Skip to main content

#TIFF19 Diary ...and that's a wrap

#TIFF19 Diary
...and that's a wrap


If you even browse through my blog a little, you'll see that I write about a wide variety of arts and culture - not just film. And, to be honest, I don't quite understand how other people do it, i.e., specialize in film. After just one festival within commuting distance and a handful of freelance assignments, I'm pretty exhausted. But, some of those hardy film journos were off to another festival in yet another city.

I'd rather end my relatively brief, yet intense affair with movies on a lovely and positive note, full of great memories, and not the hotel and coffee shop food that gets old really, really fast, or those lousy pillows even the best of hotels insist on using.
Heading down King Street West on TIFF Day 1
Here's some of my impressions, and good-bye TIFF...till next year or so.

Day 1 (September 5)

This is the most fun day. First, brunch with other media types, including an appearance by co-heads and artistic directors Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente for a few words.
TIFF co-heads and artistic directors Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente
Canapé trends: it seems that chicken satay, after a long hiatus, is back on the menu. Organizers try to cater to the two extremes of foodie trends - both fat/meat heavy keto fare like mini sandwiches with cured meats (yes I know they're called sliders) and some kind of veggie quinoa salad. All in all, I'd say that the vegans got the short end of the stick.
Fruit market on King Street West - an interesting addition to TIFF19
At 2pm, I have an interview with Peter Gregson. The easiest one to arrange.
Toronto Hyatt - view from the scenic elevator
Day 2 (September 6)

It's Netflix day. First, a screening of Dolemite Is My Name, the Eddie Murphy come back vehicle. I'll agree that it should put him back in the spotlight - his performance is completely riveting.

After some lunch from the Netflix buffet - they've taken over the third floor of the Shangri-La - and again, I can report both extreme meat, and extreme vegan options - I have an interview with Da'Vine Joy Randolph, who co-stars.

Day 3 (September 7)
This day has been rearranged a few times. I miss an 8:30am screening because of the stupid GO train. My afternoon interview has been rearranged because my subject has visa issues.
Hotel Shangri-La Toronto - sculpture and front entrance
But, my inteview with the director of Ready For War runs just fine at the Intercontinental Hotel on Front Street. Great doc that I viewed via a screener at home.

Day 4 (September 9)

8:30am An early Press & Industry screening for The Song of Names. Interestingly, people lined up at the door only want to speak to Americans.

10:40am Interview with Ina Weisse and Nina Hoss, director and star of The Audition. It's an an interesting place called Coffee, Oysters, Champagne on King Street West. For the interview, I go behind the bar, down a dimly lit hallway, and into a cavernous basement...to another bar.
Coffee, Oysters, Champagne - Toronto

In between: I visit the AT&T VIP Lounge at the Hotel Le Germaine for some delicious mac and cheese...and a vegan salad. And fruit, along with a celebrity sighting or two.
Hotel Le Germain, Toronto - lobby

Celeb sighting outside Le Germain Hotel

2:30pm The interview with director Francois Girard is late, and a mere 10 minutes, but I think I've got enough before springing for a panicked taxi ride through the rush hour traffic to my next screening.
Hotel Le Germain - lobby

Juan Minijin, Jonathan Pryce, Fernando Mereilles repping The Two Popes at the AT&T Loung TIFF 2019
3:00pm A must-see screening - the North American premiere of Atlantics by Mati Diop at Ryerson theatre.
Red carpet at the TIFF Bell Lightbox - September 2019

Day 5 (September 10)

11am - Or, it's supposed to be 11am, but more like 11:17am by the time Mati Diop makes our interview in the Netflix Shangri-La enclave. She begins by quizzing me on what I thought about the film, and seems disappointed in my lack of effusive enthusiasm. I think she just doesn't know me well enough to judge.
Hotel Shangri La Toronto - lobby
11:40am - My ten-minutes-late interview with Abba Makama, director of The Lost Okoroshi and a voice of the new Nollywood of art films.
TIFF 19 celebrity sighting - Rosario Dawson

Day 6 (September 12)
My long awaited interview with Ugandan gonzo action auteur Nabwana I.G.G. and his VJay Emmie. Their visas were delayed, then their passports sent to the wrong country, but he's here at last to see his film on a big screen for the first time. The flick, Crazy World, will play the last two nights of the festival for its Midnight Madness series.
Toronto - King Street from the media room

Day 7 (September 14)
My last screening, with a Q&A with director Chinonye Chukwu and star Alfre Woodard.
Director Chinonye Chukwu and star Alfre Woodard of 'Clemency'

Some Time Later...
Stories filed.
TIFF swag

This, too, is Toronto

TIFF Bell Lightbox

Toronto from above

Comments

What Else Is Hot This Week?

