To TIFF or Not to TIFF
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs for 10 days, beginning the Thursday after Labour Day. I’m not a big movie watcher normally, but I go to see documentaries and foreign films that may not show again in Toronto. I also enjoy listening to the producers, directors and actors discuss the behind the scenes part of making the movie.
Every year, I put together an article highlighting the “business lesson” / “theme” for the year. If I get enough “business” from TIFF, I figure that I can justify it as business instead of vacation time.
This year, the theme was Perspective. Many of the movies I saw either featured two characters with very different view points (e.g. The Two Popes) or presented a position that I hadn’t considered before (e.g. Judy and The Birds Rained Down).
In life and in business, being aware that the person that you are talking to has a different idea or perspective from you, often changes your conversation.
Let me start with a movie that was produced by Netflix, so keep your eyes open for it. It's called The Two Popes and is about a series of fictional conversations between Pope Benedict (a conservative) played by Sir Anthony Hopkins and Pope Francis (a person who believes in change) played by Jonathan Pryce. In life, everything is constantly changing and evolving and it's how you adapt that matters. This movie shows how people and norms evolve over time.
Judy (general release date was Sept. 27, 2019) is mostly about the last year of Judy Garland’s life and her concert series in London. This is a heart-rending adaptation of Peter Quilter's stage play End of the Rainbow, featuring Renée Zellweger as Judy. Like many of you, I've read and seen many stories about her. Did you know that she went out of her way to be kind to her support staff? This one is mostly from her fictional perspective and left me feeling sad for her - so it changed my perspective.
And the Birds Rained Down is a film out of Quebec and it should have at least limited distribution in Canada. It is based on the book by Jocelyne Saucier and is the story of 3 hermits living in the bush. It is a fascinating take on aging and self-determination. I plan to read the book, something I rarely do after I’ve seen a movie (I prefer to read the book first). Acclaimed director Louise Archambault's film depicts three aging hermits in the Quebec countryside whose defiant need to live independently is increasingly endangered by nature, old age, infirmity and 2 women (a young photographer and an aging women - who ran away from a seniors residence). I can’t say anything else, or I may ruin it for you.
The Perfect Candidate is about a female doctor in Saudi Arabia and her accidental foray into running for political office. It talks about the changing norms in the country as well as how people change and adapt over time. Frustrated with the limits placed upon her, because of her gender, a small-town Saudi doctor takes matters into her own hands and runs for local council (almost accidentally). The lesson from this movie? Changes are occurring all around us and we need to continuously adapt.
The final movie I’m going to highlight is Black Bitch – the story of an Australian Indigenous politician (Deborah Mailman) who is recruited to the senate by the Australian Prime Minister (Rachel Griffiths) after a contentious video goes viral. This movie highlights the complexities of political change and how looking at a problem from a different perspective can make all the difference to the end result.
All the movies I saw this year were excellent and everyone had a Q & A afterwards. These sessions give you a glimpse into the process of the making of the film and / or the importance of the film to the producer, director and actors. It’s one of the highlights of going to TIFF.
If you’ve never attended, put it into your calendar for next year
TIFF Award winners for 2019
THE GROLSCH PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
Second runner-up: Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite
THE GROLSCH PEOPLE’S CHOICE MIDNIGHT MADNESS AWARD
THE GROLSCH PEOPLE’S CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARD
Second runner-up: Bryce Dallas Howard’s Dads
TORONTO PLATFORM PRIZE
THE PRIZE OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FILM CRITICS (FIPRESCI PRIZE)
Winner – Discovery Programme: Heather Young’s Murmur
NETPAC AWARD - Winner: Oualid Mouaness’ 1982
IWC SHORT CUTS AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM
IWC SHORT CUTS AWARD FOR BEST SHORT FILM
Honourable Mention: Federico Luis Tachella’s The Nap
CITY OF TORONTO AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FIRST FEATURE FILM
CANADA GOOSE® AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM