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Five Favourite Moments of TIFF 2014

by on 2014/09/28

Hacker Renders
I don’t know if it qualifies as a “guilty pleasure” exactly, but the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival was certainly a mixed-blessing experience.

We’ve both had some previous exposure to what I’ve never stopped thinking of as “The Festival of Festivals”. However, this was our first time being so involved, so immersed, so overwhelmed.

Over the course of two weeks, we went, we saw, we felt conquered. As a pair of avowed introverts, neither geek nor goth were entirely prepared for the lines, the waiting, or the socializing, but we managed to come away a bit wiser and refilled with fond memories nonetheless.

Here are just five . . .

October Gale (2014)Agnes Obel

In the midst of Ruba Nadda’s October Gale, a crane sweeps up dramatically to capture Patricia Clarkson riding a motorboat through Ontario’s cottage country. As the strains of Agnes Obel’s “Close Watch” swelled in the theatre, I found myself scrabbling for my phone. (I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing.) I frantically stabbed selected lyrics into a virtual notepad, resolved to locate this track. Striking an eerie balance between fragile and ominous, its clockwork rhythms and chord changes reveal a whole other angle on Johnny Cash, an artist I already adore.

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)Christopher Plummer

Can I just say “every word out of Christopher Plummer’s mouth”? The man may not (officially) be a stand-up comedian, but he’s a gifted observer, commentator, and raconteur. In the gathering after Hector and the Search for Happiness, his wit was sharper, darker, and more caustic than his featured character’s. I suspect, however, they might both agree on the latter’s conclusion, “We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but with the happiness of the pursuit.”

Don McKellarDon McKellar

To say that I’m an admirer of McKellar might be an understatement. And while that admiration doesn’t prevent my finding occasional fault with his writing, direction, or acting, it has also never wavered for nearly two decades. He is relentlessly interesting to me. So when I caught sight of him outside the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre, I pointed him out to Gru, marvelled at him being out enjoying the festival — not just promoting himself — and really thought very little more about it. At least until the audience spilled out the exit after the film, and I found myself face-to-face with the man himself, standing alone, nearly expectant, and I kind of lost my mind. “Mr. McKellar?” I said. “I just wanted to tell you how much your work has meant. Last Night, Twitch City, just amazing.” He shook my hand, demurring shyly, “Oh, thank you, thank you very much!” and I immediately regretted all the things I didn’t say. I’m not much for celebrities, but I’m big on modest geniuses.

TIFF (2014)Short Cuts

These were a lot of fun. Packed like a surprising picnic conducted over the span of a feature film, these anthologized shorts were very, very cool. Not everything was great, mind you, but fully half were, with the rest a mix of okay and, well, no comment. Ranging from arty to action-packed, at the least I was never bored. I thrilled to the adventures of an Inuit man, both hunter and hunted alike (Scott Brachmayer’s Kajutaijuq: The Spirit That Comes). I found myself gripped by domestic conflict in Alexander Farah’s Sahar. And I’m fairly sure we’ll be seeing a full(er) length version of Tony Elliott’s Entangled some day, a reality-bending thriller in the vein of Looper and Timecrimes.

TIFF Volunteers

I was struck by the number of advertisements loaded before each film. At one point I counted eleven. Crazy! But floating in that sea of self-promotion, I never stopped thrilling to one of the trailers, that recognizing, celebrating, and thanking the TIFF volunteers. While I personally would love to see a less mainstream, and more Canadian, motif, I can’t deny the thrill I get from this rapid-fire retro gut-punch.

Honourable Mention:
The double-smoked bacon at Paese on King near John!

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