2013 Toronto International Film Festival Highlights

tiffI have been lucky enough to catch a couple of films at this years Toronto International Film Festival (tiff). On average I see about four to five films each year, due to my work and or school schedule. I generally do spend quite a bit of time trying to read the guides, watch the previews, and seldomly listen to what people are saying about various films. It’s good to hear what the buzz films are, as tiff truly is the people’s film festival where the average person gets a chance to immerse themselves in the festival. Cannes and Sundance are great festivals, however they seem to struggle to include normal people into the equation. Not just actors, buyers, sellers, agents, friends of friends, etc.

tiff always has some hidden gems that I would’t have had a chance to see on a big screen if not for the festival. The purpose of this post is to focus on some of the films that had distribution before or after being presented after the festival.

The F Word

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan

I absolutely loved this film. One person had told me that “if you loved 500 Days of Summer, you’re likely going to love this film”. I think this was a great transition film for Daniel Radcliffe. He’s a great actor and has spent ten years playing one character (Harry Potter). Radcliffe is fighting against that image and to not get typecast. I don’t want to give too many details away but this romantic comedy is based around two friends, Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) who becomes infatuated with a girl named Chantry (Zoe Kazan), only to realize she’s in a relationship – which lands him right in the “friend zone”.

The movie was filmed in Toronto, and actually acknowledges it. Toronto is the location of many films that want that “big city look”. I’m admittedly biased here, as I enjoyed some local landmarks of Toronto. If a film is set in Chicago or New York, it’s usually filmed in Toronto. The reason is that it is cheaper and logistically easier to film in Toronto as opposed to New York or Chicago.

Gravity 

Starring: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

This highly anticipated thriller focused around two surviving astronauts who were stranded after a space shuttle was damaged. I’ve read some the reviews and this movie looks solid. I assume that this movie will do fairly well at the Oscars this year. The film already has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the North American release isn’t until next week!

This movie looks like a safe bet when it comes to purchasing a movie ticket. I unfortunately did not get a chance to see this film at tiff this year, as it was completely sold out and the rush lines for this film were out of this world. I saw an entire line of over 200 people get turned away for Gravity. Not a single person on standby got in. Insane!

12 Years a Slave

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender

12 years a Slave is based on the 1853 autobiography by Solomon Northup. Northup was a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. and sold as a slave in Louisiana. The movie follows the life of Northup who worked in plantations for 12 years before his release. This film has received extremely favourable reviews throughout the festival – even winning the 2013 Tiff People’s Choice Award. The award is based on the audience’s vote throughout the festival.

Oscar bound is all I can say.

The Wind Rises 

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

This film was a very special surprise for me. I had no clue on the day of that I was going to see this film. I was lucky enough to know someone who got me an extra ticket. The Wind Rises is a Japanese animation film produced by Studio Ghibli. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. For those not familiar with Studi Ghibli or Hayao Miyazaki he is the mastermind behind the animated films such as, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

The filmed has been hailed as Miyazaki’s piece de resistance. The film is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, the creator of the Mitsubishi A5M, which was an air plane used by Japan in World War II.

I thought the film was beautiful, however I saw the film in its subbed version and spent too much time reading as opposed to watching the rest of the film. At the Q&A after the film a representative from Studio Ghibli spoke on the matter of sub vs dub, and made an interesting point that, “Some people say that a movie once dubbed is not the same film as it is subbed. However, as you probably just noticed you spent a good part of the movie focused on one or more areas of the screen. Our eyes focus on particular parts of the film at different moments, and some of that is lost when someone  is focusing primarily on reading text”. Luckily I will get another chance in a couple months to see the movie in its dubbed version.

Sadly Miyazaki has said he is retiring and this will be his final feature film. For lovers of the films of Studio Ghibli there is some good news from all of this, and that is that his son Goro Miyazaki who directed Up on Poppy Hill plans to continue to direct and write films with Studio Ghibli.

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