Wednesday, August 22, 2007

TIFF 2007

This morning, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) announced its list of films [pdf].

The festival runs for 10 days starting September 6th, and I plan to be there for 8 of those 10 days, returning home once in between to teach my classes.

Here's the list of films I'm personally leaning towards, although it will likely look a bit different come scheduling time. I'm listing them by program.

-- Masters: Four Women (Adoor Gopalakrishnan), Voyage of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-hsien), Don't Touch The Axe (Jacques Rivette), Alexandra (Alexander Sokurov), Christopher Columbus, the Enigma (Manoel de Oliveira), One Hundred Nails (Ermanno Olmi), The Man From London (Bela Tarr), La Fille Coupée en Deux (Claude Chabrol), Les Amours Astreé et de Céladon (Eric Rohmer), Glory to the Filmmaker! (Takeshi Kitano), The Voyeurs (Buddhadeb Dasgupta), Chaos (Youssef Chahine & Youssef Khaled).

-- Real To Reel (Documentaries): Useless (Jia Zhang-ke), Fengming, A Chinese Memoir (Wang Bing), Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog), Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient (Todd McCarthy).

-- Visions: Import Export (Ulrich Seidl), Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas), 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu), Buddha Collapsed out of Shame (Hana Makhmalbaf), Ploy (Pen-ek Ratanaruang).

-- Vanguard: Paranoid Park (Gus van Sant), Help Me Eros (Lee Kang-Sheng), Sad Vacation (Shinji Aoyama), Les Chansons d'Amour (Christophe Honoré).

-- Contemporary World Cinema: An Old Mistress (Catherine Breillat), The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase), Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong), The Shock Doctrine (Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón & Naomi Klein), Dans la Vie (Philippe Faucon), Weirdsville (Allan Moyle), American Venus (Bruce Sweeney), Avant Que J'Oublie (Jacques Nolot).

-- Special Presentations: Redacted (Brian De Palma), My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin), Mad Detective (Johnnie To & Wai Ka Fai), No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers), Married Life (Ira Sachs), The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen).

-- Wavelengths (Avant-Garde): Films by Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Ken Jacobs, John Gianvito, Heinz Emigholz, Peter Hutton, David Gatten, Cécile Fontaine, and others.

-- Gala: The Last Lear (Rituparno Ghosh).

-- Midnight Madness: The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento) .

Your comments or suggestions on films and filmmakers are most welcome.

David Hudson's awesomely detailed "fall movies preview" lists several films (especially English-language) that are also playing at TIFF. I'll try to hold off on seeing most of them in favor of something less likely to be distributed.

pic: Jacques Rivette on the set of Out 1, 1970. Courtesy Craig Keller of Cinemasparagus.


Blogger Doug said...

Girish, what can you tell us about Gopalakrishnan and Dasgupta?

August 22, 2007 12:11 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Doug, Adoor Gopalakrishnan is among the most revered filmmakers of the New Indian Cinema. He's from Kerala and makes films in Malayalam. I loved his last film, Shadow Kill, but have seen nothing else by him. Even in India, I found his films practically impossible to catch (although that was in the pre-VHS era, not to mention DVD). I've been waiting to see Rat Trap for a couple of decades now.

Buddhadeb Dasgupta is a Bengali poet turned filmmaker, and has been featured in the Masters program at TIFF for a few years now. He has a really striking eye for composition. I liked his films The Wrestlers and Tale of a Naughty Girl but found his last one, Chased By Dreams, to be slight and slapsticky. Or perhaps he caught me in an odd mood. I'm still curious about his new one.

Personal trivia of interest to no one else: at the screening of Naughty Girl in Toronto a few years ago, I found myself sitting next to Rohinton Mistry. It so happened I had a copy of A Fine Balance in my lap. But I didn't chat him up or anything.

August 22, 2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Oh wait, I think I saw Chased By Dreams with you! Gopalakrishnan sounds fascinating; I'll add him to my short list.

August 22, 2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh you're right, Doug! Yes, you might remember we were a bit disappointed. I also felt a bit guilty because I nudged you into coming with me!

August 22, 2007 12:29 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Just off the top of my head, the new Romero and Gordon films playing Midnight Madness should also be worth a look. More when I can examine the program at length...

August 22, 2007 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish, TIFF's got a strong line-up this year, doesn't it? I'm particularly drawn to the Masters series -- of the films you list, there are eight I'm very eager to see. I'm also glad that Jia's film got added, and Wavelengths looks strong again.

Gettin' the TIFF bug. I'm not going to be able to focus on work today ... or this week ... or next week ...

August 22, 2007 12:46 PM  
Blogger Sachin G. said...

Once again, the line-up is staggering. Unlike last year, this year TIFF has found some new titles from India, thanks to Cameron Bailey (I believe so). Rituparno Ghosh is a very good film-maker and I am curious to see what he does with The Last Lear.

Girish, thanks for posting this list so soon. The official TIFF website still has not updated the film list.

August 22, 2007 12:58 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

This is going to be so much FUN!! I can hardly believe I'm getting to return. It will be great to see old friends again.

August 22, 2007 3:26 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Weird. Unless I just overlooked it, Shock Doctrine was never mentioned in any TIFF press release. I wonder what other titles I've missed?

August 22, 2007 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Filipe said...

On the strengh of his previous work I'd add the Jose Luis Guerin film.

