Despite living in Toronto my entire life, this was the first time I’ve ever had time (read: unemployed) to take in some films in our most prestigious entertainment event, the Toronto International Film Festival. And yes, part of the allure was that I got tickets to some of the films for free. But mostly, it kept me busy and distracted (but I’m not sure from what).
What I’ve noticed is that going to the film fest is very much unlike going to the everyday movies. For one, despite taking in some of the films at the oversized multiplexes, there was nary an overdressed teenager in sight, perhaps scared at the thought of having to read subtitles or explore the psychological complexities of a character that transcend beyond horny or angry. But the film fest brings out its own characters:
Top Five Personality Types that Show Up at the Films
1. Guy with script on BlackBerry There was always someone sitting right near me that was reading some script, and simultaneously talking or texting someone. They always had this aura of self-importance and utter pretense. I’m pretty sure they’re all just secretly hoping someone more famous than them might sit beside them so that they can pawn off their script and/or beg for some kind of production assistant job.
2. Bitter old woman Surprisingly frequent, these are the type of women who have lost their husbands and replaced them with the cinema. But they never seem to go to films they would enjoy, and instead find themselves at violent and offensive Belgian punk rock comedies, at which they make their disgust as audible as possible.
3. Solo viewer who thinks the whole audience is his friend There are probably just as many people attending films alone as there are couples and small groups. Especially with matinees, you’ll always find your fair share of solitary attendees, ones who read books to wait until the film starts (okay, that’s me). But then there’s the one person who’ll sit beside you and start making comments about the film as it goes on. And not even just to me, but to everyone within a twenty foot radius. They will point out obvious references or certain actors, and will not get the hint when nobody responds.
4. Celebrity Hunters I put them lower on the list because they actually enter the films far less frequently, instead huddling as close to the red carpet as they can, which is often about forty feet from anywhere that can make their photos at all reasonable. Half of the time they won’t even know who the celebrity is, and will just snap away and point out that “she must be famous – she’s on the RED CARPET!” I was thinking at one point of dressing myself up, bringing an entourage, and convincing as many people as possible that I’m a really famous Chilean film star.
5. Film supergeeks I’ll admit that I really love film. In my undergraduate, I majored in film studies. But I’m not the type to know every director’s birthday, and I haven’t seen the film Quentin Tarantino made when he was 12. I also have no intention to ask any director a question solely to prove how much I know about film. Too many of the questions asked were done so as an attempt for posterity rather than genuine interest. I once thought people like this only ever showed up at Sci-Fi conventions, but evidently they’ve expanded their horizons.
As much as there are people showing up to these films that I might want to punch, Toronto is a great city for hosting films from all over the world. We house multiple art-house theatres, some great video rental and sale stores, and have a genuine appetite for good cinema. It’s also a great opportunity for Canadian films, which often get forgotten next to more exciting and higher budgeted American films. It’s always exciting to see a Canadian film that really shows the talent we have in the country, even if it won’t get seen by more than a few thousand people. This is probably most apparent in my favourite film of the fest, Bruce McDonald’s The Tracey Fragments (to be fair, I only saw 10 films, and most of them were free tickets for foreign films). McDonald’s film took advantage of technological potential by using multiple frames of action on screen at the same time to tell the story of a trouble and possibly imaginary story of a teenage girl, played aptly by Ellen Page. Page also performed wonderfully in Juno as the titular character, a teenager who gets knocked up and decides to give the baby to a yuppie couple. The latter film garnered much acclaim and buzz in regard to her performance, acclaim that I have to say is perfectly warranted. She will hopefully get the praise that Scarlett Johansen got right around when Lost in Translation came out a few years ago.
The question most people tended to ask me when I mentioned I was going to see films at the festival was whether or not I had seen any celebrities. While I want to say that I’m not interested in that type of thing, there’s something to be said about noticing stars, whether in the audience, or even walking down the street. Besides all of the directors and a number of the stars of various films, I think the only actor I really came across close enough was Canadian actor Don McKellar. However, I’ve seen him around the city about 4 or 5 times in the past few years, so the thrill really wasn’t there. I don’t what I was really expecting, like Keira Knightley just walking down the street alone, but it’s still fun to keep an eye out.
Without further ado, here are my film fest reviews, for your reading pleasure (sorted alphabetically):
Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years Denmark
Ex Drummer Belgium
Just Like Home Denmark
Margot at the Wedding USA
Reclaim Your Brain Germany
The Tracey Fragments Canada
The Voyeurs India