Toronto International Film Festival – what’s theBUZZ?
What’s all theBUZZ about? Here’s what we caught at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and recommending that you catch at at theatre or via a streaming service, in no particular order.
Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11
This documentary collects accounts of 9/11, recorded in the months after the attacks, and present-day testimonials from the same eyewitnesses. Twenty years after 9/11, the memories of that day gather more and more importance. Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11 brings a unique series of recollections fresh from 20 years ago to screen for the first time. In the months following the terrorist attacks that struck New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, artist Ruth Sergel set up a plywood video booth, inviting passersby to stop and recount what they had witnessed and felt. Filmmakers David Belton and Bjørn Johnson have interspersed Sergel’s testimonies with news footage from the time to create a powerful narrative of how those massive, cataclysmic events affected specific individuals, and how those memories have come to reshape lives. The result is a remarkable portrait of both trauma and resilience.
The Hill Where Lionesses Roar
Futura probes a cross-section of contemporary Italian youth with questions about their lives and the future, moving from coastal towns and rural villages to cities and their suburbs. It’s a moving portrait of Italian youth and a deep look at global uncertainty. Many feel they have to leave Italy for a better future, leave social media for the real world, feel real relationships are breaking down, are more open to diversity, think family life is important, but relationships not so much. As for the future, with this representation of Italian youth, we most definitely have something to look forward to.
Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over
Costa Brava, Lebanon
Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine
Canadian power-rock hitmakers Triumph revisit their ’80s heyday and prepare to meet devotees in this doc from Sam Dunn and Marc Ricciardelli. “Overkill has always been one of my philosophies.” So says Gil Moore, a founding member of Triumph, the Canadian rock band that announced its guitar-god ambition right there in its name. During a run from the late 1970s through the ’80s, drummer-singer Moore, singer-guitarist Rik Emmett, and bassist-keyboardist Mike Levine dropped hits like “Lay It On the Line,” “Hold On,” and “Magic Power,” which defined an era of muscle cars, tight jeans, and the anthemic yearnings of Canadian youth. Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine chronicles the band’s past rock excess as the trio prepares to meet today’s ultra-fans — and their expectations — at an event staged at Moore’s Metalworks Studios.
Terence Davies’ latest is an equally sombre and sumptuous portrait of 20th-century English poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon. Benediction’s form is a lyrical stream of consciousness, following associations of memory rather than chronology. Davies crafts Sassoon’s experience of the First World War in layers of heroism (he was decorated for bravery on the Western Front), loss, and unfathomable trauma. His attempt at conscientious objection to the war leads to his being committed to a Scottish hospital, where he meets and mentors fellow poet and soldier Wilfred Owen. Davies tracks much of Sassoon’s life after the war as a chain of fraught romances — most notably with actor and homme fatale Ivor Novello — and ongoing questions of sexual identity, social mores, and integrity both artistic and personal, leading to Sassoon’s late conversion to Catholicism and struggle to connect with his son.
A drug-cartel worker runs afoul of his boss and migrates to Canada, in Ivan Grbovic’s timely tale of star-crossed love and starting over. Willy (Jorge Antonio Guerrero), a Mexican drug-cartel worker, has made a fatal mistake: he has fallen in love with his boss’s wife, Marlena (Yoshira Escárrega). Both go into hiding separately. A desperate Willy believes Marlena has fled to Montreal. He eventually finds work as a seasonal migrant worker in rural Quebec, where he becomes entangled in his host family’s domestic turmoil, which is reflective of his own experience in the cartel.
The Hole in the Fence
THE HOLE IS THE FENCE is a gripping coming-of-age story that explores the social polarization rife in today’s Mexico. At a secluded exclusive summer camp in the Mexican countryside, under the watchful eyes of their adult guardians, boys from a prestigious private school receive physical, moral and religious training to turn them into tomorrow’s elite. The discovery of a hole in the perimeter fence triggers a chain of increasingly disturbing events. Hysteria quickly spreads.
A cozy house in the English countryside. The tree has been lovingly decorated. A grand feast is being prepared. Over the sound system, Michael Bublé croons about holiday sweaters. Nell (Oscar nominee Keira Knightley), Simon (Matthew Goode), and their boy Art (Roman Griffin Davis, star of the TIFF ’19 Grolsch People’s Choice Award winner Jojo Rabbit) are ready to welcome friends and family for what promises to be a perfect Christmas gathering. Perfect except for one thing: everyone is going to die. A pitch-black comedy rooted in brilliantly conceived characters and wry observations about class and social order, writer-director Camille Griffin’s feature debut merges that most wonderful night of the year with the end of the world as we know it. A poisonous cloud is descending upon the United Kingdom. An extinction event is imminent. YouTube videos display images of people bleeding from the eyes and ears. And yet, even in this hour of ultimate dread, happy announcements are made, disagreements erupt, people dance, and ordinary foibles ensue.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.