So happy to be back in Toronto for a third time, covering the film festival. It’s the only time I get to visit Canada, which is a shame really, as I always enjoy being here and would like to experience the place without the rush of having to get myself to a darkened cinema on time.
But that is the aim for the next few days. The festival runs until the 14th but I will be leaving just before that to go to LA for another set of interviews. So, today begins the frenetic pace of fitting in film-watching, moviestar-interviewing, press-conference-hopping and of course, since I’m training for the Chicago Marathon, mile-running too.
Last night the Toronto Film Critics Association welcomed all the other critics and film journalists who’re in town with a cocktail party, which featured “Telluride Throwdown Margaritas”, playing on the hyped-up tension between the two festivals. Now that Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has made it a rule that those films premiering at Telluride the weekend before can’t show during the first week of TIFF, there’s been a lot written about the perceived rivalry between the two fests. I just am happy that it means a few more of the films are spread out as opposed to being screened entirely during the first weekend, as has been the case in the past.
It’s always nice to see familar faces, so the welcome party was such a great way to ease into the fest, seeing some of the friends I’ve made during time spent standing in line or waiting for interviews. Talk was all about which films are on who’s schedules, the changes being made to the line-up, and those margaritas!
Over 300 films will screen here during the fest. I’ll aim to see a small percentage of those – among them, The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch, Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Wild (the adaptation of one of my favourite books) and The Judge, which stars Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall.
I’ve seen a few on the list already at Cannes – Whiplash at Sundance, and Foxcatcher and Mr Turner, all praiseworthy. I also want to try catch up on those films I missed during Cannes, like the much-talked about Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, the French-Mauritanian drama, Timbuktu and Girlhood by French filmmaker Celine Sciamma, which opened the Director’s Fortnight. South Africa has one film in official selection at TIFF, Impunity, by Jyoti Mistry, so that’s on my list too.
I’m also looking forward to Bill Murray Day, a chance for the festival – and festival-goers – to pay tribute to the inimitable actor, who is premiering his latest film, St Vincent here. Last year, I remember walking past a sign outside a bar that was addressed to Murray, known for dropping in on random parties, inviting him inside for karaoke. Maybe this year, that same sign will be up again, and maybe this year he might just pop on in.