festival's a wrap
It's no surprise that two of the top three vote-getters in the Toronto International Film Festival's Most Popular Film contest are comedies. That the films in question, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, arriving as the biggest box-office hit in France this past summer, and Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, freshly festooned with the Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival, happened to be two of the best movies in the festival is simply a bonus.
After the horrors of September 11, a little escapism was definitely in order.
Speaking in purely festival terms, Tuesday's attacks turned the festival into two five-day events. The first half went along swimmingly well, the second was mostly spent listening to one's colleagues from other lands fret about their travel arrangements.
At the closing press conference on Sunday (and how does the festival get exactly the same breakfast-pastry-and-juice buffet at the Four Seasons as it does at the Windsor Arms?), I was talking to a Mexican colleague who won't be able to get home until today (Thursday). I did feel compelled to point out that there are far worse places to be stuck than Toronto in September. I received an e-mail from NOW contributor Joumane Chahine on Sunday noting that she was in her ninth hour -- "long enough to find the free Internet connection" -- at De Gaulle Airport in Paris, which is not a pleasant place to be stuck at all.
It's always hard to evaluate a festival of this size. At the best of times everyone has had his or her own experience, and it's very easy for two people to have seen 35 films each and not have a single film in common. Summing it up is rendered more difficult this year because of events beyond anyone's control. I thought it was rather remarkable that things retained a semblance of normalcy: the screenings I attended after Tuesday were reasonably well-filled, though sparser than before Tuesday. There were no lines for anything.
One could only echo Alec Baldwin's self-absorbed movie star in State And Main, who emerges from a car accident and says, "Well, that happened."
FIPRESCI AWARD Inch'Allah Dimanche, by Yamina Benguigui (France)
Special Mentions Be My Star, by Valeska Grisebach (Austria); Khaled, by Asghar Massombagi (Canada)
NFB/John Spotton Award for Best Canadian Short Film FILM(dzama), by deco dawson
CITYTV Award for Best Canadian First Feature film Inertia, by Sean Garrity
toronto-CITY Award for Best Canadian Feature Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), by Zacharias Kunuk
AGF People's Choice Award Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (France)
Runners Up Maya, by Digvijay Singh (USA); and Monsoon Wedding, by Mira Nair (India) JOHN HARKNESS