Crowds at TIFF 2006

Tight Race for Artistic Innovation Award at TIFF07

It's no secret that Rolf de Heer's Ten Canoes was one of my favorite movies at last year's TIFF, and that de Heer's a pretty big fan of Toronto as a city as well. I'll admit that I was a bit peeved when he lost the Artistic Innovation Award to Taqva (which was a pretty great film as well), so I'm extremely glad to hear that the Australian director is back this year to compete for the award with his new film Dr. Plonk.

Winning the award this year won't be an easy task: the TIFF group just announced fourteen titles from twelve different countries around the world that will be competing for the award at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

The Artistic Innovation Award (formerly the Swarovski Cultural Innovation Award) was inaugurated at last year's festival in order to recognize films in the Visions programme that demonstrate unique artistic vision, technological innovation, and stylistic audacity. Judges for this year's award include Dutch multimedia artist Lonnie van Brummelen, Canadian photoconceptual artist Ian Wallace, and celebrity hat designer Misa Harada. The Innovation Award is one of the six major awards that are handed out at the festival each year.

Rolf de Heer's Dr. Plonk, a black and white silent comedy shot with a hand-cranked camera, will face stiff competition from respected filmmakers around the world. Spanish director José Luis Guerín will be screening Dans la Ville de Sylvia, a film about desire which features almost no dialog, and South Korean director Lee Myung-se will be once again meshing his panache for action with his art-house aesthetic in his supernatural love story, M. Other directors vying for the Innovation Award include Lav Diaz, Anahí Berneri, Michelange Quay, Lawrence Johnston, Christian Frosch, Alexander Voulgaris, Hiner Saleem (a personal favorite), Dorota Kedzierzawska, and the feature debut from Iranian director Naqi Nemati.

Those of you with an interest in Iranian cinema will be glad to know that Hana Makhmalbaf, the youngest member of the popular Makhmalbaf family and daughter of the great Mohsen Makhmalbaf, will be presenting her second feature film, Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, at the festival this year and looks to be an early favorite for the Artistic Innovation Award.

We'll know who won the award at the end of the festival in mid-September, and I can almost guarantee that I won't agree with the winner, but after all, what good is an uncontroversial award presentation? Keep it tuned to blogTO for more TIFF07 coverage in these last four weeks before the festival and during the festival itself.

(Photo: A crowd during TIFF 2006 by Sam Javanrough.)

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