The TIFF/NYFF buzz builds

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Someone sent me this blog post from the web site “The Playlist,” and I find all the conjecture and excitement infectious, so I’m going to share:

Alright, we already made our 2009 Toronto International Film Festival predix and then people asked, what about “The Informant,” what about “The Road” or “Where The Wild Things Are“? The truth of the matter is TIFF is such a beast it essentially has first dibs on anything it wants. So if ‘Wild Things,’ for example, is going to be part of the fall film festival circuit and we’re not convinced it will, to be honest TIFF has first dibs on it. However, there are three other major film festivals in the fall and some of these pictures (that could easily land at TIFF too) could land there first, and or afterwards. The smaller festivals will want to key in on specific films so here’s our predix for each one (with some preamble…)

Making your splash debut at a film festival can be a risky proposition. If you score the sought after accolades it’s gravy for your buzz train. But if you hit the snags of lukewarm reviews you’re either in trouble, need major adjustments and/or are simply dead in the water (see the mildly troubled “Inglourious Basterds,” probably fucked “Taking Woodstock” and Pedro Almodovar‘s Broken Embraces, which didn’t receive quite the enthusiastic Cannes reception of his last picture, Volver). After being scrutinized over Quentin Tarantino‘s bloated war epic, will the financially strapped Weinstien company take that risk again with John Hillcoat‘s “The Road“?

Perhaps the remaining big, highly anticipated films from 2009 will throw caution to the wind and try their hand in the fall festival circuit anyway, in pursuit of some buzz. But will Warners unveil something like ‘Wild Things‘ early? Again, will Weinstein unveil “Ninemonths in advance and will Peter Jackson show “The Lovely Bones” that far ahead? Here’s our guess: unlikely. Like Fincher‘s ‘Benjamin Button‘ (albeit a film allegedly not ready for the fall film fest slate last year), the major heavyweights will most likely wait for their December time slots, especially now since there’s 10 Best Picture slots to choose from. There’s less of a rush. Oscars may matter less these days, but they still mean something, and studio’s have it in their head (and they may be right) that late year releases have the upper hand in the race plus, it’s tradition, at least as of the last few years. Similarly, The Weinstein Company can’t afford another bomb, or even really middling reception for one of its films, so they’re particularly likely to sit on their films for as long as they can.

So what will we see at this year’s other fall film fests, Telluride, Venice, and New York?

Well, we can only guess, but we have some educated predictions (as well as some that could be filed as “wishful thinking”). We hope to see things like Werner Herzog‘s bizarre-looking Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” (which has no distributor yet), and this seems as good a time as any for Herzog to try and sell the damn thing, Nic Cage lunacy and all.

Venice International Film Festival (nobody calls this VIFF, sorry. If you do you will be shot on sight)
Runs: September 2nd to 12th 2009.
Venice goes for artier, more auteur-driven fare and generally doesn’t include Cannes repeats since the south of France isn’t that far off from Venice geographically. Also, Venice generally doesn’t includes a ton of American films in their line-up.

The Road” – Possibly? Like we said, it seems unlikely that the Weinsteins will show “The Road” anywhere, considering their financial woes and all manner of other crap but, if they were going to show it early, the receptive European audience at Venice would be a good one, no? If the film’s a hit, there and with its artier leanings it very well could be it might be able to sneak into TIFF’s line-up at the last minute as well, as was the case with “The Wrestler” last year. (And look how well that that move paid off.) And, if it’s a bomb, at least being a bomb at Venice is not as bad as being a bomb within the U.S. for U.S. critics.

The Informant” – This one seems almost a lock for something, as Soderbergh isn’t festival shy or scared off by early reactions (he’s off onto the next six pictures while you’re dissecting the current one). Easily could hit here first and then would likely hit TIFF afterwards, but we have a hunch Venice might be an early launching pad.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” – Build the buzz, build the buzz. At this point it seems that ‘Parnassus’ will wait for fall festival accolades — because maybe it will manage one — before it sells to a U.S. distributor.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” – Herzog’s latest was in our TIFF picks, but it’s just too off-the-charts bad for them, perhaps he’ll try for Venice and hope they’ve taken advanced irony courses and not flunked out.

13” – Gela Babluani‘s remake of his own film starring Mickey Rourke (TIFF also seems likely).
Telluride Film Festival
Runs: September 4-7,

If you have the dollars in this economy to go to Telluride in Colorado — a wacky, hippie-like film festival that does not reveal its line-up until the day it begins — consider yourself lucky. We’re always curious to see how many regular film writers can afford to show up to a festival this blind. While the idea is super cool, that kind of risk is generally not in our purview.

