Friday, 18 September 2009

TIFF '09 Day 9: Canada, Denmark, Senegal, Zimbabwe

I took a trip around the world today, as so often happens at TIFF, and travelled from Denmark to Senegal, Zimbabwe and then back to Canada. I met some wonderful travellers between my destinations, as so often happens at TIFF, and had conversations with strangers who shared a common interest in film, as so often happens at TIFF. I hope next year you will take the journey to TIFF and buy tickets to places you may never have been. You don't even need a companion; just start a conversation in line with "So what have you seen?".

NORA A beautifully narrated dance performance by Nora Chipaumire, who shares the story of her life in growing up in Zimbabwe. Nora's movements and the settings in which she dances offers us a glimpse into a life that is rooted in the dirt and floors of Zimbabwe. Africa's colours burst forth in full bloom, as does Nora's dancing and radiant ebony skin.

NORA is teamed with the Senegalese road musical SAINT LOUIS BLUES.I couldn't imagine a better marriage of films in terms of showing the diversity that exists within Africa. This musical not only takes us on a passenger taxi ride from Dakar, it takes us back to past French musical styles. Programmer, Cameron Bailey, is absolutely right in saying that director, Dyana Gaye'sfilm is reminiscent of Jacque Demy's work. You can't help but think about The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as you watch this film. The inclusion of blues, and Wolof music works in this modern cinematic and cultural hybrid. Go see this while you can because I don't know where else you will have the opportunity to see this unique pairing of African short films.

APPLAUSE If PARTIR belongs to Kristen Scott-Thomas, then APPLAUSE belongs to Paprika Steen. Steen's performance as the recovering alcoholic, Thea is mirrored by the character's scenes as an actress in the stage play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?. Thea's role as the shrewish Martha is Albee's play blends wonderfully with her real life determination to increase custody of the children she lost after her divorce. Watching Thea, we can see that she loves her children and wants to make amends, but we also see what she cannot see, that she is not quite ready for increased custody. This could easily have been a maudlin sad tale that we have all seen before, but director, Martin Pieter Zandvliet balances the film quite well, using black and white for Thea when she is playing Martha on stage, and various tones of colour for Thea's life. He directs and films Steen in a way that makes Thea look like a real woman: she has bags under her eyes at times, her hair is not always perfectly coiffed, and the desperation in her eyes as she thinks about her children makes us ache with sadness for her. We see the maternal love in Thea's face, but we also see her vulnerable state as an aging actress lashing out at her young dresser. Zandvliet also knows how to restrain the action so that this film never seems melodramatic. The point of the story is not to hate Thea, but to understand her, even as we disagree with some of the choices she makes.

WHITE STRIPES UNDER NORTHERN LIGHTS In terms of filmmaking, this is not best concert film I've seen, but it is a great introduction to Jack and Meg White, who make up The White Stripes. The fact that the film documents their Canadian tour has added meaning for us Canadians, especially since not many of us have seen our whole country. The music is of course, amazing, and this will probably be the only chance you will have to hear Meg whisper (her normal tone of voice;she's "quiet") for any length of time. I will never forget the shot of Jack and Meg singing to some Inuit Elders, and having a photo taken with the group. The contrast is too much for the mind to handle. This will probably get released, so if you dont' have $20 right now, wait for it. (By the way, Jack White became my husband after I saw IT MIGHT GET LOUD last year at TIFF. Shhhh...he doesn't know we're married.)


Kickass Annie said...

You mean Jack WHITE!

I really liked it too especially because of the Canadian tour aspect.

donna g said...

Kickass Annie, thanks for correcting me on the Jack "Black" error. It's one I always seem to make, and for some reason NEVER notice, even when I proof. Don't know why I can't get my husband's name right;-)

RE: the film. The parts I liked best was the band's visit to smaller Canadian cities, and the love expressed between Jack and Meg.

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