On my way to the Tiff Bell Lightbox – not a lot of people out and about in this cold
On any given Sunday morning it will take a lot to get me out of bed. In fact, I’m just not a morning person period. Full stop. So what does get me up one Sunday every month during the winter months? What got me up this morning despite the extreme cold weather warning of bitterly cold arctic air combined with gusty north winds for a daytime average of -24 C that can feel like -40 C and freeze my face?
It’s what a small community of like-minded contemporary world cinema buffs like me do. We head to 350 King Street West – aka the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
So I bundled up, layer upon fleecy layer, just like any well-seasoned Canadian would do. I enveloped all those layers with the trusty and now ubiquitous Canada Goose parka, which I’d like to add I purchased well before it was seen on everyone everywhere. That parka was worth every cent! It may also be worth mentioning that I’m a summer person through and through perhaps making my little morning adventure all the more curious.
I’ve been a big supporter of the TIFF. I live and breathe art and culture. I love foreign films. So I treat myself to a full subscription to Reel Talk: Contemporary World Cinema for the 10:30am showing of a film that the TIFF’s top programmers select for us, but only reveal to us when we get there. Surprise!
They’ve become so popular that TIFF added a second screening last year. In the beginning there was only the 10am screening. You can imagine how grateful I was when they offered an option that enabled me to get an extra 1/2 hour of sleep.
So what was the surprise film today? I routinely picked up my hot coffee and fresh scones and then, once I peeled off the layers on me like an onion, settled in my chosen seat. The opening scene…a vast winter landscape with heaps of snow and a windy soundtrack to amplify the visual so I could feel it in my bones.
You can imagine my heightened sense of surprise. This was not going to be 2 hours of escapism to a tropic land. I added back one of those layers and sunk in my seat a bit more in quiet surrender of the inescapable winter.
However bleak, the engaging storyline and strong lead actor strung me along for 115 minutes. The film is called In Order of Disappearance (original title Kraftidioten). It is a 2014 Norwegian crime thriller-black comedy directed by Hans Petter Moland and starring Stellan Skarsgard. Alluding to different genres, teeter tottering between stark violence and the LOL ridiculous, and touching upon attitudes toward immigration, this film was well received when it had its premiere in the competition section of last year’s Berlin International Film Festival. The programmers said that there was a big round of applause after the Berlin screening despite the fact that the director and cast were not present – a rarity apparently. Don’t worry – there will be no mega spoilers here. Check it out if you’re interested. The average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is 91% and the critics give it 85%. The pacing and cinematography of a snowplough through the frozen landscape alone are well worth it.
All bundled again, I left the warmth of TIFF Bell Lightbox for the cold, deceptively sunny outdoors. The weather app on my phone read: Toronto -18, Oslo -1. I remembered one of the comments in the film that made me laugh – an observation that there are no hot countries with welfare, only cold ones.