Monday, October 05, 2009

CIFF 2009, wrap-up

The 10th edition of CIFF ended up being the best programmed year in the festival’s history. I managed to catch 22 films over 9 days as I missed one day of film viewing. In fact, it has been a few years since I have managed to watch a film on each of the 10 days. My overall total number was less than I had hoped for but in the end, even getting to this total took a lot of effort. But I managed to do something that I have longed for a long time now -- watching 7 films in one day. A few years ago some festival programmers mentioned how they watched 7 films in a single day at TIFF. For me getting to that number appeared to be impossible as the maximum number of films that anyone could watch at CIFF and VIFF was 6 (I managed 6 at VIFF in 2007). This year, when the print of Cyborg She didn’t arrive on time for the wednesday night (Sept 30) screening, CIFF added a screening for that film at 10:45 am on saturday. I was already planning on watching 6 films that saturday and this additional screening gave me the perfect chance to hit 7. In the end, it was close as the 7th film was sold out and I just managed to snag one of the last few spots in the theater.

Best Films -- Canada, South Korea, Romania and France

Romania had a very strong showing at the festival with three excellent films. Police, Adjective is simply outstanding. Corneliu Porumboiu brings the same style of humour that he used in 12:08 East of Bucharest. In both films, the funniest moments arise while watching characters engaged in serious discussion; what is serious chatter for the characters is rich comedy for the audience. The Happiest Girl in the World is another interesting dry humour product from Romania. The entire film is essentially about a 35 second commercial but there is plenty of drama around filming that commercial such as the lead girl’s tussle with her parents, the production crew’s silliness, producer interference and the director’s struggle to maintain his view. Katalin Varga rounded out the trio of Romania’s strong candidates.

The Prophet is engaging and a delight to watch. The Korean film Breathless is easily one of the best films I have seen this year. The film manages to draw a direct line from domestic abuse to gangster violence. It is not an easy film to watch but it is also powerful, raw and just damn brilliant.

But...the best film of the festival for me was the Quebecois film I Killed my Mother. It is hard to believe that the director, Xavier Dolan, wrote this film when he was 17 and directed this at the age of 19. The topic of a teenager’s tussle with their mother is universal but Dolan shows plenty of maturity and intelligence in this outstanding debut feature.

22 precious films

All the films deserve a proper write-up but I am taking the easy way out and lining up the films in order of preference. The ratings are somewhat fluid as most films are quite good.

I Killed My Mother (2009, Canada, Xavier Dolan): 10/10
Breathless (2009, South Korea, Yang Ik-June): 10/10
Police, Adjective (2009, Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu): 10/10
The Prophet (2009, France, Jacques Audiard): 10/10
Katalin Varga (2009, Romania co-production, Peter Strickland): 9/10
Revache (2008, Austria, Goetz Spielmann): 9/10
The Happiest Girl in the World (2009, Romania co-production, Radu Jude): 9/10
Wrong Rosary (2009, Turkey, Mahmut Fazil Coskun): 9/10
Cooking History (2008, co-production, Peter Kerekes): 8.5/10
The White Ribbon (2009, co-production, Michael Haneke): 8.5/10
The Last Lullaby (2008, USA, Jeffrey Goodman): 8.5/10
Tetro (2009, USA, Francis Ford Coppola): 8/10
St. Nick (2009, USA, David Lowery): 8/10
White Night Wedding (2009, Iceland, Baltasar Kormákur): 7.5/10
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009, USA, Damien Chazelle): 7.5/10
Houston, We have a problem (2008, USA, Nicole Torre): 7.5/10
Crackie (2009, Canada, Sherry White): 7.5/10
Juntos (2009, Canada/Mexico, Nicolás Pereda): 7/10
Gigantic (2008, USA, Matt Aselton): 7/10
Daybreakers (2009, Australia, the Spierig brothers): 7/10
Cyborg, She (2008, Japan, Jae-young Kwak): 6/10
Seven Minutes in Heaven (2008, Israel, Omri Givon): 5/10

Festival Diary/Notes

Opening Day

Days 2-5

Days 6-8

Days 9-10


1 comment:

nitesh said...

That's hell lot of films to digest. I just wish Osian could bring few of these film this month. But they seem pretty dead, so I'm losing hope.