as 'the piano is going up the stairs'. The piano movers in that scene were actual movers, not actors.
  • Binoche told a funny anecdote about that shot; at the end of that scene, she pays them with money from the production and then she tips the movers because that's what she would do in real life, but she couldn't get the money back from them after shooting was done.
  • The movie was shot on very little money; Suzanne's apartment in the film actually belongs to the producer and is filled with many of Binoche's own personal belongings.
  • Simon Iteanu is not a professional actor; he is the son of Binoche's French publicist from certain films, and she was the one who got Binoche to encounter Hou in the first place.
  • Binoche said that when a child is told what to do on a set, they become self-conscious about having to do this and that, versus being free and then requiring longer shots to capture their natural freedom and being.
  • She has seen Hou's other films, which is why she wanted to work with him. She loved his special, personal visions that are so unlike those of other directors.
  • It didn't seem to take a lot of time to set up to shoot; Hou used his own film crew that he has worked with for years. Each actor has their own microphone, avoiding the need for a boom mike, which would constrain the camera work.

Glory to the Filmmaker!

Glory to the Filmmaker! is the latest work from the mind of Takeshi Kitano. Featuring a slightly fictionalized version of himself, the film follows Kitano in a search for his next big hit, following his public declaration that he would stop doing Yakuza movies. In a wild and funny journey, Kitano takes us through his failed, aborted, and commercially unsuccessful attempts, featuring a number of co-stars from his past movies. The journey spans every genre imaginable, from a quiet, introspective story of a just-retired salaryman (reminiscent of the works of Ozu), to a ninja action film, to multiple relationship stories, to a film set in the 50's recalling the hardship and depression of post-war Japan, before finally settling on an offbeat sci-fi flick.

That film is ostensibly about an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, but soon diverts to a story about mother-daughter con artists who are trying to scam Kitano's character, an aide to an eccentric rich man who funds all sorts of oddball causes. All the while, Kitano is constantly changing into a life-sized doll version of himself. And if none of that makes any sense, then you've pretty much captured the feeling of watching that part of the movie.

Kitano was not present at the screening, but he (or rather, his doll surrogate) taped an interview for the festival that preceded the film, which pretty much set the tone for what was to follow. The film is about as self-referential as his last work screened at the festival, Takeshis'. The first half of the movie was surprisingly accessible and hilarious, but the second was as impenetrable, surreal, and self-mocking as you'd come to expect of Kitano's later work. Not that that is a bad thing, but don't come into it expecting anything resembling a straightforward narrative. If you're a fan of Kitano's work and his fertile imagination, then you'll enjoy the film, but I imagine many others will be lost in the last half of the picture.

After this, I'm looking forward to his segment in Chaucun son cinema, which I'm seeing later in the festival.

Festival Trailer

Once again this year, the festival trailers, that are shown before each film, were short and to the point. There was a brief ad for the new Bell Lightbox, the new festival headquarters/condo that is under construction downtown. There was a significantly shortened NBC Universal ad thanking the volunteers (no more of that slightly goofy guy clearing away the podium or showing people to their seat). There was a brief ad for Motorola and their short film lab, but they didn't show any shorts.

There was a small funny bit of a guy pitching the idea for a movie to some producers that ended up being a commerical for the Cadillac CTS; be interesting to see if they'll show different pitches throughout the festival. Cadillac is the sponsor this year for the People's Choice Award. The volunteers hand out paper ballots when you first enter the theatre, and at the end of the film, you tear off a number from 0 to 4 that represents your rating of the movie. At the end of the festival, the highest rated film wins the People's Choice Award.

Starting Out in the Evening

Starting Out in the Evening is based on the novel by Brian Morton, and stars Frank Langella in an understated role as Leonard Schiller, a once great novelist and now-retired literary professor. His previous books now long out-of-print, Leonard is struggling to finish his latest novel, a decade and counting in the making. Further distracting him from his novel is his genial but occasionally strained relationship with his daughter Ariel (Lily Taylor), who is nearing 40 and wanting a baby, but stuck back in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend Casey (Adrian Lester), who is most decidedly against the idea.

