Wednesday, September 22, 2010

See a few, miss a lot, hope for best at TIFF


The great thing about covering the Toronto International Film Festival is getting to see so many good movies; the awful thing about covering the Toronto International Film Festival is missing out on seeing so many offerings that might be even better.
Not unexpectedly, "The King's Speech," my favorite movie at this year's very special 35th gathering, emerged with TIFF's "People's Choice Award," joining such Oscar-winning Best Pictures as "American Beauty" and "Slumdog Millionaire" from previous years.
Regardless, in a field of treasures that included almost 280 feature films -- and most times running simultaneously in too many venues to count -- I somehow missed seeing "The First Grader," the "People's" runner-up; "Stake Land," which captured the Midnight Madness Award; "Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie," which walked away as the "People's" favorite documentary, and both Fipresci Prize winners (from a panel of international critics), "Beautiful Boy" and "L'Amour Fou."
I did catch the Best Canadian Feature Film winner, Denis Villeneuve's stunning "Incendies" (right), the gut-wrenching story that was just behind the aforementioned "Speech" on my personal list of this year's best festival films.
Way up there for me also was "Of Gods and Men " (left), already France's Best Foreign Film Oscar entry and a beautifully inspiring movie about extremely devout French monks living among poor Muslims in the often treacherous Algerian mountains.
By the way, "Barney’s Version," "Casino Jack," "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," "The Conspirator," "Dirty Girl," "The First Grader," "Incendies," "I Saw The Devil," "Outside the Law," "Potiche," "Rabbit Hole," "Sarah’s Key," "Super" and "Submarine" were among independent features leaving TIFF with American distributors in this obviously fabulous year.
And, before we bring down the curtain on another terrific week (I stayed for seven of the festival's 10 days), ya just gotta get up north to the marvelous Bell Lightbox facility (top of page), mostly built -- at a cost of zillions -- as the new centerpiece for the fest's joyful madness.

From a smashing open house for the entire Toronto community to its five state-of-the-art auditoriums, the five-story complex debuted splendidly and will pay off handsomely for years and years and years to come. (If only Americans had such loyalty and dedication to the art of cinema).
Almost wistfully now it's back to more mainstream movie business as usual and talk of new films such as "Legend of the Guardians" and "You Again." Both open Friday and are featured at Sun News and ReelRave. (My review of "You Again" will go up at both sites by the end of the week.)

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