Toronto International Film Festival begins its season
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
The Toronto International Film Festival has become a prestigious staple in the industry since its inception in 1976, inviting thousands of both national and international filmmakers to Canada’s largest city for two weeks of (often) career-launching galas and screenings.
This year’s festival runs September 4 to 17. Although the festival is notably dominated by large Hollywood productions, organizers have an eye towards curating a lineup of homegrown talent as a way to combat an arguably overrepresented cinematic community. This year’s festival features films exploring themes such as Indigenous schooling, substance abuse, and racial inequality.
Everyday Torontonians can look forward to experiencing the festival when tickets go on sale to the public on September 4. In fact, according to the TIFF website, it is the most widely publicly attended film festival in the world.
Having spent my first year fresh out of high school attending a school in the big city, I remember the collective excitement at the possibility of celebrity sightings and, much more importantly, rush tickets. It seemed like a bizarre tradition for students to spend all day in class, then comically rush to a theatre to eagerly wait hours in line just for the possibility of getting discount ticket to screenings. Nevertheless, it was undeniably exciting. So, here’s three Canadian films that not only caught my eye, but also promise to bypass the “rush ticket ritual” to become readily accessible for those of us not in the “Six.”
Long Time Running, dir. by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier
One of only two Canadian films to receive a gala presentation, this highly anticipated documentary follows The Tragically Hip after lead singer Gord Downie’s brain cancer diagnosis. The film tracks the iconic band’s struggle through performing in the midst of Downie’s chemo and radiation treatment on their 2016 Man Machine Poem tour. Considering Long Time Running’s national release after TIFF as well as the fact that I think most Canadian millennials consider The Tragically Hip part of the soundtrack of their youth, this film will undoubtedly be one to catch on a day off.
Alias Grace, dir. by Mary Harron
This adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name follows the story of an Irish immigrant in the mid-19th century who killed her employer and his housekeeper. While her sanity is being assessed years later, the story of what actually happened reveals itself to be much more complicated than previously imagined as themes of xenophobia and gender inequality are addressed. The adaptation is actually a six-part miniseries, with the first two episodes premiering at the festival. This format is ideal for those of you who would rather enjoy films in the comfort of your home, as it will premiere on CBC in late September.
Luk’Luk’l, dir. by Wayne Wapeemukwa
This film is particularly interesting for the Other Press readers because of its location, as it follows the lives of five marginalized Vancouverites during the 2010 Olympics. These Vancouverites include a sex worker, a heroin addict, a disabled man, a man struggling with mental illness, and local celebrity Roller Girl, who plays herself in the film and can often be seen directing traffic at busy city intersections. Although Vancouver is often the backdrop in Hollywood films, it is not often the actual setting of them, so seeing a film about the reality of this city could be very enlightening.