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Toronto Film Festival: Day 3

Tue, Sep 11, 2007

(Dave Filipi reports from Toronto…)

Here are the films I saw on Day 3 of the festival:

Joy Division (Grant Gee, United Kingdon) Very well made, apparently exhaustive and I would argue definitive documentary portrait of the influential Manchester band. We screened Gee's film on Radiohead, Meeting People is Easy, in 2004 as part of our “Rock Docs” series. One of my favorite films of the festival.

Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico)
Reygadas examines the marital infidelities of a Mennonite man in the Chihuahua region in Mexico. A film about a Mennonite community in Mexico is one of the more surprising things I've seen in a film for quite some time. Beautifully shot, very deliberately paced (like his Reygadas's past films) and most of the performers are non-actors living in the region. I wasn't a fan of his last film Battle in Heaven but liked this one more. Reygadas also directed Japon which we screened a few years ago.

Jellyfish (Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret, Israel)
Yet another of the recent wave of films depicting a number of intersecting lives directed by chance, this time set in Tel Aviv. The film is set in motion when an ethereal little girl emerges from the sea and is discovered by a young woman. Filled with bittersweet moments and episodes of absurdist humor, the film is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Winner of the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

You, the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden)
The follow-up to Andersson's critics-fave Songs from the Second Floor (which we screened at the Wexner a few years ago), You, the Living is similarly constructed as a series of often bleak and/or humorous vignettes. If memory serves, the humor in Songs was a bit more refined and the humor in Living a bit broader but it's still a wonderful film and so different from anything you're likely to find from any other director. Andersson's gift is the ability to make his characters seem all the more human by framing them within depressing environments (the overripe characters, the faded rooms and landscapes) and highlighting their often absurdist fixations and tendencies.

I was having a late lunch with colleague on Saturday outside one of the festival's main theaters and near the entrance often used by the celebrities attending screenings within. Midway through our lunch the black SUV's started arriving causing a mob scene along Bay Street. We couldn't see anyone until the final truck pulled up and Uma Thurman stepped out and ascended the red carpet with a security team helping her make her way past the cel phone camera wielding crowd. I was reminded of a great festival moment a couple of years ago when I happened upon Francis Coppola and his wife arriving at exactly the same spot in a regular taxi. No security team, no crowds…just the director of a handful of the greatest films ever made but perfectly capable of showing up on his own for an event. And that's one to grow on….

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