Saturday, 3 September 2011

Film Festival Frenzy. . .

Every year, I tell myself I just won't do it.  I won't go through the frustrating, multi-hour hassle of trying to get single tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival online.  And yet every year, I succumb to the excitement of it all and the list of amazing films on offer, and get up bright and early, ready to hit that "reload" button a million times before I finally get through.  Last year it took me nearly three hours.

This morning I had my fingers posed nimbly over the purchase button waiting for my computer clock to flash 7am.  And lo and behold, it took me about five minutes to get in, and I was completely finished by 7:27am.  Hallelujah!  Then I went down to the Festival Office to pick up my tickets, only to learn that not only had the system subsequently crashed shortly after I got off it, but all the printers had gone down as well.  I stayed in line for about 45 minutes chatting with other film fans in the hopes they'd have it fixed, but no such luck. I'm okay though - my tickets are confirmed and I just have to pick them up at another time.  If I'd been one of those who had lined up since 5pm yesterday afternoon, I'd be a bit upset.  But seriously, despite these computer glitches, TIFF really has improved their website. Most importantly, once you are in, you are in to the end.  In previous years, you'd finally get through, choose your tickets and have the system time out just as you were typing in your credit card information. And you'd have to start all over from the beginning.  When I got back home I decided to order a second batch of tickets.  The website now puts you into a virtual waiting line and beeps when you are in.  The message flashing was pretty scary "This could take up to 7 hours".  But five minutes later, the message was saying "This could take up to 4.5 hours".  In the end it took 33 minutes, and I had tickets to three more films.

I'm really excited about the 12 movies in total that I'll be seeing. Many are literary adaptions. I snagged tickets to Michael Winterbottom's Trishna, a retelling of Tess and the D'Urbervilles, starring Frieda Pinto; Terrence Davies' adaptation of Terence Rattigan's play The Deep Blue Sea, (pictured above) starring Rachel Weisz and one of my favourite UK actors, Simon Russell Beale; Bonsái, directed by Cristián Jiménez, based on the novella by Alejandro Zambra (part of Melville House's Art of the Contemporary Novella series), billed as "a romantic ode to love and literature"; and Andrea Arnold's adapation of Wuthering Heights.  I loved her previous film Fish Tank - could she be the one to finally film this literary masterpiece properly?  Below is a still from the film; I'm getting goosebumps already.

I'll also be seeing The Artist, directed by Michel Hazanavicius, a film about a silent era star trying to make it in the talkies.  This film got great buzz at Cannes.  And Like Crazy, the winner of the Grand Jury Best Picture Award at the Sundance Film Festival, about a long-distance romance (which I'll be seeing with my own long-distance partner who will be in town that week - hooray - so it had better end well!).  For me, TIFF just wouldn't be complete unless I saw a film with Kristin Scott Thomas in it and so I was really thrilled to get a ticket to her latest - The Woman in the Fifth. Ethan Hawke and Paris co-star. 

I can't believe that any movie starring Hugh Laurie and Catherine Keener can be bad, particularly if it's a comedy, so I'm looking forward to The Orangesdirected by Julian Farino.  Ditto for Emily Blunt who's latest movie is Your Sister's Sister, directed by Lynn Shelton.  The political thriller Page Eight, directed and written by David Hare and starring Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes, Judy Davis and Rachel Weisz looks terrific. I have one animated film on my roster - an intriguing Czech movie called Alois Nebel, directed by Tomáš Lunák. Set during the Cold War, it's about a train dispatcher and apparently quite a homage to the movie Closely Watched Trains which I would easily put into my top ten list of movies set in train stations.

And my final film is by Canadian director Ingrid Veninger and it's called i am a good person/ i am a bad person. It's a drama about a mother and daughter's relationship falling apart as they travel to a film festival.

So I'll be seeing a little bit of everything. And this is the great thing about TIFF - real fans, who don't have corporate or film industry contacts, really can participate and see lots of great films. It just takes a bit of patience.  And the best parts of the whole experience are the conversations you have in line with other film buffs. The fun starts a week from today.  Can't wait.

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