Jazzy Pop: Shihori - Soul Trip (Independent / 4 September 2020)

Jazzy Pop:
Shihori - Soul Trip
(Independent / 4 September 2020)New York City based singer and songwriter Shihori's new single Soul Trip is atmospheric and ambient. Interesting rhythms and interwoven melodic vocal lines showcase jazzy harmonic progressions in a slow groove mode. 
As a songwriter, she uses electronic effects with impeccable musical taste. As a singer, her flexible vocals range from a sweet soprano to a strong mid-range.A veteran of the Japanese pop scene, Shihori moved to New York City in 2018, a move she talks about in a media release."I was so surprised when I came to NY for the first time. Independent and strong women are respected and there are lots of different preferences in music and style. I thought, 'oh my God! This place really accepts uniqueness and freedom! I didn't know there is a place like this totally different world that allows you to be yourself. Everybody looks so different. So many races, colors, cultures, fashion, ideas...I am so happy…

FACTORY presents World Premiere ACTS OF FAITH November 19 to 28 2020 - Free Livestream

From a media release:World Premiere
FACTORY presents 
ACTS OF FAITHby David Yee
Directed by Nina Lee Aquino
Starring Natasha Mumba
November 19 – 28, 2020 @ 7:30PM
Streamed live for 6 performances
Free of charge
TORONTO (October 19, 2020) - To kick off its groundbreaking 2020/21 season, Factory presents the world premiere of acts of faith, by multi-award winning Asian Canadian playwright David Yee, directed by Nina Lee Aquino, and starring Natasha Mumba. Written specifically to be performed for a digital platform, acts of faith will stream live to audiences at home for six performances, November 19-28, 2020. 
Thanks to the generous support of the TD Bank Group, admission is being offered entirely free of charge to audiences across the country and beyond.acts of faith tells a story about the power of faith, the inescapable persistence of our online identities, and the nature of truth in a digital age. The story follows Faith, a young woman who gets mistaken for a prophet. When a questionable r…

Psychedelic Punk Rock | Lord Sonny the Unifier: (All My Friends Live) Underground (Independent / 25 September 2020)

Psychedelic Punk Rock
Lord Sonny the Unifier: (All My Friends Live) Underground
(Independent / 25 September 2020)Stream it on SpotifyLayers of rhythm and percussive piano characterize this earworm track from Brooklyn's Lord Sonny the Unifier. With spooky harmonies and guitar that is all distortion with a psychedelic vibe, it's a compelling single for the time. Sonny builds the track with an almost orchestral sensibility to a big sound finish.
Greg Jiritano, the main impetus behind Lord Sonny, talked about the song in a media release."(All My Friends Live) Underground is a song about iconoclasts and outsiders who find their group of freaks, or Tribe in the shadows and underbelly, outside the conventions of  society. It's a calling to join us and leave behind  what society has embraced as the norms and the acceptable, the well trod path above. Leave the trivialities being thrust upon us since birth and join our Tribe and rediscover there the truths that will enrich you and…

Alt Country | Doc Straw & the Scarecrows: Get on By (Independent / July 31, 2020)

Alt Country
Doc Straw & the Scarecrows: Get on By
(Independent / July 31, 2020)Stream it on SpotifyClever lyrics that tell a story and an appealing acoustic bounce give the new single by Doc Straw & the Scarecrows a classic modern folk vibe. The vocal harmonies are pleasing and the words are an upbeat ode to persevering during tough times.
It's a timely message, and Doc talked about it in a release."I wrote this song after getting off of a 3-hour long phone conversation with my sister, Jessica, and a lot of our conversation that evening  centered around some of the tougher things in life and how we were dealing with these struggles. If a person lives long enough then at some point they will experience these trying seasons. I've learned that it's important to pay attention during those times because that is when we have some of the best opportunities to grow."It has a nicely haunting harmonica line and builds to an emotional peak. Virginia based Mike Straw is…

Recently Released | The smallest Creature: Magic Beans (Independent / 30 September 2020)

Recently Released
The smallest Creature: Magic Beans
(Independent / 30 September 2020)Stream it on SpotifyWith influences from The Beatles to Alice in Chains, The smallest Creature's Magic Beans is an album of alt-rock with an intimate, almost alt-folk feel to it. The lyrics are poetic and integral to the song, lit up with tight chops and accomplished musicality.
Would You Blink has a nice sense of urgency and a driving rhythm, contrasted by October Song, something of an old blues song with a 21st century rock makeover. Their grunge influences come to the fore in Glow, with Let Burn another guitar-heavy rocker. The band goes softer in Break Me, an acoustic song that spotlights Stefanos Marnerides' soft tenor. The smallest Creature hail from Larnaca in Cyprus in the sunny Mediterranean. The smallest Creature is the brainchild of Stefanos Marnerides, with the name starting off as an alias in NYC where Stefanos was performing solo gigs and recording demos. When later Stefanos moved …