Despite all the less-than-stellar changes made to TIFF this year, the festival continues to excel in giving a voice to Canadian filmmakers and video artists. Representatives of TIFF, once again, gathered in the Fairmont Royal York hotel to announce Canadian films which will play at the festival this year and then – presumably – disappear into Canadian cinemas, where a few of them will compete with the latest Oscar bait and Hollywood slop.
It’s that time of the year again, when people in suits infest the city and everyone becomes a cinephile for a week-and-a-half. It’s TIFF time, as the 42nd annual event gets ready to come down upon us.
Currently, the TIFF Kids International Film Festival (April 7 – April 23) is hosting a variety of content; including exclusive film premieres, industry insight, and interactive activities. I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of the premieres at this year’s TIFF Kids, and both films were encouraging examples from future storytellers.
I was utterly enamoured by Steve James’ ode to film journalist Roger Ebert in 2014’s Life Itself. My wife, on the other hand, found it difficult to tap in to and suggested it was because she didn’t have any preinvested interest. With James’ latest doc Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, I relate to my wife’s prior disconnect. Not because of the content, but because of the documentarian’s chosen genre. Audiences who are riveted by courtroom…
Emmanuelle Bercot’s 150 Milligrams may be a medical drama about a specialist fighting for justice, but – to me – the film was about how an ensemble cast fights against dense writing and direction, and manages to come out alive.
In Michael Koch’s feature film debut Marija, the audience observes the dishevelled title character’s routine and her struggle to support herself – it’s certainly enduring to watch.
Paterson is a study of ennui in its purest form. Paterson is a love letter to the seemingly inconsequential town of Paterson, New Jersey. Paterson is about Zen and the creation of art. The fact that all of this is contained in a film about the quotidian activities of a man’s life across one week is nothing short of a miracle.
First, the good news: India In a Day moves quickly. As a fan of 2011’s Life In a Day (also co-produced by Ridley Scott), I can admit that Kevin MacDonald’s doc had sagging stretches of unhelpful video. The filmmaker and his editor were too comfortable, which meant they often forgo their timeline.
The Unknown Girl marks another incredible achievement by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne. Following up their equally brilliant Two Days, One Night, the Daredennes deploy their clinically austere style to great means in The Unknown Girl, which doubly serves as an investigation and character study.
Written and directed by award-winning Belgian filmmaker Peter Monsaert, Le Ciel Flamand – which translates to “Flemish Heaven” in English – centers around a seasoned brothel owner, Sylvie (Sara Vertongen), as she attempts to protect her six-year-old daughter, Eline (Esra Vandenbussche), from the often violent reality of the family business. The film also stars Wim Willaert (Offline, Cafard) as Eline’s uncle Dirk, a bus driver with whom she spends the afternoons while her mother is at…