2011 Toronto International Film Festival

DailyXY’s TIFF coverage is sponsored by the Alliance film, Warrior

On TIFF’s first day, most media attention was focused on the arrival of U2 for the opening night world premiere of the band’s documentary From the Sky Down. At today’s press conference, Bono and The Edge were in attendance and, if not in top form, at least looking the part: Bono was clad in a black leather jacket despite sauna-like temps in the room, and Edge naturally sported his trademark headwear. (Is that thing glued on? Does he wash it? Does he care?)

A few choice quotes from Mr. Vox, who clearly hasn’t been getting enough love. Send him some +ve vibes, people – Bono needs to know that you believe in him!

BONO: “I nearly enjoyed seeing [the film] last night. Yes, it is solipsism, but it was about unearthing the creative process, and the audience went along with it.”

BONO: “I felt like I ended up in the trunk bound and gagged.”

BONO: “U2 has been on the verge of irrelevance for the last 20 years. This moment now seems very close to that.”

Actually, maybe he’s OK with himself after all:

BONO: “Watching the film was a little humiliating. I realize we were so inept then. These days we’ve learned our craft, and therein lies a huge danger. There’s a giant chasm between the very good and the great. We’re in danger of surrendering to the very good”

The Edge edged himself in as well:

EDGE: “It’s excruciating to see yourself talking about yourself.”

He oughtta know, after doing the talk-rock-doc It Might Get Loud with Jack White and Jimmy Page in 2008. (Same director, BTW, Davis Guggenheim, best known for the Academy Award-winning An Inconvenient Truth.)

The press conference for U2 was arguably the most poorly-organized ever in this scribe’s long history with TIFF. The fact that it started 30 minutes late was a minor part of the general SNAFU. Look for a rant in a future post.

But as long as my ire is up, let’s check in with another angry (once-) young man, John Lydon. We got our fest feet wet yesterday with the afternoon screening of Sons of Norway. Helping spark interest in this independent Norwegian film is the presence of punk rock pioneer Lydon, who does double duty as executive producer (credited as John Lydon) and actor (as Johnny Rotten), taking a small cameo role as well as being featured in some archival footage.

That may make Sons of Norway sound like a vanity project, but it’s far from the case. Set in 1978, this film is a coming-of-age story about a young teen who takes refuge in punk rock after the tragic death of his mother. By turns funny, harrowing, and poignant, it boasts fine performances by the actors playing Nikolaj (the young punk) and his hippie father Magnus. Scenes of Nikolaj in a nudist camp (he refuses to take off his Union Jack underwear) are sidesplittingly hilarious, while cranked up Sex Pistols songs at key points only reconfirm their timeless potency.

Seeing a film like Sons of Norway stands as a reminder that a crucial component of a festival like TIFF must to be the promotion of underdog and low-budget international films, not just serving as a launching pad for star-studded Hollywood fare. Rock, doc, or otherwise.

From the Sky Down image courtesy of TIFF.

DailyXY’s TIFFtown blog is sponsored by the Alliance film, Warrior.


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