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A Volunteer's Look Inside the 2005 TIFF (Part 4)

Of course, it had to be raining in Toronto friday, as we braced ourselves for The Toronto International Film Festival's final weekend, and a return to our normal lives we've been so successfully avoiding.

This is absolutely depressing

Among the volunteer's who have been working hard every night during the gala screenings, mid-week brought upon the realization that in all the velcro backing and popcorn sweeping, many of us had wallets full of pink slips we'd yet to use to get in to actual MOVIES at the various theatres around the city. Realizing you have extra and giving them away to friends with time on their hands may not be as good as actually going to screenings, but hey, it's good to help out your friends. This is all about community.

I did try to attend a morning screening of Dave Chapelle's Block Party, shot by music video and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind director Michael Gondry, prompted by stories of an extremely drunk and leacherous Gondry at a previous night's party. (Favorite volunteer joke of the day becomes, in a french accent, "How would you like to feel the eternal sunshine of my tongue down your throat?")

I over-sleep a 7am wakeup for the 9am screening by, oh, about five and a half hours.

A more successful morning follows, and I make it down to the paramount for a screening of Mike Mill's debut feature, Thumbsucker. The film's selling points are killer cameos by Keanu Reeves as the protagonist's spiritual orthodontist, and Vince Vaughn as a teacher who tries a bit too hard to fit in with his own debate club, as well as a soundtrack that seemlessly blends the exalted choir-rock of The Polyphonic Spree, with some of Elliot Smith's final recordings. More than the sum of these parts, however, this movie is an honest look at varying forms of middle American addiction, compulsion and obsession, and the fear that drives them. Worth seeing.

Two more galas to work, and by this point it's almost mechanical. I no longer know what films I am working until I arrive. The dog-head face masks theatre patrons are wearing to friday's first gala suggests something of The Wallace and Gromit variety, or that I truly dipped too mightely into the Jagermeister at last night's party for Metal: A Headbanger's Journey.

Talk now turns to the volunteer wrap party this Saturday night, where we will all be able to blow off some steam, and weep collectively (or rejoice, depending on the experience), at another film festival come to pass. I will hang up these dress pants I have been wearing for the last nine days, realizing there may not be another excuse to wear them for an entire year.

Absolutely depressing.


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