TIFF is over and frankly I’m too exhausted to offer any sort of post-mortem on this blog. Having a massive festival in your hometown honestly sucks every iota of life out of you by the time it’s over and all I can do now is try and relax for 2 or 3 days before the remainder of the fall festival blitz starts kicking into high gear. That said, you can check out loads of stuff over at indieWIRE here and here and here.
But one of our interns indeed had the energy to offer a summary of his festival experience, and I figured I might as well post it here. It’s a bit candid, but incredibly endearing as far as I’m concerned. It’s written by Derek, one of three teenage alums of Picton Picturefest’s youth retreat that made it up to Toronto for their first TIFF experience. Having them around was by far my TIFF 2011 highlight (its hard to be jaded when you’re around people that are so remarkably the opposite of it), and Derek seemed to enjoy himself quite a bit as well:
I’ve just returned from TIFF. Literally, I got in the door to my house fifteen minutes ago. My car ride home was a blur. My thoughts have become so tangible, so vibrant that in pondering my experience in the festival I have to simply sit down and gaze off. So much content stuffed into a week and a half; it feels like some immense vessel of experience that has chugged along through vast and immense realms of human and artistic experience. If I sound pretentious you’ll have to forgive; it’s probably a mixture of the sleep deprivation, diet of fast food and drug intake throughout all this.
Where to begin? My friend Oliver and I met Peter on the first day for a sentimental reunion. We’d be seeing far more of him throughout the festival. Our meeting place was the Hyatt hotel and upon arrival we were quickly suited with our indieWIRE press badges and complimentary gift package. Sitting in that hotel lounge among other journalists sucked into their laptops; I could already feel the hum of the festival.
Our first night was spent at the Opening Night party at the Liberty Grand. Being border-line snuck in, I was completely floored at the aristocratic palace I was walking through. Alcohol was available like chocolate in a candy store; I went to town. Very soon there was a drunken glaze to my cognizance. I wandered to and fro the place and felt the aura, music and great number of people clogging every crevice.
I’ll begin to skip days for there will be no possible way to include everything. Our third night was spent at a Sony Pictures Classic dinner, featuring Gus Van Sant and Jessica Chastain. My companion and I thoroughly snuck in this time and it was a cosmic blessing that we did so. My friend got to drink with Gus Van Sant, and the two of us were flushed upon speaking to the beautiful Miss Chastain. The night ended on an extreme note of absurdity when Gus offered my friend and I a ride home from his private chauffeur.
Fast forward a few days to STIFF; a party held in a local Toronto bar. Hovering nervously outside the bar, I was fed an ID of a thirty-five year old friend of mine (the age difference is 18 years) to present to the bouncer. By another miracle it worked and I had my first experience in a legitimate bar. Once again was I drunk, with all the wondering and shimmering profundity that comes with being so. I won’t express everything that occurred that night for fear of all who might read this article, but it will suffice that I had quite a, romantic, evening.
This recap brings us to last night. All those that attended the Picton Picturefest (Peter’s festival held in the summer) assembled to his apartment. I had a heartwarming time with each of these peoples though I fell asleep quite fast. On a poetic note: the first thing this particular group did together was play board games in Picton, Ontario. My last evening of TIFF was spent doing the very same.
I’ve included the four nights I was drunk because they were the most affecting. Waking up each morning brought a daze of introspection and thought mixed with the hangover. Do not assume that the other nights were less moving, though. All the bonding with my very dear friend whom I was joined with at the hip throughout the festival gave me insight to human relationship, for you see I’ve never spent as continuously close with a person ever before. The more quaint afternoons and evenings gave me time to compress all the wildness, though it will take weeks to return to “normal.”
Yet how could I finish an article on a film festival without touching on the films. All the parties and aforementioned stories reflected in between the theatre. I saw twenty one in the eleven days. Eventually they all blurred into one, most of them losing all singular definition. A few pinging in my mind, though: Faust by Alexander Sokurov was somewhat of an initiation for me. Witnessed earlier in the festival, I had never seen anything like it. Such movement and pace, the utter content and absurdity of the film touched me greatly. The Turin Horse, by the legendary Bela Tarr, might have been the best of all. Again a film completely unique to me, it was quite possible the most grim, disturbing and haunting piece of cinema I’ve ever watched. The difference between Faust and The Turin Horse is that with the former I felt the drag; with Tarr’s film I was literally shocked at how fast it felt. Tarkovsky and others speak on film serving as an experiment in time; with these two films I noticed this the strongest.
And now I’m back. I’ve failed to capture everything, how could it be possible even if I wrote an immense tome. For there was so much for me that is inexpressible, so new and profound and amazing that words would sully them. The festival was like a dream; intense content in a surreal context that once left, will vacate my mind as if waking from it all. It was, without much apprehension in saying, the greatest experience in my budding life, and I am forever changed.