Monday, October 4, 2010

My Favourite CIFF 2010 Moment: The Black Carpet Gala!

Well folks, it’s that time again. As CIFF 2010 draws to a close, I (along with hundreds of other cinephiles) am exhausted - but it is the bittersweet fatigue of someone who has just spent the last ten days in a film-focused frenzy. Every year I get a little better at balancing my trips to the cinema with school, and it certainly pays off to dedicate a few moments to planning a schedule when it comes to film fest season - that way you can take full advantage of everything CIFF has to offer. My highlight of this year’s festival was undoubtably Friday night’s Black Carpet Gala.

The film, I Spit On Your Grave, was everything it promised to be, and more: gruesome, gratuitous, horrific, controversial, compelling, and disturbing. Since it will be theatrically released on October 8th, I’ll save you any revealing remarks, suffice it to say that lead actress, Sarah Butler, approaches the devastating subject matter with a maturity and bravery that is extraordinary - and the rest of the cast is not far behind. Chad Lindberg had the audience gripped in pity and fear for his vulnerable character, Matthew, and Jeff Branson’s character, Johnny, embodied a bitterness, arrogance, and sociopathic numbness that was frightening in itself. The area sheriff, played by Andrew Howard, was equally cold and despicable - rounding out the perfect crew of victims for the spite of a vengeful woman.Butler, Lindberg, and Branson were all in attendance, and held a Q&A session following the screening. They explained their personal processes for taking on the identities of such dark characters, and joked about the mishaps that made it into the final cut - like Branson “accidentally” hitting Butler in the back of the head with a baseball bat. Despite the violent and brutal nature of the film’s content, the cast agreed that it was their chemistry and trust for one another that made the film really come to life.

The after party was held at Sam’s in Kensington immediately following the Q&A session, with free drinks being dispensed to ticket holders and tasty appetizers floating about on silver platters. The pub was intimately lit, and already buzzing with excitement when the screening crowd arrived.Butler, Lindberg, and Branson were all there, and were incredibly approachable - bubbling at the chance to chat with fans and film-lovers alike. I had the chance to speak briefly to all three, and was humbled by their lively, friendly, and entertaining personalities. stars were not afraid to mingle with the crowd, share some beverages, and take part in the jovial atmosphere of the Black Carpet Gala.

Memories and experiences like these are the reason I am such an enthusiastic advocate for the social aspect of cinema. There is a whole culture that takes place outside of the theatre, and I encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in film to seek out these types of events, and take advantage of everything an organization like CIFF has to offer. Don’t feel discouraged if you didn’t make it to every screening and event you had hoped to - CIFF 2011 is only 12 months away!

See you next year, fellow filmaholics!