Sunday, 21 September 2008

TIFF'08 Day 8 - Thursday September 11, 2008

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Day 8 was another great day at the festival, and for the four films I saw all of the filmmakers were in attendance - I love that! There was also a fair amount of running around between theatres and one really tight turn around due to a lengthy Q&A. Want to hear all about Day 8? Check out the TIFF'08 Vlog for Day 8.

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Sauna director Antti-Jussi Annila

Sauna
Dir: Antti-Jussi Annila (Jade Warrior)
Cast: Ville Virtanen, Tommi Eronen, Viktor Klimenko, Sonja Petäjäjärvi
Finland

Reason to See: The picture in the program book was what hooked me. It looked like a combination between Gladiator and Night Watch / Nochnoi Dozor.

Beautiful and dark horror drama, Sauna takes us back to 1595 to follow a group as they define the Russian/Finnish border. It's amazing that the atmosphere of the period created is so rich, you can feel the weariness of the length of the journey, you wonder about any odd sound or blurred image, everything feels so full and so creepy. It is one of the scarier films I saw at the festival although the tension and horror is achieved in a paced, graceful manner. That being said I certainly jumped in my seat a few times. It also was more than just a scarefest, as it pondered questions about life, change and relationships. All in all an amazing feat.

The majority of the Q&A with director Antti-Jussi Annila makes references to specific plot points and theme therefore it would be a spoiler to share. He did respond to an audience comment regarding the translation and subtitles, which you can see here.

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Winds of September director Tom Shu-Yu Lin

Winds of September
Dir: Tom Shu-Yu Lin
Cast: Rhydian Vaughan, Chang Chieh, Wang Bo-Chieh, Sheng Wei-Nian
Taiwan

Reason to See: The program picture was again the reason that got me out to the film as well as the fact that in Toronto we don't see many films from Taiwan in regular release.

Beautiful coming of age film set in Taiwan following nine students through a year of high school. Delightful in moments of fun and full of vigor but also tactful with more serious issues that deftly shows how the world changes as we gather more and more experiences. I loved seeing all the different relationships between the group of friends, it really captured that dynamic very well. Quite a gem.

Highlights from the introduction and Q&A with director Tom Shu-Yu Lin:
-A lot of people from the audience moved to sit in the front seats during the Q&A - always a good sign!
-About 80% of the film is autobiographical in terms of content
- The film A Brighter Summer Day / Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian (Edward Yang) is the film that made Tom Shu-Yu Lin want to become a filmmaker
- The credits are really long as he included each and every extras name in the credits
-I was surprized to find out that the Taiwan films are stuggling in the market in Taiwan due to the huge amount of competition from Western films
-see video selections of the introduction and Q&A here

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The Dungeon Masters editor Christine Khalafi and director Keven McAlester

The Dungeon Masters
Dir: Keven McAlester
Documentary on D&D Dungeon Masters
USA

Reason to See: I always want to see films on gaming, being a gamer myself.

The Dungeon Masters focuses on three Dungeon and Dragons (D&D) Dungeon Masters whom have played the role-playing game for many years. It's interesting to see that the paper, pencil & dice style game is still alive and well. I find it odd that the most consistent thing people say about the film seems to be that it doesn't make fun of the people that play. It that really what people were expecting? During the Q&A it was noted that the film is an opportunity for non gamers to see what this world is like, but I had hoped for more that that from the film. There were so many things that I had wished they had covered, like showing people play or what the dynamic and community of a group of gamers is like - however that wouldn't be possible as the focus is on three DMs (which I always hear GM in my head as in Game Master), whom of course, don't play together as they run their own campaigns. It also would have been interested to see more on the contrast of their role in the game as a leadership role, and what is different about that in their day to day life. We do get to see a lot of their day to day life, mostly surrounding struggles with the exception of when they are gaming or go to conventions. I really wanted more from this film. I look forward to the day where a gamer makes a gaming film!

Highlights from Q&A with director Keven McAlester and editor Christine Khalafi:
-the three Dungeon Masters depicted in the film have not seen it yet, as it was finished only days before it screened at the festival
-they talked to about 30 people when trying to choose the subjects for the film, and ended up choosing the first three people they spoke to
-shooting started in May 2006 and the it was shot in three large sections
-they toyed with the idea of a narrator but one of the dungeon masters explained aspects of the game so well so they went with that
-there was general commentary from audience & filmmaker regarding how playing D&D is not that much different than other hobbies like being a collector or participating in fantasy football

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Tokyo Sonata director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (centre)

Tokyo Sonata
Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Teruyuki Dagawa, Kyoko Koizumi, Haruka Igawa, Yu Koyanagi, Kai Inowaki
Japan/The Netherlands/Hong Kong/China

Reason to See: I hadn't yet see any of Kiyoshi Kurosawa films yet and wanted to see what this would bring!

Wow, what a lovely and heart wrenching film Tokyo Sonata is. It is a family drama with parents and two sons and follows them through their trials and tribulations of daily life. Sounds so simple but its beauty is in the complexity of actions, reactions and inactions that effect the family as a whole. It shows a vast emotional range and is sensitive as well as tough, and there sure were some tough moments. I was very impressed by this film and look forward to exploring more of Kiyoshi Kurosawa filmography.

Highlights from Intro and Q&A with director Kiyoshi Kurosawa
-with reference to previous films being all horror films, Kiyoshi Kurosawa said that he always adds an element of hope to his films but found that with the horror films people didn't usually see this
-during the introduction he mentioned to the audience he hoped they could relate on one of the four characters and during the Q&A someone asked him whom he related to the most. He said it was a good question and that no one had asked it before, his response was he relates to all of the characters to different aspects of himself
-many of the questions were content related so I can't share them here but I have to say I was very impressed by all of the eloquent answers Kiyoshi Kurosawa provided. One of the best Q&A's of the festival
-see a video selection of the introduction here

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Packed house for Tokyo Sonata

The Toronto International Film Festival 2008 runs from September 4-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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