TIFF my day four and wrapping it up…

I know I’ve got a doc about John Waters on my shelf at home so I was surprised to see This Filthy World pop up in the festival program. But, as soon as I walked in I knew what I was in for, 90 minutes of listening to John Waters talk about his movies and his take on the world. It’s a fun romp, although the editing is a bit disjointed at points. I enjoy one-man shows, stand up comedy and spoken word, but I always find it a bit odd when it ends in the documentary sidebar. The film is directed by Jeff Garlin best known as Larry David’s manager on Curb Your Enthusiasm and is produced for Red Envelope Entertainment a division of Netflix.

To balance out my funtime with John Waters I went to see The Prisoner Or: How I Planned To Kill Tony Blair by Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein. It showed with James Longley’s (Iraq in Fragments) short doc Sari’s Mother. Both are difficult films to process and I don’t know how effective a pairing it was, although I think it’s always hard to put a longish short in front of a shortish feature. It’s a programming issue because if people are paying to see a movie they want at least 80 minutes of programming. The Prisoner is a good film, but it’s 54 minutes, what can you do? Anyway, the film is Tucker and Epperlein’s follow up to Gunner Palace. It follows the story of an Iraqi journalist who is wrongly accused of being an insurgent in a plan to kill Tony Blair. The film uses comic book style animation to brighten up an otherwise bleak and disturbing story.

I wanted to see more movies, but I couldn’t stay awake. I went to this party for European Film thingee at the Versace store. It was weird and it brought out all the Eurotrash wearing their crazy costume jewelery. Did I mention the party was in a clothing store?! Luckily I met some really cool people there and hooked up with some other festival compadres for the Sarasota Film Festival bash at Sassafrass.

Jason and Harriette
Jason Leaf of Avatar and Harriette Yahr.

What a great party. I was only going to stay for a short time and then go back to seeing movies, but the next time I looked at my watch it was time to go back to the hotel for my last night in Toronto. (Goodbye Comfort Hotel!)

David and Kim
David Wilson of True/False and Kim Morgan of the Lone Star Film Society at the Sarasota party.

I really had a great time in Toronto. It’s a great city, it’s alive with people, tasty restaurants and overall it is a very convenient and accommodating festival (even though the program book costs over 30$!!).

Helpful Volunteer
A helpful volunteer explains the ticket situation.

The volunteers I encountered were always extraordinarily helpful and really into the festival. I think some of them knew more about the movies than the buyers! Sometimes I go to a film festival and I spend so much time seeing movies and being focused that I forget how much I really love movies. I spent a little more time seeing things that peeked my interest than being super serious and obsessing about documentaries. Don’t worry, though, docs are still tops, but what’s wrong with seeing a zombie sheep film once in a while, or Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning The Wind that Shakes the Barley? In the end, if you pick it right, it’s all just plain old good storytelling whether it’s fact or fiction. And with a program as varied as the Toronto International Film Festival, how could I resist the candyfloss that is Black Sheep?

Other docs of note, that I can’t help overhearing people talk about and that I really wanted to see are Blindsight, Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing (opens in October in limited release by the Weinstein Co), Ghosts of Cité Soleil, Lake of Fire and The U.S. Vs John Lennon (opens September in NY and LA release by Lions Gate).

Docs that screened at TIFF ’06 I’ve seen somewhere else American Hardcore (Sundance), Deliver Us From Evil (DocuWeek), Summercamp! (True/False), Tales of the Rat Fink (SXSW), These Girls and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (HBO).

Writing this I’m sitting in the airport awaiting my delayed flight to New York. I’ll be in NY for the IFP Market. I haven’t been there since 2001 and am really looking forward to it. There are a ton of doc works in progress to check out, plus an entire conference. It’s all part of the ifp’s Independent Film Week in New York. If you’re around, come by and check it out.

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