TIFF: Weekend #1

Callum Keith Rennie, far left; Sarah Polley, middle; Molly Parker, far right; and crew at the World Premiere of Trigger at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Well, weekend one of TIFF was quite eventful. Things got off to a bumpy start on Thursday when the train to Toronto pulled in to Union Station almost an hour and a half late and I arrived at my brother’s apartment shortly after 1 am. However, when my brother returned from the Gala of Score: A Hockey Musical and handed me a souvenir TIFF hockey puck, all was well.

My first screening on Friday wasn’t until 8:45 pm, so after picking up tickets, I walked around Yorkville to creep on celebs. My stalking began quite well. As I neared the Minto York, I walked right past Will Ferrell (he looks a lot older in person). Then, I saw a crowd gathered around the Intercontinental: apparently I just missed Jennifer Aniston. I stuck around for a while to see if anyone else showed up. After half an hour of waiting with the crowd, the only sighting was the guys from Fubar II. Meh. I left: off to the movies!

At the Premiere of A Night for Dying Tigers. From left: Kathleen Robertson, Leah Gibson, Lauren Lee Smith, Gil Bellows, Terry Miles (director), and John Pyper-Ferguson.
I began the festival with a Canadian feature, as one always should. The film was A Night for Dying Tigers, which is the feature debut of Terry Miles (who directed, wrote, shot, and edited the film). It’s about a dysfunctional family that reunites on the night before the oldest brother is to begin a five-year prison sentence. (Kind of like a Canuck 25th Hour.) Dying Tigers is pretty good for a first film, although it becomes overly dramatic as it goes along. The film is saved mostly by the strength of its ensemble cast, particularly its three leading ladies: Jennifer Beals, Lauren Lee Smith, and Kathleen Robertson. Some of the cast and crew stuck around for a Q&A afterwards, which was fun – especially due to the inanity of the questions asked by the audience.

On Saturday, I woke up with such excitement because my first movie of the day was the gala of Little White Lies. The movie started at 1:30. Being a keener, I got there before 11:30 to be near the front of the line, which would ensure that I’d get a great seat and an even better view of Marion Cotillard. When I arrived at Roy Thomson Hall, the volunteers hadn’t even finished setting up the velvet ropes for the ticket holders’ line. How awkward! I moseyed around a bit and then returned shortly thereafter to claim the front of the line. I was still the only one there and awkwardly stood by myself for about ten minutes before the latecomers arrived. Later, one of the volunteers came around and started bumping those who were first in line up to the main floor from the balcony. Fortune had taken a good turn... then it took a bad one.
At Little White Lies. Francois Cluzet, Marion Cotillard!, Gilles Lellouche, Guillaume Canet,  and TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey
Around 1:00, they started admitted people with Priority Seating into the theatre. By 1:30, they still weren’t letting us common folk enter. After about half an hour of seeing flustered guests harass the volunteers, someone came out and announced that there was a problem with the projector, but it was being fixed. Then I noticed that people were starting to exit the theatre…

La Marion!
They let us in around 2:15. At 2:30, Cameron Bailey, the co-director of TIFF, came onstage. He was quite embarrassed, but handled the situation well. He apologized for the delay and then brought out Guillaume Canet, the director of Little White Lies. Canet explained that he and the cast had flown in from Paris that morning only to discover that the projector at Roy Thomson Hall wasn’t able to play subtitles with their film. Canet then introduced the cast: Marion Cotillard was there, even more beautiful in person, so my three hours in line weren’t entirely wasted. Bailey then took over and announced that those in the audience who spoke French were welcome to stay and watch the movie right away, while everyone else could shuffle over to the Scotiabank theatre to watch the film with subtitles. I had a screening of Made in Dagenham at 6 at a theatre on Yonge Street: I knew I wouldn’t make both films, so I decided to put my high school French immersion skills to the test. I got the gyst of Little White Lies and enjoyed what I understood. It was fun and Marion Cotillard is great, but I need to see it again to give it a fair review. (I wasn’t even able to stay for the whole thing, anyways.)
I love that in my best picture of Sally Hawkins, she's sauntering past co-stars Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, and Jaime Winstone. (At the World Premiere of Made in Dagenham.)
I then met up with some friends at the Visa Screening Room for Made in Dagenham. The screening of Made in Dagenham made up for my frustrating afternoon. Made in Dagenham is a British film that tells the true story of Rita O’Grady, a Ford factory worker whose fight for equal pay resulted in substantial changes towards gender equality in the workplace. This hilarious movie is quite the crowd-pleaser. Sally Hawkins gives a terrific performance, as do Rosamund Pike and Miranda Richardson in supporting roles. Hawkins, Pike, and Richardson were present at the screening, so that was a treat.