Another complication comes in the form of a young grad student, Heather (Lauren Ambrose), who has made Leonard the subject of her master's thesis. Heather is determined to discover the overriding theme in Schiller's work, the early part of which inspired her to pursue her dreams in college. The conversations that Leonard and Heather have cover the gamut of literary criticism and the creative process, touching on issues such as whether an author's personal life should inform their work, and whether an author can be pigeonholed into a single thematic thread.

As Leonard becomes more invested in Heather, these themes end up leading all the characters reaching pivotal decisions in their lives, paralleling the thrust of Leonard's early work around personal freedom.

Langella gives a fine performance as Leonard, who sees his time running out, and wonders if he has enough time, energy, and creativity left to finish one last book. Lauren Ambrose leaves Six Feet Under behind her as Heather, a driven but self-centered woman who wants to fit Leonard's books into her own preconceived notions and feelings, dismissing as less important those that don't fit the mold.

Lily Taylor was great as Ariel, a woman wanting the closeness and depth of relationship that she can't get from her father, so much so that she is willing to subordinate her own wants and needs. Adrian Lester, who these days is recognizable from CBC airing the UK TV series Hustle, plays Casey as the exact opposite of Ariel, a man who enjoys his relationship with Ariel, but not at the expense of his own dreams. Ariel doesn't come across as a victim; there's a hint of strength under the surface. And Casey doesn't come across as a complete jerk; there's a genuine love there that he doesn't fully appreciate.

All-in-all, Starting Out in the Evening ends up the night as an enjoyable movie, with good performances all around.

Director Andrew Wagner did a Q&A after the screening:

  • Also there were Wagner's writing partner and co-producer Fred Parnes.
  • Wagner and Parnes worked on the screenplay over 2 years.
  • For the 9 months after shooting, Wagner worked with editor Gena Bleier on the film.

  • Wagner told himself to just breathe, just be himself working with the cast.
  • Langella is a force of nature, larger than life.
  • Not necessarily hard to get actors of this caliber to work on the film; if writing is on the page, a simple yes occurs.
  • Thinks they all read the script and felt like there was an opportunity for them to be artists, to be afraid, which is a mark of a good actor, a need to be at sea, to not know, to feel challenged by the character and the story they have to tell. Allow them to discover their truest selves among these characters.
  • Only 18 days of actual shooting.
  • In the month before shooting, Wagner spent upwards of 3 to 6 hours per actor each day.
  • With Frank Langella, Wagner said "Mr. Langella, we're not going to have a lot of time, I'm going to have to ask a lot of you of rehearsal, I'm going to need you night and day, I need you 4 hours a day" to which Langella replied, "No young man, you'll need me six."

  • When asked about whether they expected the audience to laugh where they did, Wagner replied that he and Parnes were aware of the gravitas of the film. Parnes would make Wagner laugh as they were writing, but they wondered how much of that would make it into the movie.
  • Wagner says as a director, he tries to direct truth, and if there's humour there, it'll just come out, he doesn't try to actively grab on to it.
  • When the film was screened at Sundance, the audience did laugh at points they weren't expecting, but it did feel like the right laughter; you just have to let the film do it's work.

  • On adapting the novel; first challenge was the beauty of Brian Morton's writing; power of observation is immaculate; uses phrases and words to evoke the inner life of the characters. That is where much of the richness of a novel comes from.
  • In film, has to be found somewhere else. Have to lift the characters off the page and put them into motion and interacting. Have to see through his words, strip away the beauty and ask what is happening, as that is the basic question of film, what happens next?
  • Second challenge was to heighten the dramatic climax of all the relationships in the film; the book didn't necessarily push all the relationships to what Parnes and Wagner felt was a dynamic enough point. They worked on pushing them all farther dramatically.
  • Third challenge was with Leonard himself; in book, was more mentally preoccupied with Heather, less emotional entanglement. They wanted to raise his emotional investment and heighten the intimacy between the characters, and they did so by raising the temperature on Leonard's need for artistic recognition and his long-suppressed need for intimacy and romantic love, so that when there was an opportunity for their relationship to move in that direction, it would be believable.
  • But casting is everything, and if not for Langella, the undercurrents wouldn't have been visible; they needed a performance of "egoless simplicity" and understatement.

