TIFF 2022: THE FESTIVAL COMES BACK
By Marc Glassman
The pressure on CEO Cameron Bailey and his key staff and board to achieve a popular and artistic success must have reached gargantuan levels in the months leading up to TIFF 2022, the first major Toronto festival since COVID hit in March 2020. Will Toronto audiences, trained to be cautious, come out of their homes, masked or not, to attend screenings of new films in the droves that used to support the festival pre-pandemic? Has the festival revived its creative staff and organization to make the ten-day event relevant and exciting to local and international audiences?
One thing is sure: the media buzz is back, on radio, TV, streaming services, newspapers and magazines. You must have turned off all of your devices and refused to read anything from the Toronto press to not realize that something filmic was about to take place in the city. There’s buzz around the stars appearing at TIFF, which include such disparate high profile names as Jennifer Lawrence, Jordan Peele, Harry Styles, Oprah, Elisabeth Moss, and Hilary and Chelsea Clinton. Once again, King Street has been blocked off from traffic, turning it into a pedestrian paradise, with locals and festival goers enjoying a lovely promenade from Simcoe, where the acclaimed Roy Thomson Hall is located, to the Royal Alexandria Theatre and the Princess of Wales theatre through to TIFF’s Bell Lightbox, where superb films are shown throughout the year.
With over 200 films, features and shorts, at the festival, it’s hard to choose in advance the biggest hits, which will define the event. But it is possible to highlight films that are likely to be talked about throughout TIFF 2022. While reviews aren’t possible at this point, with producers, filmmakers and festival staff asking the media for nothing definitive until films have premiered at the fest, one can highlight films are worthy of attention at TiFF 2022.
Women Talking is the likely the most highly anticipated film made by a Canadian this year. Sarah Polley has worked diligently on adapting Miriam Toews’ acclaimed novel in which a rebellion takes place in a dystopian future, in which many of the women in a highly religious agrarian colony rebel against an oppressive patriarchy. With rape and other forms of sexual violence foregrounded in the narrative, it’s inevitable that the problematic roles of females and males in contemporary society is reflected in Women Talking. Has Polley succeeded in making an incisive film? While it’s too soon to comment on the artistic success of the film, it seems reasonable to suggest that a dream cast of tough articulate women including Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy and Canada’s own Sheila McCarthy, will make this a fascinating film.
One Fine Morning is a new film by one of my favourites, Mia Hansen-Love. She makes personal cinema, somewhat autobiographical, in which articulate French urban dwellers, many of whom are intellectuals, deal with the dramas in their lives. Lea Seydoux (The Lobster, Blue is the Warmest Colour, The French Dispatch) is a translator and widowed mother of a precocious daughter, who is dealing with the mental and physical deterioration of her beloved father, when she begins to fall in love with an old friend, an astro-physicist. While the film shouldn’t be reviewed at this point, it’s fair to point out that it seems to be a continuation of a wonderful film made by the director in Things to Come.
Decision to Leave is another likely winner of a festival film. Park Chan-Wook is a superb South Korean filmmaker, whose credits include Oldboy and The Handmaiden. His works are often nightmarish, so It’s little surprise that his new film appears to have nourish roots. An inspector begins to fall in love with a woman who may have killed her husband in this thriller with more than one twist.
Triangle of Sadness won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which means that the latest satire by Ruben Ostlund, whose previous successes include Force Majeure and The Square, may well be terrific. Here he takes on the fashion industry and tourism as extremely wealthy people encounter reality on the high seas in a film that evokes Treasure Island, Ship of Fools and Lord of the Flies. Does it all work? It’s too soon to review but not too early to acknowledge that the film’s scenario seems sure to be controversial.
So Much Tenderness is the kind of film that can attract attention at a festival. It’s about a woman from South America who flees to Canada to save her life and that of her daughter. Lina Rodriquez, a Colombian-Canadian whose last documentary Mis Dos Voces was a success at Hot Docs, is ready to create a strong narrative film and this story of a woman’s negotiation of a new life in Toronto appears to be something truly worthwhile. Of course, it’s too early to review it, but not to suggest that it’s worth seeing at TIFF.
No doubt there will be many films to celebrate at TIFF over the next week. It’s great to have the festival back.