August 22, 2007 4:30 PM  
Anonymous jim emerson said...

I'm relying on you for some recommendations, girish! Looks like Roger is planning to attend this year!

August 22, 2007 5:20 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, folks--Yes, festival excitations have officially commenced today!

I just added the Guerin to my list. And I don't remember seeing The Shock Doctrine on any of the TIFF press releases. The Naomi Klein connection is intriguing. (I wonder if the title refers to IMF-imposed economic reform measures.)

Hey, Jim--I'll send you an email with some picks. Also, I enjoyed the swanky lunch you treated me to last year; we must do it again this year, and maybe I can return the favor.

August 22, 2007 5:35 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

From what I've seen I'd recommend in order of preference :

Must See : THE MOURNING FOREST (Kawase); MADAME TUTLI-PUTLI (Lavis/Szczerbowski) short; YOU, THE LIVING (Andersson); THE BAND'S VISIT (Kolirin); ALEXANDRA (Sokurov); PERSEPOLIS (Paronnaud/Satrapi) anim

Eventually : CHACUN SON CINÉMA (omnibus); PLOY (Pen-ek Ratanaruang); A STRAY GIRLFRIEND (Katz); TERROR'S ADVOCATE (Schroeder) DOC; LE VOYAGE DU BALLON ROUGE (Hou Hsiao-hsien);


The short Straub is available online, and not worth missing a feature length film if that's all you wanted to see in the batch.
Cahiers loved the Rivette and Chansons d'Amour, but I didn't. The Schnabel can wait for a regular release.
I just watched Naissance des pieuvres, it's a nice little film about the awkwardness of teenage first love, herd mentality (symbolised by a sync swim team) and need for attention. La Citadelle Assiégée is a cool National Geographic type fictionized documentary taking us inside a termit colony. It's really impressive. They dramatized it with a voiceover commenting a war between ants and termits. California Dreamin won a prize in Cannes (Un Certain Regard), but it's a little heavy-handed at times, the story is a little messy. Watch for the Clooney-lookalike actor trying hard to impersonate his best Clooney... Not quite on par with Lazarescu and 12:08 East of Bucharest, and I suppose the great 4 months which I'll see next week. I'm disappointed by the latest HHH. I'm not sure what americans will get from Schroeder's documentary on one notorious French advocate who defended several terrorists, because it deals with French history in rapid fire without explaining. But it's a great work. I just saw A stray g/f, the contemplative journey of a woman abandonned by her tired b/f at the start of their vacation on the beach. The mood is rather depressing, but the narration turns out to be surprising. Debut film by young argentine woman who plays the lead role. Ploy is a very interesting story floating between reality and fiction, mixing thriller and erotic codes with a contemplative story, the wait of 3 persons during a long night in a fancy hotel room.
I loved Persepolis.
Sokurov is a little pedestrian which is disappointing compared to his best work.
The Band's Visit is a great film showing the awkward cultural meeting of Egypt and Israel through music. Unconventional dramatic treatment. Strong character development. Subtil touching humor.
Andersson pursue what was great in Songs from the Second Floor (not as impressive though), going a little towards Kaurismaki at times.
MADAME TUTLI-PUTLI is an amazing stop-motion puppet animation with CGI integrated human eyes, which gives extraordinary expressions to wooden faces. The cinephile-oriented humour is also delicious.
Kawase made a fantastic contemplative film with gorgeous photography. Well deserved Cannes Grand-Prix.

August 22, 2007 5:58 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Harry, thank you for taking the time as you've done for us in previous years. This is very helpful!

August 22, 2007 6:16 PM  
Blogger Paul Martin said...

I've seen several of these titles at the recent Melbourne International Film Festival, and offer my 2c worth.

Of Sokurov's work, I've only previously seen Russian Ark and I much prefer Alexandra which I found very interesting, but it seems to have divided the audience members I've spoken to.

I seem to be alone in my love of The Man From London and have been taken to task for my support of it. I thought it was great, but it had the largest walkout of any screening at MIFF that I attended. I found it compelling, others found it boring and pretentious.

In the context of a festival, if you're seeing a large number of films, Dr. Plonk by Rolf de Heer (Ten Canoes) is a good watch and being different, adds variety.

Chacun son cinema is good, if you like omnibus films. It's interesting to see contemporary directors' takes on the meaning of cinema for them.

Romulus, My Father is enjoyable but unexceptional. The Home Song Stories has a similar theme, but different style and is a little more engaging. Both films deal with the issues of growing up as a migrant in a new land (in these cases, Australia).

The Mourning Forest is a quiet and contemplative film with beautiful cinematography. I liked it a lot, but others found it boring.

I didn't see Corroboree, but Matt from Esoteric Rabbit raved about it.

Mister Lonely was one of the stand-out films for me. It was very different to any earlier work by Harmony Korine, visually very nice to look at, and full of depth and meaning. Others completely disagreed and found it shallow and pretentious (again).

Links: All my MIFF reviews / Dr. Plonk / Romulus, My Father

August 23, 2007 12:14 AM  
Anonymous davis said...

Harry, I also look forward to your pre-TIFF tips (even though I'll be missing the fest this year).

You liked Dans Paris didn't you? Maybe I'm misremembering. I really enjoyed it. But the new one from Honoré is a "don't bother"?

It'd be hard not to bother with a Rivette!