Telluride seems to have a good relationship with Fox Searchlight and gave “Juno” and “Slumdog Millionaire” their World Debuts, so possibly Jason Reitman‘s “Up In The Aircould land there. As per usual in the fall schedule, many films that premiered at Cannes make their North American debuts around this time, but generally Telluride grabs the more off-the-beaten path pictures, conceding to like many festivals — the premiere power and clout of Toronto.

Where The Wild Things Are” – Does Warner Bros. really want to show this off early? Most years we would say absolutely, but given its ballooned budget, the economy and how much they’ll want this film to be a success, we think showing 20 minutes of footage like they did with ‘Benjamin Button‘ to get critics foaming at the mouth might be a better route to test the waters. Then again, they are showing footage at ComicCon 2009, which maybe means they are more receptive to trying their hand at the Autumn festivals.

Men Who Stare At Goats — Telluride will need some big name premieres. This one doesn’t hit until December which is generally far to late for most festival consideration, but films like ‘Goats’ need some early press buzz to help them out and Telluride seems like a good place for it. TIFF might want it too because of George Clooney and Ewan McGregor.

Looking For Eric” – Telluride grabs a few Cannes film each year and this small little celebratory and feel good film by Ken Loach could be a perfect little fit.

Vincere” – Marco Bellocchio‘s pre-WWII era’d film about the the abandoned son of Mussolini feels like it could fit in well here.

Michael Moore Untitled Doc” – There’s a small chance Moore could take his economy doc here, but not a chance in hell if it means TIFF won’t. But he surely wants American audiences to see it, so he’ll probably flog this all over.
NYFF- The New York Film Festival
Runs: September 25 – October 11, 2009

The New York Film Festival is excellent, but generally skews artier lots of Cannes pictures and has the semi-unfortunate position of being the last major fest of the fall season so TIFF often beats them to bigger names, but they do curate an amazing best-of-the-best from many prior fests. Last year the only major debut was the Eastwood film “Changeling,” but they did have “The Wrestler” and “Che” and always choose meticulously. Less prestigious, as the more enviable TIFF steals its premieres, NYFF still has probably the most carefully curated line-up of all the festivals. While interested in stars for marquee value, they know they’re dwarfed by TIFF.
Note: this festival only takes on an average of around 28 films.


Forgiveness” – If it’s ready,
Todd Solondzs seems right for this art-leaning, sympathetic festival.

Tree of Life – If Terrence Malick‘s “The Tree of Lifeis indeed hitting in 2009 like the reports say, it will have to hit the fall film festival circuit somewhere, no? But is this ambitious film, that nobody seems to know much about (other than that “life and family” jargon we’ve all been fed a zillion times), starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, actually going to be ready any time soon? That seems to be between Malick and his maker.

Broken Embraces” – It’s possible that Almodovar’s latest, which has already been slapped with hit or miss reviews, could land at TIFF, but if it skips that festival for whatever reason, it feels like a NYFF film. Likely will land in New York regardless.

Antichrist” – The organizers always cherry pick the best from Cannes and they love auteurs, which means it find a home here as well, which seems to fit with its new October-scheduled release date which will star in limited NY/L.A. release.

An Education” – TIFF seems to not like to sully itself with films that have already premiered at Sundance earlier in the year. NYFF doesn’t seem to have those issues.

Biutiful” – We have yet to hear a word about Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s new drama starring Javier Bardem and it’s July. We’ll shove it here, ’cause why the hell not? Plus we hope New Yorkers get to see it first.

Enter The Void – Is Gaspar Noe‘s heady, surrealist drama too heady for TIFF? Here’s a good alternative for it.

Dogtooth” – Won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes, which means it’ll probably be at TIFF first, but could easily hit NYFF after.

A Thorn In The Heart” – Maybe if TIFF passes they’ll take the low-key Michel Gondry documentary about his aunt?

Visage” – Probably too avant-garde for TIFF, and thus a very strong NYFF candidate.

Kinatay“- NYFF seems to love Brillante Mendoza. They had “Serbis” at the festival last year.

Some Odd Balls:

Hadewijch Bruno Dumont‘s latest. Many speculated it would be at Cannes, it wasn’t, so it should show up somewhere.
Mammoth – We don’t really know what happened to Lukas Moodyson‘s new movie other than receiving middling reviews at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. Perhaps it went the way of the dodo, and the steam powered train.

Thanks Glenn!

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