37th Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: Day One

September 6th, 2012 – by Ian Evans

Bruce Willis (c)2012 DigitalHit.com

Bruce Willis looks back at the fans at the Looper premiere. ©2012 DigitalHit.com. All rights reserved. Photographer:Ian Evans

It’s day one of the 37th Toronto International Film Festival and we had a busy night starting off with the red carpet for Jason Reitman’s live table read of Alan Ball’s screenplay for American Beauty.

This is the first time that Reitman has held one of his table read events in Canada. For the uninitiated, Reitman takes a script from a classic film, gathers a cast and then reads the script live, without rehearsal. His U.S. table reads have been wildly successful, with one example being The Big Lebowski featuring Seth Rogen and Rainn Wilson.

In Toronto, Reitman took on the Oscar-winning Amercian Beauty. His cast was Bryan Cranston (Lester Burnham), Christina Hendricks (Carolyn Burnham), Mae Whitman (Jane Burnham), Paul Scheer (Buddy Kane), Nick Kroll (Colonel Frank Fitts), Sarah Gadon (Angela Hayes), Adam Driver (Ricky Fitts) and George Stroumboulopoulos as Jim Olymeyer. It’s a great concept that takes a film back to its birthplace, the script, and I’m hoping it becomes a regular item on the TIFF agenda.

The opening night film was the time-travel thriller Looper, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Piper Perabo, who all walked the red carpet at the film’s gala premiere at Roy Thomson Hall, which is just down the block from TIFF’s headquarters, the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Looper, directed by Rian Johnson, has mobsters in the future sending back targets thirty years to be killed by hit men from the past. One of those hit men (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds himself confronting his future self (Bruce Willis) and then must hunt his future self down when he escapes the execution. It’s a time-bending, mind-twisting thrill ride. When Looper was announced as TIFF’s opener, the Festival’s artistic director, Cameron Bailey, said that it was “a new kind of Opening Night: an exciting, thinking-person’s action film from a director who really understands genre.”

The Looper press conference was held earlier in the day and Bruce Willis made it clear that despite the talk of time travel, this was not a science fiction film as much as it was a film that focused on emotion with the technology as a backdrop.

The tabloid media was perhaps focused less on the Festival’s opening night gala and more on another TIFF film premiering that night at Toronto’s Ryerson University, director Walter Salles’ On the Road, based on the legendary novel by Jack Kerouac.

Did it matter to the tabloids that Salles and executive producer Francis Ford Coppola had finally brought this Beat Generation staple to the big screen? Nope. Did it matter to them that Salles and actors Garrett Hedlund and Kirsten Dunst would be there to attend the premiere? Nope. All the attention from the newspapers and TV journalists was on the fact that actress Kristen Stewart would be walking the red carpet for the first time since news broke that she had cheated on Rob Pattinson with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders.

Many inches of ink and minutes of video leading up to the premiere were spent discussing how the paparazzi at the premiere would treat Stewart. Of course, that sort of hype sells papers and gains viewers but the reality of the situation is this: One, the photographers at a TIFF premiere are not paparazzi but credentialed press photographers and two, the only interaction we would have with Stewart would be yelling “to the right”, “up here” and “over your shoulder.” Who in fact were the people who would broach the salacious story? Right, the very TV and print journalists who were creating hype about the photographers. Sigh…

The night concluded for us at the historic Elgin, renamed the VISA Screening Room for the duration of the Festival, where we covered the premiere of Rust & Bone. Directed by Jacques Audiard and starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, Rust & Bone is a character study about a single father trying to make a life for his son while falling in love with a killer-whale trainer affected by a terrible accident.

TIFF Day One Photo Galleries