35th Toronto International Film festival
The Mirror of Despair
by Ferry Shafaghi

  Since I started attending Toronto International Film Festival thirteen years ago, the Festival’s center has been constantly relocated to a new venue: Sutton Place, Sheraton, Four Seasons and Hyatt hotels just to name a few. Finally, after 35 years, on Sunday September 16, 2010, Bell Light Box, TIFF’s permanent home was opened to the public. It is a stunning cultural center with state-of-the-art facilities built in the heart of Toronto entertainment district. This was a very rewarding event, particularly for Toronto art lovers as the Bell Light Box is planning to have year-round programming and occasional special events.
As for the films of this year’s Festival, which ran from September 9 to 19, at least, in the selection I managed to see, there was an evident trend in most non-Hollywood or foreign films. The theme of majority of these films, maybe as a result of political or economical dilemmas, was human sufferings. Do these movies fall under the category of “films made specifically for festivals”?  I personally don’t believe in such a notion that a film with certain characteristics could have a more chance of being selected for a festival. But there are many critics and film buffs who strongly believe that most Western film festivals embrace films, particularly from underdeveloped nations, which primarily deal with poverty, religious clashes, social injustice or human agonies in general. I am not claiming it doesn’t exist, but we rarely see a comedy from the Middle East or a love story from Eastern European countries or a thriller from Africa. Doesn’t this trend signify the domination of painful conditions, for one reason or another, in daily human lives in these regions?
Beautiful Death
There is nothing beautiful about Biutiful the latest Iñárritu’s film. It is a bleak and depressing tale of a local Barcelona man who has been thrown into the periphery of his own society. He makes a little money, hanging out with African street venders and poor Chinese illegal immigrants. He is separated from his wife and has to take care of his two kids while facing poverty and imminent death from cancer. At the same time, he takes care of deprived refugees and is emotionally involved in their lives. Blood and devastation, in a colorless and hazy atmosphere, encompasses the film and there is no contentment but demise in this man’s life. It is an emphasis on his wretched life when he spells the word “beautiful” incorrectly for his daughter’s homework. This film is a masterly crafted and poetic portrayal of a destined death. Javier Bardem delivers a brilliant performance and with this film we can now call Iñárritu the master narrator of human agonies.


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