August 23, 2007 12:44 AM  
Blogger Oggs Cruz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 23, 2007 3:41 AM  
Blogger Oggs Cruz said...

There are three Filipino films in the TIFF programme.

Death in the Land of the Enkantos by Lav Diaz premiered in Venice, and I'm sure this seven hour film is something to behold.

The two other Filipino films are Auraeus Solito's Pisay (Philippine Science) and Brillante Mendoza's Foster Child. They're not the best works of the filmmakers but are very interesting in their own way. Philippine Science is Solito's most commercially viable work (even more so than Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros) since it's situated in high school. Foster Child suffers from Mendoza's lazy filmmaking but it has very interesting subtexts. Reviews of both films are in my blog.

August 23, 2007 3:42 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Like Paul Martin says, Chacun Son Cinema is a great treat for cinephiles who love to lurk in movie houses. It's like a 3min spin-off of Tsai' Goodbye, Dragon Inn.
I should put Mister Lonely under "eventually" instead, for its originality, but it's hit or miss depending on taste, so it's not a garantied satisfaction within a festival race.

Remember that my recommendations are mostly destined to sort out schedule conflicts and priorities within a festival context, where it's hard to choose among several films. I'd be more generous for a weekly batch viewing during regular distribution. That's my strategy for festival films.

Rob, I loved Dans Paris, it was my favorite French film last year. But his latest is a quasi-mock musical (because the songs are almost spoken instead of sung), vaguely bourgeois-bohemian intellectual, and too self-conscious. Nouvelle Vague shot citations abound. It's watchable I guess but not worth a festival slot, IMHO.
I'm not a Rivette fan, so don't listen to me. Watch it at your own risk ;) if you like theatrical movies. I don't. It's a low-budget period movie, mostly indoor, from a minor Balzac novel, with the impossible love between a powerful general and a rich aristocrat who are entangled in a pueril cat-and-mouse game. Without the Rivette partiality, there was nothing to enjoy for me.
I'm looking forward to your own opinion.

August 23, 2007 4:30 AM  
Blogger Marina said...

This is a stunning line-up. So many films, I wonder how you'll manage. :)
Anyway, just a note in case someone finds a gap:
The only film from Bulgaria is "The Mosquito Problem and other stories" ( by Andrey Paounov, who is also the director of "George and the Butterflies" ( It's a sort of documentary, but I haven't watched it, since it had no distribution here. It's been circling festivals and collecting prices (Karlovy vary, Britdoc, Cannes and sooon - in Pusan), so of what I've heard - and read - it'd be interesting to watch.
Hopefully, the acclaim it's getting will provide it a national distribution, too...

August 23, 2007 5:00 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Paul, Rob, Oggs, Harry, Marina--Merci!
This exchange is hugely helpful.

Perhaps I could add a couple of thoughts:

I put the Canadian filmmaker Allan Moyle's Weirdsville on my list above because I'm a big fan of two teen films he made in Hollywood: Times Square (1980) and Pump up the Volume (1990). The last thing I saw by him at TIFF was New Waterford Girl (1999), which wasn't in their league at all but still an interesting film about Canadian provincial life (esp. from a teen POV).

Another Canadian filmmaker on my list above is Bruce Sweeney, whose Last Wedding opened TIFF a few years back. It's a good relationship black comedy with Molly Parker as part of an ensemble cast; a wicked satire, unsentimental and smart. Available here on DVD.

Olaf Möller's top 10 list from Berlin this year includes the following films playing at TIFF: The Substitute, Wolfsbergen, Schindler's Houses and Don't Touch The Axe. (see Film Comment, May-June '07, p. 60)

Richard Peña's top 10 from Cannes includes several familiar films like Secret Sunshine, 4 Months, the Coens, etc, but among them is one I didn't know about, Lucia Penzo's XXY, that sounds interesting. (Film Comment, July-Aug).

Edward E. Crouse's top 10 from Cannes Director's Fortnight includes Jacques Nolot's Avant Que J'Oublie (Before I Forget), Control and Ploy. (Film Comment, July-Aug).

August 23, 2007 9:05 AM  
Blogger aaron said...

"I put the Canadian filmmaker Allan Moyle's Weirdsville on my list above because I'm a big fan of two teen films he made in Hollywood: Times Square (1980) and Pump up the Volume (1990). The last thing I saw by him at TIFF was New Waterford Girl (1999), which wasn't in their league at all but still an interesting film about Canadian provincial life (esp. from a teen POV)."

Thought you might be interested to know that New Waterford is actually the town over from where I was born and raised. It was also the first film set I was ever on (they were shooting next door to land owned by my parents). I think I was fourteen.

Haven't heard anything about the new Moyle film, but it does sound interesting. My personal favorite of his is TIMES SQUARE (though I've seen PUMP UP THE VOLUME countless times for some reason!)

I recently watched an unsubtitled version of CHAUCUN SON CINEMA, and must admit it was so great to see another film by Michael Cimino, even if it's only a couple of minutes long (still, it reiterates the fact that ballet/dance has played a part in nearly everyone of his films).

August 23, 2007 12:47 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

I've got a lot of research to do this week, but here are my preliminary thoughts on a TIFF lineup:

Movies I'll probably save for NYFF: A Girl Cut in Two, In the City of Sylvia, Married Life, The Romance of Astrea and Celedon, Secret Sunshine, Silent Light, Une Vieille Maitresse, Useless.

