TIFF 2019 half a festival – Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) came to an end this Sunday. This time there was no official award ceremony as in previous years. In fact, one of the oddities of the event is that most of the big stars –Meryl Streep, Daniel Craig, Joaquin Phoenix, Penelope Cruz, just to name a few– visited the city during the first five days of the festival. Indeed, the most expected films are also shown during that time. This peculiarity in the scheduling results in a fast exodus of most large production and distribution companies which only stay during the first half of TIFF. Even a large segment of the journalists covering the event also leave before the end of the festival. It seems that despite all the glamour, the film industry is also watching the bottom line: the costs involved in all of this.
And the business aspect was an important component, particularly during the industry talks. Streamers such as Netflix are seen by many as a threat to movies screening in theatres. But according to a report by the trade magazine “Screen” the chiefs of the most prestigious film festivals, Cannes, Toronto, Venice, Berlin, all agree that “streaming companies and cinema exhibitors can easily complement each other” and that the film exhibition format “is alive and well.”
Despite this view that downplays conflicts between the two platforms, Cineplex, owner of the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, one of the venues used by the festival, refused to show movies for which Netflix or Amazon has North American rights. That would be in contravention of Canada’s regulation stipulating that films could only be shown in other platforms after 90 days of their theatrical release. Although this impasse didn’t cause any significant disruption –films were shown at another venue– it illustrates that the relationship between exhibitors and streamers still has tensions.
THE AWARDS – TIFF 2019 half a festival
Although TIFF is not a competitive event, there are some prizes in various categories.
“Martin Eden” an Italian film directed by Pietro Marcello, won the award in the Platform category. The movie has been bought so it would eventually be released in theatres. A jury formed by critics affiliated at FIPRESCI (International Federation of Cinema Critics) awarded their distinctions to “Murmur” by Heather Young (Canada) in the Discovery category, and to “How to Build a Girl” by Coky Giedroyc (U.K.) in the Special Presentations category.
The City of Toronto prize for best Canadian opera prima went to Matthew Rankin’s “The Twentieth Century” while the Canada Goose prize for best Canadian feature was given to Quebecer Sophie Deraspe’s “Antigone.”
Then, there were the prizes given by popular vote: Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” (U.S.A.), a sarcastic look at Hitler as the imaginary friend of a socially-awkward boy, was the most popular film. “The Platform” by Spanish director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia was the most popular film in the Midnight Madness section, devoted to horror and fantasy movies. The most popular documentary film was “The Cave,” directed by Syria’s Feras Fayyad.
In a previous article, I already chose what, in the opinion of this critic, were the best six movies. I complete the list with “Nobadi” by Karl Marcovics (Austria), a dark comedy-drama touching issues of migration, distrust, and solitude. “Guest of Honour” by Atom Egoyan (Canada), a sombre and well-structured story of family secrets and the complicated relationship of a father and his daughter. “The Personal History of David Copperfield” (U.K.) by Armando Ianucci which presents Charles Dickens’ classic in a very original manner, for one thing, Indian actor Dev Patel plays the leading role. Among other international features, two films from Latin America are particularly remarkable: “Chicuaretes” (Mexico) the second take at directing by Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal and an incisive incursion into the marginalized lives of many young people. “Ema” by Pablo Larrain (Chile) deals with another case of marginalization, but in this case, that of a young dancer facing her failed attempt at adopting a child. In the documentary category Patricio Guzman’s “The Cordillera of Dreams,” his third installment in a series portraying social and political issues against the backdrop of Chile’s geography is certainly notable for its poetic imagery. The historical drama “While at War” (Spain) directed by Alejandro Amenabar, delivering a portraying Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno, and his indecisions at the time of the fascist uprising that triggered the Civil War.
AND FROM HOLLYWOOD – TIFF 2019 half a festival
“Hustlers” directed by Lorene Scafaria has already been released in Montreal, then I will only say that is worth seeing it. It has its funny parts but is also a severe commentary about society. “Abominable” an animation movie directed by Jill Culton to be released on September 27, is also recommendable. Suitable for kids and adults.
Feature image: Inspired by a real story, “Hustlers” maintains a good balance between comedy and drama, in the picture, strippers Destiny (Constance Wu) and Ramona (Jennifer Lopez)
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