Saturday, October 26, 2019

TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) 201

Every year, I write an article of my experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).  FYI a list of the movies I saw (including my ice cream cone ratings) as well as the winners if the TIFF 2019 awards are listed below.

TIFF runs for 10 days, beginning the Thursday after Labour Day.  People attend TIFF many different ways. Some just wander Festival (King) Street the first weekend and people watch, others go to see the stars, many want to be the first to see the new Hollywood release, some go to hear the directors talk about their films after the showing, I go to see documentaries and foreign films that may not show again in Toronto.

Every year, I put together an article and give some talks after TIFF highlighting my “theme” for the year.  This year, it is Perspective.  Many of the movies I saw either featured 2 characters with very different views (e.g. The Two Popes) or presented a viewpoint that I hadn’t considered (e.g. Judy and The Birds Rained Down).  In life and in business, being aware that the person that you are talking to may have a different idea or perspective from you, often makes your conversation more useful to both.

Let me start with a movie that was produced by Netflix, so keep your eyes open for it. It's called The Two Popes and is about a series of fictional conversations between Pope Benedict (a conservative) played by Sir Anthony Hopkins and Pope Francis (a person who believes in change) played by Jonathan Pryce.  In life, everything is constantly changing and evolving and it's really how you adapt that matters.  This movie shows how people and norms evolve over time.

Judy (release date was Sept. 27, 2019) is mostly about the last year of Judy Garland’s life and her concert series in London. This is a heart-rending adaptation of Peter Quilter's stage play End of the Rainbow, featuring Renée Zellweger as Judy.  Like many of you, I've read and seen many stories about her.  Did you know that she went out of her way to be kind to her supporting staff? This one is mostly from her fictional perspective and left me feeling sad for her - so it changed my perspective.

And the Birds Rained Down is a film out of Quebec and it should have at least limited distribution in Canada.  It is based on the book by Jocelyne Saucier and is the story of 3 hermits living in the bush. It is a fascinating take on aging and self-determination.  I plan to read the book, something I rarely do after I’ve seen a movie (I prefer to read the book first).  Acclaimed director Louise Archambault's film depicts three aging hermits in the Quebec countryside whose defiant need to live independently is increasingly endangered by nature, old age, infirmity and 2 women (a young photographer and an aging women who ran away from a seniors residence).   I can’t say much more or I may ruin it for you.

The Perfect Candidate is about a female doctor in Saudi Arabia and her accidental foray into running for political office.  It talks about the changing norms in the country as well as how people change and adapt over time.  Frustrated with the limits placed upon her, because of her gender, a small-town Saudi doctor takes matters into her own hands and runs for local council (almost accidentally).  It made me think that it may be time to re-evaluate my own life.  Don’t worry – nothing drastic like a change of career, just a couple of work life balance adjustments.

The final movie I’m going to highlight is Black Bitchthe story of a  local Indigenous politician (Deborah Mailman) who is recruited to the senate by the Australian Prime Minister (Rachel Griffiths) after a contentious video goes viral, in Rachel Perkins' drama about systemic injustice, the complexities of political change and how looking at a problem from a different perspective can make all the difference to the end result.

All the movies I saw this year were excellent and everyone had a Q & A afterwards.  These sessions give you a glimpse into the process of the film making and / or the importance of the film to the produce, director and actors.  It’s one of the highlights of going to TIFF.

If you’ve never attended, put it into your calendar for next year.

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