For the last two years I've volunteered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Yesterday was the final night of this year's event. Both years I've worked the Gala screenings at Roy Thompson Hall which is also the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Because of the days my son is with me this year I could only work the first four nights and the last one. Usually I'm in charge of the Rush Tickets line. I enjoy doing it because I'm a people person and its fun to have so many conversations. On the Rush Ticket line people arrive hours before-hand and wait so we get to know each other pretty well.
I got the idea of volunteering several years ago when I happened to hear that the TIFF was looking for Spanish translators to help with press conferences. My girlfriend at the time (I loved her like a rock) was fluent in Italian and Spanish and worked as a Medical Interpreter for a local hospital. I thought that she might have fun doing it and maybe get some linguistic exercise. About six months later she comprehensively broke my heart and dumped me while her father lay on his death bed. When I emerged from the double dose of grief I looked around for something that might make me feel useful and needed again. And who doesn't love movies!
The films I worked this year were: Being Julia, I 'Heart' Huckabees & Clean, Beyond the Sea & House of Flying Daggers, Kinsey & Ray and finally Jiminy Glick Goes to Lalawood.
Volunteers get a voucher good for a future screening for each shift they "work" and also get to watch the last film of their shift if there are seats left, so here's where I go all Roger Ebert on you.
- Being Julia: British theatre period piece with Annette Bening and Jeremy Irons as husband and wife team. Lots of dry wit and scheming.
- Clean: Rock star's hated asian wife tries to go straight and regain custody of her son after said rock star OD's. Gritty, with excellent performances by Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte.
- House of Flying Daggers: Another stylised martial arts pic from the Zhang Yimou, the director of Hero. Great (great!) cinematography but I'm getting tired of all the pointless wire-work.
- Ray: The life of Ray Charles, the father of Soul, warts and all. Tonnes of great songs (everyone in the audience got a soundtrack sampler) and an astounding performance by Jamie Foxx.
- Jiminy Glick Goes to Lalawood: Martin Short's fawning celebrity hound idiot alter-ego gets involved in a murder mystery at... the Toronto International Film Festival! The perfect Closing Night antidote to ten days of air kisses and Dolce & Gabbana.