You know what’s cooler than Cannes? Toronto. Totally. As TIFF kicks off today, that’s what everyone’s saying:
Is the Toronto Film Festival the most important in the world, or does it only seem that way? In recent years I’ve described it as second only to Cannes. Now the Toronto critic Liam Lacey says flatly: "Toronto now has the most important film festival in the world — the largest, the most influential, the most inclusive." Yes, you say, but he is a Canadian, so of course he thinks that. Lacey is ready for you: "One reason the Toronto festival has probably not received its full recognition is, frankly, because it takes place in Canada."
Frankly, only a Canadian would think that. Toronto is all he says it is, and that’s that.
Mark Caro at the Chicago Tribune:
Toronto’s fest used to share the end-of-summer spotlight with the Venice and Montreal festivals, but Venice dramatically cut back its slate this year and the redubbed New Montreal Film Festival is attempting to reinvent itself with a pared-down schedule. That leaves Toronto with more world premieres than ever as it cements its status as North America’s most important film festival — and moves in on the uneven Cannes for the world title.
Industry types talking to Nicole Spering at the Hollywood Reporter:
"The product definitely looks a lot stronger then Cannes," said Howard Cohen of Roadside Attractions, whose company has been mandated with releasing six acquisitions a year. "There are many more English-language movies with casts."
Well, we have issues with that last comment, but whatever. Toronto is offering a load of stars and an intimidating amount of intriguing movies, so many, in fact, that we’re tempted to just ignore the whole damn thing like we did last year. But no! We’re jumping right in.
The Toronto Star‘s staff offers an invaluable blurby guide to the films by title: A-D, E-M, M-So and Sou-Z. Also at the Star, Rita Zekas runs down some of the stars scheduled to make appearances and the parties they’ll likely be appearing at:
Orlando Bloom generated the biggest heat last year. This year, our money is on Johnny Depp.
I asked a friend whom he was jonesing to see.
"Liza Minnelli," he replied.
"How gay are you?," I asked.
And Martin Knelman looks at the high stakes involved in premiering your film at the massive festival, and touches on some mild intrigue: of the two major Canadian films making their North American debut at the festival (and getting released later this month), Atom Egoyan‘s "Where the Truth Lies" is getting battered by David Cronenberg‘s "A History of Violence." It’s impossible not to compare the two films: Egoyan and Cronenberg are two of Canada’s most prominent directors and former rivals, neither has had a success in a while, both are tackling edgy topics and both premiered their films at Cannes. One wonders if the Egoyan film would be getting such a tough time, critically (it’s gotten mixed reviews) if the Cronenberg wasn’t getting raves. To make things tougher for "Where the Truth Lies," the AP reports that the MPAA has upheld the NC-17 rating it gave the film a month ago.
For tons of additional coverage, we’re liking the always excellent Twitch for reviews and Variety for biz coverage (the festival section is free for all). There’s already a deal going: Ian Mohr and Brendan Kelly report that Scorsese’s four-hour PBS Bob Dylan doc "No Direction Home," which is making its television premiere at the end of this month, has gotten a small theatrical distribution deal with Emerging Pictures, who’ll release the film in 30 cities nationwide before it appears on-air.
But back to Ebert’s first Toronto dispatch â€” he points out that he’s already seen most of the big buzz movies at the fest:
What lies ahead for me? Last year at this time "Ray," "Kinsey," "Yes," "Palindromes," "The Sea Inside," "Undertow" and "Hotel Rwanda" were only rumors to me. I write on Wednesday night, and will see three or four new movies tomorrow, and be astonished by completely unexpected treasures. I permit myself to be delighted until I reflect that in the real world, titles like this do not open every weekend, or play everywhere, or get much support, and there are perfectly nice people who are going to see "Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo" under the impression that it is a movie.
The unnecessary poke at Rob Schneider aside (it’s like kicking a retarded puppy, as Charles Taylor once said of attempting to take on Ann Coulter), this is what we’re excited about ourselves â€” the surprise hits, the innovative sleepers, the unexpected charmers that come out of nowhere, and, of course, the provocative/offensive flamethrowers that give us stuff to blog about for weeks.
+ Toronto #1: Festival’s importance (RogerEbert.com)
+ 5 reasons why Toronto is the film fest that matters (Chicago Tribune)
+ Products look ‘strong’ at Toronto fest (HR)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: A-D (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: E-M (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: mini-reviews: M-So (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews Sou-Z (Toronto Star)
+ Distant stars (Toronto Star)
+ Festival time, get out the dice (Toronto Star)
+ Board Upholds NC-17 Rating for ‘Truth’ (AP)
+ Toronto Film Festival 2005 Archives (Twitch)
+ Toronto Film Festival Guide (Variety)
+ Dealin’ for Dylan (Variety)