People

Festival of Festivals

Marsha Boulton September 22 1980
People

Festival of Festivals

Marsha Boulton September 22 1980

Festival of Festivals

People

At week’s end Toronto’s fifth annual tribute to cinema, the Festival of Festivals, prepared to close with a bang-up bash climaxing a week best characterized by the title of the final film—Divine Madness. Madness, featuring Bette Midler, was actually taped during three concert sessions, and Midler hauls out all of her zany characters including “tacky Delores DeLago, the toast of Chicago” and costumes that vary from sequins to a wedding cake, which she sports while singing Chapel of Love. Afterward a party was arranged to wrap up the whole affair at a basement disco called Heaven. “Very, very tacky, but perfect,” summed up Paul Cooper of the a cappella group The Nylons, who were featured at the event.

The work and influence of French director Jean-Luc Godard were honored at the festival and the maestro consented to a public appearance following a screening of his 1959 film Breathless, featuring Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo. After being introduced as “the man who changed the language of film,” Godard demurely admitted: “I am still quite well known, despite the fact that all of my films are failures.”

Just when everything seemed to be going smoothly for the festival, Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal stole some of the thunder by announcing their wedding plans at the Venice Film Festival. Toronto, of course, had Lee Majors,

Fawcett’s ex-husband, attending the galas with ballerina Karen Kain and pausing for the occasional beer at parties with former CFDC president Michael McCabe. “It comes as no surprise. I wish them all the luck in the world,” said Majors when told of Fawcett’s plans. Of his “good friend” Kain, Majors was protective. “It’s quite a responsibility going out with Canada’s national treasure,” he said. “But then I was married to America’s.”

Two nights in a ro v actor James Coburn stood up to take a bow at galas for films in which he starred—Loving Couples and Mr. Patman\ three months ago he could barely sit up let alone stand. “I was in total agony,” he says of the months he spent suffering severe rheumatoid arthritis. “I had it in my hands, legs, ankles, feet, shoulders, neck and it was starting in my back. I tried hypnosis and it helped a little. Then I began a series of detoxification moves— high colonics and deep-rub massage. I had to do it all on my own though because doctors just say ‘Take this and you’ll be all right’or ‘You’ll just have to live with it.’ ” Coburn’s self-therapy worked “to a degree,” but he found that eating made him stiff. A food allergy test revealed that he had allergies to 47

of 150 test foods—most of them involving gluten. “I’m 70-per-cent better now and by next month I hope to be back to normal,” he says. “Now I recommend food allergy testing to anyone who has arthritis. My father died of arthritis and I’m sure no one ever asked him whether he thought it might have anything to do with his diet.”

One of the most unusual films of the festival was a 58-minute tribute to the senses by California film-maker Les Blank titled Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers. It also presented filmgoers with their first opportunity to experience “smell-o-vision,” unless they happened to have been among the handful of patrons who screened Scent of Mystery in 1960. Restaurateurs and garlic lovers Hy Rosenberg and Erwin Spetter sat at the back of the theatre surreptitiously cooking garlic in a toaster-oven and fanning the fumes into the air vents. Hy’s performance was halted by theatre officials. “They told me if I didn’t stop I’d be charged with disseminating garlic in a public place,” said Rosenberg, whose oven was confiscated though he was allowed to hold on to his raw “stinking roses.” Said Rosenberg: “Apparently there’s no law against simple possession of garlic.”

As usual among those attending the Trade Forum, there was a lot of talk about the quality of Canadian films and their contribution to the Canadian cultural identity. Stephen J. Roth, co-producer of Suzanne, expressed his views succinctly when he noted: “Crap is an essential part of the culture.”

One of the few hundreds of festivalites attending U.S. Consul General Frederick Smith’s after-gala party following the screening of Resurrection

was comic Howie Mandel. The party was held on the second-floor mezzanine of Bloor Street’s trendy Colonnade complex and Mandel enjoyed it because he could “window-shop and talk shop” at the same time. “I play a religious fanatic, no particular religion,” Mandel explained as he hyped his role in the film Tulips with Bernadette Peters and Gabe Kaplan, which was filmed last year in Montreal and is now in the refining stages, so much so that whole scenes are being added. Mandel may have gotten mileage out of the party, but the celebrities left early. In fact, Consul General Smith left during the opening hour. James Coburn tried to leave but found himself boxed in by fans at the top of the escalator. Ellen Burstyn was the fastest out. Five minutes after going up the escalator, she was headed down. “I don’t like parties in shopping malls,” she said.

