How do you choose from a selection of 258 feature films and 81 shorts spread over 10 days at TIFF? Actually, there are lots of different ways.
You can purchase the TIFF Programme Guide, for about $30. This is a great souvenir of the festival, which includes a write up of each film plus photographs, information about the producers and director and cast. Needless to say, the programme is the size of a telephone book for a small city. This is where [pg. 302] I advertised my novel, The Drawing Lesson: The First in the Trilogy of Remembrance. Why there? Because I have a book trailer produced by Marcus Chait, which is terrific. What author would not want a producer to make a film of his/her novel? So mine is “out there.”
(Here is where we will place the book trailer on the blog itself)
On the Web, at www.tiff.net, you can get all the information on each film. There is even a decision making tool to use. You simply enter the number of movies, the amount you want to spend, time of day [daytime or evenings and weekends.] And it picks some movies for you—if you’re overwhelmed with choice.
A few years ago, I spent a lot of time on the website and finally decided just by clicking on three movies randomly. Interesting—but I managed to pick three great films!
The festival is divided into categories. First, there is the listing of “Gala” films. These are the ones you will be able to see in the theatres this fall. The opener is Score: A Hockey Musical produced in Canada and described as “a playful and joyously entertaining charmer of a film.” We Canadians are fond of saying that hockey is our game and so, when the star, Farley, hits the big time, he quickly learns that with endorsement deals and media attention, mean he has to get into fights on the ice. This will undoubtedly have great appeal, but it doesn’t sound like my kind of film.
The Conspirator with Robert Redford, sounds more to my taste. But then so does Barney’s Version. Barney Panofsky, played by Dustin Hoffman, is the creation of the Canadian author Mordecai Richler. And then there is The Debt, a political thriller with Helen Mirren. I’m already overwhelmed by the choice and I haven’t even gotten to the “Masters” section with new films from some of the world’s greatest filmmakers, such as The Mysteries of Lisbon, by the Portuguese filmmaker Raul Ruiz. This is the adaptation of a famous 19th century novel by Camilo Castelo which evokes “the massive novels of Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens.” This sounds like my type of movie!
But still, there are great films from 65 countries. These are the ones which will not likely get into commercial theatre chains. For example, there is a new film from a Canadian writer, director, and actor Xavier Dolan, Heartbeats; he is only twenty one years old. Everyone says not to miss Biutiful by Alejandro. And then, there’s Uncle Boonmee, who can recall his past lives billed as a mystical meditation on the afterlife by Thai auteur Weerasethakul.
So there`s something here for everyone`s taste. I look back on my possible selections and see that I`m all over the map. But maybe that`s the way it should be—a sampling of the best films in the world.
And what is the view of the indie author? It seems that both the traditional and indie worlds of filmmaking have settled into a collaborative, constructive mode. There a plenty of films at the festival which are thoughtful, thought provoking and cinematic artistic creation. Then if the tried and true action plot is more to your taste, that’s there too. I am hoping that the film and publishing industries will eventually work together.