TIFF 2022 – Day Two
by Thom Ernst – Film Correspondent
(September 9, 2022 – Toronto,ON)
Canadian Films and Events:
The Buffy Sainte-Marie (well deserved) love fest continues today with another screening of the documentary Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On, 5:30 p.m. at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
But there are a lot of Canadian film’s crammed into today:
Today the highlight in Canadian Cinema is Chandler Levak’s I Like Movies screening at 6:15 p.m. at Scotiabank.
I Like Movies
I’m willing to bet that filmmakers make better critics than critics make as filmmakers. But there are two films at this year’s festival where I’d lose that bet. And both films, as are both filmmakers, are Canadian. One is former MacCleans’ film critic Brian D. Johnson with his movie, The Colour of Ink. The other is Chandler Levak’s debut feature film; I Like Movies. I Like Movies is the kind of nail-on-the-head title that worries me; I fear a film so overwhelmed by the director’s passion that it becomes too inside A League of Their Own or worse, one of those exhausting tributes to our love movies. Yes, Levak likes movies, as does her main character, a socially-different-abled young man (pictured above) who forms an unlikely bond with his manager at the local video store where he works. But the sentimentality that tends to push emotions towards the cute and the inspirational is muted in tones of relatable conflict, in love that screams and hollers and says terrible things and stories that are told but not entirely heard. And the film’s few clever little winks to the film geeks in the audience are broad enough to be appreciated by all. I Like Movies is not to be missed.
The concert/documentary film Ever Deadly screens today at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, 9:30 p.m.
Ever Deadly starts with two women standing on an isolated shoreline engaged in a traditional Inuit throat singing competition. Tanya Tagaq and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory face each other with noses almost touching. At first glance—and for several glances after—their stance seems confrontational, but their smiles are described best as being playful, not taunting but full of joy.
For the unindoctrinated, the sound of their voices, broken breaths and klatches rising deep from their larynx, a pulsating rhythm not unlike the beatboxing of a rap artist, might sound strange, otherworldly, but without question; a voice trained and skilled.
The film lingers on the two women competing in this manner, face to face, moving intimately close so that one seems to be drawing in breaths from the other, their lips nearly in contact, and then they laugh and hug.
Soon after, one of the women, Tagaq, appears on stage. She is explaining to an unseen audience the basis, and tradition of her performance, much of which gives context to the scene before. Then, before her performance begins, Tagaq quips, “This is a small room, so if you really hate it, it’s easy to leave.”
The irony of her statement, so well placed in the film, is that there are likely to be those in the movie theatre who have already made for the exit. Tagaq’s joke speaks to an awareness that throat singing, an art form that has brought national attention, several albums, and the right to stand on stage with a backup choir and a four-piece band, is not going to appeal to everyone.
But think what you will of the traditional art form. It’s improvisational, spontaneous, unique, and entirely mesmerizing. Tanya Tagaq’s performance is a wonder to watch, moving from rhythmic breaths to metal rock-star vocals; eyes rolled back, body moving in waves of Dionysiac frenzy. The film seems disinterested in initiating new fans to the genre, and neither does it seem too interested in explanations. Tagaq is telling her story embedded with her concert performance, and somewhere through that journey, an understanding is revealed.
Canadian films screening tomorrow, September 10 at the festival include:
I’m anticipating great things from director Nisha Pahuja’s (The World Before Her) To Kill A Tiger, a story of a family’s search for justice after their daughter has been brutally assaulted. To Kill A Tiger screens at the Scotiabank Theatre tomorrow at 2:45 p.m.
Something You Said Last Night will screen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 at 12:30 p.m., Black Ice is at Roy Thomson Hall at 3:30 p.m. and Bones of Crows is at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto at 5:45 p.m.
Director Sean Garrity (always a great festival bet) has a new comedy with a horror movie title: The End of Sex screening at the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto at 7:30 p.m.
Until the Branches Bend will screen at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 8:00 p.m.
Thom Ernst is a Toronto based film critic and writer and an active member of the (TFCA) Toronto Film Critics’ Association. His work has appeared in various publications including Playback Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. He is known to CBC Radio listeners for his lively contributions to Fresh Air, Metro Morning, and CBC Syndication as well as appearing on-air for CTV News Channel and The Agenda with Steve Paikin. He was host, interviewer and producer of televisions’ longest running movie program Saturday Night at the Movies. Currently he can be heard interviewing Canadian filmmakers on the Kingston Canadian Film Festival podcast, Rewind, Fast-Forward.