GOES LOOKING FOR THINGS OUT OF LEFT FIELD; RECALLS BEING "QUITE STRUCK" BY 'RUN LOLA RUN'
A day before the start of this year's Toronto International Film Festival, The Globe And Mail's John Semley has posted a profile piece on Brian De Palma. Here's an excerpt:
While his birthday often falls in the middle of the festival – he’ll be 76 on Sept. 11 – he brushed off the idea that going to the festival is some kind of present to himself. Like pretty much everyone else at TIFF, De Palma is there for the movies. “I think it’s the best festival,” De Palma says over the phone from his home in East Hampton, “organized in order to see the most new and exciting films from all over the world, in the shortest possible time.”
It’s not uncommon to find De Palma slumped in a seat at the Scotiabank Cineplex, nodding through some Québécois indie-thriller or bolting for exits as soon as things get boring. “If I didn’t think the film was progressing in a way I thought was interesting,” he explains, “I just walk out and go to another one. Some days, I could see five or six films.”
This year, De Palma won’t be afforded the luxury of skedaddling for the lobby if a film doesn’t grab him in its opening reel. For TIFF 2016, he has been tapped to head the Platform jury, which awards $25,000 to the director of a film that, per TIFF’s press release, exhibits “high artistic merit.” Platform, which launched just last year, is billed as a programme that champions “directors’ cinema.” As a filmmaker known for his decadent, borderline-rococo high style – those split screens, the long takes, the resplendent, almost oozy, lensing of violence and obsession – De Palma seems like an ideal fit to lead the jury.
And as someone who’s been coming to TIFF since the early 1980s, back when it was still called “The Festival of Festivals,” De Palma also has an eye for emerging, independent talent. He distinctly remembers being “quite struck” by Run Lola Run when he saw it at TIFF in 1998, before it became a breakout, art-house hit. “I never went to the red carpet screenings unless a friend had a film in it,” he says. “I always went to see the ones that would probably never get distribution – not these big red carpet specials. I’m always more interested in things that are out of left field.”
Because of the sheer labour of watching films, especially with an eye toward judging them, De Palma hasn’t sat on a jury since the mid-1970s. But, he says, he felt a “special obligation” to TIFF after they hosted a massive retrospective of De Palma’s films at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this summer. “It’s always flattering to have a retrospective,” he says. “Most of the high points were included. And some of not-so-high points.” (In the latter camp he lumps two of his comedies: the 1972 Tommy Smothers vehicle Get To Know Your Rabbit, and the 1986 Joe Piscopo/Danny Devito Costa Nostra caper Wise Guys.)