La Press at the 47th TIFF | We only talked about the Queen, King Street

(Toronto) We were just talking about this, King Street, Thursday afternoon. The Queen City celebrated and mourned at the same time as she “in person” rolled out the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival for the Gratin des Weltkinos for the first time since 2019.

Posted at 7:15am

“I was asked if we would cancel screenings. I hope not ! We worked so hard on it,” a young festival worker confided to me a few minutes after the announcement of Elizabeth II’s death. A volunteer in her 60s was distraught the Queen couldn’t live until at least next June. Why is that ? I asked him. “For since his coronation exactly 70 years would have passed! »

My mistake. We’re sorry. I should have known I dared not add anything. The royal extent of my indifference might have offended certain sensibilities. You can never be too careful with the two solitudes.

I was on my way to the screening of one of the festival’s most anticipated films – after an exceptional reception last week at Telluride – women talk by Sarah Polley of Toronto, based on the novel by another famous Canadian, Miriam Toews, about sexual assault in a Mennonite religious community (from which the Manitoba novelist hails).


movie scene women talkby Sarah Polley

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

The seat next to me was a British publicist who wondered if we didn’t have to change all the sterling notes to get the face of Charles III. bring to it.

Sarah Polley’s first feature film in almost a decade has nothing to do with the monarchy. It is a full-throttle indictment of patriarchy, well beyond religious shackles.

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

They don’t all agree, vote and discuss the consequences of their decisions (are they still welcomed into the “Kingdom of Heaven”?). The deep injustice they suffer, the state of slavery, the ignorance in which they are kept – they are illiterate – is appalling. It feels like medieval times while the story takes place in 2010.

This tense closed door, with a theatrical style Twelve angry menby Sidney Lumet, terribly gruff and poignant, evoking both white ribbon by Michael Haneke and The Scarlet Maiden by Margaret Atwood. The highest-grossing film of Sarah Polley’s career is set to hit theaters next December.

An extraordinary story

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

A statement of circumstances, diplomatic and, I suppose, almost obligatory in the Queen City, the irony of which has not escaped me.

To my knowledge, there is no director of a cultural event who more regularly – and with good reason – denounces the ravages of colonialism in his public statements and on social networks. In this regard, the British monarchy historically gives no place…


Nathalie Issa and Manal Issa play Yusra and Sarah Mardini the swimmers

The theme of the opening film of 47e When not directly related to colonialism, TIFF is interested in refugees and the exile of the populace. the swimmers, produced for Netflix, tells the true story of two sisters, Yusra and Sarah Mardini, who fled the war in Syria in 2015, rescued other refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean, crossed Europe to Germany before becoming Olympic swimmers and humanitarian workers respectively. I wonder if Angela Merkel regretted letting her 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’ll get back to that).

Unfortunately, this extraordinary story did not inspire an extraordinary work. If the swimmers is far from the disaster of Dear Evan Hansen, the musical prelude to TIFF last year, is far from a great film. Sally El Hosaini manages to move people without, however, avoiding the blue trick of staging “experienced facts”. It’s well acted, by two sisters (Nathalie and Manal Issa), but like the pool scenes, there’s a lot of length (don’t excuse them).

It is clear that this film was not worth the $130 that the ticket for this world premiere cost me. No, there aren’t too many zeros. Only problems with online ticketing and access to the screenings, which festival-goers discussed almost as irritated as the Queen’s death on Thursday. I don’t mind the inflation, but $130 a ticket is expensive per minute. Especially if you’re not from the royal family.

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