Forty years ago, the Toronto
International Film festival started as a Festival of Festivals (garnering the
best from festivals held worldwide). It was the inspired brainchild of three
intrepid movie buffs - Bill Marshall, Henk Van der Kolk and Dusty Kohl.
Today, TIFF is the world’s most talked about festival, bar Cannes, boasting a
diehard 500,000 attendees. The festival washrooms attest to this fact. It is
packed with ardent devotees carrying eye drops to better their vision. One with
reddened eyes told me worshipfully that she had seen six films that day.
Looking at the 40-year mile-stone, Festival Director Cameron’s laconic comment
is one of unbridled confidence. He said, "Yes, it could be middle age, but
it can also be that time when you're fully aware of who you are …”.
2015 Toronto certainly knows where it is as a world leader in cinema. In full
celebratory mood it has lined up as many as 399 films from 71 countries.
Surprisingly, unlike most opening films, the star-studded “Demolition” directed
by Jean-Marc Vallée, won all round approbation even from critics.
A pantheon of stars, big and small, walk the carpets and corridors of festival
theatres every day. Hollywood, in particular is prominent in Toronto, since its
status as the last top-notch festival of the year makes it the sure fire
indicator of films that qualify for the coming Oscars.
Midway through the festival, the Oscar hopefuls seem numerous in comparison to
previous years. So far tipped are “Freeheld” starring 2014 Oscar players
Julianne Moore (whose Academy Award-winning performance in “Still Alice”
premiered and was sold at last year’s TIFF), Ridley Scott’s “The Martian”
starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain; Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong
biopic “The Program” with Ben Foster; “The Lady In The Van” with Maggie Smith;
and Jay Roach’s “Trumbo” biopic on the famous screenwriter and Hollywood
blacklist victim Dalton Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston. All are world premieres
at TIFF. There is also Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl” with a transgender role
from Eddie Redmayne (who last year won the Oscar for “The Theory Of Everything”).
There are reassuring trends as well this year. Many of the filmmakers are
women, with some presenting their debut work. Many of the films are about
coping with ageing, such as the remarkable British film “45 Years” directed by
Andrew Haigh starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtney as an elderly couple
who weather a sudden challenge which threatens their relationship. Maggie Smith
calling out loud for an Oscar in the film “The Lady in the Van” where she plays
an elderly woman who chooses to live on the streets and Atom Egoyan’s brooding
“Remember” starring Christopher Plummer as a 90-year-old who escapes from his
nursing home on a revenge mission that harks back to the Nazi regime.
Toronto’s wide-ranging content has themes that are dark and disturbing but some
have the leavening touch of a quirky earthy humour, like the opening film
“Demolition”, Deepa Mehta’s “Beeba Boys” on gangster wars in Vancouver, and the
remarkable Australian film, “The Dressmaker” with Kate Winslet giving a robust,
winsome performance as a woman returning to the dingy village of her childhood
to unravel the truth about her cursed existence . Courtesy: http://thecitizen.in/ - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014.reproducing Uma da Cunha's column from the first edition