The 36th Toronto International Film Festival (September 8-18th, 2011)
De-light box
by Ferry Shafaghi

  With the lively Bell Light Box’s second year in operation, the 36th Toronto International Film Festival (from September 8-18th) was delightful again with superb atmosphere and exquisite programming of variety of films from around the world. The Festival catered to all tastes with a wide range of diverse films which, for instance, showcased Alexander Sukarov’s elaborate philosophical, Golden Lion winner, Faust alongside Maddona’s romantic drama W.E. Before the festival whenever I am asked “which celebrity is going to be present in Toronto this year?” I always say: It would be an easier question if we ask “which star would not be here?” There is always this question of what characteristics places TIFF among top five festivals in the world and possibly the finest in North America? Is it solely due to commercial reasons and the impact of Canadian market on film industry? Or is it Canadian’s exceptional love of film and the long line ups? Or could it simply be Toronto’s pleasant September weather!? Regardless of what makes TIFF a thriving event, to me the significance of TIFF is in the list of films. Every year almost all the films that, for one reason or another, have made a name around the world are in the schedule. There are the festival award winners, hot documentaries, controversial films, the “banned in their home country” films and also the films of old and young masters of cinema. It was nice to start off the marathon of movies with diverse films from China, Italy and Palestinian.
  A simple Life is a touching, bitter sweet tale of an affectionate bond between a man and his long time dedicated family maid. When everyone, in the household, immigrates to United States Lau is the only family member who remains in Hong Kong and feels obligated to take care of the maid as his own mother. The focus of the film is on the empty life of this middle age woman, who due to a stroke has to be placed in a nursing home, and how she is lost without the presence of the familiar people he cared for. Although Lau’s sincere love and compassion towards her generates a pleasant felling, Ann Hui artfully creates a sorrowful atmosphere as well since it seems the only purpose in her life, which was serving her masters, has been taken away from her. With great performances and delicately crafted characters, in highly moving moments, Ann Hui creates a memorable tale of a lovely and simple human being’s loneliness. 
  The powerful Italian film Terraferma directed by Emanuele Crialese focuses on illegal African immigrants who risk their lives, by swimming a long distance on Mediterranean Sea, to set foot on solid ground (Terraferma) of southern Italian shores. Some of them will make it and some will drown. Every day, the Italian fishermen find bodies of Africans that are washed up on the shores. Because government will prosecute Italians who give shelter to these refugees, the film creates an intriguing plot where humanity and empathy faces law abiding principals. The father of a poor Italian family gives shelter to an African pregnant woman who delivers her baby in their house but they are seriously in trouble as the Italian coast guards fiercely search every household to find the refugees. Amid heavy presence of the police and coast guards the family takes on the daunting task of taking the African woman and her 2 children to North of Italy to reunite with her husband. The critical and complex plot, the powerful performances, the stunning display of Sicilian landscape will make Terraferma a serious contender and possibly a rival for A Separation in next Year’s Academy Awards.

... To Be Continued

[Page: 124]

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