Monday, 22 September 2008

TIFF'08 Day 9 - Friday September 12, 2008


I spend the majority of the day at the Varsity, which is unusual for the fest so far as most films I've seen have been at Scotiabank or AMC. One nice thing about the Varsity is there are a fair number of places to get food & coffee/tea and there is also an Indigo close. Unfortunately it's a venue that has a lot of lines ups ending up outside - good thing it wasn't too rainy! For more on Day 9 you can check out my Vlog from Day 9.

Empty Nest actor Ines Efron and director Daniel Burman

Empty Nest / El Nido vacío
Dir: Daniel Burman
Cast: Oscar Martínez, Cecilia Roth, Arturo Goetz, Inés Efron, Eugenia Capizzano

Reason to See: I actually mistook this film for Radio Love which I saw on Day 8. Sometimes that happens when you are looking at hundreds of titles - good thing it only happened once!

Following the lives of a couple after their daughter has flow the coop, Empty Nest shows us the blending inner and outer worlds of Leonardo played by Oscar Martínez. I found such a duality in the film as it deals with change and maturing but always retains whimsical notions. There is also magical realism at play, which I took literally and therefore sometimes left confused. But, I rolled with it as I wanted to see where the journey would lead. Overall, it didn't quite resonate with me but it did have a unique storytelling style.

Martyrs director Pascal Laugier

Dir: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Begin, Robert Toupin

Reason to See: I wasn't very interested in seeing this as it seem to be a huge over the top violent film a la Hostel and such. Then I saw this article over at Twitch by Todd Brown which stated : " could argue that Martyrs is an anti-exploitation exploitation film". That got me interested.

I think Martyrs easily qualifies as the most disturbing film of the festival, a woman fainted at the screening I attended and during the midnight showing one girl apparently 'lost her popcorn'. It was the film I was most hesitant about seeing due to the violence and depiction of traumatic events. I was pleasantly surprized to see that it was not a film that just shows violence for violence sake but comments to the effects of violence as well as possible motivations. Don't get me wrong, a lot of it is sick and twisted and extremely hard to watch. But, it also makes philosophical points and delves into darker side of human nature and all the while serves as a phenomenal horror film. Quite a feat.

Highlights of Q&A with director Pascal Laugier:
-even the director himself says he has a hard time watching the film
-if the film does not effect you in some way, it isn't doing it's job
-apparently at the Midnight showing of the film an audience member felt the need to 'educate' the audience by mentioning Michael Heneke. Pascal Laugier said during this screening that Martyrs is like an anti-Funny Games
-See video selections from Martyrs Intro and Q&A

Universalove director Thomas Woschitz

Dir: Thomas Woschitz
Cast: Anica Dobra, Daniel Plier, Sascha Migge, Erom Cordeiro, Kyoichi Komoto

Reason to See: Universalove looked avant garde and it's also an exploration of love, given that I often go for heavier films I thought this would be a good way to fit in some balance.

Set in various cites around the globe Universalove is a visually stunning film with a beautiful texture. The stories it follows were different than I had anticipated thinking that as an exploration of the themes of love but many were tragic. Going with the intention to see something a lighter and uplifting didn't quite work out, but it was a refreshing change of pace to see a film that was experimental and challenged assumptions.

Highlights of Q&A with director Thomas Woschitz:
-the film and soundtrack by Naked Lunch were created together, not separately
-the film had 24 shooting days between December 2007 and March 2008, every city had 4 days of prep and 4 days of shooting
-it was shot on Super 16

Pontypool director Bruce McDonald

Dir: Bruce McDonald (Highway 61, Roadkill, Hard Core Logo)
Cast: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak

Reason to See: Bruce McDonald horror film in small town Ontario. It was a must see from the moment I heard about it.

Fantastic film, one of my favourites of the festival by far. Pontypool is a smart-minded, rough around the edges, all out think tank of a horror film. Fantastic performances from the entire cast although I did particularly enjoy Stephen McHattie's gritty yet earnest portrayal of local DJ Grant Mazzy. I dare not say more, and if you are sensitive to spoilers I'd recommend not reading up on the film as it is very plot heavy. If you are a fan of horror films with a strong story, you will love Pontypool. I know I did.

See a selection from Pontypool Q&A here

Achilles and the Tortoise
Dir: Takeshi Kitano (Takeshis', Glory to the Filmmaker!)
Cast: Beat Takeshi, Kanako Higuchi, Yurei Yangi, Kumiko Aso, Akira Nakao, Reo Yoshioka

Reason to See: Seeing Takeshi Kitano's 2 previous films in this trilogy in the yesteryears of TIFF I couldn't pass up the opportunity to finish the journey I had begun.

Trying to describe a film by Takeshi Kitano normally feels like an exercise in futility as all the ones I've seen had a strong non sensical nature to them. I was surprized to find that Achilles and the Tortoise has a strong narrative to it. I had a mixed reaction to this as I don't mind one bit landing in the world of the bizarre and sometimes I'm more comfortable there then somewhere where things make sense. In this film, we journey through the life of trying artist Machisu. It's a fascinating exploration into what art is, whose opinion about art matters, why we create it and what it brings or takes from us. The paintings featured in the film are artwork from Takeshi Kitano himself.

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

UNIVERSALOVE is the Centerpiece film of the 2nd San Joaquin International Film Festival (SJIFF2), Stockton, California, USA (May 14-23, 2009)

Official Site:

Screening Information:

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 3:30PM
Stockton Empire Theatre
West Coast USA Premiere

All details:

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