31st Toronto International Film Festival

USA, September 7 - September 16 2006

The jury

Klaus Eder (Germany), Géza Csákvári (Hungary), Esin Kücüktepepinar (Turkey), Oscar Peyrou (Spain), Norman Wilner (Canada)

Awarded films

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), now in its 31st edition, follows the idea of a “festival of festivals”. This allows the programmers to show films which were already presented at previous festivals, such as Berlin, Cannes, and in particular the immediately preceding Venice. To see the very best examples of recent world cinema is an attraction for the local public queuing up to get in, sometimes for several city blocks ; and it’s a welcome chance for professionals to catch up with missed films.

Only TIFF shows more, much more: 352 films, altogether. While Venice, for example, invited three films of the remarkable series “Mozart’s Visionary Cinema: New Crowned Hope”, Toronto showed all seven films (by Paz Encina, Bahman Ghobadi, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Teboho Mahlatsi, Garin Nugroho, Tsai Ming-liang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul), surely one of the festival’s highlights. As well, the number of world premieres increased, among them films by Ridley Scott (A Good Year), Patrice Leconte (Mon meilleur ami), Sarah Polley (Away From Her) and Mark Palansky (Penelope). Film companies have learned that Toronto offers an excellent possibility to market their wares, and the festival supports this by installing complete working facilities for visiting press and industry. This year, even more European companies took advantage of the Toronto platform, using it as a door not only to the Canadian but in particular to the American market. The public and the industry part of the festival complement one another, supported by a reasoned and knowledgeable programming staff and a highly professional organization. This makes Toronto not only one of the best, but also one of the most important festivals worldwide.

And this is not even to mention the pleasure the festival offers to film lovers and connoisseurs. The Toronto experience of seeing films differs from the European experience: The “classic” European festivals are organized according to a hierarchy, with the competition and other red carpet events on the top. In Toronto, such a hierarchy does not exist (with the exception, maybe, of the gala screenings). Every film has the same value and standing; no film is a priori better and more important because it’s in competition. Every visitor can therefore draw up his own program, deciding what to see (and about which films to write). If it was an American event, you would probably call it a democratic way of presenting movies.

One of the most and controversially discussed events was the world premiere of Gabriel Range’s Death of a President, an intelligent, harsh, irritating comment on the Bush administration. Our jury awarded it the Prize of the International Critics, “for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth”. British filmmaker Gabriel Range returned to Toronto, to accept the prize at the festival’s award ceremony. (k.e.)