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Toronto film fest: Second unveiling

The festival offers an opportunity to catch up with films that were unveiled in Cannes, writes Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 17:14 IST

Missed Cannes this year? No need for despair. The 31st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) offers you another opportunity to catch up with many of the better films that were unveiled on the Croisette last May. 

North America’s premier film festival, a 10-day event that gets underway on September 7, has strung together an impressive line-up that includes a healthy complement of the films that became the talking points among Cannes habitués earlier in the year.

Expected to be among the top draws at TIFF this year are Pedro Almodovar’s Volver, Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Aki Kaurismaki’s Lights in the Dusk, Nanni Moretti’s Il Caimano and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel. All these films, besides several others in the 2006 TIFF line-up, were in race for the Palme d’Or earlier this year.

While Volver  is one of the 20 films that will be accorded a Gala Presentation, TIFF will host a Special Presentation screening of Babel. The Loach, Kaurismaki and Moretti films are part of the much-loved Masters series, which showcases the latest films of the world’s most accomplished directors. 

A still from Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley. The film will may be showcased at 31st Toronto International Film Festival.

The other Cannes Competition films that are also on the way to Toronto this year are Bruno Dumont’s Flandres, Andrea Arnold’s Red Road, Lou Ye’s Summer Palace, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s

Labyrinth

and Rachid Bouchareb’s

Indigenes

.     

In this context, it is rather easy to see why Toronto International Film Festival runs the high-profile Cannes jamboree so close in terms of impact and popularity. TIFF is the world’s largest publicly attended film festival, and the sheer size of the local audience and industry support places it in a league apart.

TIFF has its own unique Canadian character all right, with much of the primary focus being justifiably trained on the nation’s varied cinematic output, but the festival, like it is this year, is always fully clued into global movie trends.

Last year, TIFF had opened with a Canadian film made by an Indian director in the Hindi language, Water, underscoring the nation’s and the festival’s essentially multicultural fabric.

The Canadian on offer in Toronto is grouped under several distinct sections – Canada First, which includes first and second time filmmakers as well as more established directors making their first appearance at the festival; Canadian Open Vault, which screens a recently restored, classic film; and Canadian Retrospective, designed to provide a glimpse of the rich cinematic history of the host country. 

Europe, however, has as always cornered the largest chunk of TIFF’s programme time, but entries from other parts of the world – Asia, Australia, Africa and Latin America – will have more than their share of the action as well.

TIFF this year has a sidebar that will showcase a crop of critically acclaimed films from Africa and the African Diaspora, including Bamako, a France-Mali-US co-production directed by Abderrahmane Sissako.

As Noah Cowan, co-director, TIFF, says: “Our primary allegiance is to our loyal audiences… We select the very best films from key, primarily European, festivals, which run before our own. We bring these films back to our continent for a ‘second unveiling’. They are films that have moved us by way of their beauty, originality and overall cinematic achievement.”

That explains why many of the films that were in competition in Cannes four months ago are also in the Toronto programme. A large majority of these films will be receiving their North American premiere at TIFF.

Over 120 of the 350-odd films that will be screened in Toronto this year are from Europe. These films represent 23 of the 26 member nations of the European Film Promotion. Nearly 100 European directors and actors are on the festival’s guest list.        

Few film festivals present as wide a cinematic smorgasbord as Toronto. Indeed, TIFF is where the world of the movies meets.