(Those of you who don't know Ira Sachs' The Delta and Forty Shades of Blue should check him out: he's really good.)

Movies I'll probably save for when they are distributed, but might try to squeeze in: Alexandra, Eastern Promises, Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge, 4 Mo. 3 Wks. 2 Days, Assassination...Robert Ford, Atonement, I'm Not There, Mongol, No Country for Old Men, The Savages, Brick Lane, Son of Rambow, Diary of the Dead, Help Me Eros, Naissance des Pieuvres

Films by directors I like (or am still open to) that I'm hoping to schedule, in approximate order of how badly I want them: The Mourning Forest, Import/Export, Forever Never Anywhere, Ne Touchez Pas la Hache, The Banishment, Wolfsbergen, Contre Tous Esperance, The Edge of Heaven, Sous les Toits de Paris, The Last Lear, To Love Someone, Ploy, Happiness, The Sun Also Rises, Les Chansons d'Amour

Films recommended by some critic in my camp, which I'll try to see: And Along Come Tourists, Avant Que J'Oublie, Jellyfish, Mutum, New York City Serenade, A Stray Girlfriend, Deficit

Films I'm curious about and hope to schedule: Four Women, You the Living, Poor Boy's Game, American Venus, California Dreamin', Faro la Reine des Eaux, Iska's Journey, Munyurangabo, Corroboree, The Exodus

Old films good enough and rare enough to sacrifice a precious TIFF slot for: Les Bons Debarras

Films where I'd rather visit the installation first: Death in the Land of Encantos

August 23, 2007 2:39 PM  
Blogger Bob Turnbull said...

As mentioned, if you have a chance to see "Mrs. Tutli-Putli" do so...It's pretty stunning (I saw it at the WorldWide Short Film Festival back in June). My link contains a short trailer for it as well.

I just watched Nobuhiro Yamashita's "Linda Linda Linda" last night and thought it was simply terrific, so I'm even more psyched to see his "A Gentle Breeze In The Village". It sounds like it could be a charming coming of age story that avoids being maudlin or juvenile.

Having loved "Lovers Of The Arctic Circle", I'm also keen on "Chaotic Ana" by Julio Medem.

I already had "Operation Filmmaker" on my list of Top 10, but now that I know (via the TIFF Doc Blog) that director Nina Davenport also did "Parallel Lines", I want to see it even more.

The Herzog, Kitano and Andersson films are also crying out to me...

August 23, 2007 3:37 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Harry, what's your criticism with the Rivette? I know you're not usually a fan of his work, but I've actually heard the same valuation from someone who's a Rivette nut.

August 23, 2007 6:52 PM  
Blogger Andy Rector said...

John Gianvito's PROFIT MOTIVE AND THE WHISPERING WIND!! This film, I believe, will be shown with the (Straub/Huillet, et al) cinetract EUROPA 2005, 27 OCTOBRE. Of course I'm partial to explosive historical materialism. Anyhow, Gianvito's is one of the most beautiful films ever made on (and one of the few made of) North american soil, in 16mm (completely without crew, alone).

August 23, 2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger girish said...

"Of course I'm partial to explosive historical materialism."

Andy, can I just say what an awesome line that is?!
I should cut it out and save it somewhere. It's a great one-line Kinoslang manifesto.

Thank you, everyone, for all those suggestions.

Dan, you've given me a ton of ideas. Looks like I'll be doing a lot of research this week too.

Aaron, I remember renting Michael Almereyda's Happy Here and Now because Liane Balaban was in it. Turns out Ernie K-Doe is what I remember most about it.

August 23, 2007 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Does Dasgupta have much of a reputation in India? TIFF seems to love him, but his films rarely make it to New York. I've only seen one, MEMORIES IN THE MIST in 2005. It didn't leave much of an impression, although I liked it moderately, but I'd definitely go see something else by him.

August 23, 2007 11:06 PM  
Blogger aaron said...

"Turns out Ernie K-Doe is what I remember most about it."

Took me a minute to recall why K-Doe sounded so familiar. Now I remember that Bob Dylan has a little rap about him before playing "Mother-in-Law" on one of his radio shows (theme week being Mother's Day).

As a faithful Chabrol enthusiast, I'd find it hard to pass up his new one in Toronto!

August 24, 2007 2:14 AM  
Blogger girish said...

"Does Dasgupta have much of a reputation in India?"

Steve, it's a bit hard for me to say because I haven't lived in India for 20 years now, but back in my filmgoing days there in the 80s, among then-contemporary filmmakers, Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, and Govind Nihalani all had a greater reputation. (I also like all these filmmakers more than I do what I've seen of Dasgupta, which is just 3 films).

I wish TIFF would show other reputed Indian filmmakers like Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Goutam Ghose, etc. I saw Shyam Benegal's Samar in Rotterdam in 2000, and it was the single best of the 40 or so movies I caught there. A brilliant film about filmmaking and the Indian cultural particularities of the endeavor. It didn't even play TIFF.

Aaron, same here. For some reason, TIFF is not very good about doing Chabrol, even in years he has a film at Venice. Of the last few Chabrols (The Color of Lies, Merci pour le Chocolat, The Flower of Evil, The Bridesmaid, The Comedy of Power), only Chocolat played TIFF, in 2000. So, I'm excited for the new one.

