This year’s TIFF experience was exhausting

TIFF ended 15 days ago, and I am just writing my TIFF experience blog now. Sigh. I’ve had such a hectic schedule since the end of August, I’m not sure why I decided it would be a good idea to start a brand spankin’ new blog. Perhaps I underestimated the workload for the first month of school… Though actually, it’s less about the “first month of school” but more “first month of the last year of undergraduate school”. I have always been involved with extracurricular activities at school, but because I am in my last year, I’ve felt greater pressure to add more to my resume to ensure I can start my career as soon as I graduate. This meant trying to juggle positions at two part-time jobs, one student group, four school courses, and briefly, a two-week volunteer position all at the same time. Chaos.

… That above paragraph sounds like excuse after excuse to me. I have extremely high expectations for myself. It’s not healthy, I know. I blame being a first generation Chinese immigrant from a poor family.

Anyhow, I started this blog post to write an extremely late recap of my experience at TIFF this year, not to complain about how stressed I am! (I’ll save that for a later post, hah.) But now that TIFF is over, I can finally blog about the films I watched! I watched a total of eight movies, but I can only remember six of them because I fell asleep for the entirety of one of them (thus the blog title), so that one will not be named. For what it’s worth though, it was completely my fault that I fell asleep. I mean, there is just no way that one can juggle a schedule like I did, commute and arrive home at midnight, and expect to be awake for a 9:00 AM film screening. It just wasn’t possible, and I shouldn’t have thought that it was possible. I’ve certainly learned my lesson.

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, this year, I chose to pick movies that were not in English and were not Asian. These two criteria helped my whittle down my choices pre-festival. The only exception to these two rules was Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius and Amma Asante’s Belle, the latter which I watched at a secret TIFF volunteer screening.

Here are the eight movies I watched this year, in the order I watched them in:

I think this might be my last year limiting myself to only non-English and non-Asian movies because generally, while I watched a greater variety of movies on different topics, few of them stood out for me. Out of the eight, I think MoebiusHotell, and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears were stand-outs. The others were either not memorable, were mediocre, or didn’t leave an impression on me. I found Love is the Perfect Crime similar to Cannibal in the way where the leading man both were lady-killers (literally); Borgman was a little strange and left me confused; Bellwas entertaining and satisfying, but it left a lot to be desired, particularly the formulaic Hollywood script; and though A Wolf at the Door was enjoyable, I couldn’t relate to its subject matter as I don’t have children and have never been in a relationship!

So if MoebiusHotell and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears were respectively listed as my top three picks of this year’s festival, I would say Belle and A Wolf at the Door would follow up in the fourth place position. Belle might have been formulaic, but it had an important story to tell. I really liked the Matthew Goode cameo too! 😉 A Wolf at the Door was well-done for it being a low-budget (producer’s words, not mine!) movie about domestic problems between two families. Plus, I have a soft spot for all things Brazil, so that nudges my preference for the the movie over Borgman.

I have already spoken about Moebius, so I will speak about Hotell, which is one of my favourites this festival solely because of the main actress’ acting abilities. Alicia Vikander already impressed me last year in A Royal Affair (which I watched at the festival’s premium screening! Managed to rush it with my volunteer voucher), but Alicia Vikander truly impresses in this movie, proving her critics wrong that she is a limited actress. There is one scene in particular where her character experiences a premature delivery. She completely lashes out at the nurses who try to constrain her. It’s a scene that is incredibly heavy with emotions, and Alicia manages to do without over-dramatizing it, where other Hollywood actresses may have. I’m looking forward to what else she has in store for 2014. Particularly for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a film she’ll be in with Henry Cavill! It’ll be a very aesthetically pleasing movie, I’m sure!

Considering how warped Strange Colour was, I’m surprised I would list it as my third favourite movie at TIFF, but this year I was looking for movies that would take me out of my comfort zone, so although the film was incredibly creepy and I didn’t completely understand it at the end, it definitely took me out of my comfort zone. Its stylish editing techniques made my skin crawl! The movie featured some of the creepiest sound effects I have ever experienced. I don’t think I would ever watch this movie again, but for the reasons I picked this movie as one of my TIFF selections, it did well.

All in all, I had a good experience at TIFF this year. I’m not sure if I will be returning as a volunteer next year because although I love volunteering at TIFF, hopefully I’ll have a full time job by then that I can afford my own tickets! Next year, I’ll be sure to make my TIFF selections with less criteria too. I’ll probably enjoy myself more that way, but limiting myself this year was a fun experiment, and it didn’t go too badly!

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  • This looks like the most unappetizing dish of food ever, but it's got an amusing story behind it. (Well, I think it's amusing anyway.) So I'm a solo East Asian female traveller, right? Imagine me walking into a Spanish tapas pub of sorts by myself, not knowing a lick of Spanish and trying to understand how this pub works. (It was highly recommended on @foursquare.) ⁣
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I stood at the bar for like, 10 minutes trying to get the attention of one of the bartenders, but he just continued to look over my head. It was packed in this pub – at least two groups of #RealMadrid fans hanging around, decked out in full gear! – so what with busy bartenders and waiters, no one gave a two-shits about this East Asian girl standing and looking helplessly at the bar. Fair enough.⁣
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Finally though, I managed to get the bartender's attention and ordered a mojito. (Also recommended on @foursquare.) The bartender yells at his co-bartender buddy, and I apparently have to wait some more for this mojito to arrive. After a bit, I'm tired of standing around, and walks over to his buddy's side of the bar and looks at him expectantly.⁣
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This guy is cuuute. The top half of his face reminds me of @oscar_emboaba – the eyebrows, the eyes, the hair. But he still takes ages to give me this damn mojito and the free plate of tapas that comes with it. The whole meal cost only €6, but I still want my food, thanks.⁣
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Anyways, after what must've been 15 minutes since walking through the door of this tapas pub, I'm finally served my food and drink. The mojito turns out to be way bigger than the #Foursquare tips said; it's about maybe 3 to 5 times the size of a normal glass of mojito in London or Toronto. The free tapas were decent, but nothing to shout about.⁣
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While I was eating and drinking though, I had to entertain myself with either my phone or the hustle bustle of the venue. That meant a lot of people watching. A lot of people watching that included the groups of local Real Madrid fans – figured that  I should leave for the stadium relatively the same time as they do – and the cute bartender.⁣
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(Continued below...)