iflAfho is that woman?’’was the VV most often asked question of this year’s festival, as well as last year’s. The answer was Irina Maleeva, a 29year-old Bulgarian-Italian actress prone to gilded party clothes, who was introduced to the festival by organizer “accomplices” Joan and Dusty Cohl. Unbeknownst to most, Maleeva has acted in a number of well-known films, including Frederico Fellini’s Satyricon, and had two films showing in Toronto last week. One was Kidnap Syndicate which she made in Italy two years ago with James Mason, and the other was Union City starring Blondie’s Deborah Harry, which had its North American premiere at the festival. “I play a crazy lady who lives next door,” she explained. North American audiences should be able to recognize Maleeva more readily when she finishes work on Dance for Me, the story of a defecting Russian ballerina. “It’s another crazy, fun story,” said Maleeva before returning to New York to work on her second record album, the sequel to her discojazz success I Want Your Body.

At the Trade Forum, panelists and delegates discussing “The Future for Independent Films” bemoaned Canadian producers who seem more interested in tax shelters than cinema. “There’s no real need to recover the money,” noted Quebec actress-turnedfilm-maker Micheline Lanctôt, whose film The Handyman received a standing ovation. Panelists displayed open admiration of the Australian film industry, which has produced such “quality” films as My Brilliant Career and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. The illusion of idyllic life Down Under was quickly dispelled by Aussie film-maker Albie Thoms, who pointed out that only 10 per cent of the country’s films see

international distribution and the government is “ready to compromise.” It’s so bad, said Thoms, “some producers are going to New Zealand to get away.”

According to the Ontario government, $90 million worth of TV movies and programs were filmed in the province last year. “That represented $500 million in economic benefits,” said Duncan Allan, assistant deputy minister of the province’s department of industry and tourism. Allan raised nationalist eyebrows at the Trade Forum by insisting that ‘/jobs at any cost are all the province is interested in, not in helping Canadians get a major share of ' fior d nr eût Cmt¿

the movies made with Canadian money.”' Allan also indicated that he believes audiences don’t give a hoot about where the movies they watch are made because “people go to the movies to be entertained and do a little necking.”

The hottest film of the festival may not have been film but videotape. During a taped Trade Forum panel discussion, producer Bill Marshall and writer Mordecai Richler engaged in a debate that Marshall characterized as a “vindictive personal vendetta.” Richler started the verbal slugfest by charging that Canada’s movie industry is filled with “unbelievably bad taste and larded with greed.” Marshall then charged Richler with living off the film rights of his books, even though films aren’t necessarily made. Richler countered with a comment about Marshall’s production of “home movies that won’t get distributed.” Marshall, who has produced Mr. Patman and Circle of Two in the past year, took low aim and said: “Mordecai Richler. I buy his book every time he writes it.” Richler, however, maintained total control and got off this biting comment on the state of the art: “If Meatballs made money last year, so did Hamburger Helper and Kleenex.” The audience booed, catcalled and cheered throughout. “He was hysterical and savage,” whined Marshall in retreat at the hospitality suite.

fflAf e lived together for years, but we VW decided to get married anyway,” laughed a recently wed Sally Kellerman, who dropped into Toronto for a few hours to see Head On. Though she claims that her “partnership” with Jonathan Krane is “one of complete independence,” Krane begs to differ. “Sally, you are the most dependent female I know,” he says. “Okay, okay,” demurred Kellerman, “but I still say I’m as single as I was before—except for the sex.”

ff ÊL 11 of us who are alive are positive #%proof of this good aspect of the war,” explained Belgian-born filmmaker Myriam Abramowicz, whose 85minute documentary film As If It Were Yesterday deals with the contribution the Belgian people made by hiding 4,000 Jewish children from the Germans. Working with Parisian artist Esther Hoffenberg, Abramowicz tracked down hundreds of survivors over a three-year period, and everywhere they show their film they are greeted by people who are intimately touched by the effort. Still, Yesterday failed to draw headlines or even mention at the festival. “It’s not an easy subject,” acknowledged a disappointed Abramowicz, “but it hurts to see what gets applause and what gets millions of dollars at this kind of gathering.” Edited by Marsha Boulton