The Toronto International Film Festival is in its 36th year this year, and its second with the lofty-ceilinged, glass-fronted TIFF Bell Lightbox as its main home. The building was filled with long, snaking lines for much of the ten days as demand for seats ran high. It's an event in thrall to stars, its Oscar-race clout drawing celebrities to the red carpet, and the rare decision to open with a documentary (Davis Guggenheim's From the Sky Down, on U2) seemed less about pushing format than angling for a rock-star glean for the evening through the attendance of Bono and The Edge. However, the calibre of films screening was no less for that, the festival's growing reputation as a rival for Venice proving its weight.
From two large sections full of gems, FIPRESCI focused on world and international premieres to award, singling out Gianni Amelio's First Man from the Special Presentations section and Axel Petersen's Avalon from the Discovery program, in what were both rather clear decisions.
The festival closing with a British film, David Hare's political thriller Page Eight, was fitting, given the strong year the Brits are having, films such as Steve McQueen's Shame and Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights having shown in Toronto amid a storm of critical anticipation which proved altogether justified. (Carmen Gray)
Toronto International Film Festival: www.tiff.net