The 2009 Toronto International Film Festival closed this weekend, leaving a flurry of reviews, news, and industry and Oscar predictions in its wake. A look at what critics and industry observers are saying about this year’s festival:
“If industry-watchers didn’t see it coming, they figured it out at this year’s Toronto Film Festival,” writes Anne Thompson in her wrap up of the festival. “The old independent market is over. A new one will take its place. But we are smack in the middle between the end of one paradigm and the start of another, and it’s a scary place indeed… I saw one movie after another that was unreleasable in the current climate. As lovely as many of them were, they weren’t commercial enough. It costs too much money these days to make a dent, a mark, an impression that will create enough urgency in filmgoers to make them go out and see a movie.”
The LA Times’ John Horn also notes the lack of major deals at this year’s festival: “Scores of movies arrived in Toronto without domestic theatrical distribution, and almost all of them left the festival in the same exact condition… That’s because movie marketing costs continue to climb, theaters are quicker than ever to kick out underperforming releases and cash-strapped consumers aren’t buying as many DVDs. At the same time, audiences have steered clear of the sometimes difficult, intellectually challenging dramas that festival programmers tend to present.”
“The feeling is that it’s too expensive in this economy to successfully open an unknown film,” blogs Roger Ebert. “Most indies feel they must open in New York, the most costly media market in the country, and of course that means an ad big enough to be visible in The New York Times, buys in the other major daily and weeklies, maybe some public transportation posters, maybe some radio, maybe some television, maybe some internet, and pretty soon you’re talking maybe more money than the movie maybe cost.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Owen Gleiberman looks at the positive side of things in his wrap up of the festival: “In the week I spent there, almost everyone I talked to seemed to agree — as did I — on the generally exciting quality of the movies. The fact that so many of those films connected with the anxious urgency of the moment lent the programming (intentionally or not) a certain seductive coherence. At times, coming out of a movie like ‘Collapse’ or ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,’ it was almost like attending the Whole Earth on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown film festival — and I mean that as a compliment.”
“The auteur movement in film has been declared dead as often as rock ‘n’ roll, which has been around for almost as many decades,” observes The Toronto Star’s Peter Howell. “No one was playing taps for auteurs at TIFF, but signs of a new willingness to combine vision with populism were unmistakeable.”
Check out all of indieWIRE’s coverage of the 2009 Toronto Film Festival here.