TIFF Fri.–Day 2: The Buzz

Wow, this place is jumping! The Press Room is packed. So far this morning, I’ve met a Brazilian filmmaker; a Turkish entrepreneur from Stanford, whose DVD-on-demand business Auteur.com is based in Palo Alto (“Need any writers,” I ask, expectantly. “I happened to have written my doctoral dissertation on Auteur Cinema.” [We’re meeting for coffee later in the week; keep your fingers crossed!]; a French film journalist from Paris Match; a representative of and a young Swiss Festival volunteer, who is a dead-ringer for Eric Bana. Not bad for the first hour.
Saw three films yesterday “Ulzhan,” “Secret Sunshine” (South Korea, Dir. Lee Chang-dong), and the excellent neo-noir “Jar City” (Iceland, Dir. Baltasar Kormákur), plus an evening screening of “Persepolis,” that I mentioned in my last post.
“Ulzhan” (see yesterday’s preview)
The fact that Jean-Claude Carrière penned the script for Volker Schlöndorff’s film excited me even more. This emotionally wrenching story revolves around Simon Charles (Philippe Torreton), a man who, the film slowly reveals, lost his beloved wife and two sons in a car accident in France, and desires nothing more than to walk into oblivion. The film opens in exotic Kazakhstan where Simon’s Peugot runs out of gas and he takes off on foot with a satchel, which holds the bare minimum of his belongings. This middle-aged man is definitely on a mission to meet his Maker, but life has other plans and throws a series of diversions in his path. These interruptions range from the ridiculous (a “cowboy” poolhall, Kazak-style and a tour (including a runway fashion show) of Astana (“Brasilia in the desert”), a city with a two billion dollar facelift) to the sublime (a meeting with a con artist/trickster-shaman (David Bennent, the boy from Schlöndorff’s 1979 film, “The Tin Drum”), who “sells” words and a young female teacher named Ulzhan (the gorgeous and transcendent Ayanat Ksenbai),
A LITTLE MIRACLE: I know this sounds too good to be true, but I swear it is … just this minute, as I wrote “the gorgeous and transcendent …” I looked up and six feet away from me stood Ayanat Ksenbai! No time right now to write that up (check back in a week or so on my Women in World Cinema.org Website for our interview), but just to say that Ayanat is grateful to “Borat” for enlightening the masses about Kazakhstan’s existence! However, she believes that “Ulzhan” presents a “more accurate image of the true Kazakhstan.” Well, you heard it hear, Live at Toronto.
Ciao for now!

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