This is the third of three broadcasts of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022. Read the first here and the second here.
As always, the final days of the party were considerably less important than the ones before, with much of the press gone and most of the buzzy movies showing. However, the homestretch is when lower profile gems are often discovered, as I was reminded by a few impressions.
The world premiere of the documentary film Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s fight for freedom (still looking for US distribution), Evgeny Afineevsky‘s sequel to his 2015 Oscar nominee Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s fight for freedom, has so far proved to be the definitive portrait of the ongoing Russian atrocities – and remarkable resistance to them – in Ukraine. Afineevsky, a native of Russia, shot the entire film in the past six months and spent part of that time in Ukraine himself. And critics and audiences alike called it powerful and disturbing after its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and then its North American premiere at TIFF.
Just as many Russians and Ukrainians attended the TIFF unveiling of Freedom on firemany Iranians showed up for the unveiling of the celebration Holy Spider (Utopia). Iranian filmmaker’s latest film Ali Abbasid tells the dark true story of a prostitute serial killer (Mehdi Bajestani) and the female journalist chasing him (Zar Amir-Ebrahimic, who won the prize for best actress at Cannes, where the film world premiered) in present-day Iran. Iran isn’t exactly known for its openness to social criticism, so the film is actually being considered for entry in the best international Oscar race, not by that country, but by Denmark, from which it received significant funding (it’s in the final of the Danes three, with a decision expected soon). Abbasi’s previous film, 2018’s Borderwas submitted by Sweden.
Meanwhile, while one of Netflix’s most highly anticipated titles, Alejandro G. Inarrituc‘s bardoflopped in Venice and Telluride, a more under-the-radar photo of the same streamer, Sebastian Lelio‘s The miracle, popped up more than most expected in Telluride and then again in Toronto. The quiet film about an English nurse (Oscar nominee Florence Pugho) recruited to follow an 11-year-old girl who has stopped eating (Kila Lord Cassidy) in 19th-century Ireland was adapted from Emma DonoghueDonoghue’s 2016 novel of the same name (who previously edited her 2010 novel) Room in an Oscar nominated screenplay), Lelio (the 2017 director A fantastic womanwho won the Oscar for Best International Feature Film) and Alice Birch. There’s a lot to like about the film, but none more so than Pugh’s performance, who is consistently great and stands a much higher chance of being recognized for this film than for Olivia Wildeis controversial don’t worry baby. (I also noticed that) The miracle and Martin McDonagh‘s The Banshees of Inisherinwhich had its world premiere in Venice and then came to Toronto would make a great double film about weird Irishmen choosing to harm themselves.)
Someone else who is very much in the Oscar race for best actress for a Netflix movie is Ana de Armasfor her rendition of Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik‘s blond. The film had its world premiere in Venice, then skipped its North American premiere in LA, Telluride, and Toronto en route to a limited release on September 16 and September 28 on the streaming platform — but Netflix hosted a special screening in Toronto for those not on it. time could be back for the LA premiere, so I can tell you that it’s a very flawed film (way too long and of questionable taste), but also that the Armas puts on a really bold performance that one has to respect (even if she doesn’t completely lose her Cuban accent). Moreover, the resemblance between the Armas and Monroe is astonishing (much more so than between My week with Marilyn‘s Michelle Williams and Monroe on the way to Williams’ best actress name), and there are certain scenes and sequences where I really wondered if the movie was using stock footage (it wasn’t).
The 2022 edition of TIFF concluded on Sunday with an awards ceremony, announcing that Steven Spielberg‘s the fables (Universal) had surpassed Sarah Polley‘s women talk (UAR) and Rian Johnson‘s Glass Onion: A Knife Mystery (Netflix) to win the coveted TIFF Audience Award, which often heralded the Oscars success for best picture (see: chariots of fire, american beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 years slave, Green Book and nomad land). This is great news for Spielberg, who had never brought a movie to TIFF before and is really putting himself out there with this movie, which is all about his family. But it’s also very encouraging for Polley, whose film I think would be too divisive to me and others to put this high, and Johnson, whose film is a comedy with no pretense of greater social significance, which other films have had in the past. has hindered.