Toronto Film Festival Report, Part I

Wed, Sep 13, 2006

toronto film fest (Guy Maddin)

Just back from the Toronto Film Festival, Film/Video Curator Dave Filipi checks in with a report:

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As our Assistant Curator Chris Stults will be filing a more thorough Toronto report I will keep my observations about Toronto 2006 relatively brief.

After some last-minute, well-placed phone calls I was able to obtain a ticket to one of the festival's most-anticipated events: the world premiere of Guy Maddin's Brand Upon the Brain!, complete with live orchestral accompaniment, live narration by Louis Negin, a three-person foley team (sound effects) wearing white lab coats, and the voice of the “Manitoba Meadowlark,” a real-life castrato who added his talents at specific moments throughout the film. It was a true thrill seeing Guy realize such a theatrical event and I even had a chance to catch up with him at the film's party later that night (Guy's visited the Wexner Center three times in the past, most recently to introduce My Dad is 100 Years Old in March).

It's a common mantra among critics and curators to say it's an “off year” for every festival every year but for the first time I would have to go along with that sentiment. There were a number of films I liked quite a bit but none that cut to my core and reminded me again what it is I love about film. My highlights include: the Romania film 12:08 East of Bucharest; the Danish film The Art of Crying; the omnibus film Paris, je t'aime, featuring segments by the likes of Gus Van Sant, Olivier Assayas, Walter Salles, the Coen brothers, etc. (I seemed to be one of the few that liked it); Gary Burns's pseudo-documentary on suburban sprawl Radiant City; and Werner Herzog's much-anticipated Rescue Dawn, starring Christian Bale. A program devoted to the late-animator Norman McLaren was a welcome addition to the festival lineup.

Finally, I had a nice visit with past Wexner guest Jamsheed Akrami and Iranian director Jafar Panahi (The White Balloon, Crimson Gold, and the upcoming Offside), found time to catch the OSU-Texas game, laughed along with a full house during Borat (a must for fans of Ali G), and contemplated a life in which Sportscenter opens with news from the Canadian Football League and hockey training camps, eh.

-- David Filipi, Curator, Film/Video

(image via Toronto Film Festival)