What a great film festival. Maybe it’s how lovely Toronto is in September. Maybe it’s the enthusiastic audiences. Maybe it’s the great restaurants. Or maybe it’s how the festival treats otherwise art-house fare like big blockbusters. These are just a few of the reasons I have always loved the Toronto International Film Festival over the many years I attended. (Really, the best thing about the festival is how it achieves a balance between commercial and quality with such great finesse.)
Time and life have interceded, and it’s been a few years since I’ve been there. But when I look at the documentary slate that Thom Powers & Co. have compiled, it just makes me shake my head in awe. I want to take a look at some of the most notable films on the list, but before I do, allow me to make one very selfish plea: Why does the festival have to happen when the first week of school begins? Don’t any of you people have children? As a concerned father, I don’t like to abandon my kids during this time of need. Can anyone else relate? Please, you heartless Canadians, move the festival back one week into mid-September!
Anyway, for now, let’s take a look at this fest feast:
The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town: Of all the fiction and non-fiction films, this documentary by Thom Zimny is getting some of the most buzz because of its subject matter: A trip into the studio with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for the recording of their fourth album. The Boss will be on hand to celebrate, and this rock doc will be the hottest ticket in town.
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer: OK, so Alex Gibney‘s exposé of the sex scandal that rocked New York’s governor has been seen before in a rougher version, but the film is complete and it’s a near lock for an Oscar nomination.
Inside Job: The much-anticipated sophomore effort from Charles Ferguson will do for the financial crisis what his No End in Sight did for the Iraq war: Tell it like it is.
Tabloid: The master Errol Morris goes back to his strong suit with this sick and weird but oh-so-American story of a former Miss Wyoming with serious relationship issues.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams: I’d watch Werner Herzog‘s next movie if it was just about him contemplating his navel. In fact, his last film — Encounters at the End of the World, was pretty much that, with a very white (Antarctica, that is) backdrop. But here, he goes into the Chauvet caves of southern France, and he does it in 3-D!
Boxing Gym: One of the guiding lights of documentary cinema, Frederick Wiseman, returns with a classic tale of a boxing gym in Austin, Texas.
Other documentaries of note: Erotic Man, in which director Jørgen Leth, covers the planet in search of the erotic; Armadillo, another entry into the expanding genre of grim Afghanistan war docs, tells of Danish troops in combat; The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical looks to be a tearjerker that’ll hit all the right notes as it tells of children living in Mumbai, India, who perform The Sound of Music with a classical orchestra; in Pink Saris, top director Kim Longinotto paints a portrait of Pal Devi, the leader of the “Pink Gang,” who combats violence against women.