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Poster of "Last Supper."[Photo:douban.com]
Last week, the 37th Toronto International Film Festival (6-16 Sep 2012) finalised its lineup with the publication of the complete list of the 289 feature films screening next month.
Under artistic director Cameron BAILEY, the festival has followed in the footsteps of the Venice International Film Festival in becoming more demanding of world premieres. This year's lineup include 146 world premieres and 31 international premieres. Last year, the festival screened 122 and 28 respectively.
The discrepancy between the number of world and international premieres is curious. World premieres — films that have not even screened in their home country — should be the rarer of the two. It suggests that Toronto is expecting producers to hold back their domestic screenings until they have shown at the Canadian festival.
Once billed as the "Festival of Festivals", Toronto continues to tour many Asian films from Venice. In what is practically a tradition, it has all but one of the Asian films in the Italian festival's official selection. (The absentee is 3-D shark attack film, Bait, a co-production between Australia and Singapore.)
It's not difficult for any festival to increase its percentage of world premieres to more than half its feature lineup. The hard part is securing quality world firsts. Many festivals around the world have fallen at this hurdle, over-estimating their perceived importance with the result that the quality of their selection declines.
Toronto — which has also grown its industry role in recent years without becoming a fully-fledged market — may be strong enough to maintain the quality of its lineup.
World premieres at this year's Toronto festival include many anticipated Asian films including US co-productions Looper and Cloud Atlas, Japan's The Land of Hope and Dreams for Sale and, from China, The Last Supper and Beijing Flickers.
That several of these were rejected by both Cannes and Venice does not imply that they are disappointing. On the surface, Toronto's Asian selection is more tantalising than that of Venice, whose competition features are directed by the safe choices of KITANO Takeshi, KIM Ki-duk and Brillante Ma. MENDOZA.
For audiences, the best of Toronto may lie in its international and North American premieres, films selected despite having already had public screenings. This year they include South Korea's The Thieves, Japan's Key of Life, China's Caught in the Web and Hong Kong's Motorway.
Other highlights include the festival's ten-film city focus on Mumbai, TANADA Yuki's erotic drama The Cowards Who Looked Up at the Sky and North Korean co-production Comrade Kim Goes Flying, billed during production as the country's first romantic comedy.
Source: Film Business Asia
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