Toronto International Film Festival 2016!

First of all, thank you for reading! September 2016 was my first month EVER not posting an entry since I started this blog, partially because I was working on a magazine article (I AM SO EXCITED and I will post a link to it once the final edits have been done) and mostly because I was once again a part of the all-consuming Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

 

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I decided to go with a different format this year and relay my Festival experiences to you via short anecdotes and capsule reviews. Thank you to long-time Festival-goer Mark Slutsky for his inspiration in this regard. His hilarious article about his 11 years of TIFF can he found here.

Day 1:

Festival staff weren’t invited to the Opening Night Party this year at TIFF 😦…so me and a friend tried to crash the party, without success…(too much security at all doors and we didn’t feel like trying to punch out a big, burly security guard to get in). Instead, we joined a line to get into a random film across the street at the Princess of Wales Theatre. That theatre is beautiful! I am sure a lot of you have seen shows there.

 

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The movie (I Am Not Madame Bovary) was really good too. The story concerns a young Chinese woman who finds herself drowning in the depths of bureaucracy. In particular, the main character (Xuelian) and her husband “conspire to get a “fake” divorce. Once the divorce goes through, however, Xuelian is shocked to discover that her husband has moved into the apartment with another woman. Thus begins Xuelian’s mission to have her extant divorce annulled so she can remarry her husband and then divorce him “for real…the film is a cleverly comic commentary on Chinese bureaucracy and male fear of single-minded women.”

 

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Not too bad of a way to begin the Festival!

Day 2:

Yesterday a parton came up to the box office and asked me what film was playing.

I said “It’s called ‘All Governments Lie.'” I paused and then added, “It’s a documentary.”

 

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Day 3:

Leonardo DiCaprio is visiting my theatre for the red carpet premiere screening of his documentary The Ivory Game! My fellow supervisor was so excited that she said she was going to wear a gown to work.

 

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Day 4:

This morning I saw a GREAT movie called The Limehouse Golem. For those of you who like suspense/murder mystery/horror movies set in Victorian-era London, this one’s for you. IT’S GREAT!!  Did I already say that? Haha.

 

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Actors Bill Nighy and Douglas Booth along with the director and producer introduced the film at the beautiful Winter Garden Theatre! I was pretty excited to see Mr. Nighy!

 

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Day 6:

I just saw the most insane, perhaps dangerous, documentary called “Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee.” Remember the McAfee Anti-Virus software from the 90s? Well, it turns out that John McAfee, the creator of said software, moved to Belize in the early 2010s where he promptly bribed the entire police force of two cities and then (99% probably) murdered two people and violently assaulted another. Upon feeling the heat, he ran into the jungle of Guatemala and was in hiding until escaping to the States where he RAN FOR PRESIDENT. Also, he has been threatening people involved with this film, including the director. In the Q and A after the film she confirmed some of the details surrounding the threats. She has been changing her phone number and email address almost on a daily basis. HOLY @#$% ! ! !

 

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On another note, I saw my first “Wavelengths” movie today. Films in this category are more like “film art” – they often have a non-conventional style and almost always do not follow a traditional narrative structure. This one was called “I Had Nowhere To Go” and was a “portrait of Jonas Mekas, the legendary poet, film critic, risk-taking curator, “the godfather of the American avant-garde cinema” — and, at 93 years old, among the remaining few to have escaped and survived Nazi persecution.”

 

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It was a different way of approaching a familiar story, and it made me think about the possibilities of film as art.

Day 8:

I just saw movie fans almost mob a star! At the premiere of South Korean crime drama “Asura: The City of Madness,” the fans were so excited that they were rushing the stage, screaming, shouting, trying to touch the actors, etc, etc. Also, during the introduction, the director said that “it might be hard for Canadians and old people to watch this film because it’s so violent and the style is so realistic,” but he assured us that “not all Koreans are that violent.” 🙂

 

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The film itself is about “a shady cop [who] finds himself in over his head when he gets caught between Internal Affairs and the city’s corrupt mayor. [It’s an] epic crime drama about the creeping corruption that threatens a modern metropolis — and jeopardizes one man’s beleaguered soul.”