Don Draper!
Made in Dagenham got out just in time for us to walk over to check out the red carpet for the gala of The Town back at RTH. The crowd was crazy! I made my way through
and Jen! (above the blurry fist on the left)
the mobs and got a glimpse of Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, and Blake Lively. I was pleased by the fact that out of all those stars, Jon Hamm got the biggest whoop-whoop from the crowd. Even though my pictures aren’t all that great, I’m including some pics of the red carpet just to give an idea of how exciting it was. The bad quality of the pictures is half the fun anyways. Not to mention that a picture of Don Draper’s forehead is better than no picture of Don Draper at all! I also didn’t realize that I have a picture of Jennifer Garner until I adjusted my pictures.

On Sunday, I went with my sister, my cousin, and her boyfriend to see Robert Redford’s The Conspirator. This was also pretty good. I don’t know if it’s the Best Picture contender people thought it would be, but it’s very well done and it raises a lot of important questions about society, the law, etc. and they do a good job of making it relevant. James McAvoy and Robin Wright are both great in the film, but my favourite part of the movie is its beautiful cinematography.

Unfortunately, Robert Redford didn’t show at the screening. I really thought he would, considering that the movie had premiered only the night before and directors often come to the second screenings even though the actors usually don’t. Furthermore, considering that he runs Sundance, I assumed Redford would be eager to be more involved in the festival. Maybe he had a previous engagement.

After that, my sister and I met up with our brother, who is doing an internship with the Canadian Film Centre (CFC). The CFC held its annual barbeque yesterday and we got in for the tail end of it. It was a nice swanky party and I got to gawk at Paul Haggis and Sarah Clarke (24)… I just realize now that I left my swank bag in Toronto. Damn!
Sarah Polley, Hard-workingProduction Staff x2, Molly Parker. (At Trigger)
Once we left the BBQ, I made my way back downtown to the opening screening at the new, beautiful, and extremely comfortable TIFF Bell Lightbox. Trigger was chosen to open the new home-base for TIFF. I was especially excited for this film because a friend of mine worked on it and a few of us got to be extras in the concert scene. (I wasn’t able to spot myself in the movie, but I did spot Ellen Page making her way to a seat in the theatre.) Trigger was the perfect movie to open the Bell Lightbox, since it was such an important project to so many people in the Toronto film industry. Trigger is the final performance by the late Tracy Wright, and the production of the film was fast-tracked to give her the opportunity for one last great lead.
Director Bruce McDonald, Molly Parker, and writer Daniel MacIvor
The movie was absolutely wonderful: it was both funny and touching. Wright and co-star Molly Parker had wonderful chemistry together and do a great job riffing off one another in the film. Wright was especially good. The screening ended perfectly with the crowd giving Trigger a standing ovation – people seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the film. The cast did a nice (and emotional) Q&A after the film. Trigger was definitely the highlight of my weekend.
Actor Lee Jung-Jae and Jeon Do-youn, and director Im Sang-Soo
My last screening of the weekend was the gala of The Housemaid. My brother couldn't attend the screening of Trigger, so he was able to procure a prime spot in line and got our tickets upgraded. In line, we met a group of extremely friendly ladies who have been doing the festival for years. They regaled us with fun stories about seeing great movies together, and meeting Michael Douglas (one of them made sure to note her disapproval that she observed Catherine Zeta-Jones did not have a pedicure…). I hope my friends and I are that cool twenty years from now.
Jeon Do-youn (and TIFF translator)
Anyways, the subtitle kerfuffle at Roy Thomson Hall was fixed, which I really appreciated considering The Housemaid is in Korean, and my Korean is 'somewhat' rustier than my French. We all enjoyed this artful erotic thriller from Korea.  Simply put, The Housemaid is a great film. It’s highly engaging, has great performances (especially Do-youn and the actress who plays Mrs. Cho, the elder housemaid), and has a really neat visual scheme.
Full reviews of movies will come later. Next week, I’ll be returning to T.O. for weekend #2, which should be  another busy (but fun) three days with screenings of Sarah’s Key, The Whistleblower, Rabbit Hole, Last Night, Love Crime, and … Black Swan!!! My brother was also a trooper and exchanged my Little White Lies ticket for a pair of tickets to the last screening of Late Autumn (starring Tang Wei from Lust, Caution). I’m glad everything worked out and hopefully I’ll be able to see Little White Lies soon if and when it comes to theatres…hopefully with subtitles.