2002 was the year that I started to infect my friends with the film festival bug. I was able to share my knowledge in regards to the selection process, theatre locations, type of food and drink to have, etc. While 2001 had it far share of great films, 2002 completely blew it out of the water. The amount of exceptional films was simply staggering. On a personal note, this was also the year when the term “The Whale Riders” officially became a part of the festival lexicon between my friend and I.
While skimming through the program book to make our selections, my friend and I came across a film entitled Whale Rider. The picture in the book was of a young girl on a whale, and the description of the plot did not really peak our interest by any means. Instead we opted for a quirky Canadian film, Le Marais (The Marsh), which was playing at the same time. Even as we watched the director and cast of Whale Rider stroll into the Cumberland, while we stood in line for Le Marais, we were confident that we had made the right choice. It was only after sitting through that “weird goat-boy movie” that we realized we had made a grave mistake. Whale Rider not only turned out to be a phenomenal film but it was also the toast of the festival that year winning the People’s Choice Award for favourite film. We will always regret that decision hence the birth of “The Whale Riders.”
Total Number of Films Watched: 28
My Top 5:
Better Luck Tomorrow
Bowling for Columbine
Honourable Mention: Talk to Her, Secretary, In America, Dirty Pretty Things, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Blue Car, Phone Booth, The Magdalene Sisters, Laurel Canyon, Sex is Comedy
The Disappointments: Ginostra, Le Marais (The Marsh), Tycoon, Le Neg, Tuck Everlasting
The Whale Riders (aka. I regret passing on these films): Whale Rider, City of God, Far From Heaven, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Frida, Real Women Have Curves, Personal Velocity, Irreversible, Gerry, 8 Mile.
Memorable Moment: It is a tie between seeing P.T. Anderson and Adam Sandler at the Punch-Drunk Love screening and taking in my very first Midnight Madness Screening. When Adam Sandler arrived at the Uptown theatre it was absolute chaos. The media and fans were all trying to get photos of Sandler and ask him questions. The festival volunteers had to form two human chains in order to get the ticket holders into the theatre safely. Fortunately I was at the front of the line so I did not have to endure the madness for too long. Plus I was able to snag front row seats inside the theatre. After seeing Punch-Drunk Love the night before, I had five films lined up for the final day of the festival. It was a long day but I ended it off with a Midnight Madness screening of, a then unknown director, Eli Roth’s film Cabin Fever. I had heard stories about the Midnight Madness screenings before but nothing prepared me for the sheer fun that the experience brought. Cabin Fever may not be a great film, but I definitely had a lot of fun watching it with the Midnight Madness crowd.
Random Star Sightings: P.T. Anderson, Adam Sandler, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Duvall, Hayao Miyazaki, Roger Ebert, Joel Schumacher, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Michael Moore, Sergi López, Niki Caro, Kesha Castle-Hughes, Peter Mullan, Lisa Cholodenko, Alessandro Nivola, Samatha Morton, Cliff Curtis, John Cho, Sung Kang, Justin Lin, Catherine Breillat, Chloë Sevigny, Vincent Gallo, David Strathairn, Agnes Bruckner, Philip Noyce