After two years of uncertainty and hybrid-style format, the Toronto International Film Festival 2022 was a cinematic feast. It returned for its 47th edition with great joy and excitement. It’s been discussed that this year’s TIFF was bigger than ever, hosting the biggest names in Hollywood, presenting the biggest world premieres, organizing TIFF Village in King Street with many attractions for the public, and putting the name of the city of Toronto back into a global spotlight. In this latest story, we present to you some of the greatest highlights this year that our FAJO Team experienced first-hand.
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry it On
On the opening day of TIFF last month, a documentary about Buffy Sainte Marie was one of the key highlights. The singer-songwriter, artist and activist has become an iconic figure in the North American culture, and a new documentary “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry it On” shines the spotlight on this extraordinary woman.
The documentary, directed by Madison Thomas, follows the artist’s journey through her life, music and activism. Starting her music career as a folk musician with Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1960, Buffy Sainte-Marie became renowned in show business. She has been the only Indigenous person to ever win an Oscar, for the Best Original Song “Up Where We Belong”, co-written for the film An Officer and a Gentleman, in 1983. She was also the first recurring Indigenous guest star on Sesame Street. Her image was featured on a Canada Post stamp. She also refused to sell the rights of her songs to Elvis Presley.
Sainte-Marie has always been an activist for Indigenous rights. She was even black-listed by FBI, who banned her music from radio stations. Yet her creativity prevailed. The beauty of her activism and personality is that she radiates positivity and passion about her mission. She leads by example and not just by loud statements. When she appeared on the TV show The Virginian in 1968, she demanded the producers hire real Indigenous actors, and not just use makeup and costumes for white performers.
Despite all her honours and achievements, Sainte-Marie is a very humble woman. Her kind personality and humour shine though the screen. With her approach, she is an inspiration for activism and representation. At the announcement of the results of the Film Festival on September 18, the TIFF jury gave special mention to Madison Thomas’s “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On”, because according to them “everyone should know about Buffy Sainte-Marie”. And we couldn’t agree more—this movie should be seen by everyone.
One of the most prominent world premieres at TIFF was The Fabelmans—the autobiographical film of the one-and-only Steven Spielberg. The acclaimed director came to the festival for the very first time, making his appearance even more special as he brought his most personal project to-date to Toronto’s audience. And the viewers loved the film so much that it was awarded the TIFF People’s Choice Awards.
FAJO’s team also saw this masterpiece—and we agreed with Toronto’s film lovers. This is a very personal, touching and charming story, written by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner. At the press conference, the director said, “Now I don’t have to write that book.” Spielberg not only tells a story about his childhood and adolescence, but reflects on how he fell in love with the cinema, how he almost gave up filmmaking and the family dynamic he and his sisters had with their parents. It’s already speculated that Michelle Williams, who played his mother, might get an Oscar nomination.
While experiencing antisemitism at his school in California, Sam Fabelman (Spielberg’s alter ego in the film, portrayed by Canadian actor Gabriel LaBelle) discovers the power of cinema to influence people. There are some fun and expected appearances too, including another cult film director: David Lynch! Spielberg says that the scene with Lynch is based on real life: “This story actually happened, word for word.”
The Fabelmans will be in cinemas in November 2022 and we highly recommend it. This is, undoubtedly, a must-see movie of the year!
Glass Onion. A Knives Out Mystery
During TIFF, Toronto hosted the world premiere of the murder mystery and comedy Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery at The Princess of Wales Theater. The first part of Knives Out film series premiered at the same place, and almost the same time, three years prior.
Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, move aside! Benoit Blanc is a new detective hero for the XXI century. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is also a great post-pandemic escapist story. It takes place in May 2020, as a group of friends gather on an island in Greece to play a murder mystery game, hosted by their billionaire friend Miles (portrayed by Edward Norton).
The script is very humorous. All the jokes about the pandemic grasp the zeitgeist. They are funny today and will surely be funny in a couple of years. Costume design on the set is getting its praise too. It attracted, it distracted, it made viewers laugh.
