Magazine article Screen International

Toronto Chiefs Talk London Focus and Festival's Future

Magazine article Screen International

Toronto Chiefs Talk London Focus and Festival's Future

Article excerpt

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) (Sept 10-20) is putting the spotlight on London for this year's City to City programme, featuting filmmakers living and working in the UK capital.

Festival CEO Piers Handling and artistic director Cameron Bailey, who was born in London, spoke to ScreenDaily during their screening-packed visit to the British capital ahead of the line-up announcement in August.

What is your screening schedule like at the moment as we edge closer to the festival?

Cameron Bailey: This is prime time for screening. After London, Piers goes offto Warsaw and Rome, I go offto Beijing, Tokyo and Mumbai - and we go to Paris in the middle.

Piers Handling: We need to have some good food.

CB: Not that there's anything wrong with the food here [laughs]. But the next two or three weeks are the final push for screenings.

PH: We lock the programme in July.

How many films do you see?

CB: I see about 700 in a year. Overall, the entire programming team sees around 5,000.

There's great stuffhappening in so many different corners of the planet, and we're lucky that we have the kind of programming team that can fan out around the world and see films.

PH: In London, we have about 65 films on the list. In Paris, there will be about another 80. It's brutal at this time of the year.

What is it about a film that makes you want it for Toronto?

Handling: Each one of us has different sets of tastes, but I think it has to connect with you. And then, you can advocate for it.

What works on you can be a range of different things. In some cases, it's just a really well made film, telling a really good story. In other cases it's incredibly wild, ambitious, adventurous, outrageous, funny, challenging.

Sometimes it's just subject matter - the filmmakers have chosen to focus on something really, really important, and they've done a really good job in terms of dealing with that subject.

I think every one of us is looking for something a little bit different than the others. But I think all our tastes are more or less in sync, which is what gives the festival it's cohesion - but not entirely.

The Midnight Madness programme is looking for very, very different kinds of films than we tend to be looking for, in some ways.

But I think it's the film that lifts you out of your seat. I refer to it as the spaghetti principle - it's the ones that stick when you throw the spaghetti against the wall. It's the ones that stick.

You'll actually really remember about 8 to 10 films incredibly well, and those are the ones that stick with you for a reason.

What can you say about your screenings in London?

CB: This is an exciting time for us to be here because we're putting the spotlight on London this year. We'll have eight films from filmmakers who are living and working here, in addition to our usual UK selection.

We're digging deeper this year, and we're finding some interesting new voices. We've asked our partners here to cast the net a little wider, and I think we're turning up some strong works.

Why did you choose London for this year's City to City programme?

CB: London is interesting because over the last few years we've seen a new generation of filmmakers that are identifying themselves and creating work that separates them a little bit from the previous generation.

This is no longer the Mike Leigh, Ken Loach generation. This is Steve McQueen, Lynne Ramsey and people like that who are doing very different work, work of great artistic ambition, and work of great emotional intensity as well.

We felt there was more to it than that, and there was a new generation of filmmakers that were maybe aligned more with the younger people whose work we've been showing, to great success in Toronto. …

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