Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Black Sheep previews: TIFF 2010

A couple of weeks ago, when I returned home after missing a flight to New York City (long story, very long), I opened my inbox to find an e-mail from an editor I have worked with before, responding to an inquiry I had put to her.  She informed me that she would indeed be interested in sending me to the Toronto International Film Festival to cover it for the magazine.  The only obstacle ahead of me, as I have already booked off a good chunk of the month of September to devote to this, is getting accredited.  I have been rejected the last two years but, according to my editor, this one should be a "slam dunk".  I am hesitant to start celebrating right this moment but it's a lot closer to a "Yes!" than I usually get.

Yesterday, TIFF announced it's first slate of films that will be presented in both Gala and Special Presentation at the 35th anniversary edition of the much-loved festival.  Altogether there were 15 Galas and 35 Special Presentations, 25 of which are world premieres.  Being accredited at TIFF will mean access to interviews with the 100's of filmmakers and celebrities who come through Toronto each year, as well as access to the dozens of films that will be presented.  It may even give me access to the parties!  Naturally, people have started asking if I can bring guests.  I must remind you, and myself apparently, that I still don't have accreditation but in the meantime, I can dream about seeing these films and experiencing them TIFF styles.

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
North American Premiere
Starring Javier Bardem

After directing what is affectionately known as "The Death Trilogy" - AMORES PERROS21 GRAMS and BABEL - Alejandro González Iñárritu returns with BIUTIFUL and he isn't the least bit perkier.  Javier Bardem, who already won an acting award for this performance at Cannes, stars as a man in downfall, who can sense the danger of death looming and that must find redemption by going to darker places first.  What will certainly be a visual feast sounds as though it could be a philosophical one as well.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
North American Premiere
Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder

This picture is already slated for a premiere in Venice just weeks before screening at TIFF but those of us who cannot afford the price of a gondola will be waiting patiently for it's North American premiere.  Natalie Portman as a ballerina with the NYC ballet, caught in a heated rival with a fellow dancer.  In any lesser hands, it could just be catty but this is Darren Aronofsky - the man who gave us REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and THE WRESTLER.  After the latter floored me for being such a departure, I cannot wait to see where he is going next.

Directed by Derek Cianfrance
Canadian Premiere
Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

I can't say I've ever heard of Derek Cianfrance or seen anything he has done.  No disrespect meant.  That said, when the two leads in your film are the incredibly understated and ego-free actors, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, I cannot help but pay very close attention.  Told in past and present moments, BLUE VALENTINE looks at love lost and found as two lovers fight for their relationship one last time.

Directed by Mark Romanek
World Premiere
Starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightly

Who doesn't love a good boarding school love triangle?  Who doesn't love it even more when the girls on either side are two of Britain's most talented young ladies, Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightly?  Sure the new Spider-man (Andrew Garfield) is the guy they're fighting over but this one is all about the ladies.  Music video director, Mark Romanek, tries his novice hand at directing feature films again with NEVER LET ME GO and from the looks of the trailer, he has learned that story can serve you just as much as style, if not even more.

Directed by Woody Allen
North American Premiere
Starring Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin and Naomi Watts

I don't know if Woody Allen plans on attending TIFF but if he does and if I can actually get an interview with the man, I may pee when I meet him.  He is one of my all time favorite directors.  ANNIE HALL is my all time favorite film.  I see everything he makes .. Ok, maybe not everything.  You can tell when Woody is a little bit off course and that's pretty much what people have been saying about YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER since it debuted at Cannes this spring.  I do not care though.  Any movie that makes it even remotely possible to meet this man is a great movie in my books.

Look for plenty more TIFF coverage to come in the weeks leading up to the festival, which runs from September 9 to 19.  For more information, visit

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