Thursday, October 02, 2008

CIFF 2008 Summary

By the numbers..

  • I saw 18 films over 9 days -- I skipped the opening night gala of Blindness and saw no films on Wed, Sept 24.
  • I ended up seeing three films from Iceland as this year's Spotlight shone on that Northern European nation.
  • Saw single titles from the following countries -- Canada, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Italy, Macedonia, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Uruguay and USA.

  • Films in order of preference with some ratings --

  • Wonderful Town (2007, Thailand, Aditya Assarat): 10
    Gomorra (2008, Italy, Matteo Garrone): 10
    Children (2006, Iceland, Ragnar Bragason): 10
    Parents (2007, Iceland, Ragnar Bragason): 10
    Used Parts (2007, Mexico, Aarón Fernández): 9
    Alexandra (2007, Russia/France, Aleksandr Sokurov): 9
    One Week (2008, Canada, Michael McGowan): 8.5
    The Grocer's Son (2007, France, Eric Guirado): 8.5
    Let the Right One in (2008, Sweden, Tomas Alfredson): 8.5
    Corridor #8 (2008, Bulgaria, Boris Despodov): 8
    The Pope's Toilet (2007, Uruguay, César Charlone/Enrique Fernández): 8
    REC (2007, Spain, Jaume Balagueró/Paco Plaza): 8
    Paraiso Travel (2007, Colombia/USA, Simon Brand)
    Time to Die (2007, Poland, Dorota Kedzierzawska)
    Driving to Zigzigland (2007, Zigzigland, Nicole Ballivian)
    Jar City (2006, Iceland, Baltasar Kormákur)
    I am from Titov Veles (2007, Macedonia, Teona Strugar Mitevska)
    Alice’s House (2007, Brazil, Chico Teixeira)

    Favourites and overall comments:

    Thailand’s Wonderful Town was a refreshing film with its dreamy and relaxed feel. It was also the only film which provided me with a genuine satisfaction of having spent my time wisely. Other films that I appreciated were Gomorra, the Icelandic films of Ragnar Bragason (Children & Parents), One Week, Used Parts and Alexandra. Children & Parents were very well made considering the non-existent budget Ragnar had to work with. I also had high hopes for the Canadian film One Week and thankfully the movie delivered -- it was a genuine pleaser.

    There were quite a few films playing at the festival that I had seen previously or previewed. Of that bunch, I think the best film that played overall at CIFF this year had to be José Luis Guerín's beautiful En la ciudad de Sylvia. Also, close behind would be Reygadas' third feature Silent Light. Bill Plympton's wicked and dark animation Idiots & Angels is also worth the watch. There were plenty of excellent docs at this year's festivals with My Life Inside featuring a gut-wrenching topic & Meadowlark being a very brave personal journey by the director Taylor Greeson. Also, the Canadian doc Junior gives a rare insight into the cut-throat world of Canadian junior hockey. Many of the issues depicted in the film could easily apply to the professional world of the NHL.

    It was a great move on CIFF's part this year to book some screenings in a multiplex (Westhills 10) located in the suburbs. From the few screenings I attended there, people showed up in big numbers. On top of that, the French film The Grocer's Son played to a sold out show in this very multiplex hall on Sat, Sept 27. It was great to see people attending a foreign film in a hall that normally only plays Hollywood stuff. I just wish that more international and independent films are booked on multiplex screens across the country as opposed to having all the nation’s screens hogged by a few nonsense flicks.

    Even though I love film festivals, the idea of watching multiple films while working in a day job can become tiring very fast. This year was probably the first time I truly felt the strains, both physical and mental, of attending films while juggling everything else in my life. An ideal film festival viewing situation would involve the one I had in Vancouver last year when I was able to view 24 films over a 6 day period. It was tiring but being on vacation and dedicating all my energy into only seeing the films helped a lot. By the end of the 6 day period, I was knackered but I was still able to walk into each film with high spirits.

    Festival Diary

    Days 1-2

    Day 3, Day 4

    Days 5-7

    Days 8-9, Day 10

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