Buffalo or Bust; First-timers Dominate in Toronto
by Eugene Hernandez
>> Hello Buffalo!
The Air Canada strike snarled arrivals here yesterday, as Festival attendees
scrambled to find alternative routes to Toronto. While the indieWIRE crew
was forced to fly to Buffalo, and then drive north across the border, others
took even less direct routes. Next Wave Films President Peter Broderick left
an Independent Film Channel management retreat yesterday, flew to Philadelphia,
then to Toronto, while new Next Wave filmmaker Christopher Nolan (director
of "Following") had to take a shuttle van to SoCal's Ontario Airport for a flight
to Dallas and then the airplane trip to the fest. Finally, Sundance programmer
John Cooper came via Vancouver and Independent Film and Video Monthly
Editor Pat Thomson grabbed a train from Manhattan to Hartford, CT and then
flew to Canada from there.
According to news reports yesterday afternoon, a news blackout surrounding
the Air Canada strike negotiations has some wondering if a settlement is
imminent and a Toronto festival staffer told indieWIRE late yesterday that
airline sources are indeed expecting a settlement shortly.
>> 83 Directors Making Debut in Toronto
First time filmmakers are clearly a group to watch at the 23rd Toronto Film
Festival, with 83 directors set to screen their debut works. Of course, as
acquisitions executives begin scouring industry screenings this weekend,
the industry as a whole will be watching closely to examine the level of
sales activity among the nearly 500 buyers and sales agents. In an interview
with Reuters, Toronto Film Festival Director Piers Handling explained, "It's
been a somewhat slow year (for acquisitions) in terms of the other festivals
and markets. Sundance, Berlin and Cannes I think were all perceived as
slow. There's some major unacquired films here. It's a very competitive
situation among the independents or the mini-majors."
The Festival kicked off last night with the debut of Francois Girard's "The
Red Violin," a new film starring Samuel L. Jackson and Greta Scacchi.
Following the screening a large crowd crammed a mammoth dockside space
on Queen Quay West for the opening night celebration. Industry, press and
public screenings kick off in earnest today and the festival continues through
[indieWIRE will provide comprehensive ON THE SCENE coverage of the
1998 Toronto Film Festival all next week.]