TIFF14 Recap & JFL42 Forecast!

I am well aware of the fact that I have been neglecting my blog this summer, but I promise you that I was simply wary of posting when I didn't have very much to report! I am no longer in this position - not by a long shot.  I am currently detoxing from the madness of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, and the related internship I have just completed.

Last year I was lucky enough to see 5 films at the festival, and I intended to up my game this year by purchasing a 10-ticket pass.  However, I had the pleasure of interning with the entertainment branch of a news broadcaster here in the city, and so my time was rather limited! I still managed to see 3 very different films, from the local indie Backcountry (dir. Canadian TV favourite Adam MacDonald), French drama Girlhood (dir. Celine Sciamma) and no relation to Richard Linklater's hit this year, and finally from New Zealand, What We Do In The Shadows (dir. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi).

In terms of subject matter, these three films were worlds apart, which is exactly what I wanted.  Although supporting/creating/enjoying Canadian film & TV is practically my raison d'etre, when it comes to TIFF it's crazy not to see what other international filmmakers are coming up with.  The festival is such a perfect way to expand on your usual field of exposure, film-wise.

My interest in Backcountry was largely based on three people's involvement in it.  Adam MacDonald, from Rookie Blue and Being Erica, just to name a few projects, teamed up with friends to make this film - his first feature.  Missy Peregrym, also from Rookie Blue stars in Backcountry, and former Vampire High castmate Jeff Roop stars opposite Peregrym.  Roop has done many other things in the time since VH, but for me, having been a 9 year-old who was slightly in love with his character on that show, this is all that matters.  I found this film to be quite beautifully shot, and masterfully edited, albeit slightly traumatic.

Girlhood, also known as Bande des filles, was a spunky, spirited exploration of the narrow social roles in a suburb/banlieu of Paris, focusing in on the experience of one teenage girl, played by the largely inexperienced Kardija TourĂ©.  The film featured several standout scenes - long, single take dance parties, electrified by their realism and a fantastic soundtrack.

The film I was most excited for was Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi's mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows.  I actually hadn't even heard of it before the festival, and wasn't sure I was up for a vampire flick, however I found myself waiting in the cold outside the theatre for over an hour, hoping to get a rush ticket for it's Midnight Madness premiere.  Horror comedy is not usually my cuppa tea, but as a Flight of the Conchords fan, I had a feeling that even this genre would be safe in the hands of Clement.  I don't think I can even convey how hilarious the film was, or how overwhelmingly warm and raucous the audience reaction was.  I've already recommended this film to a few people, and lucky for us Canadians, it has already been picked up for Canadian distribution.

SO - where does that leave me? Floating in a quiet sea, a realtive calm before the storm.  The Toronto branch of Montreal's Just for Laughs festival, JFL42 begins later this week, and my first of 4+ shows is less than a week away! So far on the docket for me, are Mike Birbiglia, Chris D'Elia, Tim Minchin and Pete Holmes.  I'm an avid listener to Holmes and D'Elia's podcasts, and a huge fan of Birbiglia so this festival is a dream for me.  Using JFL42's credit system, I will check in at each show, and hopefully use my extra credits to catch Paul F. Tompkins and others! Thanks for a perfect birthday present, Mum!

Until then -

Alex