Popped Culture Goes to TIFF

The 2009 Toronto Film Festival is upon us and, truth be told, it can be a little overwhelming. Will we see the next Oscar winner (or at least nominee like last year's Best Foreign Film nominee Waltz With Bashir)?

Will we run into a celebrity again (over the years, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Michael Moore, Bob Hoskins, Cher and Roger Ebert)?

What country's films will we fall in love with (Thailand) and which one will leave me cold (Iran)?

The thing is you just don't really know what kind of festival you are going to have until its done. We've been attending TIFF for 11 years now and those don't even put a dent into the 271 feature films that are unspooling this year alone.

So every year we dive into the schedule and see what we can find. Of course after so many years, we have a few things I look for. The first are directors that we've discovered at the festival over the years. It looked thin on the ground this year, until we found Sawasdee Bangkok, three short films about Bangkok that have two directors whose films we loved in past years: Wisit Sasanatieng (Citizen Dog) and Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Last Life In The Universe). Score!

Next we look for new Canadian films. Living in Toronto you'd think we'd be exposed to Canadian movies, but no, so the festival is our best chance to see home-grown talent. This year we are seeing The Trotsky, about " a precocious Montreal teen who fervently believes himself to be the reincarnation of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky." It's a comedy — go figure.

We are also seeing Definitely Not The Opera host Sook-Yin Lee's Year of the Carnivore, which I'm hoping isn't super self-indulgent. We'll see.

For our Hollywood/celebrity quotient we are seeing The Men Who Stare At Goats. We usually avoid movies that are coming out in the next month or two but we aren't getting out to many movies these days (hello almost three-year-old!) and this looked like good fun. And hey, I'm not immune to the charms of seeing George Clooney in the flesh.

Lastly we are seeing La Soga, a film from the Dominican Republic about drug dealers and assassins. It's like The Wire, but in Santiago instead of Baltimore. Or maybe not. That's the thing, you just never know. But it is rare that we ever get a clunker, and surrounded by other film fans it is always a great experience.

Previously on Popped Culture...
TIFF: That's A (Belated) Wrap
TIFF: A Tale of Two Festivals
That’s A Wrap

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