TIFF ’11 Blog: Sunday at the CFC BBQ, ‘Anonymous’ press conference

by W. Andrew Powell
Rafe Spall at the TIFF 2011 press conference for Anonymous

Every year, I lament the number of movies I actually get to see at the Toronto Film Festival–and this year is no different–but the highlights still outweigh everything else.

Sunday was no exception.

There were screenings I wanted to get to, but short of time, I had to skip them so I could get to the Canadian Film Centre BBQ before all the food was gone and it was too packed to move.

For the last 23 years, the CFC BBQ has been celebrating the festival, but year-by-year the BBQ has been growing, and it’s now one of the biggest day-time industry events at TIFF. Best of all, the BBQ is a fundraiser for the CFC and its filmmaking initiatives, so the event is a good cause for Canada’s film industry and future filmmakers.

In attendance this year was, as always, CFC Founder Norman Jewison; in addition to TIFF Rising Stars Sarah Allen, Sarah Gadon, Keon Mohajeri and Katie Boland; Aaron Ashmore; Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of famed musician Bob Marley, and her mother, Sharon Marley; Tattiawna Jones; Yannick Bisson; and The Midway State was on-stage performing.

There were likely a lot more stars there, not to mention a pile of industry and press, but it’s such a big, free-flowing event, it’s not really possible to track down all the stars who might be there, and that’s not really the point, at least not for me.

Heading back downtown, I followed up the BBQ with the press conference for blockbuster-disaster director Roland Emmerich’s latest film, Anonymous, where actors Rhys Ifans, Rafe Spall, Joely Richardson, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Xavier Samuel chatted about the film and the history behind it.

The story can’t exactly be confirmed, at least not yet, but many people, and a number of scholars included, question whether Shakespeare was really such a significant author. As Emmerich and his cast pointed out, from the research they did, Shakespeare appeared out of nowhere, has no record of being properly schooled, and there are a number of similarities between his writing and the work of other writers at the time. Emmerich’s film looks at those other writers and draws conclusions about who Shakespeare was, and whether he really was the genius we imagine him to be today.

With Rafe Spall, the actor who plays William Shakespeare, providing an ongoing comic sidebar, the press conference was very entertaining, although the highlight would have to be Emmerich clearing up why he took on the project in the first place, considering his pedigree with disaster films. As he explained it, the film offered the opportunity to recreate Victorian-era England in detail, and the majority of that was accomplished with special effects, which was clearly a field that Emmerich knows very well.

Now I’m working to get my notes together from the day, and get photos posted since tomorrow is another busy day, starting with the screening for Shame, followed by interviews with director Steve McQueen and star Michael Fassbender, and later on, the red carpet for 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen.

Rafe Spall at the TIFF 2011 press conference for Anonymous

Rafe Spall at the TIFF 2011 press conference for Anonymous

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