Weekend Film Report 2 – TIFF Next Wave, Kaurismäki, and TAAFI

It’s currently the dead of winter, and most brave Canadian souls are on the edge of psychological warfare, due to Canada’s extreme weather conditions. Our only savior? Entertainment, more specifically film, too help us during these very dark days. After the long strenuous month of January, I decided to go on a much needed short vacation, a quick escapade into a new dimension, something to distract me from the confrontations of reality. Their, I found out about the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival, a delightful little program, hosted by one of the biggest film festivals in world, with a brilliant plethora of film programming and workshops that would make any young avid cinephile (under the age of 25), squeal with pure and utter delight.

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I’d have to admit, that the TIFF Next Wave committee is truly something else. These dedicated group of teens are a powerful group of individuals, that perfectly encapsulates the understanding and importance of film preservation. In a weekend long journey of free pizza, candy, and screenings, the TIFF Next Wave committee organized a programme that’s both enthralling for both youth and adults alike, with films which captivated and motivated the human spirit. An example of this? Virus Tropical, a film which I’ve previously reviewed, that I still admire with every bone in my body.

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As for the films themselves, I was more intrigued by the retrospective/movie marathon events, rather than the official film selection. As much as I would have liked to have seen Ladyworld and Blue My Mind, the throwback marathon lineup is filled with plenty of memorable “big mood” features, that will leave you in a regretful spirit, if you missed out on the opportunity to go. 10 Things I Hate About You, was a particular delight, with an engaging audience which continuously laughed and gasped throughout the film’s massively enjoyable rom-com cliches. Hilariously dense and amusing in terms of a Shakespeare adaptation, 10 Things I Hate About You is a timeless adaptation that will continue to amuse the teens of today, without ever becoming a product of its time. Also, the fact that the screening was in 35mm, is always a plus.

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Re-watches were made over the weekend, including Princess Mononoke and the aforementioned Virus Tropical, both being presented in a picture perfect DCP, where the two film’s unique varied stylings illuminated the TIFF’s screens in a jaw dropping light. I’d have to admit, that for both films, the enjoyment factor surely and incrementally declined after an additional viewing. However, the sheer brilliance and artistic practice of both features are undeniably impressive in terms of an international “lost in translation” narratives, and will continue to prevail and provoke others.

However, my favorite film experience of the fest, was experiencing Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo in the quietude and depth of night. My experience with the film can be best described as otherworldly. An out of body experience, and noir esque portrait of an abusive relationship, that haunts and taunts it’s audience into a spiraling colorful nightmare of depressive anxiety and self-image. Millennium Mambo is mumble-core at it’s finest, and is a film that will continue to inspire the filmmakers of today, and tomorrow.

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The TIFF Next Wave wasn’t the only event I experienced during my time in Toronto. Plenty of retrospective cinematheque screenings were at my disposal, including TAAFI, Toronto’s Animation Film Festival. At TAAFI, located at the Hot Docs Theater, I experienced two features, the first being Ruben Brandt, Collector, a convoluted disoriented abstract hot mess, that is sure to find a cult following one day, and How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, a charming finale to a classic saga of fire breathing monsters and vikings.

As for the cinematheque, catching Le Havre by Aki Kaurismäki, preceded by an in depth talk regarding Aki’s usage of immigration, work, precarity, and adorable dogs with Girish Shambu was easily one of my favorite experiences of the weekend. I I can even say that Mr. Shambu’s lecture was so amusing and informative, that it even improved and overwhelmed my enjoyment of La Havre. As much as I enjoyed Kaurismäki, Le Havre can be best described as his “Green Book”, yet another eurocentric film with a prominent white savior trope at its core. Shambu’s talk on the other hand, isn’t as problematic.

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Other events I went to included a 35mm screening of the 1938 Classic Holiday, which appropriately, the screening took place on family day. The film itself may be a tad bit overlong and dull, but Katherine Hepburn rules in what may be my favorite performance from her. I also attended two Ontario Place cine-sphere IMAX screenings, to watch showings of The Iron Giant and Inception. Both remain masterpieces to this day, and viewing them in a large format, helped regain more memories, of watching these phenomenal pieces of cinema on the big screen. Overall, my weekend wasn’t all too shabby. Filled with film and innovation, the future of tomorrow has finally arrived, and it’s time to welcome them like royalty. Join the revolution I guess!

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Individual Reviews for Virus Tropical, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and Ruben Brandt, Collector can be found on the site! 

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