Line-ups, street meat and movies, oh my! A report on the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival

Do you like surviving off lukewarm Starbucks, Pepsi and sketchy street meat?   Do you like dashing across town to see your fifth movie that day only to find out the distributor sent the version of that Swedish film you really wanted to see without the subtitles?   And most importantly can you stand being in Toronto for ten straight days in a row?

The tent at Dundas Square, where a selection of free programming was offered to the city

All kidding aside I am thrilled to say that I was able to take part in this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.   Last year when I graduated from university with a seemingly useless degree in Film Studies, I thought to myself how cool it would be to get to work for the aforementioned organization.   Then after interning there in the spring, I found myself having the chance to experience the festival itself which took place from September 9th-19th.

Sure it’s not perfect.   It’s a major event so there’s miscommunication and that causer of major annoyance and anger amongst almost every general consumer: waiting.

Everything TIFF-related generally means waiting in excruciatingly long line ups, but hey there’s a reason so many people do it every single year.   As you wait yet another line to get into the theatre or buy some popcorn you overhear countless amazing stories of celebrities seen, or you find yourself taking part in a heated debate over a seemingly trivial pieces of film history.

As a card carrying film nerd I take those debates very seriously by the way and am always thrilled when I meet other individuals who have the same passion for detailing to the unknowing individual the entire life history of Marilyn Monroe.

Standing in yet another line waiting to get into Roy Thompson Hall to see a gala presentation of the Norwegian film “Max Manus”

Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, the movies where pretty good too.   While I didn’t have the stamina of some of my co-workers who added two or three movies a day to their 7-10 hour work schedules, I did manage to catch seven movies during the festival.

I must admit my choices where fairly conservative.   I stuck with directors I already knew like Jane Campion who’s film Bright Star was one of my favourites of the fest (you can definitely expect a Friday Film Review article on this film at some point in the future).

I also went to films I heard allot of buzz about, such as Xavier Dolan‘s J’ai tué ma mere which I liked but didn’t love.   I can understand why people were so excited about him though, Dolan absolutely has the talent to one day become one of Quebec’s great auteurs.

The truth is that, at only 20 years old, Dolan needs to first learn about the art of collaboration.   Already the writer, director, star and producer of J’ai tue ma mere, Dolan mentioned in the Q and A after the screening how he plans to edit his next project as well.

Xavier Dolan (far right) and his co-stars chat about their much buzzed film “J’ai tue ma mere”

The Trotsky with Jay Baruchel was my favourite comedy that I saw this year.   I’ve always had an appreciation for Canadian film, especially ones shot in Montreal, so props go out to director Jacob Tierney for shooting Montreal so beautifully.

This extremely clever film is yet another example of how sad it is that Canadian film rarely reaches its national audience.   I urge all of you Forget the Box readers out there to check this film out when it hits the theatres…

On the last day of the festival l managed to score some tickets to another much buzzed about film that’s certain to pop up in the Oscar race this year: Up in the Air with George Clooney.   I desperately wanted to see this film all throughout the festival and now I can use this article to say thank you to the anonymous Industry guy who saw how excited I was about it and gave me two extra tickets he had to the screening.

We may never meet again,   Industry guy, but you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.   I loved Up in the Air and it confirmed my feeling that after three consistently awesome films (Thank You for Smoking and Juno being the other two) that Jason Reitman is becoming one of my favourite directors.

As you can tell by my shamelessly biased article, all in all I had an amazing experience that I probably won’t be shutting up about for a long time.   While people complained to me how the festival isn’t like it used to be I completely fell under the spell of the event and am already scheming how I’m going to talk my way into going next year.

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