By twhalliii | THE BACK ROW MANIFESTO by Tom Hall September 19, 2005 at 3:53AM
Arrived back in NYC late Saturday afternoon and after a nice dinner, collapsed into a deep, refreshing sleep. I didn't want to sum up my Toronto Film Festival experience this year before taking a day of repose to get my head together, but now that I have, I think this year's event was, for me, a challenge of self-control mingled with a minor sense of disappointment. That is not to say the festival itself didn't have several exceptional films; from everything I've heard and read, there were really great films to be seen. And in many cases, I saw some great films. But most of what has risen to the critical surface, unfortunately for me (or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it), is playing in this year's New York Film Festival, so I stayed away from all of the films that I knew I would be seeing here at home. That list (Cach�, TheSun, Tristram Shandy, Les Amants Reguliers, L'Enfant, Manderlay, The Squid and The Whale, Capote, Paradise Now, The President's Last Bang, Gabrielle, Three Times, Sympathy for Lady Vengance, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Breakfast on Pluto, and Bubble) makes for one exceptional film festival in and of itself. When you add in the films I was interested in that have or will have a domestic US release (Oliver Twist, A History of Violence, Corpse Bride, and Brokeback Mountain), it's almost like I wasn't in Toronto at all.
Can't Get You Outta My Head: The Ever-Haunting 2005 TIFF Poster
When you put together a festival as ambitious and important as the one in Toronto, with several programmers working in several programming categories, you almost feel that the festival can be all things to all people. The festival is as broad as can be, from the Masters section (featuring new work by longtime filmmakers) to Midnight Madness and everything in between. That said, there are so many films packed in so tightly that by the end of the festival, I spend more time cursing what I missed than praising what I saw and enjoyed. Even the screening of a film I loved can be erased by the unknown pleasures of a potentially great film never seen. And so, when leaving Toronto, I felt more than a little compromised. Sure there were wonderful screenings of Un Couple Parfait, The Wayward Cloud, Twelve and Holding, 51 Birch Street and Into Great Silence to remember. There were surprises, like Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan which has lingered with me all weekend. And in the end, that is more than enough. But until the staff at TIFF decide to spread out the Press and Industry screenings by featuring bigger films later in the week and running the screenings into the late evening (so few 10:00pm screenings? Who cares about parties? I party all the time anyway... I want films!), Toronto may always feel like a festival where I'll never know how great it was, or could have been. But that's ok, because like any festival, you have to choose your own path. Kudos to the TIFF for a great event.
NYFF press screenings start tomorrow (for me, anyway) and I'll try to keep up with my two-a-day screening schedule and post as often as possible. Time to catch up on some rest.