A very good year

Toronto International Film Festival September 8-17. Rating: NNNNN

The Toronto International Film Festival invited everybody to its 30th birthday bash. Too bad the price of admission for regular folks was a tad steep. Twenty bucks for rush tickets?

Maybe next time they should have separate prices for first screenings, the ones the stars usually attend. Isn’t $10 or $12 enough — especially since there are going to be empty seats anyway — to see a film at 9 am?

And lest you think press and industry people had it easy, many of our screenings were overbooked, too. I’m sure I’m not the only critic who’s going to have nightmares about the third floor of the Intercontinental Hotel: a humid, hellish series of narrow corridors full of nervous people holding notebooks and camera equipment, routinely told to shhhh! before they got their 15 or 10 or five minutes with “the talent.”

Still, the variety and quality of programming was high. It included big-buzz foreign films from previous fests ( L’Enfant , Caché , Dear Wendy , U-Carmen eKhayelitsha ) and tons of premieres. Positioned as it is before the fall, it’s become the big launching pad for prestige pictures — although I’m not sure I’d use the word “prestige” for Edison , the laughably bad closing-night gala with a performance by Justin Timberlake that should ensure him a Razzie nomination.

On the subject of nominations, thanks to TIFF, the Oscar talk has already begun for a few films, like Ang Lee ‘s Venice award-winning Brokeback Mountain (with Heath Ledger a near shoo-in for an actor nod) Walk The Line , with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon North Country , with its trio of previous winners ( Charlize Theron , Frances McDormand and Sissy Spacek ) and our own David Cronenberg ‘s A History Of Violence , with Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello . Noah Baumbach ‘s The Squid And The Whale could net Jeff Daniels his first nod ditto Capote for Philip Seymour Hoffman .

My favourite films included Hany Abu-Assad ‘s gripping and insightful film about two Palestinian suicide bombers, Paradise Now Michael Winterbottom ‘s brilliant adaptation of Tristram Shandy Nick Park ‘s and Steve Box ‘s hilarious claymation escapade Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit and Alex Hinton ‘s historic doc about queer hiphop artists, Pick Up The Mic .

Canadian discoveries, besides the triumvirate of Deepa Mehta ‘s Water , Atom Egoyan ‘s Where The Truth Lies and A History Of Violence, included Six Figures , by David Christensen Whole New Thing , by Amnon Buchbinder C.R.A.Z.Y. , by Jean- Marc Vallée and Familia , by Louise Archambault .

Okay. Get some sleep, people.


PEOPLE’S CHOICE : Tsotsi (Gavin Hood)

DISCOVERY : Look Both Ways (Sarah Watt)

FIPRESCI : Sa-Kwa (Kang Yi-kwan)

CANADIAN FIRST FEATURE (tie): Familia (Louise Archambault) The Life And Hard Times Of Guy Terrifico (Michael Mabbott)

CANADIAN FEATURE : C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée)

CANADIAN SHORT : Big Girl (Renuka Jeyapalan)

Stay In The Know with Now Toronto

Be the first to know about new and exclusive content