You mentioned Michael Cimino. I don't think I've seen a film by him in over twenty years (just The Deer Hunter). I've been meaning to catch up with Heaven's Gate, and am also curious about his other work (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Year of the Dragon, The Sicilian, Desperate Hours).

August 24, 2007 6:00 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Not to be an ingrate by falling into glass-half-empty mode, but what's gone missing at TIFF this year? (What you were looking forward to, but isn't there.)

My big disappointment is the new Abel Ferrara. Also, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi's Actresses and Nicholas Klotz's La Question Humaine (still waiting to see La Blessure). And the new Assayas (Boarding Gate) and James Gray (We Own The Night), even though the reviews were mixed.

August 24, 2007 6:19 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Doug, I said it all in my reply to Rob. I don't know how it ranks in Rivette's oeuvre, but it won't stay as one of his best. It's not just my usual issue with Rivette style this time, Ne Touche Pas La Hache is too theatrical for my taste. But if you like theatricality and a duet performance, then you'll have the return to the screen of Guillaume Depardieu since his leg amputation, the adolescent manners of Balibar, the Deus Ex Machina of a grandilocant story and the absence of context. We didn't expect Cahiers to not like a film of one of their founding fathers though.

I somehow missed in the list Fatih Akin's The Edge of Heaven (different English title) which is quite good. A multilayered storyline à la Kieslowki's No End, where characters are all connected to the same crime through interlaced meeting, across Turkey and Germany. The succession of events is overdone, but the mise en scene of each segment is very interesting. Best Screenplay at Cannes.

On the missing list, great films from Cannes (by preference order) :
Mang Shan/Blind Mountain (LI Yang); La Question Humaine (Klotz); Elle s'appelle Sabine (Bonnaire) DOC; Parpados Azules (Contreras); La Influencia (Aguilera); Yumurta (Kaplanoglu); La Soledad (Rosales); PVC-1 (Stathoulopoulos); El Baño del Papa (Charlon); Armin (Svilicic); O Estado do Mundo (omnibus); Tehilim (Nadjari); Maurice Pialat, l'amour existe (Devillers/Faux) DOC

From Berlin : Tuya's Marriage (Wang Quan'an)
Others : Desert Dream (Zhang Lu); Familia Tortuga (Imaz)

August 24, 2007 9:06 AM  
Anonymous msic said...

Harry, El Baño del Papa *is* in the festival. It's just listed under its English title, "The Pope's Toilet."

Other than the items Girish mentioned, the films missing from the TIFF lineup I'm most bummed about are the German features from this year's Berlin crop. I knew Petzold's "Yella" and Arslan's "Vacation" were long shots, since they had their N. Am. premiere already at the Seattle IFF. But Schanelec's "Afternoon" and *especially* Speth's "Madonnas" are irksome absences. But for the most part TIFF has been missing the boat on the so-called Neue Berliner Schule pretty much since the beginning. Whoever programs their German selections really needs a stern talking-to.

Also, bummed about the Chinese film "Night Train," which got good notices at Cannes; and this year's Locarno winner, Kobayashi's "The Rebirth," a film so minimal and austere it seems to have obliterated even its chances at winning over select festival crowds. Also, James Benning has two 2007 features, but I didn't really expect them to turn up. TIFF aren't among his supporters.

August 24, 2007 12:16 PM  
Blogger Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Great post & comments! I love seeing everyone picks. Thank you for putting the pdf link, that was very helpful.

I'm thrilled to see a Guy Maddin film in the line up, that goes on the 'must see' list for me.

August 24, 2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger celinejulie said...

I have also seen A STRAY GIRLFRIEND (Ana Katz) and totally love it.

I also want to thank Harrytuttle very much for letting me know that EUROPA 2005 – 27 OCTOBER (2006, Jean-Marie Straub + Daniele Huillet) is available online. I didn’t know about it. After reading your comment, I searched for it and found it in Google Video. I love it very much.

August 24, 2007 4:04 PM  
Anonymous davis said...

Girish, I'm glad to see your praise of Shyam Benegal. I'm not familiar with him at all, but the PFA is going to show three of his films soon (Ankur, Bhumika, Zubeidaa). I may miss them, but we'll see.

I think I hit you up once upon a time for the names of Indian filmmakers doing interesting work -- I'm going to snip-n-save the folks you've mentioned here. It's a huge blind spot for me.

Re: Chabrol. I've seen almost nothing by him, but Comedy of Power was great, the flip side of North by Northwest. Also, as an auteurist (I guess) I'm not often drawn to specific actors but Isabelle Hupert is one of the few whose film choices and performances are consistently fascinating.

August 24, 2007 5:51 PM  
Blogger Zach Campbell said...

Celinejulie, thanks for the tip on the Google video Straub/Huillet!

August 24, 2007 6:46 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, all.
TIFF anticipation builds, and I'm finding it hard to keep my mind on my work!

I read on a_film_by that the Rivette has been picked up by IFC.

Michael -- I'm embarrassed to say I know nothing of the Neue Berliner Schule. I think I rely far too much each year on TIFF programming selections to guide me on world cinema exploration, both at the festival and then the rest of the year on DVD.

I noticed a couple of the "missing" titles you mentioned on Olaf Möller's top 10 Berlin list in Film Comment. I'm filing Night Train and The Rebirth away in the back of my mind.

