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La Presse at the 47th TIFF | We only talk about the Queen, King Street

(Toronto) We were talking about it, King Street, Thursday afternoon. The Queen City was in both celebration and mourning as it rolled out the Toronto International Film Festival red carpet to celebrate world cinema “in person” for the first time since 2019.

Posted at 7:15 am

“They asked me if we were going to cancel the screenings. I hope not ! We work hard on it”, a young Festival employee confided to me, a few minutes after the announcement of the death of Isabel II. A volunteer in her 60s was distraught that the queen might not live until at least next June. Why then? Asked. “Because it would have been exactly 70 years since her coronation! »

My fault. I am sorry. She should have known better. I dared not add anything. The real extent of my indifference might have offended certain sensibilities. With the two solitudes, you can never be too careful.

I was on my way to the screening of one of the Festival’s most anticipated films –after an exceptional reception last week in Telluride–, women talking by Torontonian Sarah Polley, based on the novel by another famous Canadian, Miriam Toews, about sexual assaults in a Mennonite religious community (where the Manitoba novelist comes from).


movie scene women talkingby Sarah Polley

Among the dazzling cast (Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Ben Whishaw, etc.) of this stunning film is Claire Foy. The same one that revealed the role of the young Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix series The crown. Everything is in everything, as Anaxagoras said.

My seatmate was a British publicist who was wondering if we were going to have to change all sterling notes right away to put the face of Charles III on them.

Sarah Polley’s first feature film in almost a decade has nothing to do with the monarchy. It is a full-speed charge against patriarchy, far beyond religious shackles.

A dozen women, victims of rape and violence in their community, are wondering if they should stay or go, do nothing or react. They are asked to forgive their aggressor, on pain of excommunication.

Not everyone agrees, they vote and debate the consequences of their choices (will they still be welcome in the “kingdom of heaven”?). The deep injustice they suffer, the state of slavery, of ignorance in which they remain – they are illiterate – is appalling. It feels like in the Middle Ages, while the story takes place in 2010.

This tense closed door, with theatrical flair twelve angry menby Sidney Lumet, terrifyingly hard and moving, brings to mind both the white ribbon by Michael Haneke and the scarlet maiden by Margaret Atwood. The most successful film of Sarah Polley’s career will be released next December.

An exceptional story

“Our thoughts are with all those, here and around the world, who mourn the loss of Queen Elizabeth,” TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey said at the start, addressing the audience at the film’s opening. The swimmersat the Princess of Wales Theatre.

A statement of circumstances, diplomatic and, I presume, almost mandatory in the Queen City, whose irony did not escape me.

To my knowledge, there is no leader of a cultural event who denounces with more regularity -and rightly so- in his public statements and on social networks, the ravages of colonialism. In this sense, historically, the British monarchy does not give up its place…


Nathalie Issa and Manal Issa play Yusra and Sarah Mardini in The swimmers

The opening movie theme for 47me TIFF, if not directly linked to colonialism, is interested in refugees and the exile of populations. The swimmers, produced for Netflix, tells the true story of two sisters, Yusra and Sarah Mardini, who fled the war in Syria in 2015, saved other refugees from drowning by braving the Mediterranean, crossed Europe to Germany, before becoming an Olympic swimmer and humanitarian worker, respectively. . I wonder if Angela Merkel regretted letting them in.


Manal Issa and Nathalie Issa at the Princess of Wales Theater in Toronto on Thursday night

The two sisters were at the Princess of Wales Theater on Thursday night, with the film crew of director Sally El Hosaini, who grew up in Egypt but was born in Wales (unlike King Charles III; yes, I’m back at that). .

This exceptional story unfortunately did not inspire an exceptional work. Either The swimmers is far from disaster Dear Evan Hansen, TIFF’s musical opening from last year, is far from a great movie. Sally El Hosaini manages to move people, but without avoiding the pitfalls of the blue flower of staging “experienced events”. She is well played, by two sisters (Nathalie and Manal Issa), but as in the pool scenes, there are plenty of lengths (don’t excuse her).

What is clear is that this film was not worth the 130 dollars that the ticket for this world premiere cost me. No, there are not too many zeros. Problems with online ticket sales and access to screenings alone, which rankled festival-goers, were discussed almost as much as the queen’s death on Thursday. I don’t mind inflation getting out of hand, but $130 per ticket is expensive per minute. Especially when you’re not from the royal family.

#Presse #47th #TIFF #talk #Queen #King #Street

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