Friday, 1 July 2011

Fellini/Felliniesque: "Dream" Double Bills at TIFF Bell Lightbox

Photo: Anthony Quinn & Giulietta Masina in La Strada (Photo Credit: Janus)

Fellini/ Felliniesque - Fellini "Dream" Double Bills
A delicious summer feature arrives at TIFF Bell Lightbox with Fellini/ Felliniesque - Fellini "Dream" Double Bills. As fascinating concept of double bills hand picked by the internationally recognized film directors, programmers and industry movers and shakers who put together dream double bills of a Fellini + non-Fellini-yet-Fellinieque film. It's a beautiful set of films to dive deeper in to the not only the world of Fellini but also the inspiring effect he's had on the world. We have a great selection of Fellini and non-Fellini films to enjoy, and I love how La Strada is in there twice, one time with Isabella Rossellini pick of Charles Chaplin’s Limelight and also with Miranda July's pick of Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table. I also love Apichatpong Weerasethakul's selection of Fellini’s Roma with Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Let's take a closer look and a few of the selected double bills.

Dream Double Bill: Federico Fellini’s Toby Dammit and Dario Argento’s Suspiria
Selected by James Schamus

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Toby Dammit (Photo credit: TIFF Film Reference Library) and Suspiria (Photo credit: Fotofest)

Toby Dammit
Dir: Federico Fellini
Cast: Terence Stamp
France/Italy, 1968

Moments into Toby Dammit I could see exactly why it has been paired with Suspiria. Shockingly bright and hot colour palette, sets that manage to feel brilliant and minimalist even though lesser hands it could have come off like a kids play. The short follows Toby Dammit (Terence Stamp), a too-soonly washed up star who arrives to attend an awards show, although he's not really interested in anything or anyone. Rampant, raging and ready to roar he's a handful from the get go. Like several films of Fellini's that explore celebrity and expectation of excellence, we travel the road of destruction with Toby Dammit during that darkness of an empty creative well. Loud, brash and very entertaining. Toby Dammit is a part of Spirits of the Dead, a collection of short films adapted from Edgar Allan Poe short story.

Dir: Dario Argento (Inferno, Mother of Tears, Giallo)
Cast: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Udo Kier, Alida Valli,
Italy, 1977

Ah, Suspiria. I love Suspiria, because it's a film that knows exactly what it's doing. As far as supernatural horror goes, it knows all the right marks to hit and even 30 years later those marks keep on hitting and working. From the new girl in town scenario, to the large and mysterious location, to local legends and or course ooey gooey bright red bloody goodness. It is a horror film after all! We follow Suzy (Jessica Harper) and American ballet student who arrives as a new student to a ballet academy where people seemingly leave quickly and quietly, when in fact they really seem to be dropping like flies. Seriously, what other supernatural horror film could be so brash as to be set in a ballet school? That openness is one of the things I love about the film, along with the ridiculous bright colour story that makes the screen literally glow. It's over the top, all of the time from the story to the gore to the bright, brilliant colours. Add some creepy characters and highly creative and creepy sequences and it makes it creepy to boot. Gotta love it. Seriously, you have got to love Suspiria.

The Dream Double Bill of Fellini’s Toby Dammit and Dario Argento’s Suspiria plays on July 2, 2011 and will have Guillermo Del Toro in attendance. Find out more information here and buy tickets here.

Dream Double Bill: Federico Fellini’s La Strada and Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table
Selected by Miranda July

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Anthony Quinn & Giulietta Masina in La Strada La Strada (Photo Credit: Janus) and Kerry Fox as Janet Frame in An Angel at My Table

La Strada
Dir: Federico Fellini
Cast: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart
Italy, 1954

I'm very surprized that I've never reviewed La Strada before, at it's a lock in my Top 5 Films of All Time from the moment I saw it in an Italian Film Class back in my OCAD days. I loved it instantaneously, and what felt like against better judgment as we follow the sad tale of the brutish-yet-charismatic Zampanò (Anthony Quinn), a travelling performer who goes on the road with more than a little odd Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina). By today's standards there is a lot that feels not PC, but I can't help but love it. A lot of the love comes in the expressive performance by Giulietta Masina as Gelsomina, someone who has had so few opportunities but actually has in her the natural performance talent that brings joy to the audience but frustrates Zampanò whose performance day in and day out is his trade but rarely feels like a calling. A bizarre duo they make, from all-knowing to wide-eyed, and add that neither are that skilled at social graces we are along for the ride on their strained pairing as they perform around the country. It's a marvelous, although at times painful, look at the world through the eyes of two very different people and the effect each of them has on the other. An absolute must-see film for everyone.

An Angel at My Table
Dir: Jane Campion (Bright Star, The Piano, In the Cut)
Cast: Kerry Fox, Iris Churn, Kevin J. Wilson, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson
New Zealand/Australia/UK, 1990

An Angel at My Table is based on Janet Frame's autobiographies To the Is-Land, An Angel at My Table and The Envoy from Mirror City. The film is an amazing combination of sadness and joy through a biographical lens as we look at the life of writer Janet Frame from childhood, to school years and beyond. Although she has a fair share upset throughout her life, I loved how she always had support from her family especially as they engaged together with words, literature and education. In contrast, it was wild to see how different he life was socially outside of home. Faced with severe social anxiety, to the point where her mental health is in question and through this her writing continues to be her creative outlet. The adult Janet Frame is played expertly by Kerry Fox who braves a performance from timid and shy to open abandon. It's extraordinary to see such an breadth and depth of character in a performance.

One of the most interesting things about watching An Angel at My Table in this context, was that it shed a light on a different way to look at La Strada. Both films have a strong, but odd, woman in the arts who is often unaccepted and is seen as having issues with mental health. I don't think I would have picked that out seeing the films individual, but thinking about the together it brings the issue to a brighter light. Fascinating.

The Dream Double Bill of Federico Fellini’s La Strada and Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table plays on July 30, 2011. Find out more information here and buy tickets here.
La Strada also plays with Charles Chaplin’s Limelight on July 9, 2011. Find out more information here and buy tickets here

And here's the whole run down of Fellini/Felliniesque: "Dream" Double Bills selections:
  • Fellini’s 8½ and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Beware of a Holy Whore on June 30, 2011
  • Fellini’s Toby Dammit and Dario Argento’s Suspiria on July 2, 2011 with Guillermo Del Toro in attendance
  • Fellini’s Roma and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil on July 3, 2010
  • Fellini’s La Strada and Charles Chaplin’s Limelight July 9, 2011
  • Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits and Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on July 13, 2011
  • Fellini’s Casanova and Hal Ashby’s Shampoo on July 23, 2011
  • Fellini’s La Strada and Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table on July 30, 2011
  • Fellini’s City of Women and Frank Perry’s The Swimmer on August 6, 2011
  • Fellini’s I Vitelloni and Barry Levinson’s Diner on August 8, 2011
  • Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria and Satyajit Ray’s Devi on August 14, 2011
  • Fellini’s The Clowns and Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise on August 18, 2011
  • Fellini’s Fellini Satyricon and Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane on August 26, 2011
Fellini Dream Double Bills runs at TIFF Bell Lightbox from June 30 - August 26, 2011. Find out more information here and buy tickets here.

Love Fellini? There is even more....

Fellini: Spectacular Obsessions
An exhibition exploring the obsessions in director Federico Fellini work presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox from June 30 - September 18, 2011.

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