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At TIFF

Wow, as I sit here in an internet cafe just north of Dundas on Yonge, it turns out to have been a really good idea to just sorta drop everything and come to Tronna for the weekend and just hope to get into some TIFF screenings by using the rush lines.

I was able to buy a ticket for the first film I wanted to see. It never did sell out. It was Deliver Us From Evil, a documentary about Oliver O’Grady–a pedophile Catholic priest who molested at least a hundred kids in central California starting in the 70s. He fully cooperated with the filmmakers–likely not intending to come off as the sociopath he does (!)–and it was really interesting to hear his side of the story. But it was excruciating to see the pain he had inflicted on the victims and their families. I was in tears I dunno how many times and wanted to rip that (seemingly oblivious) sonofabitch’s nuts off by the time the house lights came up.

Then, later in the evening was the premiere of the new film by one of my favourite filmmakers, Werner Herzog: Rescue Dawn. This is a narrative version of the story of Vietnam POW Dieter Dengler, whose story Herzog told a few years ago in the documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. I got to the theatre two and a half hours before the screening and there were already 12 people in the rush line. Yeesh. Luckily, the theatre holds 1200 people, so it seemed likely that I might be able to get in on rush. But about an hour before the screening, some kind soul came up to me and flat-out gave me a ticket to the film! Yeah, gratis. So I got outta the rush line and into the ticket-holders line (which was ‘way around the block by that point). Happy as a clam. Kept checking my back pocket and feeling the ticket there–to make sure it was real. 🙂

As for the film, meh, I wasn’t all that crazy about it, truth be told. I think the documentary is a much stronger, much more effective (and affective) film. I wasn’t crazy about the casting of this (Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, and Jeremy Davies–the latter of whom was even more irritatingly self-absorbed in person at the Q&A afterwards than his performance was in the film, and that’s saying a lot), and I thought the script had an odd tone (there were some awkward comic moments that just seemed out of place to me). Plus, of course, we’ve seen this kinda story before and I don’t think it was told as well in this form as it was in documentary form. But the crowd seemed to love it (‘course, a film fest audience tends to pee its collective pants in excitement over even the crappiest film–mebbe because they paid twenty-fucking-bucks-to-get-in-and-dammit-they’re-gonna-enjoy-the-movie-no-matter-how-shitty-it-is. I love Werner, but this was just so-so, IMO.

Still, it was an absolute thrill to have him there–sitting smack-dab in the middle of the audience–for the screening, and have him available for a Q&A afterwards. Sadly, it was a bad night for him, because, as he revealed onstage, his mother (or was it his foster-mother? he was a bit unclear) had died earlier that day. After about a half an hour of answering audience questions, he cut it short–a hitch in his voice–saying that he just couldn’t continue. It was so good of him to do this at all, on such a sad occasion.

Werner Herzog, from across the limo.

Today, I went down to the Elgin to get in the rush line for Guillermo del Toro‘s new film Pan’s Labyrinth but was able to buy one of 20 tickets that had just been scrounged up and put on sale. Woohoo!! Another of my favourite filmmakers!! So that’s where I’m headed right now–just a couple blocks away. I hear he’s gonna be there too!

→ originally published 2006-09-10

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