The Bucket List: Toronto International Film Festival

by Just Juan

16. Attend the Toronto International Film Festival. I’m a lover of films so it’s no doubt that I’ll land myself in Toronto to attend one. Hey…why not see the hottest film on the block before 99% of the rest of the world does.

I’m a lover of films. It’s the reason why I pay $9 a month for Netflix. It’s the reason why I have an account. It’s the reason why I pay the ridiculous prices at movie theaters. Simply put…I’m a lover of films. That love stretches all genres, too. That written, it was an absolute no-brainer that attending a film festival would be on my bucket list. Since I’m not famous enough to be among those at the invitation-only Cannes Film Festival, I opted to include the next best one on my list: the Toronto International Film Festival. Late last summer, I attended the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival—or TIFF 2013—in conjunction with my Toronto debut, which also included this and this.

I made the decision to attend the festival pretty late in the game…like in late July. By that time, all of the really good ticket packages were gone. No big deal though. I was able to score a ticket to the Closing Night Gala as well as some individual tickets to a few other movies. The atmosphere surrounding TIFF 2013 was electric. It was nothing for me to see celebrities out and about as they were in town for the red carpet and the world premieres of films they were in. I mingled with them and other film lovers alike. There were theaters spread across Downtown Toronto…all dedicated to showing TIFF films. The lines were usually long for the rush tickets but it was still exciting nonetheless. I managed to get actual tickets to 5 films while I was there but I did manage to also see an additional film in the very last viewing a couple of hours before the festival closed.

The films I viewed were as follows:

  •  Life of Crime. Directed by little-known director, Daniel Schechter, the Closing Gala Film featured a star-studded cast that included Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Mos Def, Will Forte, and John Hawkes. Based off Elmore Leonard’s The Switch, it’s a wildly entertaining film about two ex-cons who devise a plan to kidnap a real estate developer’s wife only for the plan to go shrewdly awry.
  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl and The First Grader), acclaimed actor Idris Elba (The Wire) gives a riveting performance as legendary South African freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, based on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The film co-starred Naomie Harris (Skyfall and The First Grader) as Winnie Mandela.
  • Cold Eyes. Co-directed by Kim Byung-seo and Cho Ui-seok, this South Korean thriller is actually a remake of Eye in the Sky, a Hong Kong film I saw on a Qantas flight between HKG and NRT way back in April 2010. It features a high-tech police surveillance team attempting to capture a ruthless bank robber.
  • Khumba. Anthony Silverstone directs this modern version of The Lion King with a bit of a different twist…or stripe, depending on how you see it. Featuring the voices of Jake Austin, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, and Laurence Fishburne, this vibrant savannah adventure tells the story of a semi-striped zebra in his quest to find a legendary watering hole.
  • 1982. Tommy Oliver’s directorial debut takes you back to inner-city Philadelphia in the early 80s as a father (Hill Harper) struggles to protect his daughter (Troi Zee) from the reality of the drug addiction that has taken her mother (Sharon Leal) captive. The film touches on many issues that are still present in today’s black-dominated inner cities. Supporting roles in the film included Wayne Brady, La La Anthony, Elise Neal, and Bokeem Woodbine.
  • Half of a Yellow Sun. Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel and directed by Biyi Bandele in his first film, Half of a Yellow Sun gives you the story of family ties in the midst of a civil war in Nigeria. It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton with added support from Anika Noni Rose and Onyeka Onwenu.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. Being amongst other film lovers, directors, actors, actresses, and producers gave me that kid in a candy store feeling. It was fantastic.


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1 comment

Shermika June 1, 2014 - 10:09 pm

I saw 1982 as part of the Atlanta Film Festival. Very powerful film. I will have to look into the others you mentioned as I love film–when I have time to watch them…especially indie flicks! We have to go to the film fest one year together!!


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