Wednesday, September 13, 2006

TIFF 2006 #9: Is There a Doc in the House?

Before I begin: an announcement!

The official TIFF page at the 'Pie has now been updated to include most of the entries previously posted on this blog, so if you wanna wander over (but make sure you come back here!) to see Linda's phancy formatting and photo selections, please do!


Today’s film selections were mostly documentaries, and today’s weather was mostly rainy. Line-ups at outdoor theaters were on the damp side, and filmgoers learned that a seemingly innocuous steady mist can gradually result in rather effective soakage.

I started the day with Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing (7/8), Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck’s multi-year doc that follows the Chicks from their infamous Shepherd’s Bush concert and anti-Bush statement, through the sometimes scary/sometimes frustrating/sometimes infuriating repercussions thereof that took place in the three and a half years since. It’s also a really great examination of female solidarity and the power of friendship, as Natalie, Martie and Emily weather the political storm, ridiculous protests and almost-constant media attention. An absolute must-see for fans, who will no doubt love love love it, the film is nonetheless totally accessible to all audiences regardless of their level of Chicks fandom. I’ve always liked the group, but don’t own any of their albums and have never seen one of their live shows. After seeing the film and witnessing their unflappable pluck, though, I plan to get to shopping.

It was also nice to have Kopple and Peck intro the movie. They explained that their schedule wouldn’t permit them to return for a Q&A, but they both gave lovely little speeches before the film started.

One doc followed another, so the second film today was Blindsight (6/8), in which director Lucy Walker – who, by the way, is absolutely STUNNING – embarks on a Mount Everest climb alongside a group of blind Tibetan youths, school teacher Sabriye Tenberken and blind U.S. climber Erik Weihenmayer, along with a support team made up of other climbers and a team doctor. While the documentary itself seemed kind of choppy and could have used an extra half-hour or so, the story it tells is a fantastic one. It’s extremely moving (the woman sitting next to me was sobbing in that gasping-for-air kind of way almost throughout) and inspirational (which sounds cheesy, but it’s true). Walker, Tenberken and one of the blind students were all in attendance, and their genuine joy at being in Toronto and having the film shown was infectious. Unsurprisingly, they were given a standing ovation.

There was a quick trip home to have a snack before heading to my final film (yes, thank goodness, only three today!), Starter For Ten (5/8), which I was very excited about seeing – hello, James MacAvoy! – but which turned out to be kind of a letdown. The story follows a sort-of-geeky university student (MacAvoy) in his quest to be “clever.” More specifically, it follows him onto his school’s “University Challenge” team (think: quiz show), and tracks his rocky courtships of two of his classmates. I don’t know why the film didn’t really do it for me. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe my fatigue prevented me from being fully engaged. Or maybe it was just kind of a meh movie. I can’t be certain, but it was nice to see James MacAvoy in person once again.

Then I dashed to meet my friend from Washington for a coffee and some fest chat before heading home for the night…and, once again proving the effects of lack of sleep, MISSING MY SUBWAY STOP completely. I was so dopey as I rode home that I actually went right past my stop and had to walk back. I really need more than five hours a night it seems. Perhaps tonight I’ll aim for 6 ½…

Oh, and as I posted in the comments section of last night’s entry: yet ANOTHER scutigera scurried across my wall tonight! RIGHT in front of my face, as if to taunt me. It’s the damned humid weather and constant rain. I wish the bugs, and the weather, would go away.

And I hope that scutigera is the one from last night and not a SECOND one. Eep!

Celebrity Sightings: Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck, James MacAvoy.

Crappiest Crap I Consumed Today: Alas, I did not have a single piece of fruit today. Instead, I had a leaden muffin and mint-cip ice cream. Not together.

Line Buzz: Everyone and their cousin is raving about Sarah Polley’s directorial debut, Away From Her…except one woman I met who didn’t like it at all and said it romanticized Alzheimer’s disease. So there you go.

Weather for Tomorrow: Rain? Again? Really? Crap. High near 18C.

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