|Werner Herzog on Stage|
My first day of TIFF11 considered of two back-to-back screening at the Ryerson Theatre (one of my favourite TIFF venues). It didn’t have the glitz and glamour of the galas, but it was probably more enjoyable.
Here are my thoughts on the films.
Into the Abyss
One news-making item of this year’s festival was that the opening gala was going to be a documentary (the U2 doc From the Sky Down). The same can be said about my first film of the festival, which was directed by the one and only Werner Herzog.
Into the Abyss is expanded from a miniseries Herzog is currently producing about Death Row inmates. For the film, he centered on one case in particular, a triple homicide, and how it affected those who were involved. Herzog interviews both the jailed perpetrators (one of which was due to be executed), as well as relatives of the victims. Herzog heavily contrasts life with death, especially in the case of the two perpetrators (whose stories end in contrasting ways).
Another thing that Herzog seems to be trying with the film is that, despite their horrible crimes, the criminals are still only human. He also argues strongly against the death penalty and there is a heartbreaking interview with a former supervisor of executions, who one day decided he couldn’t continue.
It’s definitely a very powerful documentary.
The latest film by Gus Van Sant (which I also found out was produced by Bryce Dallas Howard, who was in attendance) is actually a nice companion piece to Into the Abyss, since it also has themes of life and death.
A young man named Enoch (newcomer Henry Hopper – son of Dennis), who is still grieving his parent’s death, begins a relationship with a girl named Annabel (Mia Wasikowska), but soon finds out that she has terminal cancer and only a few months to live.
This is definitely a very touching and sad film. Even with death looming around the corner, though his relationship with Annabel, Enoch finds himself able to live his life again. I definitely found it enjoyable.
And that’s my first day of TIFF11