Harry -- I'll add the Fatih Akin film to my list; I was waffling on it.

Rob -- I agree about Huppert; I think the Bay Area, like Toronto, also played the Huppert series last year which contained a string of solid films (Godard, Haneke, Chabrol, etc). One of the earliest foreign films I ever saw in India when I was a teen, one that made a big, lasting impact, was Swiss director Claude Goretta's The Lacemaker with Huppert. Even before I discovered the French New Wave films, I had Huppert imprinted on my mind.

Re: Chabrol, in case you haven't seen them, La Femme Infidele and Le Boucher are a blast. Little masterpieces, both. That five or six-year streak in the late 60s/early 70s is amazing. I haven't seen Comedy of Power yet; it's on my Netflix queue.

I read the Benegal news at Brian's place. Ankur and Bhumika (esp. the former) are really big milestones of Indian "Parallel Cinema," from the 70s. Zubeidaa is more recent. If you happen to miss them at PFA, they're also available at Netflix.

August 24, 2007 6:52 PM  
Anonymous davis said...

We did indeed get the Huppert retro -- I forgot about that, because I sadly only saw a couple of films.

You know, Huppert is also in one of the two movies that Claire Denis is working on.

August 24, 2007 7:13 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh that's right; I read that.
I was sort of hoping for a last-minute announcement of a new Denis film at TIFF but no luck.

August 24, 2007 7:23 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Davis - that's a really good selection of Benegal films you're getting. Ankar (The Seedling) and Bhumika (The Role) are my two favorite Benegal films, and both have wonderful lead actresses: Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, respectively.

Girish - you mentioned a director who's been obsessing me for years, Kumar Shahani. On the basis of Tarang, I decided that he was my favorite Indian director...and then he never crossed my path again. Have you seen much of his work?

Michael - Speth's first film The Days Between was wonderful, so I'm also sad that one didn't show.

Harry - what was Desert Dream like? I was crazy about Grain in Ear.

In Toronto news, Shelly Kraicer put in a good word for the Canadian film Continental, un film sans fusil.

August 24, 2007 11:10 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Hi, oggs, so Lav Diaz still shooting part two of his Heremias (part one was nine hours), and found the time to shoot a seven hour film along the way? Or is this part two?

Shyam Benegal's Kalyug--don't know if TIFF is showing it--is terrific, a retelling of the Mahabarat, only as a tense two hour modern day family drama. Much better than the Peter Brooks version, I think.

of Gopalakrishnan--met him, nice guy--I've seen Man of the Story and The Servile, which I tnought was terrific. I'm also hoping to see Rat Trap. It's his supposed masterpiece.

August 25, 2007 3:26 AM  
Blogger Oggs Cruz said...

Hi Noel,

Death is a different film; last time I talked to him (during the Cinemalaya Film Festival), he said he is going to go back to filming the second part of Heremias after Death's release.

August 25, 2007 6:16 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Dan, this may sound weird, but my personal mythical conception of Kumar Shahani is built entirely upon accounts I have read of his films. Because I had already left India by the mid-80s, I've not been able to see any of his films. I've heard of no Toronto screenings, TIFF or otherwise, in the last 8 years. Very frustrating!

I'm going home to Madras (Chennai) for the first time in 10 years for Christmas this year. I will be trying my hardest to catch up with all the long-yearned-for Indian films I can find (although my mom has already--and understandably--decreed that I'm allowed no more than one film a day!).

August 25, 2007 8:34 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

good to know The Pope's Toilet was in the line up afterall. It's a beautiful little film, like last years El Violin, that paints the struggle of the lower class, while still being very funny and realist. This comedy, half-documentary, is actually an original critique of the unfulfilled hopes the visit of the Pope brings in people desperately trying to capitalize on this religious tourism.
Though there is a double entendre in the original title, either meaning "the Pope's toilet" or "the Dad's bath" which will cause a misunderstanding and a running gag.

I also loved a great deal the beautiful contemplative film Grain in Ear. I wouldn't say Desert Dream is as excellent though, mainly because of an underdevelopped narrative argument that is a little far-fetched (a cross between L'Homme qui plantait des arbres, and House of Sand). But the mutic dramatic tension between these isolated characters (who don't speak the same language) is fascinating.

August 25, 2007 9:15 AM  
Anonymous spr said...

The films in the Canadian retrospective, by Michel Brault, are without exception worth checking out, especially Pour la suite du monde. (Though I must say that, in 2004, TIFF screened the Pierre Perrault retro off video, and if that's the case again here I'm happy just to stick with my NFB Brault DVD set.)

As for TIFF MIAs, I'm disappointed to see the Elgin's Friday evening silent screening with orchestral accompaniment seems no longer to be with us. Those were always must-attend.

August 25, 2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

I've seen two Bruce MacDonald films: he's talented, though what I saw didn't really come together. Anyway, this trailer for The Tracey Fragments has got me interested.

August 25, 2007 7:03 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Congratulations on your trip home, Girish. I hope it's a good one.

August 25, 2007 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

you mentioned the TIFF-announced list of films in PDF at indiewire... -- until the program-book becomes available, I've put together PDFs of all the films sorted by title, program, country, language, and review-based star-rating -- with a synopsis for each film -- and it all fits in about 24 pages, so it's much lighter than carrying around the book anyway! ;-) ...the PDF link is at the top of each page...

