This year marks my return to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as a journalist, after five years absence. As I have remarked on many an occasion, the TIFF is my favorite North American film event and it is right up there with the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the Berlinale as one of the premiere film-related experiences in the world. While I am having fun with friends, seeing some excellent films and, I hope, doing some good work, when I come home at night it all seems like just so much bullshit. The devastation on the Gulf Coast makes all this art and commerce, vodka and tonics, seem so insignificant.
On September 11th, 2001 I was in New York City, 1.5 miles from ground zero. Many of my friends were up here in Toronto and to be honest, I am glad I was home in New York. Being out of my home town during such an event would have left me with a bill for “closure” I am not sure I could have paid. After the insanity of that first day, I sent my parents off to Long Island and I crawled into a bottle for well…a while. To date, that the experience had been just about as brutal as I had dared imagine. I knew that compared to those in the towers and those who rushed to the rescue, my experience was minimal, but it’s all relative, right?
Right. And that excuses Barbara Bush from saying things like: “And so many of the people in the arena here were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”
Well, to be honest, it is all relative, to a certain extent. At least to the point that there’s not much I can do, apart from giving some money and writing about it. Lord knows, I’m no carpenter, doctor, nurse, paramedic, etc. Hell, I’d probably be a casualty before long. As The Band sang, Oh, the shape I’m in!
I guess when it comes down to it, we all have to do what we have to do. If everyone dropped everything when a tragedy happened, the only ones making money would be the liquor stores, bars and drug dealers and the shrinks would be at the front of the line. Those of us without the needed skills or with different obligations need diversions at times like this and what better diversion is there besides film, eh? Well, sex is better, but in the long run, film is usually cheaper. Besides, there’s often sex to be had a film festivals!
Don’t worry, all! I have not gone all Hamlet. To paraphrase, I have of late–and I know damn well wherefore–lost only some of my mirth!
Stay tuned for my frequent reports from the 30th Toronto International Film Festival, including reviews of Buffy and Angel‘s David Boreanaz in the Canadian indie These Girls and Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger in Ang Lee‘s fantastic Brokeback Mountain. Gave a little something away there, didn’t I?