Tuesday, October 05, 2010

CIFF 2010, Sept 23-Oct 3

Another wonderful film festival edition comes to an end!! I am very happy with the quality of films shown and even more delighted that I managed to achieve a few personal targets at this year's festival.

1) Gala duck broken

Previously, I always missed out on attending any of the gala films. But this time around, I attended 3 gala films -- the opening gala (Score: A Hockey Musical), black carpet gala (I Spit on Your Grave) and the closing gala (The Last Rites of Ransom Pride).

2) Everyday is film day

Finally I managed to watch at least one film on all the festival days. That is 11 straight days of film watching including the Gala premier on Sept 23.

3) Striking 30

I had wanted to reach the target of seeing 30 films for a few years now but for a variety of reasons, I was never able to come close. Thankfully this year I was able to meet the target of 30 and then promptly went home after the 30th film ended and skipped out on #31 because I was plain exhausted. The tally of 30 easily surpasses my previous feeble total of 22 set in both 2006 & 2009.

4) The plan stays strong

As soon as the lineup was announced, my shortlist featured 19 titles that I wanted to see. As it turned out, it was only possible for me to see 18 of those titles due to a timing clash with two films (The Light Thief vs Snow and Ashes). But in the end, I managed to see all the 18 titles from that list.

30 Films

Score: A Hockey Musical (2010, Canada, Michael McGowan)
The Illusionist (2010, UK/France, Sylvain Chomet)
Freetime Machos (2009, Finland/Germany, Mika Ronkainen)
Armadillo (2010, Denmark, Janus Metz Pedersen)
Secret Reunion (2010, South Korea, Jang Hun)
Heartbeats (2010, Canada, Xavier Dolan)
The Happy Poet (2010, USA, Paul Gordon)
A Screaming Man (2010, Chad/Belgium/France, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun)
Nora's Will (2008, Mexico, Mariana Chenillo)
The Sentimental Engine Slayer (2010, Mexico/USA, Omar Rodriguez Lopez)
Small Town Murder Songs (2010, Canada, Ed Gass-Donnelly)
Certified Copy (2010, France/Iran/Italy, Abbas Kiarostami)
Curling (2010, Canada, Denis Côté)
Incendies (2010, Canada, Denis Villeneuve)
A Simple Rhythm (2010, Canada, Tess Girard)
Rec 2 (2009, Spain, Jaume Balagueró/Paco Plaza)
Faith, Fraud & Minimum Wage (2010, Canada, George Mihalka)
A Film Unfinished (2010, Israel/Germany, Yael Hersonski)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010, Thailand co-production, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
I Spit on Your Grave (2010, USA, Steven R. Monroe)
Red White & Blue (2010, USA, Simon Rumley)
A Place Called Los Pereyra (2009, Canada/Argentina, Andrés Livov-Macklin)
Journey’s End (2010, Canada, Jean-François Caissy)
Valhalla Rising (2010, Denmark/UK, Nicolas Winding Refn)
The Last Rites of Ransom Pride (2010, Canada, Tiller Russell)
Mutant Girls Squad (2010, Japan, Noboru Iguchi/Yoshihiro Nishimura/Tak Sakaguchi)
A Brand New Life (2009, France/South Korea, Ounie Lecomte)
I Am Not Your Friend (2009, Hungary, György Pálfi)
The Light Thief (2010, Kyrgyzstan co-production, Aktan Abdykalykov)
New Low (2010, USA, Adam Bowers)

Words on pause

A lot of the films deserve longer write-ups but those comments will have to wait for another day as I am still trying to cope with return to normalcy post film festival. The films that really stood out from the last 4 days were Uncle Boonmee.., I Spit on Your Grave, Valhalla Rising and The Light Thief. Three of these films will most likely join Certified Copy, The Illusionist, Incendies, A Screaming Man, Heartbeats, Curling and Nora's Will as the 10 best films seen during the festival.

Overall, these 10 quality films still fall short when compared to the amazing quartet of this year’s Maverick films Manuel di Ribera, The Intern, R and The Robber. It may be hard to believe but I found Manuel di Ribera superior to Uncle Boonmee even though most likely no one will hear or even see Manuel di Ribera.

Number crunching

I saw 16 films during the first 7 days and 14 films over the last 4. That is just way too many films considering that I didn't take any days off from work during the festival. Reaching 30+ films at CIFF is much harder to do than at TIFF, VIFF or Rotterdam because on average CIFF only has 2-3 films on weekdays unlike the 5-7 films that show ever day at TIFF, VIFF and IFFR. CIFF only has 2 evening shows on Monday/Tuesday and 3 shows from Wed-Friday as the midnight feature slot is added. On weekends, one can watch 5-7 movies at CIFF. So that means, one has to watch a healthy dose of 4-5 films on the weekends along with at least 2 films on weekdays to make their target of 30 films at CIFF. That leaves very few free slots and requires a proper discipline. Whereas one can easily make 30 at TIFF, VIFF and Rotterdam in under a week. For example, I saw 24 films in just 5 days at VIFF 2007.

A few years ago, CIFF experimented with some afternoon shows (4 pm) but those extra shows have not happened for the last 2 editions. This year, CIFF did add 1-2 free afternoon screenings (12 pm & 2 pm) on weekdays plus there was an additional 4:45 pm show of A Film Unfinished on the final Friday. So in theory if someone was bold enough to see everything that CIFF showed, then they could have easily crossed 40. I don’t know anyone who has crossed that threshold. I know a few cinephiles who average 36-37 films at CIFF every year. This year, a regular festivalgoer was finally about to shatter 40 but in the end got tired and settled back on 37. Another long time CIFF attendee claims that no one will break his record of 39.

My target of 30 was a long time goal but after getting a pounding headache and exhausted eyes, I won't ever try to reach this number again. Like the 7 films-in-a-day in 2009, this 30 film number was a one-time target. Also, seeing these many films in a movie theatre makes me appreciate watching movies in the comfort of my home even more. Sure watching films in a cinema is a great experience but if only done in moderation, just like everything else. For the rest of the year, I am more than happy to soak in cinematic works in front of a tv or even on a laptop (gasp, the sacrilege...). Theaters can try as many gimmicks to attract audience but they will never be able to achieve the comfort that one has in their home.

Festival diary/notes

Days 1-7

Post Festival

My backlog of regional & directorial film spotlights are still waiting for me but I need atleast one film free week before I return to them. I have to finish my Spotlight on India and then start my Spotlight on China after that.

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