Still dealing with a cold, but thankfully it's winding down. I finally feel well enough to post my Top Ten TIFF Faves as well as the list of what I saw this year at the 36th annual Toronto International Film Festival. How was your TIFF?
MY TOP TEN (alpha order)
THE TURIN HORSE-Hungary (Béla Tarr) (My #1 Absolute Favourite!)
Coriolanus-UK (Ralph Fiennes) i am a good person/i am a bad person-Canada (Ingrid Veninger)
TIE: This may seem a strange coupling since Ralph Fiennes is an internationally known actor/director, and Ingrid Veninger is Canadian filmmaker who may be known only by those who love Canadian film and make a point of watching them. Despite the range of budget and styles the sense of the personal permeates every frame of these films. Despite the fact that Coriolanus looms large with weighty performances from Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, and Brian Cox, i am a good person equally invades the soul with performances by Veninger and her real life daughter Hallie Switzer. I enjoyed watching these two filmmakers bring their very personal visions to the screen.
Cut-Japan (Amir Naderi) Death of a Superhero-UK (Ian FitzGibbon)
Sometimes, because of my schedule of interviews and meetings, I go into films blindly, not knowing what they are about. While Cut and Death of a Superhero are not tied, they made my Top Ten list because both were wonderful revelations. Cut and its treatment of the death of cinema (the protagonist laments the fact that cinema which used to be both art and entertainment has been reduced to entertainment only) brought me into an elegiac world of film and Death of a Superhero, although dealing with a terminally ill teen delighted me with the solid acting delivered by its small cast and with its life-affirming (never indulgent) message.
Fable of the Fish-Phillipines (Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr.)/ Where Do We Go Now?* (Nadine Labaki) *Winner: Cadillac People's Choice Award
TIE: Another tie here for these two fables about very serious topics told with boughts of humour that you have to buy into or the film will not work for you. In the case of Fable of the Fish, a tale about a woman who gives birth to a fish, it's all in the face of actress, Cherry Pie Picache. She has a face that will break your heart. One tear from her and you want to yell at the screen for someone to comfort and support her. In Where Do We Go Now? Muslim and Christian women try various subversive tactics in order to maintain peace among the men by shutting out news of political and religious conflict that surround their isolated village. The tricks the women devise are simply a device for us to consider the debilitating impact of war and what we can do to maintain peace. Both films made my list because they are simple stories about maternal love and community that twenty years from now will still engage audiences.
The Good Son-Finland (Zaida Bergroth) See Review The Last Dogs of Winter-Canada (Costa Botes) See Review
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia-Turkey (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) A Simple Life-Hong Kong (Ann Hui)
For my thoughts on Once Upon a Time in Anatolia click here. As for A Simple Life, Andy Lau was my draw to this film, and I was certainly not disappointed by his performance in this film. Lau stars as Roger, a film director whose aging amah (nanny) has taken ill. In between travelling to film sites, and doing film deals, Roger shows his connection and love for his amah by arranging her care in a nursing home and keeping her involved in his life. I appreciated the way in which director Hui, shows both the class differences and years of family connection between Roger and Ah Tao (Denise Ip) through dialogue and phone calls and visits from Roger's family and friends. The love shines through in this film and it is no wonder that actress Denis Ip won the Best Actress Award at this years' Venice Film Festival for her role as Ah Tao. A gentle and satisfying film with wonderful chemistry between Lau and Ip.
Superclásico-Denmark (Ole Christian Madsen) Click here for review.
WHAT I SAW (*indicates that I have reviewed the film)
Avalon* Winner: The Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for the Discovery programme
Caprichosos de San Telmo
The Cat Vanishes
Death of a Superhero*
The Education of Auma Obama*
Fable of the Fish
The Flying Machine*
A Funny Man
The Good Son*
I am a good person/I am a bad person*
The Island President*
Juan of the Dead*
The Last Dogs of Winter*
Life Without Principle
The Loneliest Planet*
My Worst Nightmare
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia*
Paul Williams Still Alive
The Silver Cliff
A Simple Life
Sons of Norway
Think of Me*
The Turin Horse*
Where Do We Go Now?
Photos Coutesy of: www.tiff.net