Thursday, September 01, 2011

My 2011 TIFF Schedule

[Updated September 2, 2011]

Yes I know Thursdays are usually the “Which is Better?” debate day, but that feature will up tomorrow. Instead I want to talk a little about TIFF as the film festival officially starts one week today! This will be my 10th TIFF experience in the past 11 years. While I will be seeing far less films than usual, I am very appreciative that I have been able to have the festival experience at all. I know that we here in Toronto are spoiled when it comes to movie festivals. It seems that there are different film festivals happening every week in the city. Regardless, TIFF is something I think every movie lover should experience at least once. Even if you only see one film, it is still worth the experience. Below are the films I will be seeing at this year’s festival:

Into the Abyss – Werner Herzog
According to the TIFF programme book: “Crime stories can often fall into a predictable pattern of whodunit, but trust Werner Herzog to bring his own unique approach to the genre. He focuses on a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, that occurred ten years ago. Epitomizing the word “senseless,” the apparent motive behind the murders was to steal a car for a joyride... In a departure from films like Cave of Forgotten Dreams or Grizzly Man, Herzog refrains from his distinctive and familiar voice-over commentary, but his presence is felt through his questions. In addition to interviewing Perry and Burkett, he talks to their relatives, the victims’ families, law enforcement officials and others. Exploring an American gothic landscape, he takes us from luxury homes to impoverished trailers to prison cells.

Restless – Gus Van Sant
According to the TIFF programme book: ”A delicate love story about two outsiders drawn to each other by a fascination with death, Restless finds the director in a ruminative mood. Enoch is a somewhat formal, withdrawn teenager who crashes other people’s funerals. In his fantasy life he plays games with an imaginary friend, a Japanese kamikaze pilot from the Second World War, but what has prompted his obsession with death lies in the details of his own personal life. One day, he meets another funeral crasher, the pixieish Annabel, and as their tentative relationship progresses, she draws the young man out of his shell. Wayward, beautiful and ultimately fragile, Annabel has her own secret, which adds an intense poignancy to their imagined future together.

The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
According to the TIFF programme book: “A love letter to 1920s Hollywood, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist resurrects silent cinema as a powerful and complex storytelling medium. Shot entirely in black and white, without dialogue and in a traditional 1.33 aspect ratio, the film remains faithful to the period it represents, avoiding the trap of pastiche through a sincere appreciation of the cinematic possibilities offered by classic silent film.

A Monster in Paris - Bibo Bergeron
According to the TIFF programme book: “Paris, 1910. The streets of the city are flooded. The Eiffel Tower looms over a temporary lake and certain streets sport makeshift bridges so Parisians can go about their daily routines. But spirits are high for the citizens of this romantic city, including those of Emile (Jay Harrington), a lovelorn cinema projectionist, and his madcap friend Raoul (Adam Goldberg), a delivery man by day and inventor by night... Marvelously animated, A Monster in Paris boasts the vocal talents of top-notch comedians and singers.

Breathing - Karl Markovics
According to the TIFF programme book: “If done right, restraint can be an art unto itself, and actor-turned-director Karl Markovics has it down pat. While his protagonist Roman (Thomas Schubert) all but holds his breath waiting to be released from jail, Markovics holds back on details from Roman’s past that would bog down the viewer with emotional involvement. He simply allows fragments of information to come trickling out, made all the more significant for being withheld.

Keyhole - Guy Maddin
According to the TIFF programme book: “Homer’s Odyssey has inspired many an artist, and Maddin pays homage to the epic poem in his own iconoclastic manner. But it’s the gangster and melodrama genres, as well as Maddin’s cinematic influences (particularly Buñuel and von Sternberg), that inform the film’s rich style. With all of this in mind, Maddin crafts a startling and original film that echoes the past yet is undeniably, refreshingly his own.

11 Flowers - Wang Xiaoshuai
According to the TIFF programme book:"It’s 1975, southwest China, a decade after the start of the Cultural Revolution that turned the country upside down. Wang Han, an eleven-year-old boy, lives with his parents and younger sister in a large community courtyard... One day while playing by the river, Han encounters a bleeding man, who runs away with the boy’s new shirt. Chasing the man into the woods, Han suddenly finds himself face to face with an accused murderer."

Lipstikka - Jonathan Sagall
According to the TIFF programme book: ”Memory is a mutable thing. If two people share an experience and then years later finally speak of it again, whose version of events is the truest? This question is only one of many that writer/director Jonathan Sagall grapples with in Lipstikka, a beautifully attenuated drama about love, sex, memory and the tangled bonds of female friendship.

The full list of films playing at TIFF this year can be found at the festival's website.


  1. You're one of the bloggers I'll have a keen eye out for during September for TIFF feedback.

    'Restless', 'Breathing' and 'Keyhole' sound to be of particular interest. I await the reviews.

  2. dEmon8:46 pm

    Seems like a well-rounded list. Puts me in mind of our first and second year. I'm starting to regret my decision not to attend this year... ;-p

  3. @Edgar - This year I plan to get my reviews up while the festival is on, instead of starting after the festival ends. We will see how it goes. Also, on Wednesday I will be posting some links to other blogs that will be covering TIFF as well this year.

    @dEmon - I really wanted a diverse list this year, especially with the small amount of films.

    Also it is never too late to grab a few single tickets (which go on sale Sept 3rd). Of the films I am seeing only The Artist and Keyhole had gone rush as of Friday. The only ones I did not get into where Drive (opens on Sept 16th anyways), and A Separation (I am surprised it went rush, thought I was the only one that really wanted to see it).

  4. Awesome, I'll see you at Into the Abyss.

  5. @Corey - You doing the Thursday screening of Into the Abyss? If so save me a spot in line.


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