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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Slow-down in blogging and weird Toronto International Film Festival audiences

Faithful readers of this blog will have noticed that there have been fewer posts as of late.

I am very grateful to all of my readers and want to let you know what's going on.

As many of you may know, I'm running for Public School Trustee in Toronto's Ward 10, so that's been placing additional demands on my time, and I had a pretty busy non-blogging life before that.

This week is also that of the Toronto International Film Festival and some of my industry friends have been in town and we've been catching up.

Film festivals in general are very strange, pretentious events and the Toronto festival, while not as bad as some, is no exception. And TIFF audiences are very weird.

A lot of people don't necessarily realize is that the vast majority of movies in film festival are absolute crap.

Movies go into festivals to try to create a buzz and sometimes get distribution and exposure.

If a movie is good, has wide distribution and appeal to more than niche audiences with low expectations, odds are it will already have a distribution deal and doesn't need festival exposure to get good press.

Sure there are exceptions, and some outstandingly so, but the odds are, when you see that movie that no one's ever heard of, there's good reason why no one has ever heard of it.

Toronto, the navel-gazing"World Class City," has the unfortunate, insecure habit of comparing itself to, and labeling itself whatever "North" when it is trying to seem important (e.g. "Hollywood North".. I mean really..does the New York film industry call itself "Hollywood East"? University of Toronto calling itself "Harvard North"...does Yale University call itself "Oxford West"?)

And TIFF audiences seem so thrilled to get a taste of Hollywood and sit in a now world-famous festival, that they will give a standing ovation to practically any piece of garbage that flickers on the screen in front of them.

And then there are the documentary audiences.

Documentaries are a regular feature of film festivals because that is more often than not the only time some of them will ever be seen.

But movies calling themselves documentaries these days frequently aren't really that, but polemics on film, that rather than document, cherry-pick information to try to reenforce a particular political point of view.

So, naturally the tend to only attract audiences already predisposed towards believing the argument they make, or in other words, they are just preaching to the converted.

Having been invited to some documentary premiers over the years, that 'preaching to the converted' term seems particularly apt for the weird TIFF documentary audiences. That's because, sitting among them, it felt to me like being in a secular tabernacle for fundamentalist nuts. One woman in her 60's sitting next to me kept saying a shocked "wow!' about every 12 seconds at a movie pontificating about an issue that is in the news every day. Other audience members were talking to the screen, as if they thought a digital projection of recorded images needed the endorsement of live people.

It's nights like that that make Netflix such an appealing alternative.

Anyway, that's what's been going on with me lately. I'll try to post from time-to-time still, but at least you know why there's been the slowdown.

There will be a very interesting endorsement of my TDSB Trustee campaign coming up in the next week or two, so stay posted. There's a great group who have already come on board!

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