Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

September 3, 2013

CALLERI: The Toronto Film Festival begins its yearly dance in the spotlight

Niagara Gazette — For many motion picture studio executives, and probably quite a few directors, screenwriters, actors, and actresses, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is where they hope their movies will begin the march to Oscar glory. Over the years, a good number of films earned early accolades at Toronto, not the least of which was "The Artist" from 2011, which roared into the festival fresh from surprising everyone at Cannes. The movie stunned them in Toronto. At that time, I said on the radio that "The Artist" could be the big winner at the 2012 Academy Awards. It was.

This year, Cannes has delivered another must-see from France, "Blue Is The Warmest Color," a drama about one woman's sexual awakening with another. For the first time in its history, the Cannes Festival jury award three grand prizes. The Palme d'Or for Best Film went to the director Abdellatif Kechiche, but, in a groundbreaking decision, it was also awarded to both actresses in the movie, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. The picture will have its North American premiere at TIFF.

The Toronto Film Festival is noteworthy for its being a movie marathon. Now in its 38th year, nothing has changed. As it enters its first weekend, the 11-day event, which runs through Sept. 15, will showcase 366 movies, 288 of which are full-length features, with 146 of those being world premieres. 70 countries are represented. Critics and entertainment reporters have it especially difficult because in addition to seeing films, there are also 23 official festival press conferences given by the biggest stars and most important directors, as well as studio interview possibilities with hundreds of players and personalities.

TIFF truly does begin the fall season of high-caliber movies, not to mention films that studio chiefs think are high-caliber. Many fall by the wayside. Those of us who report on the festival can only do our best when it comes down to the main reason for attending, which is seeing movies. Upwards of as many as 10 different films might be showing at either press or public screenings at the exact same time. And that's all day, every day, hour after hour. You make your selections and hope they are good ones. My personal record is seeing six movies in a single day. I began with a film at 9:00 a.m., and finished with a midnight movie. Did I eat? Well, if you consider consuming slice after slice of lemon poppyseed cake from a bakery eating, I did.

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