Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Toronto Film Festival Diaries
Day -2

by Henri Béhar

Toronto, Sept. 3, 1997

Time to learn the lay of the land and determine how to work the event. The Festival is head-quartered at the Sheraton on Queen Street; for the first time, most of the press will be lodged within walking distance at the Cambridge Suites Hotel on Richmond. The stars, as usual, will stay at the Four Seasons, the more reclusive at the InterContinenatal, the off-beat at the Colony. It's all taking place downtown, most theatres are accessible by foot, everything is within ten minutes max by underground train.

The organizers promised us a Festival with no kinks and they abide by their word.

Incredibly popular, the Toronto event was famous for its fights between the sponsors and patrons ("We're paying for this, don't we have priority?"), the press ("We're here to work, don't we have priority?") and the audience ("We're here to see the films, could we just have some space?"). Press and industry now have their own screenings - about 15 on a lean day, over 20 on a mean one.

But how to choose between the films that you MUST see and those you WANT to see? Between the galas (films super-hyped by the Hollywood machine that your editor WANTS you to cover world-premiere style) and the sections presenting stuff you know you'll never see elsewhere: Planet Africa, Spotlight on Balkan Cinema, South-East Asian flicks, Canadian avant-garde and Midnight Madness (guilty pleasure). Not to mention the potential little gem with the unobtrusive title made by an unknown director who just might turn into tomorrow's Stanley Kubrick

It takes four hours to go through the catalogue, the press screenings list and the public one to come up with a workable schedule. And you know *that* will change depending on interviews, dinners, cocktail parties and the occasional must-see tip from a friend you trust. The catalogue is luxurious - obviously written by people who see the films before selecting them. But the question of the day is: who are the gorgeous man and woman, both black, locked in a heated embrace on the Festival poster? Do they also move?

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