CATEGORIES Documentary, Toronto International Film Festival, Cinematical Indie, Toronto Film Festival, CinematicalThe Toronto International Film Festival is always a hot spot for new films, especially Oscar bait, but most attention put on the event is directed at dramatic features. That's fine; the city also has Hot Docs, so non-fiction film is certainly celebrated enough up there. Still, this year's crop of TIFF documentaries could be one of the most exciting yet. Usually I don't pay much attention to the selections, partly because I know doc programmer Thom Powers will bring the best down to NYC for his Stranger Than Fiction series. But with new works from Errol Morris, Ondi Timoner, Frederick Wiseman and Werner Herzog -- whose entry is in 3D! -- the fest is beckoning me to make an appearance in Toronto this year.
The Herzog might be the most appealing. Titled Cave of Forgotten Dreams, it takes the viewer on an exploration of ancient French caves. Anyone getting weary of 3D lately can not resist putting the glasses back on to see what the director of Encounters at the End of the World does with the format (see our post from April for video of Herzog talking about the project and his use of 3D). As for Morris, his latest is Tabloid, about a former beauty pageant who abducted and raped a man in the 70s. It had been expected to bow at Cannes, but better late than never. Wiseman's Boxing Gym, of which I had the pleasure of seeing the first few minutes at Silverdocs, looks excellent. And as always, it's best to see Wiseman's films when the opportunity arises since you won't be able to Netflix them down the line.
Timoner, who you hopefully know from DiG! and We Live in Public, will be bringing her new climate change doc Cool It, which profiles controversial author Bjorn Lomborg. Other familar names in the doc community include Patricio Guzman (with Cannes entry Nostalgia for the Light), recent Hot Docs honoree Kim Longinotto (with Pink Saris) and Charles Ferguson (with his Cannes hit Inside Job). Alex Gibney will show the finished version of Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, which I saw as a work-in-progress at Tribeca and can't wait to see in full.
Another big ticket, more for the name in front of the camera than behind it, will be The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, Thom Zimny's intimate document of the production of Bruce Springsteen's 1978 album. Zimny already has a Grammy and an Emmy for his work with Springsteen. Hopefully this will be good enough to crack through the Academy's usual ignorance of music docs so the filmmaker can be one step closer to his EGOT.
Powers notes trends with his program include a few films other than Timoner's dealing with global warming (not surprising) and a heavy representation of female documentarians, including Timoner, Longinotto, editor-turned-director Laura Israel (with environmental doc Windfall), Lynn Hershman-Leeson (with !Women Art Revolution - A Secret History), Linda Hoaglund (with ANPO: Art X War) and Sarah McCarthy, whose The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical sounds like Born Into Brothels but with theater instead of photography.
Are you a doc fan heading to Toronto next month (the fest runs September 9-19)? What are you most looking forward to among this amazing slate?