Friday September 5, 2014
This year, I’m trying a new approach to film-watching-at-TIFF. I want to see as much as I can, but I don’t want to be overly rigid about my schedule. It’s hard to choose from among the hundreds of films, but stacking everything too neatly into a spreadsheet means missing out on the opportunity to see something that I might not have noticed in the programme book, but comes highly recommended by a friend, or a friendly stranger in a coffee shop lineup.
My new motto is “minimum three, maximum five”. I’ll aim to see a minimum of three films each day, though I know even that will be too ambitious on certain days. I’m planning to see most of the Midnights and many of the Vanguards as well, but for the rest of it, I’m going to keep things relatively loose. I have the luxury of an industry pass that gets me into the parallel shadow-world of press & industry screenings, most of which don’t “sell out” completely, and most of which don’t involve lengthy line-ups (though lineups are a large part of what I enjoy about the public festival experience at TIFF).
P&I access means I can afford to be slightly more cavalier about my schedule, though it’s a strategy I used to employ when I relied exclusively on public tickets as well. I’d get a package (10 tickets, say) and only select six films, leaving myself four unassigned vouchers to trade in for tickets over the course of the festival. That way, I could go to a film that I overheard strangers discussing in line, or walk into a film I knew nothing about, just because it happened not to be sold out. Those were – and still are – some of my best experiences at festivals. Going in with no expectations, open to the possibility of experiencing something beautiful and surprising, is a real joy.
On Friday I managed three films. I had a non-TIFF meeting to attend in the morning (how dare real life still continue to exist outside this bubble!?) so my first screening was in the afternoon. 1001 Grams, a charming Norwegian film about a scientist in charge of taking Norway’s prototype of the kilogram to an international kilo conference run by an international institute of weights and measures. As you can well imagine, hi jinx do ensue, but they’re of a quiet, relationship-y type, and the film is touching and funny and uplifting in all the right ways. More than anything, I was amused at the brief glimpse into a world – that of weights and measures – that undoubtedly does exist (someone’s got to be ensuring that the kilo weighs the same amount here as it does in Japan, surely?!), and feels as alien as can be without actually being exotic (though esoteric scientific worlds are alluring, in their own highly un-exotic way). A perfect backdrop for a sweet relationship story.
Later, the World Premiere of Spring, by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, the adorable duo who brought the world Resolution a couple of years ago. This one’s a Vanguard pick of Colin’s, so even though I’d seen the screener with him a few months ago, I was very excited to see it on the big screen and share it with friends. It’s a beautiful, smartly written, gorgeously shot film. I brought my parents to it, and after the screening my father called it “meta-horror” and my mother called it “touching and romantic”, so it’s clearly a film for everyone! Post-Spring, in the sudden downpour, I scurried across the way to Paupers for some drinks with the filmmakers and assorted pals, and yelled over the house band (why on earth does Paupers have a house band?) about movies and felt good to be in the middle of the TIFF maelstrom.
When Team Spring left for dinner, I left for the Big Game party, Friday’s Midnight film, where I downed a couple of sliders and some potato chips with slices of steak on them (don’t question the TIFF party hors d’oeuvres, just be thankful they exist).
TIFF dinners. They are not actual “dinners” 70% of the time. They are burritos eaten while standing in line, elaborate canapés inhaled at receptions, mints found at the bottoms of bags and hungrily sucked on during movies.
By the time midnight actually rolled around, I was incredibly sleepy. The kind of droopy-eyed sleepy that feels as if it’s already a barely-lucid dream. I lost some chunks of the first 20 minutes, but Big Game won me over. The action, the comic timing, that adorable Finnish kid, Samuel Jackson as a somewhat bumbling and refreshingly un-badass US President, it all came together into exactly the kind of kid-power film I truly love and wish was made more often these days.
And then another cab ride home, during which Colin scrolls through tweeted responses to the film and I read Matt Brown’s impossibly-quickly-posted blog entry for the day, and think to myself, “I love that Matt Brown, I wish he was in my life more.”