Sunday, September 16, 2018

TIFF 2018: The Elephant Queen

The Elephant Queen is a wonderful documentary about Athena, the matriarch of an elephant herd in Kenya, and weaves together outstanding footage to tell the story of the herd's migration over the course of a year. We meet the members of her family, see birth and death, and learn how the elephants affect and coexist with some of their neighbours along their journey. The cinematography was amazing, and the film makes you feel like you know the elephants as friends.

TIFF 2018 Overview

TIFF 2018: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give is a powerful film by director George Tillman Jr (based on a book by Angie Thomas), that makes the story of young black men being shot by police feel very personal. (And yes,  I know my white privilege is showing when I say that, as the story is already very personal for most people of colour, who have been given "the talk" by their parents).

Starr (played by Amandla Stenberg) is a girl from a black working-class neighbourhood who attends a mostly-white private school in a "better" part of town. Starr feels she has to be two different  people in the two settings. Her life is turned upside down when a good friend is shot by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. She feels torn between speaking up as the only witness to hold the police accountable, and protecting her family from the local drug lord who wants her to stay silent because the shooting victim worked for him.

The story is real and timely, the performances are strong, and the film grabs you from the start and takes you along for an emotional and upsetting ride. I also learned a bit about 2Pac and the meaning of the title. This is a very important film that should not be missed. One of the best I have seen at this year's festival.

TIFF 2018 Overview

Saturday, September 15, 2018

TIFF 2018: Summer Survivors

Summer Survivors is a Lithuanian film about a psychologist starting as a research assistant at a mental hospital who is asked to drive 2 transferring patients to another hospital. The TIFF programmer who introduced it said it had a unique visual style; that turned out to be a lot of off-kilter, out of focus shots, or scenes where the subject of interest was obscured by something in the way. I guess it was supposed to make you feel unsettled, and it did, but it felt like a cheap, annoying device, used instead of finding a way to make us care about the characters and feel their pain.

This was a really bad movie and I couldn't wait until it was over. I thought that if someone combined the atrocious cinematography of this film with the really annoying soundtrack of Retrospekt, you could come up with the worst film of all time. Tt was definitely the worst film I have seen at TIFF this year.

TIFF 2018 Overview