Thursday, July 16, 2009

Black Sheep Previews: TIFF 2009

First of all, I am loving the new TIFF logo. The Toronto based film festival is rebranding itself and taking on its acronym as its actual name and intends to encapsulate the commitment to film that TIFF promotes all year round and not just during the festival. With the construction of the Bell Lightbox theatre, specially designed for the festival itself, underway, TIFF is looking to the future like never before. And speaking of the TIFF future, they have announced a handful of galas and special presentations for this year's programme and they have got this sheep very excited for what's in store. Now, all they have to do is let me in! Here is a peak of what's in store ...

TIFF has decided to open their festival with the world premiere of a controversial film, CREATION, from director, Jon Amiel. Paul Bettany stars as Charles Darwin and Jennifer Connelly co-stars as his devoted but deeply religious wife. Creationism is not a popular topic and therefore this is certain to draw attention. Meanwhile, TIFF is drawing a different kind of controversy for their decision. The opening film is ordinarily a Canadian production and I can see no Canadian tie to this film, especially if you compare it to last year's opener, Paul Gross's PASSCHENDAELE. Still, I don't mind one way or the other; I just want to see what the fuss is about.

Three of the announced galas are highly anticipated works, one of which is making its world premiere at TIFF. Steven Soderbergh's THE INFORMANT! stars Matt Damon as the aforementioned informant himself. After exploring the high class sex trade in his last film, THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, Soderbergh takes on the agricultural monopolies in this awards season hopeful. Jane Campion, (the Academy Award winning writer and nominated director of THE PIANO) brings her Cannes success, BRIGHT STAR, to North America. The film stars Ben Wishaw (I'M NOT THERE) as 19th century poet, John Keats, and explores his relationship with girlfriend, Fanny Brawn (Abbie Cornish) that was cut short by his early death at 25. And, after receiving the Audience Award, Grand Jury Prize and Special Jury Prize at Sundance earlier this year, the Oprah Winfrey/Tyler Perry backed PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE makes its way from Cannes to TIFF for its Canadian debut. A gala presentation at TIFF certainly puts this downer of a picture on track as a potentially serious contender at this year's Oscars.

And here's an intriguing selection ... French Nouvel Vague director, Alain Resnais, most famous for the classics, HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR (1959) and THE LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961), brings us his latest, LES HERBES FOLLES (WILD GRASS), as part of TIFF's Masters series. The film stars Mathieu Almaric (THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY) and centers around a wallet that is lost and then found. The one who lost it and the one who found it are now intrinsically linked.

More TIFF titles are to be announced shortly. For more information, be sure to check out the TIFF wesbite.

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