Monday, September 08, 2008

TIFF08—Home Away From Home

Here in Toronto, I call the stretch on Bay Street between the Variety screening rooms at the Manulife Center and the press offices at Sutton Place the “Hey, how’s it goin’?” Corridor, made all the more pleasant and familiar by the presence of nearly the entire San Francisco press corps. I see more folks here from San Francisco than I do in San Francisco! The Toronto International Film Festival is our home away from home.

Here on behalf of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, I spotted Jesse Hawthorne Ficks early on and we compared notes about what we were intending to see. Unlike his SFBG cohort Cheryl Eddy, who he asserts doesn’t bother with watching anything she’s not interested in, Jesse allows himself to watch films he’s fully expecting to hate. Case in point: infuriated by Olivier Assayas’s last venture Boarding Gate, Jesse is expecting to equally detest Assayas’s Summer Hours. Cheryl, on the other hand, though watching the films that interest her, still hasn’t seen one that’s fully excited her, particularly noting JCVD which she thought was going to be phenomenal and … well … wasn’t.

In the same vein, I bumped into Dennis Harvey rushing off to see an early morning screening of Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla. Though not reviewing the film for Variety, he couldn’t resist his “morbid interest” to check the film out.

It’s always fascinating to watch our festival programmers sizing up the new films. Chi-hui Yang, keeping cool in his short Summer haircut, sincerely hopes he can bring San Francisco So Yong Kim’s Treeless Mountain for next year’s Asian American. Dead Channels’ Bruce Fletcher’s high hopes for Vinyan were dashed by the film’s lame final act. He called me over for "twobeer" to help him drown his sorrows. Naturally I helped him out. I always grin ear to ear when I see our Vanity Fair darling Graham Leggat, sporting a foxy new goatee, and singing praises for Ed Harris’s directorial western Appaloosa. I’m anticipating he’ll score that for next year’s SF International.

I took Jonathan Marlow out to lunch at my current Thai fave rave Spring Rolls to celebrate not only his recent marriage to Hannah Eaves (she’s keeping her name though I encourage hyphenation; Hannah Eaves-Marlow has a ring to it, don’t you think?); but, also to celebrate his being appointed Executive Director of the San Francisco Cinemateque. He’ll be bringing San Francisco some of Toronto’s Wavelengths fare. Aside from experimental cinema, he felt Jerzy Skolimowsi’s Four Nights With Anna was three nights too long.

Sure she’s scheduling for Seattle and Palm Springs, but Anita Monga is quintessential San Francisco and always will be for me. I caught her coming out of the Mexican comedy Voy A Explotar, whose teenage antics simply struck her as immature. Her recommendation was Kore-eda's Still Walking, which she found thematically similar to Claire Denis's 35 Shots of Rum. I saw Pam Grady rushing through the lobby looking miserable from undoubtedly one too many interviews and spotted Meredith Brody and Susan Oxtoby chatting it up as if it were just another evening at the Pacific Film Archive.

There’s a lot more San Franciscans here, and not only in the press corps. Carole Rutherford and I keep sending emails like ships passing in the night and, hopefully, I'll run into her soon. Are you missing us back home?


Anonymous said...

now i know why SF feels empty of cineates. I'm so jealous.

Brian Darr said...

Oh there are still plenty of us here. Many whose names I don't know of course, but a smattering of those I've seen at film events in the past several days include: Steve Seid, Jonathan Knapp, Jason Alley, and representatives of the Film on Film Foundation at the early Milos Forman double-bill (Audition and Black Peter) at the PFA last Thursday, and Frako Loden, Michael Hawley, Tony An, Lincoln Specter, and Jay (sans Maxxxx) at the Mill Valley Film Festival press conference this morning. For instance.

But we miss you anyway.

Michael Guillen said...

Well, with most of the press beginning to head out today and tomorrow, the roles are reversed and now I am the one starting to feel a little homesick. But don't weep for me, Argentina. There's still a few movies left to see, a few filmmakers left to interview, and a hot bird to put in a cold bottle.

Good to hear from you, Brian. Joking aside, what I do miss are your previews at HOFB. Been busy?

Brian Darr said...

You could say that. Between moving into a permanent place, working extra hours at the library, and starting school again for the first time in years, I just don't have the blocks of time and energy I used to, and that I need to make any kind of headyway on a substantial post. I've got several half-finished pieces, now all badly outdated, sitting in my drafts folder. But I should be able to have something new up soon... (crosses fingers)

Michael Guillen said...

Yes, definitely sounds like a lot on your plate! Back to school, eh? What's going on there? Enquiring Mayans want to know....