From TIFF to Telluride, the competition for World Premiers is fierce

11 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Controversy: TIFF, Telluride and the battle for World Premieres.

There are 399 stories at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, and yet sometimes it seems people just want to talk about the ones that aren’t screening here. Back for his fourth consecutive TIFF, everybody’s imaginary boyfriend wasn’t shy about expressing his love for our fair city, gushing about Toronto’s “energy” and “freedom,” while walking the red carpet.The beginning of TIFF and the closure of TTC’s Scarborough RT line means travellers throughout Toronto will have to look for alternative routes in the city this weekend. King Street, from Peter Street to University Avenue, will be closed from 5 a.m. on Thursday to 5 a.m. on Monday to make way for TIFF’s “Festival Street,” which hosts free musical performances and movie-themed art installations. The issue features an analysis of this year’s market, a primer on the particularly controversial lineup, an interview with Demolition helmer Jean-Marc Vallee, and a chat with David Glasser on The Weinstein Co.’s buying plans.

Based on Bryan Sipe’s original screenplay, which appeared on the 2007 Black List, Demolition stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man grieving over the death of his wife in a car crash whose life is unraveling when he makes contact with a customer’s rep, played by Naomi Watts, who works for a vending machine company. New York took Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs and The Walk, about a man who strung a tightrope between the towers of the World Trade Center. In advance of the movie’s world premiere, Vallee, 52, talked with THR about his stripped-down-to-the-essentials shooting style, why he’s looking to take time off and whether he’s feeling added pressure approaching this movie’s high-profile opening night.

The Demolition after party at Patria on King West brought out the movie’s best known faces—Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper and director Jean-Marc Vallee—along with a couple of random somebodies like Mad Men honcho Matthew Weiner. Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next joins a cluster of hot-button films, including the priest sex abuse scandal drama Spotlight, the Dan Rather downfall pic Truth, the cautionary tale about drone warfare Eye in the Sky, the admonitory climate change documentary This Changes Everything, and the thinly veiled satire about political strategists Our Brand Is Crisis.

The Colorado event was also set to show the Aretha Franklin documentary Amazing Grace, until a court injunction over rights to footage pulled it from all festivals, Toronto included. Filling a festival is a finicky affair, and the dance only gets more complicated as the number, size and prestige of international festivals continues to expand. Vallee has become one of TIFF’s most reliable regulars, where his Dallas Buyers Club premiered in 2013, Wild played in 2014 and now,Demolition was unveiled on opening night. “It looks like it’s a meditation, a reflection on grief, but the film celebrates life, love,” he said in his interview with THR. Remember that for all its heft as it enters its 40th year, Toronto is a relative newcomer compared to Telluride (founded in 1974), New York (1963) and Venice (1932).

Buses will be operating between Kennedy and McCowan stations during the Sept. 12-13 closure, while collector booths will remain open at Lawrence East and Scarborough Centre Stations. The helmer talks to THR about casting Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, cutting costs to afford shooting in continuity and securing a potential Janis Joplin film with Amy Adams. Two years ago, Toronto was stung when the “world premieres” of 12 Years a Slave – which won the People’s Choice award and the best-picture Oscar – and Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners turned out to be not that. The actor-slash-artist-slash-student-slash-stoner-slash-social-media buff was the honorary chair at Wednesday night’s pre-festival fete, the AMBI Gala—a fundraiser for The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Now that the COO has reversed his decision to resign and will remain in the Weinstein fold through 2018, a new question has emerged: Can the studio quickly regain its position as the tone-setter it has been in years past? “When [Harvey and Bob Weinstein] came calling this weekend again, we said, ‘OK, what would we do going forward? Franco arrived a bit late and somehow got seated at the media table at the back of the room, which is sort of like the lame singles table at a wedding.

Organizers in Toronto responded last year by decreeing that any film playing in the first four days of the festival had to be a North American or world premiere. Rather than proclaim his star status, the man-of-the-eve ate the appetizer course amongst the regular folk before the error (or potential performance art project?) was realized and remedied. Diana Ross set the TIFF dance-party bar high during her hour-long set at the AMBI Gala that included impossible-not-to-groove-to classics like Aint No Mountain High Enough, Stop In the Name of Love and Baby Love. Taste of The Kingsway, which spans from Prince Edward Drive North to Montgomery Road, will prompt road closures from Friday at noon until Sunday at 11 p.m.

The move struck many in the industry as heavy-handed; one Sony executive even used the term “imperialistic,” surely one of the few times that charge has flowed south-to-north across the Canada-U.S. border. But TIFF wasn’t alone; in 2013, Telluride scooped the “world premiere” of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin from Venice, showing it six days earlier. “I don’t like the idea of a war amongst festivals,” Venice festival chief Alberto Barbera told a Deadline Hollywood News reporter at the time.

Saturday will see Rosedale Valley road closed in both directions from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. from the east side of Park Road to Bayview Avenue for the Festival of Praise parade. But he struck a more bellicose note when he added: “The idea is to have the widest possible range of films … but not at any cost.” At the kickoff press conference for this year’s festival, Artistic Director Cameron Bailey tried to downplay a journalist’s question about a change in TIFF’s rules, calling it “inside baseball.” It was indeed a minor modification — Telluride premieres can now play at TIFF in the opening four days, but not in the coveted (and spacious) Roy Thomson Hall, Princess of Wales or Elgin Theatre.

The parade will also close northbound lanes along Queen’s Park Crescent from College Street to Wellesley Street between 2p.m. and 5.p.m. on Saturday. When they saw my film Cafe de Flore at TIFF [in 2011], there was some sort of link between Cafe de Flore and Demolition, and so they sent me the script and I said, “Wow, it is so rare to read a script with that kind of quality. On Sunday, there will be road closures in the area bounded by Davenport Road to the north, University Avenue/Queen’s Park/Avenue Road to the west, Bay Street to the east and Dundas Street to the south from 8 a.m. to noon for the Bang and Olufsen Yorkville 5K Run/Walk and the Canadian 5K Road Race Championship. There are no American productions among them and only one Canadian entry – Hurt, a documentary about Steve Fonyo by Al Zweig – but directors such as Ben Wheatley, David Verbeek and Pablo Trapero will be familiar to the more cinephilic festivalgoers.

It was the only major festival not to have a jury prize along the lines of Cannes’ Golden Palm (Palme d’Or), Venice’s Golden Lion or Berlin’s Golden Bear. And for all but the most inside-baseball of attendees, the sheer joy of discovery continues to outweigh whether someone may have already discovered said joy in the San Juan Mountains or along the Lido in Italy. This is going to help the actors in their art, and this is going to help us.” Sometimes we had to leave a location and then come back three weeks later.

Opening TIFF, it takes some balls from TIFF, from [artistic director] Cameron [Bailey] and [festival director] Piers [Handling] as the opening film, and I’m glad they did it.

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