TIFF: final thoughts

So the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped. The parties are over, the celebrities have left town (actually, they left several days ago), and red carpets are rolled up and sales at Starbucks have returned to normal. This year’s festival wasn’t without some grumbling though. I’ll get to that in a minute.

As you would have seen if you followed along with my blog during the fest, I graded each film as I saw it. It’s hard to do this, especially in the early days when you’re kind of making up the scale as you go, but I think it feels about right. Here’s a recap; there’s no ranking within each letter grade, they’re just alphabetical.

A: Slumdog Millionaire

A-: Lion’s Den; Waltz with Bashir

B+: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist; The Brothers Bloom

B: 24 City; A Christmas Tale; It Might Get Loud; Martyrs; New York, I Love You; Under Rich Earth

B-: Ghost, Is There Anybody There?; Me and Orson Welles; Miracle at St. Anna; Public Enemy Number One; Religulous; RocknRolla; Tokyo Sonata; Zack and Miri Make a Porno

C+: Acolytes; Fifty Dead Men Walking; Sauna; Synecdoche, New York; The Hurt Locker

C: Flash of Genius

C-: Birdsong; Deadgirl; Katia’s Sister

D: Not Quite Hollywood

I clearly wasn’t the only person who thought Slumdog Millionaire was the best movie at the festival. Yesterday the Danny Boyle film was named the Cadillac People’s Choice Award winner. That, however, is indicative of one of the problems people had with this year’s festival: the top films this year were already the top films elsewhere. Peter Howell writes in this morning’s Star:

Many of the films that drew attention and praise – The Wrestler, The Hurt Locker and Slumdog Millionaire among them – arrived with laurels already bestowed at the Venice and Telluride festivals. I can’t think of a single world premiere that really mattered at TIFF this year. The fest seemed like a giant second-run theatre.

Pair this with the fact that the Hollywood schmooze factor seemed to kick into overdrive this year — the screening of a vapid Paris Hilton (is that redundant?) documentary seemed to disappoint people, and I now know more people who attend parties and after-parties than who see any films — and people are starting to worry. There’s always been a mix of important films and celebrity worship at this festival, but it seems the latter is winning.

I suspect the two are unrelated, though. True film fans can shrug off all the red carpet bullshit as a necessary evil, but I suspect they’re less willing to accept that their festival will lose the relevance and reputation it’s acquired as a home for big, important films — the kickoff to Oscar season, if you will. Those film fans can take comfort knowing that there are still dozens of great small, independent and rewarding films screened at the festival each year, but to me the variety has always been a big draw, and the justification for the high ticket prices.

The afore-mentioned Star article offers some remedies, first among them to hold their ground against the likes of the Venice, Telluride and New York festivals. Here’s hoping Piers Handling, Noah Cowan and the rest of the festival organizers can tear their attention away from the Bell Lightbox long enough to do so.

[tags]tiff, tiff08, slumdog millionaire, bell lightbox[/tags]

0 thoughts on “TIFF: final thoughts

  1. […] post info By Timinator Categories: Film Tags: LFF, London Film Festival Like last year, I’ll only be seeing a couple of movies at this year’s London Film Festival. I’ve just got too much stuff already on at the time, and work is keeping me busier than it has in recent years. Unfortunately I’m not seeing any of Peter Bradshaw’s recommendations in the Guardian, nor am I able to catch any of Dan’s top picks from the higher-profile Toronto Film Festival. […]

  2. […] I don’t know why, exactly, but I’ve/we’ve watched a lot of movies this month. Being on a plane for ten hours doesn’t hurt, and I did just get a new digital media player, but given how busy we’ve been at work (and how much good TV is on right now) I was surprised to see that I’ve gone through 14 movies this month. One more and it’ll be the busiest movie month for me since September 2008, when I took a week of vacation and watched 30 movies in 10 days at TIFF. […]

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