I mentioned in a quick post the other day that iNumber Number has taken the spot as my favourite film of the festival. I see a lot of very serious films at TIFF each year: documentaries about sober and sometimes sombre subjects and sad dramas. But iNumber Number is just all-out-action in the form of a heist film.
The (South African) director let us know before the screening that he gets a lot of questions about the title: apparently when speakers of the Zulu language adopt new words into the language, they put the letter ‘i’ in front of the word. Thus ‘iNumber’ (pronounced “e-number”) is the Zulu word for number, much as iRobot and iCar are the Zulu words for robot and car. (One might guess that iPhone is the Zulu word for phone; that wasn’t an example he used, though) More to the point, though, “iNumber Number” is underworld slang for heist — kinda like, “we got a smash and grab number going down this week.”
Film # 7 was called Cristo Rey, and it’s kinda made around this premise: what would Romeo and Juliet look like if it was set in the modern-day in a dangerous barrio of the Dominican Republic and the impossible romance was between the sister of a Dominican drug dealer and a Haitian immigrant?
Janvier, often just referred to as “The Haitian,” is the son of an undocumented Haitian mother and a Dominican father — Janvier’s birth was the product of an affair, and he didn’t grow up with his father. But he has a half-brother Rudy who seems to mostly be playing the role of Paris in this show. Jocelyn is the younger sister to a major drug dealer, El Bacá. El Bacá has been living and hiding out in Cristo Rey, a dangerous slum in Santo Domingo, the Domincan Republic. It happens that Jocelyn and Rudy previously dated, and although Rudy wants to resume the relationship, Jocelyn’s not interested because he cheated on her.
My sixth film was my first dud. It was the first film where, in the latter part of the showing, I found myself thinking, “Is this going to end soon? My butt hurts.” I have spent a lot of time thinking about it, since, because I think the message of the film makes me annoyed.
The film is called The Militant (or El Lugar Del Hijo, which Google translates as “The Place of the Child”), and it’s an Uruguayan film.
My fifth film was a drama called 1982. It’s a small, indie film by a relatively new director named Tommy Oliver. I must confess that I can’t quite remember what lead me to choose this film — it’s not foreign (except in the sense that, yes, Philadelphia is in a foreign country) and it’s not a documentary. It’s also a film where addiction is at the centre of the story, and I think I learned from watching Flight at the beginning of the year that I lack empathy for addict characters in film. But, whatever led me to choose this film, I chose it, and when Sunday night rolled around, I went off to the theatre to watch it. It was also a World Premiere, and those are always kinda neat.
My fourth TIFF film was a documentary called Mission: Congo. Its opening night was on Friday, but I caught it at its second showing on Saturday night. I caught it immediately after Bad Hair.
Mission: Congo kinda skewers US televangelist Pat Robertson and since the film’s premier a number of articles have been written in places like The Huffington Post, Indiewire, The Daily Beast, and The Guardian. In the Q&A, afterward, we learned that Robertson’s organization is considering legal action. That’s always fun.
My third film of the festival is a Venezuelan flick called Bad Hair (or Pelo Malo). Not a very happy-making film, that. It’s funny: after the film ended, I kept comparing it in my mind to Ma Vie En Rose — it feels to me like the opposite film. Warning: spoilers.
My second TIFF film was a documentary called The Square (or Al Midan): the titular square being Tahrir Square in Cairo. The film is directed by the woman who directed Control Room, Jehane Noujaim. It’s a slick, well-produced documentary and it would not surprise me if it became a contender for an Academy Award.
As an aside, the screening took place at the Bloor Cinema (now called the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema) and I think it might well be the first time I’ve been in that theatre in ten years.
The film, itself, documented about 30 months of the Egyptian revolution, starting in January, 2011 and ending with the unseating of President Morsi this past July (talk about up-to-the-minute relevance).
Another Toronto International Film Festival has started up, and today I not only went in to the box office to grab my tickets, I also had my first film.
I probably say this every year, but one of the things I really like about the festival is getting to see films that I’m unlikely to see any other way. Some people who go to the TIFF seem to want to sit in the same room with a celebrity, so they’re going for the major Hollywood releases. Me, I’d rather get tickets to smaller, more independent flicks that aren’t likely to come to cinemas. Usually the films I pick are foreign, or they’re documentaries. This year, once ticket selection started, I headed right for the Contemporary World Cinema track and found most of my choices, there.
Tonight’s showing was actually a set of five short African films: two very short films (11 minutes and 15 minutes) and three longer pieces (20, 25 and 33 minutes). Over the last few years, I’ve caught some really interesting African films in the last few TIFFs — I don’t get many opportunities to catch African cinema, so a sampling like this was pretty sweet.
The Great Kilapy is an Angolan film — a period piece with surprisingly good production values. It takes place in the final years of the Portuguese rule of Angola, and the costumes, locations and vehicles do a great job of transporting us to the mid-sixties. The film has a framing sequence that takes place in the present day where an older Portuguese man tells the story of “The Great Kilapy” to his children (“kilapy” is a Kimbundu word for “fraud” or “swindle”).
João Fraga is a mixed-race Angolan man living in Lisbon in 1965 at the start of the film. He has a suave demeanor and knows how to make women fall for him. He’s also good at financial legerdemain — some of his friends call him “Mr. Engineer” because he knows how to engineer a scheme or two. Lisbon is good to him: he enjoys the party life, and his primary lover is the daughter of a Minister who slips him a respectable stipend and keeps him attired in tailored suits. He really only has two big problems in his life. First, he’s not “a one-woman man” (and poly doesn’t seem to have been invented yet) which inevitably leads to broken hearts and angry break-ups. Second, a large number of his friends and former schoolmates have fallen in with the MPLA and the Security Police are confident that he’s also involved. For his part, João is sympathetic to the pro-independence MPLA but is too busy womanizing and funding his big-spending lifestyle to be politically active.
I’m getting behind of my film blogging. Thursday night’s film was a shorter film called Burn it up Djassa. It’s a film from the Ivory Coast about young people in a rough neighbourhood. Tony is a young, street-smart cigarette hawker who works Princess Street’s active night life area of Abidjan. At some level, he’s a bit bitter that his brother, Mike, got formal education before their mother died, and thus Mike has a good job with the police. Mike financially helps both Tony and their sister, Ange, but the financial inequities often grate. As does the Mike’s expectation of being able to lecture his younger siblings on how they should live their lives.
Ange, for her part, resents her own job in a hair salon, and has been trying her hand at prostitution as an income stream. Tony’s heard rumours that this might be so, but it really comes to a head when a john gets into a heated argument with Ange about someone stealing his cell phone. Tony knifes the guy, and takes off with Ange; he later hears that the guy died and is torn up about having become a murderer. But! Guess who gets to investigate the murder?