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TIFF 2010 - Monday: Conversations, "Girlfriend", "Oliver Sherman" - Mostly, it is...

Sep. 15th, 2010

05:30 am - TIFF 2010 - Monday: Conversations, "Girlfriend", "Oliver Sherman"

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Something that I haven't mentioned yet about TIFF this time, but could be considered an obvious absence to those of you who are con-goers, is the conversations. Much like at other interest based festivals/gatherings/conferences etc..., there is the greater than average potential for people having absorbing and interesting conversations about common interests with people who know something (and in many people's cases, more) about them. At one like TIFF where commercial interests have a solid presence (though thankfully not as strong as certain other film fests with much more of a separate and parallel commercial festival), many are pre-arranged and steered by those needs, (though many of those participants are as passionate about film as those without) but a great many are by chance, and no less important for that. So one can find it worthwhile to strike up conversations with those around if they are so inclined, and have a language in common. Certainly I do, and have. While it is stressful, it's also engaging. There's always the question of whether the intrusion is welcome or not. It's all very well to ask, but I've certainly been stuck in conversations where I can't bring myself to say that I'm not interested.

Speaking of stressful conversations, I'm pleased that the balance between Q & A sessions I've gone to where interesting, or insightful, or at least topical questions have outnumbered the inane rather than the reverse, has been getting better. I feel bad for the directors or actors searching to find a polite way to answer certain types of questions. Also it wastes the pretty limited time available.

Girlfriend
This film was interesting. I didn't ask, but I'd like to know what they went through making choices at the writing stage on cluing in audience members who aren't familiar with Down syndrome, as to the extent of its effects on decision making. Granted, it's not as though they were all that forthcoming about the backstory and decision processes of other key characters, so it's only fair, but that aspect made the moral evaluation of the plot much more challenging. At least two interpretations are pretty insulting, one's a fairly sweet 'happy ending', and another is almost bleak, though with distinct character growth. It's not a joyful film. It's pretty difficult and complex, in a way that is not about the Down syndrome (thankfully). The acting of the three leads is almost always spot on. In particular Shannon Woodward's when her character is faced with really costly choices and Jackson Rathbone's ability to make his selfish character somewhat sympathetic without diminishing the intensity. Worth the watch.

Oliver Sherman, with the talented Molly Parker (one of my favourite actors), opposite Donal Logue and Garret Dillahunt, is difficult to talk about despite my asleep/awake ratio having improved a bit (I'm now at about 22 hours since Thursday). Based on the short story "Veterans", by Rachel Ingalls, it's a fairly quiet character study for most of the run, though sharing some characteristics of a thriller towards the end. The Q & A after the screening is one that I'd have liked to have a record of. The discussion of how a good script makes the acting easier brought up some points that are causing me to re-visit my thoughts on other films.

I hope that these are making a modicum of sense. In an effort to say something, I'm writing while dodging much of my usual analytical process. That and I'm writing tired.

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