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September 16, 2003

Film festival

The Toronto Film Festival just blew through town reminding me once again of my loathing for the Toronto Film Festival. And to be more specific, Toronto Film Festival goers.

The skies stayed clear, the journalists behaved, and the stars came, were seen, and got the heck out. With 339 films from 55 countries unspooling over 10 days, the 28th Toronto International Film Festival is now a wrap.

This year's festival included 63 world and 104 North American premieres, and showcased an impressive range of serious drama, provocative documentaries and of course, stars, stars, stars.

Of course a yearning for "stars, stars, stars" is lame, lame, lame. I have met people who - I am not making this up - get dressed up and totter off to the Four Seasons hotel bar in the hope of spotting some Hollywood B-list celebrity drowning their sorrows in the stultifying boredom of Toronto's low-budget, tax-subsidized film industry. The industry itself provides an income for more than a few friends of the Flea so I am not complaining too much on that score. It is the idea anyone would want to bother some bedraggled actor and in the process underline, high-light and otherwise show off their complete lack of anything else to do.

Take me, for example. Few compete with the Flea for internet-related time-wasting activity yet I manage to avoid bedazzlement by the ostensibly meaningful lives of celebrities (Kylie and Madonna excepted, of course). The Sister of the Flea and I were leaving a downtown bookstore a couple months ago and walked by a short guy. That was Dustin Hoffman, she remarked. Oh, I replied. We carried on to our coffee-related destination without commenting further. I cannot see how else we were supposed to react. It certainly did not rate a mention at the Flea. I bring it up now only to point to the total banality of the event and in the small hope our non-harassment let him get on with getting his own coffee. The Sister of a Flea has a much more glamorous occupation than I do and is consequently even less prone to star-struck reactions than I am. Basically, if I am going to name drop it will not be because I walked by someone on the street let alone pathetically lined up to see someone supposedly more fabulous than me as they are ushered into an invitation only event.

The Festival brings out the worst of this behaviour in people. Let us imagine for a moment I was desperate to see the latest in the oeuvre of a specific Uzbeki director and my wall-mounted plasma-screen home movie environment was inadequate to the certain something provided by an honest to goodness cinema screening. Maybe, just maybe, I could imagine fighting my way through the ticket-buying process and lines of hangers-on to take advantage of the cinematic resource provided by the event. But this is not the face presented to me by most Festival goers.

Au contraire. For the most part, people are scrambling to get in to first-run Hollywood films which are scheduled for general release anywhere from the next few weeks up to the next couple months as the studios make their own Oscar season scramble. The desperation. The expense. The crapola movies. All of this is presented to me as if it was an accomplishment, an insider lifestyle-thing, instead of lickspittleism, poor judgement and bad taste.

And then... Note to self: posting is snarky before 5 a.m. Consider more sleep.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 16, 2003 04:48 AM


Working in NYC, my wife and I have encountered a number of "celebs" ranging from Charlie Rose to Bruce (sorry...BRRRRUUUCCCEEEE) Springsteen to various movie stars.

The only one I ever reacted to was Laurie Anderson. And that was because (a) it was totally unexpected and (b) she actually smiled and said hello when she realized I recognized her.

The one NYC lurker that I wished I had run into was Wendy Carlos of "Clockwork Orange", "Switched On Bach" and others. Unfortunately she seems to have made a profession out of lurking.

Posted by: Fred Kiesche at September 16, 2003 08:20 AM

I could see having coffee with Laurie Anderson. The NYC celeb I would most want to meet is Sandra Bernhard. I have this deranged Will & Grace-style idea I could trade witty remarks with her. Then there is Flea-fav Ann Magnuson...

Posted by: Nicholas Packwood at September 17, 2003 04:31 PM