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The Films of TIFF: Where Are They Now?

March 12, 2012

By John C.

Exactly six months ago, we were in the midst of the Toronto International Film Festival, and in exactly that much time we will be in the midst of screening this year’s crop of small gems and awards contenders.  With the wonderful dramedy Jeff, Who Lives at Home opening this Friday after being one of my favourite finds of last year’s festival, I’d like to take a look back at some of the most notable of the films that screened last September, and let you know where they are now.  My capsule reviews are here & here.

When looking back over any film festival a few months after the fact, it can be easy just to write a nostalgia piece, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.  At this point, we all know that The Descendants and Moneyball played right here in Toronto and went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, with festival favourite The Artist taking home the gold.  But what I’m trying to do is shine a little more light on some of the lesser known films that were at TIFF, by giving you all of the information that you need on when and where to check them out.

The surprise winner of the People’s Choice Award was the Lebanese musical-drama Where Do We Go Now? which is set to open in limited release on May 18th.  It’s a fairly decent film with a few interesting things to say, but I just don’t see it doing very well off the festival circuit, especially when surrounded by the big summer blockbusters.  Second place for the award went to the entertaining and charmingly bittersweet Canadian film Starbuck, which has been available on DVD from eOne for a little while now and is well worth checking out.  Another Canadian film that was picked up by eOne is the quietly powerful Monsieur Lazhar, which is coming on DVD tomorrow.  I finally offered my full thoughts on the excellent film last week, before it swept the Genies on Thursday night.

Also on the note of Canadian content, Sarah Polley’s sophomore feature Take This Waltz is set to open sometime this summer from Mongrel Media, and is worth seeing if only for the brilliant supporting work of Seth Rogen.  The gritty and expertly paced thriller Drive was an instant cult classic that rocked with critics and certain audiences, but ultimately failed to ignite a spark at the mainstream box office and is well worth checking out if you can handle the violence.  Another critical favourite that more people should have seen was the psychological thriller Take Shelter, which is also well worth a rental.  The great 50/50 was one of the most moving films of last year and it should have won the audience award, but I’ll just be happy if more people check it out at home.

Out of the other films that I recommended during the festival, the brilliant Canadian crime drama Edwin Boyd (now subtitled with Citizen Gangster) is set to open on April 27th from eOne Films.  The hilarious and surprisingly intelligent political satire Butter was originally set for release later this month from Alliance, but has been pushed back to October to coincide with the American presidential election.  The excellent little dramedy Your Sister’s Sister is still without a release date, but has the star power of Emily Blunt turning in one of her finest performances and should do well with both audiences and critics.  The quietly touching romantic drama Like Crazy just came on DVD last week from Paramount, and is worth a look for those wanting a nice change of pace.

George Clooney’s political drama The Ides of March underperformed as an awards contender, but the sharply written film is widely available and worth seeing.  On a lighter note, the fairly entertaining Canadian teen gambling film The Odds is currently in limited release.  Part of the festival experience is discovering films that you might not otherwise get a chance to see, and when these ones get released in theatres they are worth seeking out.  From Best Picture winner The Artist to the small masterpiece Jeff, Who Lives at Home opening this Friday, there were plenty of excellent films screened at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and they are worth checking out now that they’re more widely available.  All I’m trying to do is give these films the extra push they need to gain the bigger audiences they so rightfully deserve, before the festival takes over the city again in September.

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