This weekend, in addition to the two major studio sequels and half a dozen other theatrical openings, three film festivals are underway in Toronto - NXNE Film, TIFF's Bent Lens program and the Italian Contemporary Film Festival. (There's also the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International, which has a few screenings shuffled in with the seminars and panels.)
Not enough? Seriously? Okay, here we go.
The Royal is offering a little counterprogramming to the Italian Contemporary Film Festival this weekend, scheduling free screenings of two bona fide Italian epics. Federico Fellini's petit-bourgeois classic La Dolce Vita plays tonight (Friday) at 6:30 pm, Saturday (June 14) at 2:30 pm, and Sunday (June 15) at 1 pm, while Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West shows Saturday at 8:30 pm and Sunday at 4:30 pm.
Both films are magnificent works of cinema - if perhaps a little dated - and will look gorgeous on the Royal's wide screen. If you can brave the throngs of World Cup supporters on College St. to get to the theatre, do it. And maybe pick up a gelato along the way.
On Wednesday (June 18), you have a couple of choices. If you're in the east, you could drop by Daniels Spectrum for the first night of Regent Park Film Festival's Under The Stars free screening series. Every Wednesday night at 9 pm through the summer, a recent release will be presented outside the building; the opener is Hany Abu-Asad's Palestinian thriller Omar, which is very good and well worth your time.
Alternately, if you're downtown Wednesday evening and in a more conversational mood, you could wander over to the Lightbox for a 6:30 pm Food On Film screening of Louis Malle's My Dinner With Andre, with host Matt Galloway welcoming Toronto Star Fed columnist Corey Mintz as a special guest.
The movie - a rapturous recounting of an intellectual conversation between old friends Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory at a restaurant in New York - is wonderful, and I expect the subsequent conversation between Galloway and Mintz, author of How To Host A Dinner Party, will be almost as interesting.
(Fun fact: Richard Ayoade, whose The Double opens at the Lightbox today, is a huge Louis Malle fan and directed the Community episode "Critical Film Studies", which riffed rather brilliantly on My Dinner With Andre. So maybe make it a double bill.)
What? More? Jeez. Well, on Thursday (June 19) the Revue Cinema is hosting the Toronto premiere of Spaces And Reservations, a new indie drama from Calgary director Brendan Prost about two young people, Jamie (Zach White) and Kacie (newcomer Taylor Hastings), facing the end of their relationship.
Prost is more interested in observing key emotional points in his characters' lives, rather than a plot-heavy narrative, and though the 140 minute running time might seem intimidating, it's absolutely necessary to let us see the subtle shifts in feeling and urgency that pass between Jamie and Kacie over the course of their story. It's clearly a personal work for Prost, but it never feels distractingly so.
The screening is at 6:30 pm; tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance here.
If you're looking for something more raucous that night, you could check out the first screening of this summer's Open Roof Festival, now located at 99 Sudbury St. Open Roof differs from most summer screening series by being a paid and licensed event, and by the introduction of each movie with a set from a live band.
For example: Thursday's presentation of Denis Villeneuve's kinky thriller Enemy will be preceded by a performance from Hamilton's Thought Beneath Film. Other pairings include pHoenix pagliacci introducing Bad Words (July 3) and Catl introducing Lenny Abrahamson's Frank (July 17).
Tickets for each evening are $15; doors open at 7:30 pm, with the music starting shortly after that and the feature screening at sundown. You can find the full schedule at the festival website.