August 25, 2007 10:54 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Thanks, Greg. I've been using your site this weekend as a home base for my TIFF research - it's great.

August 26, 2007 12:52 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Holy cow, Greg. That's an amazing labor of love. And very helpful. Thanks for tipping us off to it.

Thank you,Tuwa. Enjoyed your Betty Davis post over at the Tofu Hut last week.

August 26, 2007 7:22 AM  
Blogger girish said...

New releases at Netflix this morning include: Citizen Dog, Offside, The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros; Bunuel's The Milky Way; DW Griffith's True Heart Susie and Hoodoo Ann; Joe Swanberg's LOL; and a few by Peter Mettler (Picture of Light, Preludes, The Top of your Head).

August 26, 2007 7:29 AM  
Blogger girish said...

spr, I didn't realize about the Perrault films being projected off DVD; that is lame. I was planning to revisit Rouch/Morin's Chronicle of a Summer this TIFF if I can squeeze it in.

Dan, I've been meaning to see Hard Core Logo; that new Tracey trailer does look interesting.

August 26, 2007 7:41 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Judging from the trailer, The Pope's Toilet has really nice compositions.

August 26, 2007 10:23 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Very kind, Girish.

August 26, 2007 11:28 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

I'd like to add in my recommendation of Maximo Oliveros; it's not a great film, but it's a good introduction to the new wave of digital filmmaking sweeping the Philippines at the moment.

August 27, 2007 12:03 AM  
Anonymous spr said...

I believe the Perraults were screened off some Beta format rather than DVD, but still -- I was amazed that the combined might of TIFF and the NFB couldn't come up with any prints, and wonder if it was a francophone/subtitling thing. I believe the past couple years -- the [anglo-centric] Don Owen and Peter Mettler retros -- have been better in terms of showing film rather than video, so here's hoping.

August 27, 2007 1:44 AM  
Blogger girish said...

spr, I saw good English-subtitled prints of most of the Brault films in the program, as part of the Brault retro at Cinematheque Ontario in the fall of '99. Hopefully, they'll be able to secure those or other prints for TIFF...

August 27, 2007 6:07 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Well, here goes. New academic year begins today.

I doubt if I'll be able to do a new post this week, but please feel free as always to post links, chat, and suggest films if you feel like.

August 27, 2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Good luck with the next academic year, Girish, and I'm glad you get to go home for Christmas. Does this mean a no-show at the Palm Springs International?

I can hardly believe that in a week I'll be in Toronto. The learning curve on my new MacBook has been intense.

My first interview I've scored is with Bela Tarr for The Man From London.

Harry, I'm glad you give a thumbs-up to The Pope's Toilet. Stephen Lan sent me his slate of films, which includes The Pope's Toilet and I couldn't decide whether to see it or not. Selecting was easier last year when I didn't have much money and had to bring it down to 20 films.

August 27, 2007 11:41 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Greg, your site is just amazing!

August 27, 2007 11:49 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, that's great news about Tarr.
It looks like I'll be in Madras during Palm Springs.
btw, Michael, when are you getting to Toronto and how long will you be there?

August 27, 2007 12:41 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

I'm arriving on the 4th, staying with my editor Todd Brown, and will be leaving on the 14th. I won't have a cell phone with me but I will have my new MacBook and will be checking email frequently. How's about your own fine self?

August 27, 2007 1:26 PM  
Blogger girish said...

I'll get there on Thursday the 6th and will be there till Sunday the 16th except for a couple of days in the middle (Mon, Tue) when I'll scoot back home to teach.

August 27, 2007 1:33 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

"Selecting was easier last year when I didn't have much money and had to bring it down to 20 films."

That's so true. My main justification for spending so much time researching the list (aside from the fact that it's just fun) is that, in my experience, it's really easy to schedule 20 great films at TIFF; scheduling 30-35, however, is much more difficult. I was disappointed by a couple films last year (Day Night, Day Night and Red Road) but even those were interesting.

August 27, 2007 2:10 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

So Girish, Darren, do we get to repeat our Eggstasy breakfast of last year? I'm sentimental that way.

August 27, 2007 5:06 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Count me in, Michael! Eggstasy sounds good.

August 27, 2007 9:17 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Eggstasy sounds good to me, too.

August 28, 2007 10:09 AM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

I have a review of Shadow Kill on my site. It's available on DVD:
It's a terrific film, and one of the commenters seems to confirm Gopalakrishnan's standing in India

As a huge fan of Carlos Saura's dance films, I'd definitely want to see FADOS. I also was a huge fan of Songs from the Second Floor, so YOU, THE LIVING would be a must. Andersson puts out films so rarely, that this really is an event.

August 28, 2007 11:57 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

You the Living is the first film Jonathan Marlow recommended to me at TIFF.

I'm interested in Fados but primarily because I just adore fados.

August 28, 2007 12:28 PM  
Anonymous rakesh said...

I have seen all of Adoor Gopalakrishnan's movies and "Rat Trap" and "Monologue" are my favourites. I remember walking out of the cinema totally shaken after watching "Rat Trap". And the performances are to notch. It's definitely one of the best Indian films of all time

August 28, 2007 1:30 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, everyone.
The full Toronto schedule just went up (scroll down a bit).

