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Toronto Film Festival Dailies

The 48th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival takes place Thursday, September 7—17, 2023 in Canada's most vibrant and exciting metropolis, it has become one of the most important film events on the festival calendar.

Showcasing more than 300 films and hosting industryites from around the world, Toronto can "make or break" films looking for international distribution and a chance at Oscar gold. From glitzy red carpet premieres to challenging art films to cutting edge new media, the Festival offers something for every taste.

Past Coverage 2014 2015 - Coverage 2016 in French   English


European Film Masters Reveal Their Latest Masterworks


Thursday, September 13---------In a Toronto Film Festival, at over 350 films, a tale of hit or miss (how could it be anything else?), some of the most satisfying and resonant films come not from the new young turks, but from the old masters. Several of Europe's finest filmmakers have shown their latest masterworks here in the past week. It is interesting to consider that most of these films may not make a big splash in the theatrical distribution market (a far cry from some of these masters' earlier works) but that is more a function of the go-go distribution atmosphere, rather than a statement on the quality of the works themselves. For those who still appreciate the slow and steady wonder of classic European cinema, these films represent a Festival highlight.

Most of the films are being shown, most appropriately, in the Masters section of the Festival. While it may not ignite the same media frenzy as the Galas or the sections that feature first-time directors, the Masters section provides film buffs and those who still believe in cinema as an art form, some much needed solace and comfort. In many ways, these films remain resolutely "out of fashion" but also out of time......their qualities will be appreciated by scholars and film lovers for years to come, regardless of their commercial fate.

Lovers of the films of the Italian virtuouso Ermanno Olmi (best known for his TREE OF WOODEN CLOGS) may have the final chance to commune with the Master with his latest film, ONE HUNDRED NAILS. Olmi, age 76, has announced that this will most probably be his last full-length film. Renowned for his focus on the everyday life of simple people and for his underlying Catholic theme, ONE HUNDRED NAILS is the re-telling of the story of Christ, through the figure of a professor who is accused of driving nails into a series of rare religious manusripts. The story of the Messiah is echoed with the professor's involvement with the common people of a village on the Po River. The result is a charming humanist vision of the endearing place of religion and spiritual awareness in the everyday.

Three of the key directors of the famed French Nouvelle Vague are represented. In LA FILLE COUPEE EN DEUX (A Girl Cut In Two), Claude Chabrol revisits the battle of the sexes in a tale of a woman torn between two men. Ludivine Sagnier plays a local television celebrity who becomes involved with an older married writer (Francois Barleand) and a rakish young man who is heir to his family fortune (Benoit Magimel). In the hands of suspense master Chabrol, the story goes from romantic melodrama into something much darker....a deft commentary on the contradictions and ambiguities that underscore human relationships.

At the age of 79, when most filmmakers have long since rested on their laurels, the prolific director Jacques Rivette continues to produce superbly subtle and beautiful film work. Although he has produced over 40 films since the 1960s, he is among the least apreciated and well known of the New Wave directors.  His latest, is a period piece based on the novels of Balzac, the great novelist and chronicler of human foibles. NE TOUCHEZ PAS LA HACHE (The Dutchess of Langeais) is an adaptation of the Balzac novella La Duchesse de Langeais, which charts the descent from passion to obsession of a love affair between a married woman (the luminous Jeanne Balibar) and a handsome but distant army officer (Guillaume Depardieu).  Beautifully shot and featuring glorious sets and costumes, the film finds a fever pitch of l'amour fou as it ponders the abstracts of love, power and fulfillment.

Perhaps no other filmmaker has had as much to say about love, lust and longing as the great Eric Rohmer. Still prolific at the age of 87, Rohmer also presents a period love story in LES AMOURS D'ASTREE ET DE CELADON (The Romance of Astrea and Celadon). The film is a free adaptation of a 17th century Frnech novel which dtails the tumultuous relationship between Astrea and Celadon, encompassing the human passages of birth, love, jealousy, perseverence and finally death. The film is another in his long chronicle of romantic intent, betrayal and confusion......a pastoral morality tale of human weakness and potential greatness.

The most senior director represented, the 99-year-old Manoel de Oliveira, continues to astonish with CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, THE ENIGMA, his 40th film in a career that spans seven decades. His latest work revolves around the real life quest of history professor Manuel Luciano da Silva and his wife to prove the true national origins of Colombus. Claiming that the "discoverer of the New World" was actually from Portugal, rather than the accepted historical assumption of his Italian heritage, the film is a slightly absurdist mockumentary that draws on the director's love of the sea, his Portugese homeland and the unknowability of the past. The director even makes a cameo appearance in the film, portraying the elderly professor in his final days, still obsessed with the debate over the secret origins of Colombus and his Portugese wife.

A veteran of the New German Cinema of the 1970s, Volker Schlondorff continues to make meaningful films that reflect the zeitgeist of contemporary society. The acclaimed director of THE TIN DRUM has set his latest project ULZHAN in the vast, barren landscapes of Kazakhstan. Centered on the mythical journey of a middle-aged man, who treks into the formidable desert to lose his material trapping, his identity and his past. Stunningly photographed, with the protagonist set against vast landscapes of forbidding mountains, the film intertwines myth, magic and mystery, which taking viewers in the heart of the rawest terrain left on earth....not only Kazakhstan, but the landscape of the tortured human soul. 

Other European masters celebrated in the section include: Spanish director Carlos Saura, continuing his chronicle of Iberian music and dance in FADOS;  British director Ken Loach's intimate tale of Eastern European immigrants and their dreams for a better life in IT'S A FREE WORLD; Russian director Alexander Sukorov's ALEXANDRA is an emotional tale of a grandmother visiting her grandson, a Russian military officer stationed in Checyna; and Hungarian director Bela Tarr's THE MAN FROM LONDON, a moody tale told in noirish black and white of a disillusioned railway worker trapped in a bleak routine. 

Sandy Mandelberger, Toronto FF Dailies Editor 


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About Toronto Film Festival Dailies

The Dailies from Toronto

Contributing editors: Bruno Chatelin 

Laurie Gordon Animaze International Film Festival Le Miaff!
Leopoldo Soto Huatulco Food and Film Festival Director
Gary Lucas Guitar hero Performing artist live score to classic and horror film
Mike Rabehl Programmer and Buyer Cinequest Film Festival San Jose Tiwtter: @cqmike
Vanessa McMahon  




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