TIFF 2020 Wrap-Up

This year, I “attended” the Toronto International Film Festival from the comfort of my bedroom thanks to the near-shutdown of public venues for screenings and my own preference to cocoon during these difficult times.

The end of a festival always has a strange feeling after a week of hanging out in line, chatting with fellow film-lovers, grabbing lunch in favourite restaurants (while not eating or drinking so much I will fall asleep in the next movie). After the last film, the streets are emptier, the cinemas don’t feel like they’re girding for another day, and only the die-hards are still there for a closing night screening.

Walk out onto the street, wait for the streetcar, and ride back into the “real world” with days that don’t revolve around TIFF. This year was different. I gave my computer a rest after many online streams, and wandered into the kitchen to figure out what dinner would be.

Maybe next year we will be back in theatres again. Fingers crossed.

The films here are in order of my personal ratings. If a film is not here, that doesn’t mean it was not good, simply that I did not pick it as part of my schedule. Even the cut-down TIFF had more than one could watch in 10 days unless one were really, really in love with a computer screen.

The TIFF People’s Choice Award this year went to Nomadland, my own personal favourite. Frances McDormand brings us another wonderful characater, Fern, a woman who drifts from job to job among a community of nomadic workers in a version of America far from the classic dreams of city life with a home and a two-car garage. Superb. *****

Sir Anthony Hopkins stars with Olivia Colman in The Father , a tale of family relationships falling apart as his character, also named Anthony, slides into dementia. Without giving away the ending, the story is told from Anthony’s point of view and the audience must gradually shift its understanding of just what the “real” world is as the story unfolds. A tour-de-force of acting with an excellent script and direction from Florian Zeller. ****½

Mira Nair directs a large cast in her six-hour version of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy originally produced for the BBC and coming to Netflix. Andrew Davies, a man with many period piece adaptations to his name, is credited as the screenwriter, but it was clear from the Q&A that his original design was adjusted to suit Nair’s desire to bring the political threads forward. She sees the difficult problems of finding a way to make India work politically in its early days as a parallel to the more humourous challenge of finding a suitable bridal partner. Absolutely delightful throughout. ****½

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