TORONTO PHOTOS AND NOTES, #2
For several people I talked to, my favorite film at Cannes became their favorite film at Toronto. Oslo, August 31 is Joachim Trier’s follow-up to his inspiring hit film, Reprise. That movie, a tale of youth and best friends and literature and longing and rock and roll, was smart, sophisticated and with an emotional arc like a great mix tape. It was also somewhat dazzling in its montage, using split-screen, freeze frames and a European post-punk soundtrack to make its story of young Norwegian literati one that felt like young adulthood everywhere. After several years working on a larger-scale American picture that Trier hopes will go next year, the director decided to quickly make another feature. Oslo August 31 is a melancholic and deeply empathetic portrait of a recovering heroin addict on his first weekend away from his half-way house and amidst regular society. Based on a 1931 novel by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (also adapted by Louis Malle in The Fire Within) film stars physician and sometime-actor Anders Danielson Lie — he also appeared in Reprise — who delivers a heartbreakingly stoic performance. As befitting this more somber subject matter, Trier’s editorial pyrotechnics are dialed down this time. Nonetheless, the film’s opening minutes are a beautiful, elegiac city symphony for the film’s eponymous locale. I interviewed Trier and we talked about how movies with sad subjects, like this one, don’t have to make you blue. Like a melancholy song, they can move you and leave you with a feeling that heightens your sensitivity to everyday life. Watch for this interview here soon.
The IFP had a rooftop party at the Thompson Hotel with sponsors Calvin Klein and RBC. Celebrating women in film, the party honored a number of the fest’s female directors and stars, including Lynn Ramsay, Dee Rees, Selma Blair, Lynn Shelton and Susan Youssef. Spinning was The Ellen Show‘s DJ Tony — better known to Filmmaker readers as Tony Okungbowa, an actor and executive producer of Andrew Dosunmu’s Sundance and IFP Narrative Lab selection, Restless City.
Speaking of IFP parties and films, here’s Kickstarter’s Elisabeth Holm at an afternoon cocktail party hosted by IFP and Telefilm Canada. Holm attended the IFP Narrative Lab this past June as a producer with Keith Miller’s Welcome to Pine Hill.
So I was rushing to an interview that I squeezed in between too many other things. “It’s only a few minutes from the Hyatt,” they said. Yeah, but it was still going to be a race to get to the Royal York on Front Street and then back to the Hyatt for another interview 40 minutes later. It took a second to find the right elevators, and I turned the corner to the interview suite rushed and flustered… and was confronted with a phalanx (okay, maybe just three) security guards. “I’m here for the interview,” I said. “Go right inside.” And as I entered, I realized — oh yeah, I an interviewing a head of state. A President. Above are that man, Mohamed Nasheed, and his director Jon Shenk. Their film, The Island President, follows Nasheed, the President of the Maldives, as he warns of the escalating carbon levels and climate change that will first wipe out his island country and then threaten life everywhere else on the planet. But The Island President is neither hectoring not statistics-filled. Instead, it makes its charismatic subject, who draws media attention by conducting cabinet meetings underwater and journeys to the Copenhagen summit on climate change where he is a forceful and adroit politician and advocate, an improbably optimistic hero.
I asked Nasheed and Shenk whether politicians’ fixation on new growth to rejuvenate faltering Western economies makes it harder to tackle ambitious projects like curbing global warming. Not at all, Nasheed, shot back, calling climate change accords an imperative before he added that the U.S. has wrung all the growth it can out of its legacy industries. Adopting solar and other green initiatives is one of the few ways that we can grow out of our economic malaise, he said. Watch for this interview as well as a clip from our talk here on the site.
At the start of Sleepless Night, I hated this guy. He’s a dirty cop who thinks nothing of blowing away a couple of dudes and hijacking their heroin in an urban daylight shootout. But as the movie goes on, I liked him more. He’s got a son he cares about. He’s pretty clever and resourceful. And the guys he’s up against — a dirtier cop and a skeezy mob boss — are even more morally compromised than he is. I began to wonder how long he could survive before bleeding out from the knife wound in his stomach. Read here my thoughts on Frederic Jardin’s economical and entertaining action thriller, Sleepless Night. Above is lead actor Tomer Sisley, who happened to be hanging out outside the film’s Press and Industry screening at the Scotiabank Theater. I asked him if I could snap his picture and he said yes. He seemed like a nice guy.