  • Wagner grew up on the Upper West Side, literally 10 blocks from where they shot, so he was camped out on the floor of his parents' house.
  • Something about New York and the Upper West Side that occupies you at a cellular level.
  • Felt they had to somehow get that feeling, the sounds and smells, the colour of light, onto the screen.
  • Shooting in winter, expensive to get the crew outside. In the few shots they had, tried to build the city into the background. Shot B-roll of just the sparseness of the city.
  • They wanted the city to act as a metaphor for the loneliness in Leonard's life.

  • Wagner and Parnes are next working on an adaptation of Lisa Glatt's novel, A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That, about a young woman who moves into her mother's apartment because her mother is dying of breast cancer. About the cycle of life, the greatest happiness and the deepest sadness, and the growth that comes through loss and personal challenge.
  • Also working on Everyone Fucks Up; working with a teacher friend who he taught with in inner city Los Angeles; about a teacher who has to stop one of his poorly performing students from getting murdered on a given day while his own personal life is in shambles.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Galas, Events, and Parties

A posting on the TIFFReviews.com site has info on a number of the events and parties occurring during the festival this year:

http://www.tiffreviews.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1318#1318

Individual Tickets Now on Sale

If you haven't participated in the advanced ticketing up to now, then now is your chance to buy tickets. Tickets for all showings are now available on the main festival website (click the Buy Now link at the top of the page) and from all of the box offices. Plenty of films have availability.

Tickets are $19.34 each for most showings; films at Roy Thomson Hall and the VISA Screening room are $37.50 each. You can buy a maximum of 4 tickets per showing, and you can pay online by Visa, or by Visa, debit, or cash at the box office.

If a showing is listed as being off-sale, that means there are no more tickets for sale at the present time. However, keep checking back as the festival may open up additional blocks of tickets, especially the day of the showing.

If you buy your tickets online, then you pick them up at any of the three festival box offices, or the box office at the theatre where the first film in your order is shown. You should pick up your tickets at least one hour before the first showing in your order. Bring any e-mail confirmation you get and your Visa card with you.

Monday, September 03, 2007

NOW Magazine's latest issue, available for free around the city and online, has their annual TIFF section, where they briefly review and rate a number of the films:

http://www.nowtoronto.com/tiff/

For more detailed reviews, you can check out the links at TIFFReviews.com and TOfilmfest.com.

Picking Up My Order

If you want an idea of what the line to pick up advanced ticket orders was like, I took a few photos. From the back of the line, which is actually past the trees in the background, it took about 1.5 hours to make it to the front. This was around 11:00 AM.








For those that were exchanging vouchers for new ticket choices, this was the line:



It snaked back around to Yonge Street and went south to the next corner.

Sold Out Films for Advanced Ticketing

If you received a voucher because you didn't get all of your first and second choices, then you can swap the voucher for a ticket to a film that still has seats available.

The following films were off-sale (i.e. sold out) as far as the advanced ticket vouchers go as of 12:40 PM on Monday, September 3. More films may have gone off-sale since that time. Note that additional tickets will likely go on sale once general ticketing starts on the 5th, and then again the day of the film; you can still use your voucher at these times.

Thursday, September 6:
Fugitive Pieces, 6:30 PM
Hollywood Chinese, 8:15 PM
Jar City, 7:45 PM
Rebellion, The Litvinenko Case, 7:30 PM
Starting Out in the Evening, 8:00 PM
Young People Fucking, 7:45 PM

Friday, September 7:
L'Avocat de la terreur, 11:45 AM
Before the Rains, 9:00 PM
California Dreamin' (Endless), 3:00 PM
Control, 9:45 PM
Disengagement, 6:00 PM
The Edge of Heaven, 7:00 PM
Empties, 9:00 PM
Lust, Caution, 9:00 PM
The Mourning Forest, 12:00 PM
My Brother is an Only Child, 6:45 PM
The Orphanage, 10:00 PM
The Pope's Toilet, 3:00 PM
Secret Sunshine, 9:15 PM
The Substitute, 6:15 PM
Then She Found Me, 6:00 PM

Saturday, September 8:
4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, 4:30 PM
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 9:00 PM
Brick Lane, 8:30 PM
Callas Assoluta, 5:00 PM
Captain Mike Across America, 11:45 AM
The Counterfeiters, 6:30 PM
Disengagement, 1:00 PM
The Edge of Heaven, 3:30 PM
Fugitive Pieces, 9:30 AM
Garage, 8:30 PM
George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead, 11:59 PM
In Bloom, 7:00 PM
Jar City, 9:00 AM
Juno, 6:00 PM
The Man From London, 12:45 PM
Michael Clayton, 12:00 PM
My Kid Could Paint That, 12:15 PM
No Country for Old Men, 6:00 PM
Nothing is Private, 8:45 PM
Persepolis, 10:00 AM
Rendition, 9:00 AM
Under the Same Moon, 3:00 PM
Young People Fucking, 9:15 AM

