|TIFF 2011: Telefilm Promotes New Canadian Talent|
|ARTICLES - Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)|
|Written by Adam Donaldson|
|Saturday, 17 September 2011 00:00|
Written By Adam A. Donaldson
For the second of three “Talent to Watch” panels during the Toronto International Film Festival, Telefilm gathered four of the most interesting and accomplished Canadian filmmakers for a lunchtime talk called “Faraway So Close: New Canadian Stories.”
On stage in the Filmmaker’s Lounge at the Hyatt on King Street, the four filmmakers in attendance were Ivan Grbovic (Romeo Eleven/Roméo Onze), Ingrid Veninger (i am a good person/i am a bad person), Philippe Falardeau, (Monsieur Lazhar) and Carl Bessai (Sisters&Brothers). Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator in the Department of Film at the New York Museum of Modern Art, moderated.
The panel began with opening remarks by acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, who has been making festival-goers laugh with an appearance in a thank you video to volunteers at the beginning of screenings. Mehta said that she’s been blown away by the depth of Canadian talent at this year’s festival, particularly praising Sarah Polley’s new film Take this Waltz. She advised that Canadian filmmakers should not get caught up in what is Canadian and what is not, but rather tell something that is particular and it becomes universal.
Kardish began the discussion by suggesting that the four films by these filmmakers in the festival represent a theme of melancholy and sadness, but Falardeau sees humour in the films as well. “Serious issues can be tackled with humour,” he said. “It’s important when I make a film that there is light, that there’s drama and humour simultaneously.”
But the themes make sense to Bessai, who says that as an English-Canadian filmmaker, he always feels like he’s on the outside looking in, even at Canada’s biggest film festival. “There’s an obsession about that in English Canada. […] We want to be seen.”
Grbovic thinks that sadness, as a theme, is on its way out. “Art films have been seen as sad films because they’re the anti-clichés of Hollywood films,” he said.
Falardeau, in talking about the new narrative in Canadian film, explained how even in Quebec it’s hard to make a film that doesn’t feature characters that are white and Quebecois, and that he wanted to tell a story about an immigrant family that was about immigration. “Jacob Tierney said that in Quebec we don’t make films about Anglophones and immigrants,” he said explaining how Tierney got in trouble for the comment. “But a cat is a cat, and these films are very rare.”
Veninger meanwhile says that the stories she decides to tell are about what she has on hand. “My narratives are completely dictated by my resources,” she said. “I don’t have a budget when I start, I don’t have a schedule when I start and the script is the minimum I need.”
Bessai also touts the “power and magic of improvisation” when making a movie, and noted that filmmakers should start thinking of films, considering the changing nature of the movie business these days, in new ways. “Films are getting huge and films are getting small,” he observed. “We should be asking, ‘What can we do that’s different?’”
Later, the filmmakers were asked about funding, and the struggles there in. Falardeau said that despite the occasional difficulties in trying to raise funds for a film, he still prefers to be a filmmaker in Canada over trying to make his mark in the U.S.
“At the end of the day, when you do get funding, you do get a bit of latitude,” he said. When asked what he would do with a credit card that had no limit, Falardeau said that he has an idea for a film that he’s really excited about. A personal story that he thought up as he recently stayed in Greece. “But I can’t spend public money on a movie about myself,” he added with a shrug.
The final question of the session had to do with how the filmmakers wanted their films to be seen in the future: on the big screen of a cinema, or on the small screen of an iPhone.
“I want a screen with 300 people in the room,” said Grbovic emphatically. “I’m old fashioned.”