TIFF – The World’s Leading Public Film Festival, Kicks Off To A Dazzling Start

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You would expect people to sleep through grey skies wringing out persistent drizzle on a lazy Saturday morning at 7:00 am. Not Toronto.

The city was up and about on September 12th, ready with their umbrellas at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in the heart of the city. They had good reason to. At 8.30am, Jacques Audiard’s riveting French-Tamil drama “Dheepan”, would transport them to another world.

It’s another matter that a large part of the audience spoke neither French nor Tamil. Most of them didn’t know the director or the star cast either. Yes, the film won the Palme d’ Or at 68th Cannes Film Festival in May 2015. But was that enough reason to give up your Saturday sleep? For some, it may well be. For others like me, it was the shameless hope of brushing past important Hollywood honchos along the way!

If destiny doesn’t bless you with such luck, brace yourself still. The star or director of the film you just saw could spring out from behind the curtains after the movie is over to make your ticket well worth it.

For those watching “Dheepan”, the last bit came true. The Sri Lankan protagonist, Jesuthasan Antonythsan, sauntered in much to our delight. Although it was hard to remember his name, he made himself unforgettable with the effortless portrayal of the character: a tough, former Tamil Tiger soldier who set out on a new life path in Paris with his makeshift family. He patiently answered the barrage of questions aimed at him through a translator, with the glib of the skilled writer that he was in reality.

STILLS FROM “DHEEPAN”

“I’m a big deal (as a writer) in the Tamil community (in Canada)”, said he with humour; rare for someone who finds it tough to smile. He explained his personal connection to the role (he was a former Tamil Tiger soldier himself, settled in Paris since the past 22 years); the linguistic challenges that the cast faced through the making of the film and why he would be staying on for seven more days in Toronto (to meet his Tamil fans).

Such is the charm of the Toronto Film Festival 2015 that commenced on September 10th to full houses. It bridges the gap between the film fraternity and film fanatics in ways that’s delightfully informal. TIFF’s gala parties are part of the festival’s attraction. If you are important enough to snag an invite, you can take selfies with the likes of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

On Sunday, September 13th, the South Asian Diaspora was up for yet another treat. Deepa Mehta’s “Beeba Boys” made a grand entry with the entire cast. The film premiered in North America with the screening that evening.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 13: Director Deepa Mehta attends the gala premiere of "Beeba Boys" at Roy Thomson Hall during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 13: Director Deepa Mehta attends the gala premiere of “Beeba Boys” at Roy Thomson Hall during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 13: Cast and crew attend the gala premiere of "Beeba Boys" at Roy Thomson Hall during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 13: Cast and crew attend the gala premiere of “Beeba Boys” at Roy Thomson Hall during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Based on the real-life story of Indo-Canadian gang wars, the crime thriller promises to enthrall the audience. The film stars Randeep Hooda in a sinister avatar. A line-up of fine actors alongside him such as Ali Kazmi and Ali Momen make it a film to watch out for.

The popularity of TIFF lies not just with the opportunity for film lovers to brush shoulders with film makers. It is a true tribute to multi-cultural Canada, showcasing a wide genre of films from all over the world.

Started in 1976 as the “Festival of Festivals”, TIFF curates the best films from other film festivals worldwide, often introducing lesser known talent in the process, many of who have risen to clink glasses with the world greats. Re-named TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 1995, the event rose to success for launching both commercially viable Hollywood productions and art house cinema.

The 40th annual Toronto Film Festival commenced on Thursday September 10th for a 10-day stint. The festival showcases a spectacular genre of films from over 60 countries with themes that transcend borders, cultures and countries, just like the stars.

(photos courtesy of Getty Images)

ARTICLE BY: JOYEETA DUTTA RAY

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