Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Toronto International Film Festival 2006 (Sep 7-16)

Why is September my favorite month? Well, apart from the fact that school has begun (which mean more free time for yours truly), its end of harvest time on the Niagra thus making way for the Niagara Wine Festival and Fall (my favorite season) is on the way, it is also time for the Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF,one of my most favorite cultural events of the year!

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 Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, Masters) Pic Courtesy: Wikipedia

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"

The Namesake Mira Nair (USA) (pic courtesy: Mirabai Films)

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


Reel Fanatic said...

Great preview .. of the ones on that list, I have to say I'm most excited about the Last King of Scotland .. Forrest should just burn up the screen as Idi Amin!

Simran said...

Great previews Lotus! Can't wait for the reviews of the ones you get to see!

Danielle said...

All the movies that will never come to my town! Thank goodness for Netflix! Thanks for the heads up on the movies!!

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Lotus,
'The Wind that Shakes the Barley.' What a delicious title!
I'd love to hear how The Namesake went as I'd already read the book and loved it.
Looks like you have an enriching, cultural September all set out for you with its gleaming red carpet.

Have fun!

booklogged said...

How fortunate that you are able to particaipate in this. Sounds so fun. There were several there that I would like to see, but I feel a little like Danielle - they may never make it my way. Look forward to your reviews.

tanabata said...

Oh exciting! I knew they were filming The Namesake but hadn't realised when it would be out! I loved both Lahiri's books. Sounds like a great festival.

Saaleha said...

Sounds great. Now I have books and movies to add to my wishlist. Thanks Lotus. And enjoy the festival

Lotus Reads said...

Hello reelfanatic

Oh yes, "The Last King of Scotland" is definitely on my list of "must-sees" but I probably won't be viewing it at the festival because sources tell me it's slated for release at the theatres on Sep 27.

Had a look at your blog just now - will definitely have to bookmark it and return often!

Hi Simran My excitement knows no bounds! Finally, I'll get to see Shahrukh in person! :))) Will be sure to tell you all about it!

Danielle Very happy to have been able to do this preview. The fun thing about TIFF is that that movies are not rated by a jury (like Cannes) but by movie fanatics like you and me. This is why, I suppose, you get some wonderful "must-see" lists coming out of TIFF. For some reason, critics always seem to reserve their accolades for movies that never really do well in the theatres.

Allo' Susan! There are 361 movies being shown at the festival but so far I have tickets for only two! :))) Ofcourse, things can change! "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" is a delightful name indeed and it has caused a lot of controversy in its native UK. Canadians, I suppose, will be more neutral in how they perceive the movie. We shall see.

Hellobooklogged Yes, I do feel lucky to have this festival in our city. I don't know how many I'll end up seeing, but I will review them as and when I do! I love the Contemporary Foreign film genre the best - those films are always so much fun and you learn a lot, too!

Hello, Tanabata! Yes, I await "The Namesake" with much excitement! I have loved all of Jhumpa Lahiri's books and I have enjoyed all Mira Nair's movies, now I can't wait to see the collaboration!

You're quite welcome Saaleha, glad I could help! :) Actually I am still catching up with last year's winners. Saw "Tsotsi" last night. What a film!

sasgirl said...

Lotus, how did you get tickets to the Making of a Bollywood Blockbuster! I'm so jealous!! :)

I tried buying tickets online but none were available.

Lotus Reads said...

Hola,sasgirl I was up early! ;) I booked my tickets at 7:00am as soon as the phone lines opened. I wsan't so lucky with "The Namesake" for when I tried calling back at 0730,the lines were jammed. Finally, I got tickets (online) for the afternoon show on the 13th.

I wish I had known you wanted to go, I would have happy to book for you and T.

Are you going to the Festival at all?

paris parfait said...

Oh, you are so lucky to be able to have first peek at these films! Do keep us posted on what you think of them.

Susan in Italy said...

The TIFF is supposed to be one of the world's greatest film fests, lucky you! I've heard of The Wind that Shakes the Barley and can't wait to see it. (Can never go wrong with Loach. Depressed, yes, but not wrong.) Just wondering if you fear disappointment at seeing films of books you read and loved.

Lotus Reads said...

I'd be glad to Parisparfait! :)

Hi, Susan! I believe it's the second biggest film festival after Caanes! I am usually very excited at the prospect of seeing a book turned into a film , but 9 times out of 10 I am disappointed. Recently I saw "Memoirs of a Geisha" and I could cried with disappointment. It certainly didn't do the book any justice. Nice question, thanks!

Angela in Europe said...

You are GOING????? Lucky you! I have always wanted to go to one of those things! You HAVE to post about it.

Susan Abraham said...

Happy cinematic pleasures, Lotus. Thanks for commenting on my blog as often as you do.
Here's looking forward to your next post.

monideepa said...

Hi Lotus,
Great blog. I'm adding to my blogroll of favourites. Will visit often.


Lotus Reads said...

Monideepa Thank you for visiting. I am going to include you on my blogroll, too, for I know I am going to enjoy being a regular visitor to your blog.

Bhaswati said...

What an enviable events calendar you're going to have, Lotus! Those films sound like chocolate for a movie lover, so I can imagine how much you are going to relish the cinematic feast.

Can we expect reviews after you watch them?

Lotus Reads said...

Suse, I hope you will remember your devoted book reviewer when you become a well-known writer! :)

Seriously tho', Suse, I am equally grateful for all your visits and wonderful comments! Thank you so much dearest friend!


Sweet Bhaswati Yes, I am kinda like a kid at the candyshop at the moment! :)) Certainly, I do intend reviewing some of the movies that impact me, however, not sure if I am going to do it on this blog or my "other" one!

Lotus Reads said...

Angela Thanks for stopping by!
One day I hope you will get to do Cannes, we can then compare notes! ;)

Susan Abraham said...

I don't know about being well-known, Lotus, but I'll say were my first blogger friend who understood me, accepted me for all my shortcomings and had my best interests at heart. And you've stayed for the long haul and been totally supportive. One friend should never forget another like that. Kick me if I do.
lots of love

Lotus Reads said...

Awww, Suse, stop that or you're going to make me cry!

*love ya lots*

Susan Abraham said...

Just testing, Lotus, for your other comment box. See this works fine. Do follow the instructions I sent you to fix your newest entry.

mad muthas said...

i'll take you recommendation of the ken loach - it's on just for one day at a small independent cinema here (stratford upon avon) - i'll let you know what i think. sometimes i find it a bit hard to get past ken loach's polemic - we'll see.

Lotus Reads said...

mad muthas Not having seen the movie myself, I'd be delighted to know what you think. I know the movie has played to an appreciative audience, both in Ireland and the UK but it has been savagely attacked by the right-wing press. I'd love to know what your take is on the film. Thanks for keeping me posted.

sruthi said...

when does the namesake come out? i remember reading that book a while ago and i liked it, although i enjoyed lahiri's interpreter of maladies more.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi sruthi Actually I'm not sure. They had their international premier in Toronto Monday night, and there is another screening tomorrow which I will be going to, but I have no clue when it will hit the theatres. Will let you know the minute I find out anything.

I've heard the "One Chicago, One Book" program has picked Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies" as their book of the month? Wonderful, don't you think?