It’s been an inconsistent tradition since my last year of high school that I would attend the Toronto International Film Festival with my father. My first year was probably the most successful in terms of the amount of quality movies we managed to see; No Country for Old Men, Persepolis, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, and so on. Last year, for some foolish reason I cannot recall, we did not go. However, this year we struck back with gusto, managing to acquire the tickets to all the films we had wanted to see, with some surprises thrown into the mix.
The Toronto International Film Festival or T.I.F.F (which took place this year, September 5 to 15), is a labyrinth of a film festival; the hedges surrounding it are coveted world premieres of Oscar potential, slews of invasive corporate promotions, and the potential of finding something amazing that will truly last with you. To categorize it as one festival is a misnomer; it is more a series of subsections of different themes and genres melded into a singular entity. Part of an inconsistent tradition my father and I have is to see a film in the Midnight Madness program, a horror or thriller section where the films play at midnight and house the strangest, most unruly, and, for the most part, youngest crowd. There is a beach ball occasionally tossed around before the movie starts, the directors may come out dressed in characters that made them famous, (SAW clown before the world premiere of Insidious). Or, in this year’s case, the 50 year old supporting star – who also happens to be the mother of the director, getting on stage and mustering an impressive split. My dad, who is now pushing half a century still manages to be up for these films, even though by the time he gets home, he has to wake up in four hours to get to work – perhaps the youthful crowd is rubbing off on him.
The Station was the film we saw this year, and for me it was a slight disappointment – the film was marred with bad dialogue and inconsistent or no character development, not to mention the creature effects could have been better, but let’s move on. Besides youngsters showing up in droves, people come to support their home country. The crowd for The Past, the new film from the director of A Separation, transplanted me to a previous life in a 1920’s Isfahan Bazaar. However, they must have been disappointed when they realized that the film takes place in France, is spoken primarily in French, with only scant references to Persian culture.
T.I.F.F is the largest film festival in the world and the most accessible to the public. Although, T.I.F.F has recently been criticized for becoming more elitist – one theatre had a priority line for special visa holders and members (with memberships expensively priced) who were able to get tickets before anyone else. That being said, T.I.F.F is a unique and enjoyable experience, where finding one small or large film can bring you back to why you loved going to the movies in the first place.
Daumoun Khakpour is Contributing Editor for Film for the magazine.