Continuing a tradition I began last year, I’d like to have a look at some of the films which will be screening at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival from September 6-16. The first film I’m anticipating is Kazik Radwanski’s Tower, a feature debut from a local filmmaker who has been widely recognized and awarded for his short film work. I first met Kaz (on the left in the image above) and his producer partner Dan Montgomery (right) about 18 months ago and have grown to like their work very much.
Through their company, Medium Density Fibreboard Films, they have made four shorts of their own and produced others for Vancouver filmmaker Antoine Bourges. What I’ve loved about Kaz’s short film work is the almost documentary style of the camerawork. It’s reminiscent of the Dardennes brothers, with the camera often following a character from behind, or featuring them in unflattering close-ups. The social realism extends to the subject matter, with often mundane details slowly knitting together to illustrate larger themes. Out in That Deep Blue Sea (2009) is an unflinching and deeply affecting portrait of midlife crisis. The main character’s powerlessness emerges through his flailing attempts to keep his real-estate business going, despite his lack of passion. His disconnection from the world is reinforced by the camera’s constant closeups and refusal to show any other character’s perspective.
From what I’ve seen of Tower, we could be seeing the same character twenty or twenty-five years earlier. Derek (Derek Bogart) is a guy in his mid-thirties who is still living in his parents’ basement. He works at his uncle’s construction company part-time but dreams of a career as an animator. He’s disconnected from his parents and everyone else, but when he suddenly finds himself in an intimate relationship with a woman, he’s not sure what to do.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Kaz can do with a larger canvas and a few more resources. The film recently had its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, and the reviews have been largely positive.
Tower plays in the Discovery section of this year’s TIFF programme.