 

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I thoroughly enjoyed it – especially Hwang Jung-min’s performance as the deliciously evil mayor.

The second movie I saw today was ARQ, a Canadian sci-fi feature entirely shot in Etobicoke. It concerns a couple “living in a dystopic future who become trapped in a mysterious time loop — one that may have something to do with an ongoing battle between an omnipotent corporation and a ragtag band of rebels.”

 

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P.S. It actually came out on Netflix the day after I saw it at the Festival, so you can probably watch it right now. I would recommend it!

Day 9:

I just watched the movie that I think is going to be my favourite Festival film this year. Without Name is an Irish film about “a land surveyor [whose] mysterious client sends him on a prolonged…excursion in a dense forest. But deep in the woods, the comforting predictability of Eric’s minimalist steel-and-concrete city life is replaced by Mother Nature’s chaotic embrace — and by something more sinister and not altogether natural.

 

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Lorcan Finnegan’s feature debut depicts Ireland’s woods as a verdant nightmare steeped in dread….Finnegan uses creative optical tricks that seem to make the forest ominously breathe and expand as it absorbs the psyche of his protagonist.”

 

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Once again, I am afraid to go out into the woods alone. Thanks, Lorcan Finnegan. 🙂 But seriously, Hollywood could learn a thing or two from this film. A solid, well-told story? Actual suspense? Special effects that enhance the themes of the movie without resorting to a lot of silly CGI?  Take note, Hollywood…. and do yourself a favour and watch this movie if you get the chance.

The second film of the day involved a lot of ass-kicking. Birth of the Dragon “chronicles Bruce Lee’s emergence as a martial-arts superstar after his legendary secret showdown with…Shaolin martial arts master Wong Jack Man (Xia Yu), [who] has been sent from China to stop Lee’s heretical education initiative.” Back in the 60s, Kung Fu was considered a cultural “secret” of the Chinese, and was not known to outsiders. Bruce Lee was about to bring martial arts to the world, and this did not make some people very happy. “And so things lead towards an epic showdown between Lee and Wong — with the very legacy of Chinese tradition at stake.”

 

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If you enjoy martial arts movies, I would highly recommend this one.

Day 10:

We are almost at the end of Festival, and fatigue is setting in. Between a busy work schedule and seeing all the films I can possibly cram in, I am pretty damn tired. So that must be why I decided to see a Midnight Madness film on the second last day of the Festival…right?!

A couple years ago I had the pleasure of seeing New Zealand vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows at Midnight Madness (do yourself a favour and watch it if you haven’t already), and this year creepy horror film Sadako vs. Kayako was my pick. It did not disappoint.

 

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Remember the creepy ghosts from The Ring and The Grudge? Well, in Sadako vs. Kayako a pair of schoolgirls are cursed by each ghost… “the real fun begins when the girls figure out that the only way to save themselves is to pit the vengeful spirits against each other. Sadako and Kayako will battle to show the world who the evillest evil entity really is.”

Oh – and almost as fun as the movie was the fact that THE GHOSTS APPEARED ON THE RED CARPET and at the Q and A to answer questions ! ! Don’t believe me? Here is proof! Here they are at the film’s introduction!

 

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We were all given out #TeamSadako and #Team Kayako hats while waiting in line…

 

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…and the ghosts apparently thought they were so cool that they wore them for the Q and A after the film! Of course the director is wearing both hats at once (he is standing to the right of the ghosts).

 

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A creepy, hilarious and memorable way to end this year’s Festival!

Stay tuned!

 

Credits:

Information about TIFF films and still photographs: tiff.net

Princess of Wales interior photo: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/princess-of-wales-theatre-emc/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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