Well it’s here. And it’s big. Massive in fact. There’s over 300 films at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, TIFF’s 39th kick at the burgeoning cinematic can. Hollywood might be staggering like a drunk at the end of a very long bender, but there’s a world of vibrant movies out there. And for the next eleven days, they’re all here in Toronto. I’ll be looking at a handful, a bagatelle, a mere soupçon, but to kick things off, have a trailer or two, and get ready to celebrate BM Day.
B what Day? You know it, kiddo. TIFF’s organizers have seen fit to dedicate Friday, September 5th to his Murrayness, first name Bill. Leading up to the world premiere of Theodore Melfi’s comedy St. Vincent, a trio of Murray classics will screen for free at the TIFF Bell Lightbox: Stripes, Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters. Tickets will be available for those freebies starting at 8am on September 5th from the TIFF Bell Lightbox box office. Even better, up to 40 fans who dress like a Bill Murray character for one of the three free screenings will win a ticket to the St. Vincent screening that evening. All the contest details are here. Organizers are even saying you never know who might show up for the Q&A.
The stars will be descending in force, and many of the films at the festival have directors and cast in attendance. Galas include Foxcatcher, the dark drama about two former Olympic wrestling champions (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) who become entwined in the tutelage of a neurotic millionaire (Steve Carell). The film comes from Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball), and it’s already generating significant buzz. Reese Witherspoon looks to give a powerhouse performance in Wild, from director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club). Adapted by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About A Boy) from Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir, the movie follows her on a 1,000 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, as she attempts to leave years of drug abuse and reckless sex behind. Bill Murray, for his part, anchors St. Vincent, the story of a cash-strapped, loose-living retiree who finds himself becoming an unlikely role model for his 12-year-old neighbour. The charming offbeat comedy also stars Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd and Naomi Watts as a scenery-chewing pregnant Russian prostitute. Click on the links for a full listing of Galas and Special Presentations.
That barely even scratches the surface of the surface. There’s Documentaries, Contemporary World Cinema, Masters, Mavericks and Discovery. Midnight Madness, where you can always find the terrifying, the gonzo and the offbeat. And there’s still more, experimental films, short films, family movies, and a spotlight on Seoul, Korea. I’ll be taking a special look at the Short Cuts Canada programmes over the next several days. So just to give you a feel for the scope of it all, here’s a great montage trailer that TIFF put together themselves. Because when you’ve got a lot to say, say it in a montage:
What’s most exciting about the festival is that all this activity shows how film can still surprise us. A great tentpole movie can shake you around like a giddy roller-coaster ride, but there’s such a range of human expression out there to be captured. TIFF brings in so many fans, each with their own take on what makes movies fun, and meaningful, and twisted, even all at the same time. Only at Midnight Madness could you find an idea as inspiringly deranged as Tokyo Tribe, a yakuza-street gang-hip hop-musical epic:
There. I bet you never even knew how much you wanted to see something just exactly like that. Now you do. TIFF says you’re welcome. “This is your film festival,” runs the TIFF tagline. With a world to choose from, how could it not be?
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from Thursday, September 4th to Sunday, September 14th. For all the info on films, tickets and more, see here.