August 28, 2007 1:33 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Off topic, Facets just sent me this press release:


[Chicago, August 28, 2007] Bela Tarr, one of the world’s legendary filmmakers, widely recognized as a visionary of film form and language, will participate in a symposium on his work with three leading film critics and historians at the Facets Cinematheque, 1517 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago on Sunday, September 17, 2007 at 3 p.m. The event will be preceded by a screening of Tarr’s film Werckmeister Harmonies at 12 noon.

Three of the sharpest minds about the cinema will meet Bela Tarr a memorable encounter: David Bordwell, is a prominent film theorist, historian, and author of many books, including Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema, The Films of Carl Theodor Dreyer, and the recent The Way Hollywood Tells It. He is the Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies, Emeritus in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Scott Foundas is the film editor of the L.A. Weekly, frequent contributor to Variety and a member of the selection committee of the New York Film Festival. Jonathan Rosenbaum is the film critic for Chicago Reader and writer for numerous film magazines, whose books include Essential Cinema, Placing Movies, Movies as Politics and Discovering Orson Welles. Moderated by Suzi Doll, Ph.D., the symposium will cover the central themes and concerns of Bela Tarr’s unique body of work, from his Family Nest, his epic Satantango, and most recent film, The Man from London.

Bela Tarr, who has been the subject of numerous retrospectives and the recipient of major awards including being named “European Director of the Year,” has been called “one of the most celebrated auteurs in world cinema.” In a now-famous quote, the late Susan Sontag said Tarr’s Satantango is, “Devastating, enthralling for every minute of its seven hours. I'd be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life."

His feature films include Family Nest, The Outsider, Prefab People, Almanac of Fall, Damnation, Werckmeister Harmonies, Satantango and Man from London. Master of the elegant long take, Tarr’s films, which have often been described as having “melancholy” themes, are visually breathtaking experiences which evoke stark poetry around often grim reality.

Admission to the Werckmeister Harmonies screening is $9, free for Facets Patron Circle members. Admission to the Master of Cinema: Bela Tarr symposium is $15, $10 for Facets members. Advance tickets for both events can be ordered at

For further information, call Facets at 773-281-9075

August 28, 2007 2:23 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

Thanks, Flickhead. Just bought my tickets, thanks to you!

August 28, 2007 2:46 PM  
Blogger Andy Rector said...

"Andy, can I just say what an awesome line that is?!"
I just read your big compliment...thanks! As an on/off Straub-Huillet resource, Kino Slang apologizes for not having a link to the cine-tract. Kino Slang believed the existence of this clip was better known! "Happy the believers". Good Straub/Huillet documents on Kino Slang coming soon...

and incidentally, Straub has called Rivette's latest his best since La Religieuse...

August 28, 2007 8:37 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

Oh my, that Tarr symposium sounds fabulous. I would love to see Bordwell, Rosenbaum and Foundas on stage with Bela!

'course, talkin' to him one-on-one might be nice too; though I hear he's something of a contrarian.

Just scored an interview with Juan Antonio Bayona, whose The Orphanage scared the beejesus out of me at this morning's screening. I love to be horrified!

Also saw Sleuth and found it intoxicating. Pinter's repartee is so crisp and Caine and Law play off each other excellently.

On the other hand, also saw Silk which inverts the whole premise of silk being spun from cocoon eggs, creating a tale that just basically spins an egg. And a one-note, flat one at that. Pitt is nearly invisible in this period piece; but, unfortunately, not invisible enough.

August 29, 2007 12:13 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Wow. Acquarello posts the NYFF "Views from the Avant-Garde" sidebar, and it looks loaded.

August 29, 2007 10:41 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

The original source for the Straub/Huillet video is from distributor Pierre Grise Distribution

August 29, 2007 10:42 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Michael, about this Bela Tarr interview you so lucky to have secured, do you think you could slip in a couple of questions about "contemplation"? Not necessarily as the trend we discussed in the blogathon, but just to know if he thinks this concept of a contemplative camera is representative of the vision he wants to convey in his work or if it's just a superficial/formal trait. It would be interesting to hear what is his justification to underplay the role of a dramatic cues by eschewing the instant dynamics of conventional cinema. Also I'd like to know his opinion on other contemporary filmmakers who seem to share his vision of cinema. Who is closest to him?
No worries if you don't ask these question, of course. ;)
Looking forward to your interview.

And I hope that someone will blog about this Bela Tarr symposium. I wish I could be there! Will it be recorded or podcasted?

August 29, 2007 1:27 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

I'll be happy to blog ab out it.

August 29, 2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Gautam said...

They have a great line up this time- I've been curious about 'Paranoid Park'. Gus Van Sant is taking new and refreshing directions (esp. since Elephant).

Thanks for the post.

August 29, 2007 3:22 PM  
Anonymous PD said...

I'm waiting with bated breath for the new Argento but not for aesthetic reasons - a friend of mine has a major role in it! I am half-scared, given the crapulence of most of his recent work, to expect too much, though I doubt he would do too much of an injustice to the legacy of Suspiria and Tenebrae... I hope not, at least!

August 29, 2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

Harry, I've made a note to myself of the questions you want me to ask Tarr. Thanks for your input.

August 30, 2007 12:50 AM  
Blogger Sachin G. said...

Hey Girish,

Came across this interesting essay by Phillip Lapote about novel to film adaptations in Book Forum.

September 02, 2007 11:34 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, everyone, for all the suggestions and help!

September 04, 2007 7:20 PM  
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