So I have to Fed Ex my 30 picks for the Toronto International Film Festival by 5:00 p.m. today, and I’ve agonized over the possibilities long enough now. In a shocking last minute switcheroo, I decided to regretfully skip Haneke’s CachÈ in order to see four films that won’t get distribution. Part of this burst of conviction was provoked by David Ehrenstein’s sobering overview of independent distributors in today’s LA Weekly, who speak matter-of-factly about the risky art film circuit in the United States and the increasing tendency to release films on DVD alone, if at all.
As Dave Kehr concludes the article:
ìMost foreign films close a week after they open,î says Kehr, ìeven with Manohla plugging away at the readers about Head-On and Tropical Malady. Both Manohla and Tony see it as their mandate to push the art films they love, and theyíve both found it a sobering experience that their love doesnít make any difference. The power of New York Times film critics to influence filmgoers is practically nonexistent at this point.
ìThere are more choices through different delivery systems, and DVD is becoming the primary one. Itís a lot for a tiny, thousand-word column to deal with. All that I try to do is put together as much of a mix as I can with my bizarre taste. The Story of Marie and Julien came across my desk the other day, so I looked up the review in the Times and found that there wasnít one. But these things arenít coming to me with ëDVD Premiereí stamped on them. In other words, ëstraight-to-videoí once meant ënot good enough to be shown in theaters.í Now it means ëtoo good to be shown in theaters.í Thatís the reality.î
And yet anyone who has followed the world cinema releases on DVD over the past few years (even in multiregion terms) can list dozens of films that haven’t seen the light of day.
So with that in mind, here is the list I’ll mail off in a few hours:
Saturday, September 10
ïThree Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Tuesday, September 13
ïLa Neuvaine (Bernard …mond)