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TIFF 2013. Correspondences #1

Our second two-critic dialogue kicks off at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival with a letter before the festival begins.

Above: a frame from Nathaniel Dorsky's Spring, a film that will be seen by us in the fall.

Dear Fern,

Cinema has brought us together again, if not in space then in spirit. The same city, the same festival, often even the same room, but rarely the same theater, the same screening, the same film, or the same vision. For all that festivals are purported to connect or unite, moviegoing can still be a very solitary experience, a lone consciousness meeting moving images. It is a meeting that the audience (or emptiness) around you can isolate, but if you are lucky may do the opposite: you enter a tangible, shared communion in the experience.

And to be honest, this is what I mean by invoking the spirit, and what I feel with you here. Because I know we do and we will share something special at this year's Toronto: an excited hope, a desire for discovery, a hunger for exploration, and perhaps above all a sense that these special things are being felt by others around us. (And yet I have doubts: specifically I don't know what I want, what I hope for, what to expect. Festivals in our era, like geographic microcosms of contemporary cinephilia, seem a profound muddle of motivations and actualities.)

Like last year our paths may not cross often in this big city's small festival space, amongst the many, many films and programs of TIFF. I surely hope they will at the most promising interstices: the experimental shorts of the essential Wavelengths section (perhaps at the Dorsky and Hutton program?), with an exuberant late night crowd at a midnight showing (fingers crossed this Sion Sono will be as strong as Himizu), dice rolling at the game of festival-auteur-catchup, seeing the latest Straub and then quitting cinema forever, or to promptly rejoin the world to catch the flowering vision of Miyazaki's animation.

I do so enjoy when our viewings overlap, and treasure even more so when we can actually share a screening side by side. A shared subject and experience is something special. But I also revel in the Resnais-ian sense of multiple parallel and possible festival experiences, of which mine is a refracted version of yours, and yours of mine, and ours each an unduplicatable branching path from an impossibly singular and comprehensive festival experience. If we can look at a single image frame from a single film and all see something our own way, it can only be that the festival experience is an entirely unique and personal prism through which a sole consciousness passes, leaving traces upon it and being marked by it along the way.

This is all to say: I hope you have a beautiful, prismatic TIFF this year. I eagerly look forward to reading about your experiences, as in them I think I'll find a little of myself (and many of those around us) and very much a lot of yourself coming into contact with the spirit of things.

All the best,

Beautiful. I really hope I can see some of Dorsky’s films before I die :D I know his works will never find their way to DVD, so I hope I can catch a screening some time.
Ah, knowing the two of you will be at TIFF to compare poetries mollifies my absence. Enjoy! Dialogue!
Thank you SI! I hope you will get to see them too. Michael: We all miss you here! It’s not quite the same without your presence.

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