TIFF 2020

TIFF 2020: Point and Line to Plane (Sofia Bohdanowicz, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 16, 2020

By Adam Nayman The sterile, corkscrew expanse of the Guggenheim is a concrete geometric presence in Point and Line to Plane, which takes its title from a 1947 book of art theory by Wassily Kandinsky and is punctuated by images of his abstract canvases, as well as those of his lesser-known predecessor Hilma af Klint.…

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TIFF 2020: Rules for Werewolves (Jeremy Schaulin-Roux, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 16, 2020

By Adam Nayman Having not read Kirk Lynn’s 2015 novel about a feral cult of squatters, I can’t say if Rules for Werewolves qualifies as a proper adaptation or a literary riff in miniature: the snaky long take narrating the desecration of a sprawling but sterile suburban mansion unfolds in sync to the author’s ramblingly…

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TIFF 2020: Shiva Baby (Emma Seligman, US/Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 16, 2020

By Adam Nayman The title character of Canadian director Emma Seligman’s feature debut is technically the 18-month-old blonde moppet sired by affluent nebbish Max (Danny Deferrari) and his shiksa-goddess wife Kim (Dianna Agron), a miniature avatar of assimilation yelping up a storm amidst a company of black-clad mourners. Symbolically, though, the title refers to tousled,…

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TIFF 2020: Still Processing (Sophy Romvari, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 16, 2020

By Adam Nayman “A moment stopped would burn like a frame of film, blocked before the furnace of the projector,” intones Alexandra Stewart in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil (1983), testifying to the essential fluidity of time versus the fixity of photography. Marker’s point seems to be that to disproportionately privilege still images, in cinema as…

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TIFF 2020: Violation (Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Dusty Mancinelli, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 16, 2020

By Adam Nayman If you believe that the worst thing a movie can do is pass unnoticed, then Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s Violation might be for you. Deliberately taking its formal and tonal cues from certain filmmakers occupying the endurance-test wing of the art/grindhouse—specifically the cabin-in-the-woods incarnations of Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier—Violation…

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TIFF 2020: Inconvenient Indian (Michelle Latimer, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 15, 2020

By Adam Nayman Toronto’s Fox Theatre plays itself in Inconvenient Indian, which opens by sending Thomas King—author of the 2012 critical study that give the film its title and rhetorical spine—to the cinema. Sitting in the dark before clips from Nanook of the North, a man watches a movie, and the critic must acknowledge that…

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TIFF 2020: Every Day’s Like This (Lev Lewis, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 15, 2020

By Adam Nayman The one direct allusion to assisted suicide in Every Day’s Like This is filtered through movie madness: discussing a potential date for the euthanasia of their terminally ill matriarch, a father and his two young-adult children agree that it would be best not to do it before the Oscars. Lev Lewis’ mournful…

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TIFF 2020: Beans (Tracey Deer, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 15, 2020

By Adam Nayman “Fuck you,” whispers 12-year old Beans (Kiawentiio) to her reflection in the mirror, a playful gesture of self-deprecation that’s also a rehearsal for external clashes. It’s July 1990 in Oka, and if a preteen Mohawk girl is going to get through a summer of standoffs in one piece—or fit in with the…

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TIFF 2020: As Spring Comes (Marie-Ève Juste, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 15, 2020

By Adam Nayman Metaphor blooms in As Spring Comes, which reconfigures a frosbitten ice-fishing shack into a literal hothouse. Sheltered inside with her lover in what seems to be a mutually understood ritual, a young woman photogenically mutates—evolves? reverts?—from fauna to flora. Typically, a little magic realism goes a long way, and thankfully, French-Canadian director…

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TIFF 2020: The Archivists (Igor Drljaca, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 15, 2020

By Adam Nayman A significant change of pace for Bosnian-Canadian filmmaker Igor Drljaca after a run of Balkan-themed hybrid fictions and docs, the sci-fi-inflected The Archivists concerns a trio of future-shocked musicologists trying to reconstruct an I-Love-the-’80s hit, using improvised instruments in an abandoned country home. The theme is the durability and necessity of art…

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TIFF 2020: Akilla’s Escape (Charles Officer, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / September 15, 2020

By Adam Nayman A weary, wary weed dealer with decades on his odometer, Akilla (Saul Williams) operates self-effacingly under cover of the Toronto night; staring down the barrel of a gun aimed by Jamaican gangbanger Sheppard (Thamela Mpumlwana), he decides to try to save a wayward boy who could be his mirror. The structural gimmick…

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TIFF 2020: The Inheritance (Ephraim Asili, US)

By James Lattimer / September 13, 2020

By James Lattimer Published in Cinema Scope #84 (Fall 2020) The role of past insights in (still) present-day struggles is at the heart of The Inheritance, a playful, erudite, and boundary-blurring examination of what performing Black theory, literature, music, and testimony in a contemporary Philadelphia commune might set in motion. Given even greater topicality by…

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TIFF 2020: Fauna (Nicolás Pereda, Mexico/Canada)

By Jordan Cronk / September 12, 2020

By Jordan Cronk Published in Cinema Scope #84 (Fall 2020) There’s a point in nearly every Nicolás Pereda film when the narrative is either reoriented or upended in some way. In the past this has occurred through bifurcations in story structure or via ruptures along a given film’s docufiction fault line. Pereda’s ninth feature, Fauna,…

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TIFF 2020: Notturno (Gianfranco Rosi, Italy/France/Germany)

By Mark Peranson / September 11, 2020

By Mark Peranson Published in Cinema Scope #84 (Fall 2020)  “The night scares me so much,” confesses a courageous Yazidi pre-teen girl to a therapist, remembering the period when she and her younger sister were captured by ISIS. Anyone who was seen crying would be killed, they were told; it turned out to be a…

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