I cried a lot during this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Between 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and the Mandela movie, I was affected by almost everything I saw. Luckily, not all of the films – as I don’t think my heart could have stood it, but the quality of filmmaking and story-telling was the kind that made me appreciate movies as an art form all over again. Of course, the word ‘Oscar’ was bandied about quite a bit, and for many a good reason. But beyond that, it was the experience of being moved – often times, physically so – that will stay with me for a long time after this year’s festival.
The emotional ride started on the 4th with the incredibly-paced, suspense-driven Prisoners, and ended on the 12th with an exploration into the ‘his’ and ‘her’ sides of love in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. And in between, so many incredible moments – of buzz, anticipation, delight.
I saw 15 films in the 9 days I was at TIFF. They were:
Of Good Report
Dallas Buyers Club
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
August: Osage County
Half of a Yellow Sun
12 Years a Slave
Kill Your Darlings
Can a Song Save Your Life?
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Out of those, my top 3:
Even better than seeing the films is getting to interview the people behind them – the filmmakers and the actors themselves.
I had many stand-out moments – from being at the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom premiere, to witnessing remarkable performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. I need a whole post on its own to describe the power McQueen has in moving us, as an audience, to understanding and compassion, and the want to do better by our fellow man.
But I do want to share one of the moments I had during TIFF that really sums up the power of film, for me.
As the credits started to roll after Gravity, I felt an invigoration that coursed through every part of me – it was such a visceral reaction to the film. I bounded out of the cinema with a giant smile on my face and the desire to go sky-diving, skinny-dipping, run a marathon (what a coincidence!), anything to take advantage of the fact that I’m alive. I found the film – and the way it was shot – not to be breathtaking, but breath-giving: long deep breaths, short, shallow ones, ‘Thank God I’m alive’ breaths! One of the best films I’ve ever seen!! (Yes, it even deserves two exclamation marks)
Aside from the movies, it was the conversations – with friends and strangers waiting together in lines – that only made the experience all the more memorable. So, look forward to the next few months, there are some stellar, worth-watching-twice films coming out!