Editor's Note: For the fifth consecutive year, Dawn and The Husband will be spending a few nights attending the Toronto International Film Festival, known to the locals as TIFF. While they can now proudly call themselves seasoned veterans at this madness, CoVid-19 has altered how films will be screened this year. While TIFF is offering in-person and drive-in experiences all over the downtown core, neither one of them is yet ready to sit in a theatre with other potential Delta vectors, even though every patron is masked and vaxxed. The roster, while not nearly as robust as in previous years, still offers some wonderful choices so they have increased their number of films to view to six. Because they are old and, as previously stated congregating in a movie theatre is anathema in this still raging pandemic time, all films will be screened from the comfort of their living room complete with popcorn, a few homemade treats, and lights appropriately dimmed. The only phone calls that will be answered during the viewing of these world premieres are from Molly or Talia because grandchildren rule. TIFF still serves as a tremendous distraction from the world's ills and allows for some much-needed escapism during these tumultuous times. The next several posts will focus exclusively on TIFF and will offer very quick bullet point reviews for the movies seen. You've all been warned.
As TIFF '21 draws to a close, I am once again reminded of how much I love this art form. There is a lot of garbage that has found its way to celluloid over the years, but that hasn't diminished how wonderful the movies truly are. Superheroes and comic books notwithstanding, there are so many stories worth telling and viewing that I am very grateful for one of the world's best film festivals that brings them all together for a fortnight. And in my hometown...bonus.
It is in this heartfelt vein that TIFF '21 chose for its closing gala, director Zhang Yimou's love letter to cinema, One Second. This breathtaking and visual masterpiece was scheduled to be released at the Berlin festival in 2019 but it was pulled because of what was described as "technical issues." The film world is fairly certain that the Chinese government was none too happy with some of the portrayals of mid-1970's Maoist China and demanded cuts before the film could be screened. Two years later, we have the final product but I'm left wondering what ended up on the cutting room floor. All of that backroom drama was for naught because what remains is a visually stunning and heartwrenching depiction of a man who escapes a labour camp to see a film that has within it, a glimpse of his long-lost daughter. Along the way, we are treated to magnificent and striking desert landscapes and a cast of characters who tie themselves to his quest for their own personal reasons. There is a harshness to the setting to be sure but there is also a true adoration for the power that film has, both as entertainment and propaganda, and what can occur when movies are communally viewed.
We absolutely loved this film and were so grateful to be among the first audiences in the world to view it. The first digital showing happened at the same time as the theatre screening. We saw seven movies this year at TIFF and this is the only one that I wish we had seen in person with other patrons. I missed the oohs, aahs, and knowing glances of fellow movie buffs.
Dawn and The Husband give One Second two huge YUPS. See this movie.
**And that's a wrap on TIFF '21. We hope that we can do it again next year in person.**