TIFF 2011: Toronto International Film Festival

Saturday | October 25, 2014

Buzz films leave TIFF 2011 empty-handed


A scene from Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz"

Rachel Weisz, Woody Harrelson, Jane Fonda, Seth Rogen, Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Hopkins, Jon Hamm, Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer all share something in common -- and it's not a publicist.

Although TIFF enjoyed a banner year for film sales -- up over 50% from 2010 despite the crummy economy -- all of the above starred in high-profile festival entries that failed to land a buyer by the time the final curtain closed.

Which is not to say they won't subsequently find a distributor in time for awards season, but, these days, an Oscar pedigree and an enthusiastic reception are no longer sufficient to lure market-weary suitors.

Although it starred Oscar winners Rachel Weisz and Anthony Hopkins, 360, directed by The Constant Gardner's Fernando Meirelles, left the fest without a home.

So did Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, a comedy boasting Jane Fonda as a hippie grandmother; as well as Friends with Kids, a romcom directed by Kissing Jessica Stein star Jennifer Westfeldt, with an ensemble including her s.o. Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott and Maya Rudolph.

Granted, the last two may seem a bit soft to be considered awards fodder, but also yet to snag a distributor during TIFF was Winnie, the Winnie Mandela biopic boasting strong performances from Oscar-winning Jennifer Hudson and Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard.

Likewise, Rampart, a tough crime drama starring a take-no-prisoners Woody Harrelson as a corrupt cop, and co-starring Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, and Ice Cube.

Then you had Michelle Williams, fresh from her Oscar-nominated turn in Blue Valentine, starring in Sarah Polley's bittersweet dramedy Take This Waltz, along with Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman.

It emerged from TIFF without a dance partner as did Barrymore, in which Christopher Plummer reprised the stage role (that of actor John Barrymore, Drew's grandfather) that won him a Tony award some 15 years ago.

Here's hoping that even if their respective films may not have been universally embraced, audiences will have a chance to catch their deserving performances sooner rather than later.

LEFT DANGLING

Over the past month or so, they've been popping up all over the place -- a pair of sparkly red high-heel shoes strung over power lines at numerous intersections, where they dangled along with a cutout of a pink trophy.

Could they have been the work of a guerilla marketing group heralding the new season of Dancing with the Stars?

Or did they signal the territory-marking locations of a gang of transvestite drug dealers?

Whatever, they had the whole town guessing, and just a little distracted, especially when the late-afternoon sun bounced off all that ruby glitter.

Turns out it's the work of local artist Manny Castro, promoting the opening of his new show, This Hollywood Life.

Sort of preferred the transvestite drug dealer theory, myself.

 

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