What I Saw at TIFF 2018

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The Toronto International Film Festival is over for another year. I am happy to say that the films I saw this year were better than what I had seen over the past few years. The selection process is always difficult. Once you come up with the films to see you have to put them in a schedule and hope by the time that your redemption window arrives that you get want you want. I had purchased the Regular Flex Pack (10 tickets) in the spring. Unfortunately I had more films on my list than tickets so I did not get to see everything that I wanted.

What I saw:

Let Me Fall

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema

The Hate U Give

If Beale Street Could Talk

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

ROMA

The Joy Luck Club

Shoplifters

Ash is the Purest White

<<No spoilers>>

The Directors

Every year when I look back at the films that I selected there seems to be a common theme. This year I selected films based on the past work of directors.

I loved Moonlight and wanted to see Barry Jenkins follow up film If Beale Street Could Talk. The film is based on the novel by James Baldwin’s novel by the same name. Another beautiful film of black love with leads Stephan James and Kiki Layne. In this film I felt like music was also a character.

A few years ago in the festival I saw the film Mommy by Xavier Dolan. That was my favourite film that year. The Death and life of John F. Donovan is his first english language film wth Kitt Harrington (Jon Snow for Game of Throne Fans) who plays an actor and the mother and son relationship between Natalie Portman and Jacob Tremblay. This was one of my least favourite films this year. The story did not work for me. I am curious to know what Jessica Chastain’s role was in the film was was edited out.

I saw the trailer ROMA which was in black and white and I knew I had to see the film even though it was going to be on Netflix. The film was directed by Alfonso Cuarón. All I am going to say is that the opening sequence  made me curious to see how the film was going to progress.

Books on Film

Earlier this year I read the book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The film stars Amandla Stenberg who plays Starr Carter the main character in the book. I was quite impressed with the performance with Amanda Stenberg. She is definitely one to watch. When a book is turned into a film sometimes they don’t always get it right. I have to say they got it right.

Wow

The first film that I saw of the festival was a film from Iceland called Let Me Fall. It was on the first night of the festival so I was attending the film after a long day of work. My goal was not to fall asleep. At the end of the film I thought “wow”. This is a great way to start the festival. What a powerful film. The film is about two teenage girls and their addiction from teenagers to adulthood.

Disappointment

There is always a film that you have to decide while watching should I leave early. Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema is a documentary about female filmmakers. I am not sure how you can make a documentary about filmmaking boring. What was shown was 4 hours of what is going to be a 16 hour documentary. You know a film is not good when people leave the theatre and they left theatre at my screening. The narration by Tilda Swinton was too much.

I am still unsure how I feel about the film Ash is the Purest White. I was expecting a crime drama, but it turned out to be a love story.

Highlight

One of my favourite moments in the festival was the 25th anniversary screening of The Joy Luck Club at the Elgin theatre. After the screening was a Q & A with the director Wayne Wang and cast members Tamlyn Tomita, Tsai Chin, and Kieu Chinh Nguyen. I have not seen The Joy Luck Club in probably over 20 years and it still had the impact on me. I was ugly crying.

Surprise

The film Shoplifters was on all of the lists of films to see at TIFF this year. I saw it on my last day of the festival. It is one of those films that you want to see again after watching. It was also a side of Japanese society that I had not seen depicted on screen before.

Wrap Up

This year I noticed that most of the films that I saw did not have Q&A’s which can be so enlightening. When do you ever get a chance to hear the director or actors talk about the creating of the film and what it meant to them? Only three of the nine films that I saw had Q&A’s – If Beale Street Could Talk, Let Me Fall and The Joy Luck Club. Unfortunately, I did not get to stay for the Q&A for If Beale Street Could Talk because I had plan to meet a friend for lunch. That sucks!!!

THE GROLSCH PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD

Winner: Peter Farrelly’s Green Book

First runner-up: Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk

Second runner-up: Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA

Until next year – September 5 to 15, 2019

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