Bailey talks about world travels in search of pics

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Toronto Intl. Film Festival

Cameron Bailey has been navigating red-carpet routes, battling phantom bedbugs and plotting Twitter showdowns with Roger Ebert this summer. But before that excitement, the Toronto Intl. Film Festival co-director packed his valise to visit familiar haunts and emerging hot spots to find the best and brightest new cinema from around the globe. We recently met with Bailey at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s new street-level Canteen bistro to discuss programming adventures, strategies and future directions. Here are some highlights.

Cameron Bailey has been navigating red-carpet routes, battling phantom bedbugs and plotting Twitter showdowns with Roger Ebert this summer. But before that excitement, the Toronto Intl. Film Festival co-director packed his valise to visit familiar haunts and emerging hot spots to find the best and brightest new cinema from around the globe. We recently met with Bailey at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s new street-level Canteen bistro to discuss programming adventures, strategies and future directions. Here are some highlights.

ON HIS FIRST VISIT TO BEJING
“The film culture and industry in China will become increasingly important in the world of film. Major economic powers tend to make a lot of films. They’re at a point where their domestic industry is just booming. Films can make all the money they need at home, but at the same time I think they want their filmmakers to be recognized outside. So it will be important to go every year and develop relationships. “We need to let filmmakers know what Toronto can do for their films.

“There is tension between independent artists and the political structure that has its own history, and to see artists navigate that is fascinating. You wouldn’t think it would allow those indie voices, but the fact is, really great work is coming out of China that feels fresh and independent. There is a large body of popular entertainment that wouldn’t travel well outside of China. But there are also popular auteurs.

” ‘Aftershock’ is the biggest box office hit in Chinese history, and director Feng Xiaogang has an artistic popular touch much like (Steven) Spielberg. It’s about a family affected by a massive earthquake that happened in 1976, in which over 200,000 people died. The first sequence is a massive CGI spectacle on the same scale as something from a Hollywood studio. And it leaves people in tears.”

VIVA CONGO
“I’ve been trying the last few years to bring some of these African genre films here. Nollywood makes thousands every year but most of them are a little rough around the edges and wouldn’t work in a festival context. Djo Tunda Wa Munga is trying to do the same thing — kickstart a popular film industry — in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the midst of the insane war. ‘Viva Riva!’ is a gangster movie with real artistic ambition and cinematic polish. He trained in Belgium so has real skill on a craft level. It’s a very slick, stylish racy film.”

ISTANBUL NOT CONSTANTINOPLE
“Everybody knows the city and many foreign films shoot scenes there, but not many people know the films. (Programmer) Kate Lawrie Van de Ven and I spent five days visiting editing suites, meeting filmmakers and talking to people. There’s a new wave, for lack of a better term, breaking with the previous generation of filmmakers, creating subjective, often poetic, interpretations of realism. We knew we’d found our City to City focus, but after we got home the Gaza flotilla happened. So we met with a whole bunch of people and did our due diligence. In the end we felt Istanbul was the best city and the right time to do it.”

ANY THE LAST WORDS?
“This is the year ‘Hindie cinema’ (edgy non-Bollywood fare) is breaking out in Toronto. Our seven films from India all fit the bill.”

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