Dilani Rabindran



Behindwoods at TIFF - Days 8-11, Anup Singh, QISSA


The Toronto International Film Festival wrapped on Sunday September 15th and those who attended can look back on the past 11 days with a smile – knowing they saw some of the best films of the year in advance of the rest of the world. Although the city is considerably quieter in terms of film hysteria the festival marked the start of the oncoming slew of award-winning Fall releases which includes a large number of films that screened at the festival, including the 2013 TIFF People’s Choice Winner “12 Years a Slave” directed by Steve McQueen.  Still, it’s hard to believe I won’t be seeing 4 films in a day again for a while…

Here is a look at 3 films I adored the most during the last leg of the festival!

WORDS & PICTURES – Director: Fred Schepisi, USA

It’s not often that a romantic comedy about middle-aged main characters can strike a chord with people of all ages, but Words & Pictures starring the adorable Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche does just that. A film about finding love in rivalry, this witty and moving piece from veteran director Fred Schepisi focuses on an alcoholic English teacher and a fiery artist who lead their classes in a competition to prove which has greater power in today’s society – words or pictures. Wrapped in a film about appreciating the arts in today’s world of social media & 140 characters, lies a sweet story of love and passion triumphing over personal troubles. Owen & Binoche are spectacular together, spewing out the best dialogue I heard at the festival overall.

BLIND DETECTIVE – Director: Johnny To, Hong Kong

This Cantonese film from internationally recognized director Johnny To is the epitome of a comedic buddy-cop movie. Despite not being accustomed to Cantonese cinema in the slightest my friends & I thoroughly enjoyed this movie about a retired sleuth and eager inspector teaming up to solve a series of cases using “interesting” methods, to say the least. Costumes, bumbling comedy and one-line zingers are in full force, and make for an elegantly packaged & fast-paced action comedy. It’s no wonder that Johnny To, as well as the film’s main stars, are amongst the biggest names in Cantonese cinema – they know how to deliver universal entertainment.

QISSA – Director: Anup Singh, India/Germany/France/Netherlands

On Sunday’s festival awards brunch Irrfhan Khan’s second movie at the 2013 festival, Qissa, was awarded the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) award for the best Asian film from a first/second time feature director, which it entirely deserved, in my opinion. The film is a haunting, mythical Punjabi-language tale from Anup Singh about a man who decides to raise his youngest daughter as a son, when he becomes tired of not actually being given a male heir. What ensues is an evocative story of family drama and folklore amidst a setting of the India/Pakistan partition. The film boasts terrific acting from Irrfhan Khan, in a role 180 degrees different from his character in The Lunchbox; interestingly enough, Khan mentioned he initially did not want to take on such a dark role but eventually did on account of Anup Singh’s persuasion. Also worth noting is the compelling performance by Tillotama Shome (Monsoon Wedding) playing Khan’s entitled but confused ‘son’, yearning for a mother’s affection while being primarily raised by his steadfast father.

If you liked what you read, look out for the theatrical releases of the films I highlighted in my Beyond Kollywood/East Meets West column over the past few days – they are all worth a trip to the cinema!

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