There are days when I worry that Toronto has too many film festivals, and then there are days when I know it does.
With Rendezvous With Madness still running at Workman Arts – and Brazil Film Fest and the Syrian Film Festival having just wrapped, and Reel Asian starting tomorrow – here comes the 2016 edition of Ekran, taking up residence at the Revue Cinema tonight (Monday, November 7) through Saturday, November 12.
Ekran is the Toronto Polish Film Festival, dedicated to “significant and recent contributions of Polish filmmakers to film culture,” and in its eighth year it offers a wide selection of (mostly) commercial cinema that might not make it to Toronto theatres.
And I know I say that about virtually every film festival these days, but it’s the truth: theatrical engagements are dwindling for everything that doesn’t have a Marvel or a DC emblem on it, and as far as I can determine only one of the films in this festival, Jerzy Skomolowski’s 11 Minutes (screening Friday (November 11) at 6:30 pm), even has an American distributor... which is still no guarantee that it’ll be picked up by one in Canada.
So, if you want to see these movies, get yourselves to Roncesvalles. The festival gets rolling tonight with Janusz Zaorski’s Generations at 7 pm, and it’s an intriguing pick: constructed mostly out of snippets from some 50 films produced at the Warsaw Feature Film Studio, it’s a new fictional narrative that rolls through decades of Polish history, as depicted by filmmakers both past and present.
A more conventional experience can be found in The Red Spider (Wednesday, November 9, 8:45 pm), though not necessarily a comforting one: it’s a grim character study about a young man (Filip Plawiak) who becomes obsessed with the serial killer plaguing Krakow, ultimately seeking out the man (Adam Woronowicz) he believes to be responsible. But this isn’t the story of a heroic young detective; director/co-writer Marcin Koszalka has a different direction in mind, and his film is all the creepier for it.
Planet Single (Friday November 11, 8:30 pm) is as mainstream as they come, a romantic comedy about a swaggering dick of a TV host (Maciej Stuhr) who decides to give a withdrawn music teacher (Agnieszka Wiedlocha) the full She’s All That treatment to improve her online-dating odds. Wacky complications ensue, although the movie’s bloated running time means there’s a lot of other stuff happening as well, not all of it successful. Some of it involves puppets.
I cannot say that Planet Single clicks, exactly, but it has a lot of energy and colour, and you won’t find a better representation of contemporary Poland commercial cinema, and this is almost certainly the only chance you’ll have to see it in a theatre… until the inevitable Hollywood remake with Dave Franco and Aubrey Plaza, I guess.
Find out more about Ekran 2016 here.