One of my biggest dreams, ever since I’ve discovered movies, and more importantly, ever since I learned more about the industry, has been to go to movie festivals. The idea of seeing more than 1 movie in a day, surrounded by people with similar interests, seemed like heaven. Well, OK, not heaven, but a very nice way to spend my time.
Now, I’ve gone to local film festivals in the past, but only to see a movie during the evening. I’ve never had a full experience (travelling to another city/country, booking accommodation, watching at least 3 movies per day, etc.). This year I decided to change that and start small….with a trip to Transylvania Film Festival (TIFF; I know, same as the TIFF in Toronto, it’s confusing). I spend 2 days there, and I saw 6 movies in total.
Overall, it was an interesting experience, although I wish the line-up was stronger. There was definitely diversity in it, but nothing notable or that ran or will possibly run in the awards circuit (except Pain and Glory, which I didn’t finish watching, but more on that later). I did enjoy the experience of actually watching the films. Everything was well organized, clean, and most importantly the people there were respectful to the art. They weren’t the types who would text during the screening or talk or come in after the lights are out. What I absolutely loved was that about 50-60% of audience was formed by individuals like me, not couples or groups, so I felt more at ease.
I decided to do mini reviews for the films, since I wasn’t overly impressed by any of them. Here they are:
The first movie I saw was Cold Case Hammarskjöld (from Denmark). It was a documentary about the death of United Nations secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld in a plane crash in 1951. Danish journalist and filmmaker Mads Brügger leads us down an investigative rabbit hole, which leads to something more than a simple assassination. I liked the film, although it felt a bit long in parts. The style of the documentary is interesting, as the narrator kind of makes fun of himself and his story, calling it a possible conspiracy theory in the first 2 minutes of the movie. If you like non-fiction, history, diplomacy or documentaries, you will like this one.
Bota seemed like a great idea on paper. A funny tale about the quirky café Bota, where we witness the lives and secrets of people living in the shadow of the past. In reality, the movie was not bad, but not good, either. And the funny moments were far too few. I wouldn’t recommend it to others, but I liked it overall.
This one turned out to be my favorite of all I saw at TIFF. It’s a documentary (kind of) where comedy superstar Dave Chappelle organizes a once-in-a-lifetime free block party in a Brooklyn neighborhood. I loved everything about it: the jokes, the behind the scenes of organizing a bloc party, the stars, the music, everything. If you’re a music fan, especially a hip hop/ rap fan, you should definitely see this. Interesting tidbit: this was made in 2004, I think, when Kanye West was just starting out and John Legend was his back up singer 🙂
Canary was my second favorite movie of the film festival. “Canary is a coming-of-age musical war drama, set in South Africa in 1985, about Johan, a young boy who learns how through hardship, camaraderie, first love, and the liberating freedom of music, the true self can be discovered” as quoted by the TIFF website 🙂 It was sweet and fun. I felt like I connected with and cared about each of the characters. If you wanna try foreign films and this type of story sounds interesting to you, definitely give it a shot.
This movie was surprisingly good, considering it was a silent film (by that I mean no dialogue, only music). It tells the story of a train driver who, on its way round the neighborhoods of a small town, manages to snag a blue bra off a washing line. To escape from his lonely existence, he embarks on the most adventurous journey of his life: to find the owner of this perky piece of underwear. It was a sweet movie that definitely made me laugh; if you’re from Eastern Europe or grew up at the country side, this will look and feel familiar. I think you would enjoy this movie, too, so check it out if you can.
This was my most anticipated movie of the festival, knowing that it had just won a Best Actor prize at Cannes and it was very well reviewed. So I was one of the first to arrive at the outdoor cinema to grab myself a great seat and enjoy this. And I would have, if it wouldn’t have started raining 10 minutes in 🙁 I tried to stay for as much as I could, but I had nowhere to sit and I dislike rain in general, so I left. From the few minutes I managed to see, it definitely feels like a standout role for Antonio Banderas, so I am glad he is already in the awards discussions. Penelope Cruz also shines in her small part of the mother, so overall I am really looking forward to watching this till the end.
Tell me, have you traveled for film festivals? Where did you go and how was the experience?