According to Reuters, this 31 st year of the TIFF also threatens to be its most controversial yet, with several films examining the state of President George W. Bush's America."... Already the festival has had to issue a statement defending its decision to screen the contentious "Death of a President," a mock documentary that depicts the fictional assassination of Bush" But, hey, that's not the reason I'm going!
The festival which for some years now has earned the reputation of being a launching pad for the Oscars offers true star wattage and this year we're expecting to see Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, , Penelope Cruz, Russell Crowe, not to mention the Bollywood big guns, Shahrukh Khan, Karan Johar and Amitabh Bachchan.
Ok, and now for the movies. It's hard to whittle down 352 movies to a mere 10 or so, but according to Toronto-Life, the must-sees are:
The renowned socialist director takes another kick at the civil war can (see his 1995 masterpiece Land and Freedom) in this Palme d’Or–winning work. Cillian Murphy plays a young doctor in 1920s Ireland who joins in the IRA’s fight for independence. Drawing parallels between the yoke of British rule and the current U.S. occupation of Iraq, Loach has made a film that is sure to inflame. (S.V.) .
(John Baker has a an interesting post about the movie on his blog, check it out)
The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald, Special Presentation)
Based on Giles Foden’s 1999 Whitbread-winning novel, this film explores the relationship between Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and the reserved Scottish doctor who was his personal physician. With the Oscar-winning documentary director (1999’s One Day in September) at the helm, and Forrest Whitaker playing Amin, it’s an intriguing portrait of one of history’s most peculiar brutes.
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (Zacharius Kunuk and Norman Cohn, Gala)
Kunuk and Cohn’s follow up to the groundbreaking Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001), this film chronicles Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen’s 1922 arrival in the Arctic, where he encounters an Inuit shaman whose daughter’s conversion to Christianity threatens their entire way of life. Epic, enigmatic and elegiac.
Away From Her (Sarah Polley, Gala)
After spending 40 wonderful years together, Fiona (the inimitable Julie Christie) and Grant (Gordon Pinsent) are forced to part—heartbreakingly—when the former’s memory begins to falter and she enters a nursing home. Based on an Alice Munro short story, this much-anticipated flick marks the feature directorial debut of hometown celluloid sweetheart Sarah Polley.
The Host (Joon-Ho Bong, Midnight Madness)
On pace to break every box-office record in South Korea, Bong’s critically acclaimed new picture tells the tale of a mutant monster that springs from the Han River and wreaks havoc on Seoul. Transcending and redefining the parameters of the horror genre, it’s peppered with sardonic humour and political commentary.
And Lotus's "Must-See's"
Based on Jhumpa Lahiri's bestselling book 'The Namesake". Mira Nair's adaptation of Lahiri's novel powerfully captures the clasp of family bonds among Indians in America, resulting in an intensely moving film. I will be going to this one!
Yokohama Mary Takayuki Nakamura (Japan)
From the Globe and Mail : the true story of a postwar prostitute infamous for catering to American GIs in Japan. By the 1990s, she was a street person in Yokohama performing her eccentric Kabuki-inspired dances. A few years later, Yokohama Mary disappeared. This documentary is a search for her that uncovers a lot on the way
Bunny Chow John Barker (South Africa)
Also from the Globe and Mail: A "bunny chow" is a big, sloppy sandwich you get at the end of a night when you've drunk too much and you just want to soak up the booze. It's a bun filled with curry and all kinds of stuff. It's a metaphor for South Africa today, according to the filmmaker. It's the story of three standup comics on the road to a big rock fair where they try to become stars. But it's gorgeous, black-and-white, widescreen cinematography, really funny, really sexy, not at all political. It's the new South Africa
The Making of a Bollywood Blockbuster:
This is a discussion of the movie "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehana" that I previously reviewed. The star director Karan Johar along with Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan will be led in conversation by Suketu Mehta whose novel "Maximum City" was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Since this movie with its theme of infedelity has caused much consternation among the Bollywood-going public, I'm sure TIFF thought this panel closely involved with the movie might be the perfect draw for a stimulating conversation. I will be definitely going to this one - I have my tickets!!!
A Grave-Keeper's Tale Chitra Palekar (India)
Maati Maay or Grave-Keeper's Tale revolves around Chandi, a beautiful young woman from a lower caste, whose family has traditionally been in charge of a children’s graveyard. When her father dies, there being no other male in the family, Chandi inherits the job and performs it with great pride as her sacred duty. But after she gives birth to her son Bhagirath, things begin to change. Being a nursing mother, Chandi now feels deeply affected when burying the dead children. The movie is based on story by Mahashweta Devi, a Bengali author.
Little Children Todd Field (USA)
This film is adapted from the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name and starring Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly and Patrick Wilson. You can read my review of the book here