“DJIBOUTI HAS ALWAYS BEEN CHINESE”

The Globe gingerly reported that the TIFF Bell Lightbox isn’t making money. (That’s my interpretation. I don’t see how the complex’s five cinemas cover their own and associated costs. TIFF’s 2011 annual report has not been published yet, but at any rate those numbers are easy to fudge.)

I don’t know what other outcome was even possible here. The Toronto International Film Festival is a literal and figurative elitist organization – gamely writing programme as though what it were running were the British Film Institute; shafting young journalists; and nickel-and-diming its elders. Delusions of grandeur led to the construction of the Lightbox. There aren’t enough cinephiles in town to keep that place in the black, and the echt-cinephiles who run TIFF simply don’t know how to program (“programme”) popular movies.

But at root, nothing is going to change until Piers Handling permanently leaves the building. The Festival’s director-for-life is a sourpuss who rivals Ken Finkleman as most contemptuous man in Canada. Just as cinephiles have never seen a “movie” in their lives, Piers Handling has never shown any evidence of having experienced the joy of cinema. Or joy of anything, based on my observing him for the better part of 20 years.

The entire organization is so superior and condescending it did not surprise me in the least when neither Handling nor his handlers could be bothered to respond to my suggestion of an event that would pack in a subset of the cinephile audience that feels alienated from TIFF’s received wisdom. I wrote:

Since the media office won’t answer queries from anyone other than A-list critics it lunches with, and since the Web site is intentionally designed to obscure such facts, I am not clear about the right programmer to whom to address this request. So I am sending it along to you. I picture you receiving it with your signature unsmiling overseriousness. But this is something you should take seriously.

I suggest that TIFF program a weekend-long festival curated by the only interesting film critic at work today: Armond White. Yes, the same Armond White whom the voiceless voice of the establishment, Roger Ebert, dismisses as a troll. It seems axiomatic that everyone in your building, save perhaps for Cowan, thinks Ebert is being too charitable. While White’s reviews dearly need line-editing, the fact is he relentlessly espouses a well-defined film æsthetic, one that emphasizes visual splendour and kineticism and rewards themes like honour and duty.

Armond White loathes films that flatter the self-perceptions of the audience. He hates audiences who think they’re better than the subject being portrayed. Just think of the fun we’d have putting Armond White face to face with an audience. Make sure there’s an open bar so that tightassed Toronto film snobs will be liquored up enough to say what they really want to say to him.

I’d pay good money for an Armond White Film Festival and so would a lot of people. Make it happen, please.

Then there’s that human-rights complaint in the waiting about TIFF’s installation of “state-of-the-art” cinemas without captioning or audio description.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2012.04.16 14:30. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2012/04/16/tiffbelljoybox/

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