Sunday, September 9:
Before the Rains, 12:45 PM
Bill, 8:30 PM
Breakfast with Scot, 6:30 PM
Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, 6:30 PM
Darfur Now, 12:00 PM
Le Deuxieme Souffle, 4:00 PM
Eastern Promises, 9:30 AM
Empties, 9:45 AM
Into the Wild, 9:00 PM
Lust, Caution, 9:15 AM
Mid Road Gang, 3:30 PM
Night, 8:30 PM
The Orphanage, 12:30 PM
Religulous: A Conversation with Bill Maher and Larry Charles, 1:00 PM
September, 11:15 AM
Under the Same Moon, 8:15 PM
The Wild Horse Redemption, 1:30 PM
The World Unseen, 6:00 PM

Monday, September 10:
4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, 10:00 AM
Atonement, 9:00 PM
Brick Lane, 10:00 AM
Chop Shop, 8:00 PM
The Counterfeiters, 1:15 PM
Encounters at the End of the World, 7:00 PM
Four Women, 6:15 PM
In Bloom, 10:00 AM
In the Valley of Elah, 6:00 PM
Lars and the Real Girl, 9:15 PM
My Kid Could Paint That, 9:15 PM
The Past, 9:45 PM
Run, Fat Boy, Run, 10:00 PM
The Savages, 7:00 PM
Unfinished Sky, 7:45 PM
Unfinished Stories, 5:00 PM
When Did You Last See Your Father?, 12:00 PM

Tuesday, September 11:
The Babysitters, 9:45 PM
Blind, 9:30 PM
Body of War, 9:00 PM
Breakfast with Scot, 9:00 AM
In the Valley of Elah, 9:30 AM
Jellyfish, 2:30 PM
King of California, 7:00 PM
A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman, 8:00 PM
Le Scaphandre et le papillon, 6:00 PM
Silk, 9:00 PM
Sous les toits de Paris, 11:45 AM
With Your Permission, 12:15 PM

Wednesday, September 12:
Bill, 9:00 AM
Chop Shop, 12:00 PM
Deficit, 9:30 PM
I'm Not There, 8:30 PM
Romulus, My Father, 9:00 PM
The Stone Angel, 6:15 PM
The Tracey Fragments, 9:45 PM
Weirdsville, 3:00 PM

Thursday, September 13:
L'Avocat de la terreur, 12:30 PM
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, 9:00 PM
Jar City, 4:30 PM
Just Like Home, 12:15 PM
Lars and the Real Girl, 2:30 PM
The Mourning Forest, 5:45 PM
Secret Sunshine, 5:15 PM
You, the Living, 8:45 PM

Friday, September 14:
Before the Rains, 9:00 PM
Four Women, 2:00 PM
George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead, 11:00 PM
Happiness, 5:00 PM
King of the Hill, 8:15 PM
The Last Lear, 5:45 PM
The Man From London, 8:30 PM
The Mother of Tears, 11:15 PM
The Stone Angel, 4:45 PM
The Wild Horse Redemption, 11:45 AM
The World Unseen, 9:30 PM

Saturday, September 15:
L'Amour cache, 2:30 PM
The Babysitters, 1:30 PM
Blind, 7:00 PM
Blood Brothers, 7:00 PM
California Dreamin' (Endless), 9:45 AM
Caramel, 12:00 PM
Disengagement, 6:30 PM
The Edge of Heaven, 5:15 PM
Emotional Arithmetic, 6:30 PM
Faro, la reine des eaux, 1:00 PM
La Fille coupee en deux, 9:00 AM
A Gentle Breeze in the Village, 3:30 PM
Mutum, 4:00 PM
L'Ora di punta, 2:45 PM
The Secrets, 8:30 PM
Son of Rambow, 2:45 PM
Sukiyaki Western Django, 9:30 PM
Vexille, 11:30 PM
XXY, 5:30 PM

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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