In part two of our podcast discussion of TIFF 2020, we go behind the scenes at TIFF and discuss films like One Night in Miami and Pieces of A Woman, plus some of the best and worst films of the festival.
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This podcast episode features Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, Executive Editor Orla Smith, and special guest (and contributing writer to our books) Angelo Muredda.
We went deep on what it was like to cover the festival as press, how TIFF mishandled its media accreditation process and general festival accessibility this year, and our disappointments with the festival.
On this episode of the podcast, we also talked about buzzed-about films like One Night in Miami and Pieces of a Woman, as well as a handful of other films.
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One Night in Miami (Regina King)
Regina King’s feature directorial debut, One Night in Miami, premiered at Venice before screening at TIFF to much acclaim. The film won 2nd place for the TIFF 2020 Audience Award, and we discussed why we liked One Night in Miami, despite its flaws, on the podcast.
“Regina King’s first feature is a showcase for Kingsley Ben-Adir (playing Malcolm X), Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke), Eli Goree (Cassius Clay), and Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown). The film, which is based on a play, takes place mostly in a hotel room where all four men celebrate Clay’s win (this is just before he changed his name to Muhammad Ali) and eventually come to heads over their conflicting approaches to activism.” – Orla Smith
Amazon has distribution rights for the film though a date has yet to be announced.
We named all four of the stars of One Night in Miami as among the best performances at TIFF 2020 and discussed why we loved their performances on the podcast.
Leslie Odom Jr. was also on our list of the most exciting emerging actors at the festival. Find out why here.
Pieces of a Woman (Kornél Mundruczó)
Orla Smith and Alex Heeney shared their thoughts on Pieces of a Woman at TIFF 2020 on the podcast. The film also premiered at Venice where star Vanessa Kirby won the Best Actress Award for her impressive, visceral performance: one of our favourites of the festival. The film is less successful: the story of a husband and wife who lose their baby shortly after childbirth, and then grow apart as they cope with their grief and a court case against their midwife (played by Molly Parker, another favourite performance of the festival). The leads give compelling performances in a film that gets lost after its terrific 20-minute birthing scene which opens the film.
The film will be distributed by Mongrel Media in Canada, and has been picked up by Netflix in the rest of the world. We discussed on the podcast why you should expect an Oscar campaign for Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman.
On the podcast, we discussed what makes Vanessa Kirby’s and Molly Parker’s performances in TIFF 2020 film Pieces of a Woman so excellent.
Vanessa Kirby was also on our list of the most exciting emerging actors at the festival. Find out why we loved Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of A Woman at TIFF 2020 here.
Read our interview with Kornél Mundruczó on his earlier film, White God.
American Utopia (Spike Lee)
Angelo Muredda caught the much buzzed about David Byrne concert documentary, though was less enthusiastic about it than many. The film will be available on HBO this month after its play at the New York Film Festival.
City Hall (Frederick Wiseman)
Frederick Wiseman has been a longtime favourite at Seventh Row. Our interviews with Wiseman on National Gallery, In Jackson Heights, and Ex Libris have been published in our ebook In Their Own Words: Documentary Masters Vol.1 . We also talked to Wiseman about his previous doc, Monrovia, Indiana. Watch for a podcast in which we go deep on City Hall closer to its US release in November.
At TIFF, Angelo Muredda caught City Hall, Wiseman’s 4.5-hour documentary about the inner workings of Boston’s City Hall, and named it his favourite film of the festival.
Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg)
Another Round was one of our 16 favourite films at TIFF 2020.
“Another Round, or as my friend, fellow film critic Andrew Pope, calls it “Thomas Vinterberg’s Are Men OK?.” The answer this film gives is, very firmly, no. The four main characters, all school teachers, play out what they call a ‘social experiment’ — maintain a constant 0.05% blood-alcohol content and see if it improves their lives — which is really a very thinly veiled cry for help. Vinterberg’s film is funny and even contains some slapstick bits, like Mads Mikkelsen walking straight into a wall. But it’s also a deeply empathetic portrait of masculinity in crisis and how alcohol, while sometimes joyous, can become an unhealthy outlet for depression and pain. And what’s more, Mikkelsen gives a top form performance featuring everything from gentle crying to jazz ballet.” – Orla Smith
The film will be doing the fall festival circuit, and is currently screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival and Calgary International Film Festival in Canada.
Spring Blossom (Suzanne Lindon)
The directorial debut of Suzanne Lindon (daughter of French actors Vincent Lindon and Sandrine Kiberlain) is a coming-of-age story about a sixteen-year-old girl (played by Lindon) who develops feelings for a thirtysomething actor (Arnaud Valois) who works at the local theatre. The film was most noteworthy to us for its one excellent dance scene — though we disliked many of its others.
New Order (Michel Franco)
Orla’s least favourite film of the festival was Michel Franco’s much lauded New Order. Here’s an excerpt from her review:
“Michel Franco’s latest provocation, New Order, is a bloodbath of grossly miscalculated ‘social commentary’. I’ve heard it touted as Mexico’s Parasite, but the comparisons only go as far as the architecture of the rich families’ houses. Bong Joon-ho centred a working class family to tell a multi-layered, slow-burn story of class struggle; Franco is only interested in (or capable of handling) the broadest strokes of what it means to fight against wealth inequality — from the perspective of the rich characters, of course. His interest in the mechanisms of a political uprising goes only so far as it provides him an excuse to depict horrific violence.”
Penguin Bloom (Glendyn Ivin)
One of Angelo Muredda’s least favourite films of TIFF was Penguin Bloom, which he has described as “a disability movie generated entirely by algorithm.” Here’s an excerpt from his Film Freak Central review:
“Glendyn Ivin’s anonymously directed and bone-tired disability melodrama stars Watts (also a producer) as real-life well-to-do Australian mom turned ParaCanoe athlete Sam Bloom, who experiences a life-changing spinal-cord injury after a rooftop railing gives way under her. (As in The Impossible, we see the traumatic injury several times, including in uncanny nightmare sequences that mark the only time either film could be called stylish.) Newly disabled and deflated as she wheels around her spacious home, Sam finds her way back to life–which in Ivin’s limited imagination appears to consist of being a good mom even though she might not be able to reach over and put bandaids on her kids’ scraped knees like before–by nursing an injured magpie the family dubs Penguin.” – Angelo Muredda
Angelo Muredda’s Disability on Film Series
Check out Angelo Muredda’s monthly Disability on Film series on Zoom, in which he facilitates a critical discussion on a film featuring characters with disabilities. This fall, he’s focusing on horror films.
You can find out details about the series on Angelo’s Twitter account here.
Other TIFF notes
Read Alex Heeney on the 2020 virtual TIFF festival and the disappointments of how it was run.
Read about our favourite performances at TIFF 2020
Read about our favourite films at TIFF 2020
Read all of our TIFF 2020 coverage here