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Toronto: For the Love of Film


by Greg Brown 2 Oct 2008

Guest blogger Greg Brown is the managing director of AFI Dallas International Film Festival. We’re still six months away from the 2009 AFI Dallas International Film Festival (March 26-April 5, 2009), but our programmers are out and about looking for the best films the world has to offer. That includes them traveling to film festivals […]

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Guest blogger Greg Brown is the managing director of AFI Dallas International Film Festival.

We’re still six months away from the 2009 AFI Dallas International Film Festival (March 26-April 5, 2009), but our programmers are out and about looking for the best films the world has to offer. That includes them traveling to film festivals around the world. AFI Dallas senior programmer Sarah Harris headed north to the Toronto International Film Festival and has this report …
Although we’re on our way with the construction of the largest urban arts district in the United States, Dallas can still learn a lot from Toronto. It’s a city that has fully embraced its love for its art community, particularly film.
For the past 32 years, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has been held in early September, and many people believe it launches the new awards season. TIFF is a powerhouse of international and independent cinema that many festivals in North America strive to be. After attending the last two years, I completely understand why.
Toronto is a film town. The public loves movies and the city (and Ontario and Canada also) support their film industry. It doesn’t matter what public screening you go to, whether a gala screening, a block of short films or an obscure narrative feature film from Finland, there are people eagerly waiting to find a seat in the theater. Then, afterwards, passionate conversations spills out into the streets. And that energy is contagious. It’s a great model for those of us producing film festivals here in Dallas.
TIFF is by far one of my favorite film festivals. With more than 300 films screened there each year, the choices of what to see can be a little daunting, but exciting all the same. I was lucky enough to see several films while in Toronto, some of which we are working to bring to town for AFI Dallas next spring.
One film I enjoyed was Valentino: The Last Emperor. The film spans Valentino’s 70th birthday and his last couture show, unveiling not only the trails of putting on a celebratory final runway show but more importantly, the 50-year relationship Valentino has had with Giancarlo Giammettti, his business partner, best friend, lover and confidante. In an industry where each season brings something completely new, the film shows how powerful and meaningful this fashion icon has become, not through the money the company has made, but through the relationships with people, especially with Giammetti, that he’s kept.
The industry buzz that came out of the screenings of both Slumdog Millionaire and Synecdoche, New York is only the beginning. With very different voices, Danny Boyle and Charlie Kaufman, respectively, have created two unique films that film lovers have been hungry for this year. After being a part of the Toronto conversation, I can’t wait to hear audience reactions when both films release later this fall.
There is nothing else like the Toronto International Film Festival, and thankfully the love it has for film will push the rest of us to spread the beauty of cinema as well. For more information on TIFF, visit www.tiff08.ca.
If you’re lucky enough to go, you’ll love it. In the meantime, check out the excellent festivals our own area has to offer, including the Dallas Video Festival coming up in November.

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