Catching Up at TIFF (Toronto Int’l Film Festival)

Here are a few films that I saw in the first few days of the festival that I didn’t get organized and posted as soon as I should have. More to come.

Snow — Bosnia

The story of a village of women and girls (except for one old man and one young boy) coping with living and coming to terms with death in the aftermath of the Bosnian/Serb conflict. The emotional feel of this film is like a barely scabbed wound that will begin bleeding again at the slightest touch. Each person in the village has a different story, and faces the realities in her own, deeply personal way. Deceptively still, the film moves them and the audience toward a cleansing climax.


The Sky Watchers — Japanese

Do human beings need war in order to justify peace? Is war for us being corporatized? The Sky Watchers leads us toward these questions as we follow a squadron of kildren, genetically engineered youth who never grow old, they just continue battling it out with the other corporation until they are killed. This supposedly fills the need of the normal humans to be at war, to see the exercise of power on the news at night but also protects them from being threatened personally. Normal humans don’t have to sacrifice in any way for an ideology, it is a ‘virtual war” kind of like “reality” tv. The film’s mesage is subtle at first but builds to a not-so-subtle monologue that spells it all out for us in a somewhat preachy way. Maybe that was necessary – at least it gets the attention! This is a Japanese anime that is again, not for children. Themes of death and sex – the proof of living, I guess – weave throughout. The sky battles are done very well but when the characters are on the ground they are pretty stiff, reminding me of the early Myst graphics. I think it is worth a watch and in our current world setting seems particularly relevant. What really is the purpose of war?


Adela — Philippines

There were visual problems with this film, seemed overexposed and hazy much of the time but perhaps that was the intent of the director. That’s quite often how families feel – overexposed and hazy. This is a story of family, motherhood, aging and loneliness set in a slum built on a huge garbage dump in the Philippines. Adela is the grandmother, lives alone, and is kind to and mindful of the needs of all in her sphere – family and neighbors. She continually tries to draw people to her, help, support all around her but is more often rewarded with disregard and being forgotten. The final scene takes her to a windy, isolated beach where she lays down a cloth and has a solitary picnic originally planned and prepared for her entire family as the sun sets. A prod to remembrance of those who love us and are alone. Call your Grandmother!