Janelle Monáe’s performance was captivating as a female lead. Kate Hudson’s shallow semi-cancelled fashionista, diva character was portrayed with a lot of fun and wit. Daniel Craig, who was Detective Benoit Blanc, proved to be a great comedian. He made the audience laugh just by looking at him when he appeared in his vintage outfit at a pool party. Charming and eccentric, his character could compete with James Bond for getting a place in people’s hearts as their favourite.
During the World Premiere, director Rian Johnson shared with the audience that he will keep on creating more murder mysteries in this series. Daniel Craig said he will be happy to play Detective Benoit as many times as Johnson calls him. The film was so beloved by Torontonians that it got a Second Runner Up Award at TIFF People’s Choice Awards.
It will be released on Netflix at the end of the year.
“In Conversation With…” Taylor Swift
This year, the festival hosted Taylor Swift to discuss her latest short film All Too Well: The Short Film that she recently directed herself. Swift joined TIFF’s CEO Cameron Bailey for the first-ever screening of All Too Well on 35mm film, and to discuss filmmaking and the visual aspects of her music.
While fans started lining up in the early morning, the millennial idol arrived on time, right at 7 p.m. After taking selfies with fans who have been waiting outside for hours, she was joined on stage by actress Sadie Sink, who played the female lead in the film, and also came to TIFF to present the critically-acclaimed movie The Whale with Brendan Fraser.
Dressed in Louis Vuitton, Swift shared how much she loves film and how every period of her albums or videos was visually influenced by various movies, from Sixteen Candles to The Shape of Water. Apparently, she is a big fan of Guillermo Del Toro and Wes Anderson. Her creative journey with All Too Well is layered in her inspirations from The Way We Were and most prominently, The Marriage Story.
Swift expressed her interest in directing a feature film one day in the future as she enjoys telling stories cinematically. She acknowledged her own privilege to do so and celebrated other influential female directors like Nora Ephron, Greta Gerwig and her friend Lena Dunham. This was a great moment, as TIFF has its own initiative to support women in front of and behind the camera, called Share Her Journey.
On the day of the world premiere, King Street in Toronto started filling up with Harry Styles’ fans as early as 7 a.m. They came to see their favourite artist and his latest film My Policeman that had its screening almost 12 hours later at 6:30 pm.
When all the stars, including Emma Corrin, David Dawson, Rupert Everett, Gina McKee and Linus Roache, started arriving, the excitement level on the street started to heat up. When Styles arrived, fans’ screams were heard all the way to Spadina street (which is many blocks away), and our photographer Tara West’s ears were ringing for an hour afterwards! Yet, Styles, in his all-shades-of-green full Gucci look, accessorized with a Gucci Bamboo purse, was very gracious and nice to his fans. He made many of them happy by posing for selfies and signing autographs.
The film also did not disappoint although it got mixed reviews from the critics. A love triangle story is set in the 1950s, when homosexuality is criminalized, and in the 1990s when characters reflect on their feelings and actions 40 years before that. Harry Styles plays a naive yet undecided policeman Tom, who marries a nice school teacher, Marion (Emma Corrin), but is having a love affair (very steamy and graphic) with a museum curator Patrick (David Dawson). Forty years later, Marion (Gina McKee) is taking care of the disabled Patrick (Rupert Everett), while Tom (Linus Roache) is very distant and doesn’t even want to look at him, until it all becomes clear that Patrick has always meant a lot to Tom.
It is a beautiful and poetic movie, with exceptional cinematography and a lot of touching dialogue. Many people in the audience were crying towards the finale, overwhelmed with emotion. This film is definitely not to be missed as much of the acting is excellent. No wonder the whole cast was awarded the TIFF Tribute Performance Award, as an ensemble and not an individual.
My Policeman will be available on Amazon from November 4, 2022.
Our final feature from the Toronto International Film Festival 2022 will be released next week. Stay tuned!
Photography by Darina Granik and courtesy of TIFF.