I was looking back at the guide and getting that feeling that has come upon me every festival I have covered: There’s so much that I missed. I heard great things about Portage, Angel-A, Over The GW, Low and Behold, Lust, Caution… and many, many more. Sigh. Now as the festival is winding down, I had a great tip from a friend. She knows someone who hangs onto the AFF guides and uses them through the year as DVD references, so when she hits the video store and needs a suggestion, she brings her guide from the previous year. A great idea, I thought.
The awards for the festival were announced today… a healthy weight of them went to Chaz Thorne and the pictures with which he’s associated. Best Atlantic Feature went to Poor Boy’s Game directed by Clement Virgo, which by now you would know was co-scripted by Thorne, who shared the Michael Weir Award for Best Original Screenplay with Virgo for the same film. Thorne also won best director for Just Buried. The Rex Tasker Documentary Award was taken by Scouts are Cancelled by John D. Scott, the Ed Higginson Cinematography Award went to Christopher Ball for Fid and the Best Atlantic Short was La Voisine by Pamela Gallant. Also, it should be mentioned, Roy Dupuis won Best Actor for his work in Shake Hands With The Devil and Ellen Page won Best Actress for The Tracey Fragments, which won Best Canadian Feature. And local guitar hero Mike O’Neill won Best Original Score for Eva Madden’s Eastern Shore.
One of the disappointments of the fest was the loss of Michael Clayton from the programming roster… the George Clooney paranoid thriller was to have closed the festival, though they have found an intriguing replacement, Sleuth, a remake of the original detective yarn starring Michael Caine and Sir Lawrence Olivier. The remake was scripted by Harold Pinter, who, I gather, has never seen the original and only read the script for it once. Expect quite a radical reimagining. Caine does star again, but in the Olivier role, and Jude Law takes the Caine role, the second time in his career he’s essayed a part originally played by Caine. Twenty points if you can name the other time. Law would be lucky to have a career resembling anything like Caine’s. I’m not sure if he has the elder thesps range, though I now gather he’ll be playing Hamlet on stage in London in the new year. Good luck with that, Jude.
I strolled down to the Park Lane for the final media screening of the festival, but it wasn’t Sleuth as I’d thought, it was Scott Walker: 30th Century Man. The American singer who found UK fame in the ‘60s with The Walker Brothers (“The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”) went on to become a cult figure in the 70s, making tremulous, soulful melancholia on record that inspired Pulp, Radiohead and David Bowie, who produced the doc. More recently, Scott Walker has become a big name in the avant garde, his music absolutely hypnotic and occasionally frightening soundscapes that impress the hell out of Brian Eno. The film takes time playing his songs, presumably introducing them to an audience that may not be familiar with Walker’s stuff. Some of the visuals the filmmakers drum up along with it aren’t all that special, but what the doc does that really works is have admirers, everyone from Bowie, to Lulu to Ute Lemper listening to the records and commenting on things that they love in the music. Walker himself is clearly shy and reluctant to be the centre of attention, unlikely to play live again and never listens to his records once they are released. But for music lovers of all stripes, this is a film worth seeing and Walker is someone worth discovering.