Friday, September 20, 2013

TIFF 2013: The Round-Up


For me, the star of this year's TIFF wasn't a director or performer but instead the brilliant programmer Andréa Picard. Her Wavelengths program was strong, open-minded and imaginative, combining the best of contemporary narrative and avant-garde cinema. In Picard's hands it has become the crowning glory of this festival.

I've been going to TIFF for 15 years, and this was among the best I've ever attended. I caught about 30 films, and I will have a piece on the festival in the current (fourth) issue of LOLA that Adrian Martin and I and our webmaster Bill Mousoulis are in the process of rolling out. Meanwhile, here's a quick personal summary evaluation of the films:

Favorites-of-the-Fest:

At Berkeley (Frederick Wiseman, USA)
Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, France)
Bastards (Claire Denis, France)
Manakamana (Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez, USA)
The Strange Little Cat (Ramon Zürcher, Germany)

Excellent:

Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt, USA)
Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan)
Three Landscapes (Peter Hutton, USA)
Song and Spring (Nathaniel Dorsky, USA)
Closed Curtain (Jafar Panahi, Iran)
Abuse of Weakness (Catherine Breillat, France)
Our Sunhi (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)

Strong:

Redemption (Miguel Gomes, Portugal)
A Spell to Ward off the Darkness (Ben Rivers & Ben Russell, Estonia/France)
A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke, China)
Un Conte de Michel de Montaigne (Jean-Marie Straub, France)
The King's Body (João Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal)
Love is the Perfect Crime (Arnaud & Jean-Marie Larrieu, France)
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)
October November (Götz Spielmann, Austria)
We are the Best! (Lukas Moodysson, Sweden)

Didn't work for me:

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, UK)

Fascinating, but I had reservations:

Story of my Death (Albert Serra, Spain)

Disappointments:

R100 (Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan)
The Summer of Flying Fish (Marcela Said, Chile)


* * *

Links to recent reads:

-- "Melville Variations," a video essay and text by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin at MUBI. Also: Adrian on Ruiz's final film Night Across the Street at Fandor.

-- Andréa Picard interviewed by Blake Williams.

-- Michael Guillen collects Jonathan Rosenbaum's writings on Pier Paolo Pasolini in a post.

-- Farran Smith Nehme reviews Ben Urwand's book The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact With Hitler.

-- A tribute post to the late Allan Sekula by Matthew Flanagan.

-- "Filming a Land in Flux": an interview with Wang Bing in New Left Review.

-- Bourbon Street Blues (1979), a 25-minute short film by Douglas Sirk starring Rainer Werner Fassbinder, at The Seventh Art.

-- The latest issue of Nonsite.org is devoted to Bertolt Brecht.

pic: "At Berkeley" (Frederick Wiseman, USA)

4 Comments:

Blogger Michael Guillen said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Girish, always appreciated. And especially pleased to see the Zurcher film among your favorites. You inspire me to eventually transcribe my conversation with Ramon and Silvan.

September 22, 2013 3:14 PM  
Blogger girish said...

You're most welcome, Michael. And I'd love to read that conversation. Some critic friends went out for karaoke with them during the festival, and I heard they were a lot of fun. Of all the films I saw at TIFF, "The Strange Little Cat" is the one that will (I believe) repay repeat viewings the most. I really hope it gets picked up for distribution.

September 22, 2013 3:30 PM  
Blogger Michael Guillen said...

Incidentally, how did it go with the press thing? Did you enjoy it? Did it provide for a different experience of the festival? Looking forward to your write-up, I presume at LOLA?

September 23, 2013 1:31 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, I purchased a public pass in addition to having press accreditation, so I was able to fill the gaps in my schedule with films better than before. It was also fun to meet and chat with several critics--like Shelly Kraicer or Nicole Armour--I had read but never met in person.

The festival essay will appear in the current issue of LOLA within the next couple of weeks. Thanks for asking.

September 23, 2013 1:50 PM  

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