While a place to celebrate and explore international film, to showcase and discover, TIFF is also Canada’s chance to show to the world its own cinematic prowess. This year’s festival features plenty of homegrown features films as well as shorts, including a masterful documentary by Sarah Polley. Here is a look at a few pieces of Canadiana at TIFF this fall.
Stories We Tell
Sarah Polley’s second film this year is an incredibly intimate, deeply personal documentary about her family’s history and the nature of storytelling. An endeavor that simultaneously reveals the fascinating story held in the history of Polley’s family, nods at the potential stories within everyone’s own life, and confronts the relative truth in all story-telling, is an honest and sincere look at a world that everyone, for better or worse, sees and remembers differently. It is a story about a story, about how we tell stories, and about how we interpret the life we live and experience. Brilliantly told, Polley and her family opening up about their past, while Polley herself is candid about the limitations of human perception and the innate subjectivity of telling any story. Layered, humourous, sad, and smart, Stories We Tell is a must see.
Friday September 7 – The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema – 6:00 PM
Saturday September 8 – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 – 11:45 AM
The End of Time
A documentary by Torontonian Peter Mettler, this film challenges the perceived notion of time, subverting the norms of a traditional doc, and forcing the audience to wonder about their own existence. Though none of them are initially labeled, Mettler interviews physicists, astromers, squatters, a disc jockey, a Buddhist, and a man alone on a Hawaiian island, all of whom has specific concepts of time-or perhaps lack thereof. Face time for these people is interrupted throughout by scenes of weather and nature, sometimes ferocious and sometimes calm. The very open-minded among us may enjoy the film for the views it presents, but a problem with a film that challenges what you think about time may also make you think about the better things you could be doing with it.
Thursday September 6 – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 – 9:15 PM
Saturday September 8 – Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 2 12:15 PM
Canadian Kim Nyugen directs a story about a young girl, Komona, abducted from her family and home somewhere in Africa to become a child soldier of war. Given a gun, ordered to execute her parents, young girl is stolen away to the jungle, forced to live a life among rebels. Uncomfortably intimate and relatively restrained in the amount of bloodshed (there is much death, but the film treats life with respect), Rebelle tells adds layers to a sad story that exists in real life.
Komona soon learns she can communicate with the dead. It is a gift as much as a curse, for she is granted privileges among the depraved child warriors, while is plagued day and night by the ghosts of those murdered and trapped in limbo, including her parents. She second act finds Komona bonding with a boy soldier named Magicien, one with tricks and charm and gall, as the pair seeks freedom and any slight comforts and joy in life that they may have to look forward to. Komona narrates the film to her yet born child, asking her for forgiveness for the life she has been forced to lead. The story unravels as expected, with heartbreak and despair anticipated, but with the hopes that Komona, her voice soft and earnest, is speaking to us all from a place of comfort and peace.
Friday September 14 – Visa Screening Room (Elgin) – 9:00 PM
Saturday September 15 – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 – 3:00 PM
Deepa Mehta brings to live Salman Rushdie’s beloved novel about the magical simultaneous birth of a nation and a group of children. The lengthy, expansive, and lush film, covering six decades and four generations of people parallels the creation of young, optimistic Saleem, and the equally young, optimistic nation of India. It is indeed epic in scope and ambition, but those not familiar with either the novel or the history of India may not so much as lose their way in the journey as lose interest.
A strange combination of charm and discomfort permeate a film that is a beautifully written parable, but one that is difficult to actualize on the big screen. Saleem begins his story with by telling of his grandfather, with his unlikely romance leading to a series of the same. There are hints of magic and beauty, but Mehta does not embrace the grandiosity required to convey such a sweeping story. It becomes more a lengthy yet generic metaphor about life, instead of a rich, layered, and capricious story that is yearning to break free. It seems no easy task by any stretch, and in that, at least there is something to salvage, for the movie suffers from the same thing that plagues these so called children of midnight: dreams are often loftier than reality.
Sunday September 9 – Roy Thomson Hall – 6:30 PM
Monday September 10 – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 – 9:00 AM