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Pride or insecurity at the Toronto festival? “I don’t know, you tell me”

September 18, 2010

FILM-TORONTO/If there’s one thing the (mostly local) media seems to do well at the Toronto International Film Festival,  it’s pestering filmmakers and stars with questions about Canada, Toronto, and the festival.

Call it the Sally Field complex.

There have been some lovely and flattering comments, of course — this is a film festival, after all. But what happens when the media doesn’t get the answer they want? They’re nothing if not persistent. Undaunted. Like a dog with a bone.

But if we’re squirming in our seats a bit by the third question, knowing they really have nothing especially enlightening to say, it’s really time to move on, no?

One local reporter clearly tested Robert De Niro’s patience during the press conference for “Stone”. De Niro offered some nice, polite words about the festival (“it’s a big festival, and a very good one obviously”), but admitted he hadn’t attended in over a decade and was only in town for just the day. The reporter doggedly pressed him no less than three times for his thoughts on TIFF. De Niro — not exactly known for his loquaciousness — seemed to search for words. Finally, he just said to the reporter: ”I don’t know, you tell me.”

At the press conference for “Henry’s Crime”, which stars Keanu Reeves (introduced as “Toronto’s own”), reporters almost seemed a tad bit more interested in Keanu himself and his thoughts on the city (he grew up in Toronto with his mother and sisters — but he left roughly 25 years ago) than in the movie, for which he was also producer.

FILM-TORONTO/The first question out of the block was: what are your coming and going rituals whenever you visit the city? (He has none.) Any favorite haunts? (Not really.)

Later: Any plans to do homegrown content or endorse filmmakers in Canada? (He has no particular Canadian “agenda”.) What’s your favorite restaurant in Toronto? (No particular favorite, though there are lots of good places to eat.)

About 25 minutes into the conference, Keanu asks: “Is that it?” Moderator: “You’re not off the hook, yet.”

So, is this just Toronto-centric navel-gazing? A quaint pride in a little festival that now rivals the best of them? Or just plain stereotypical self-conscious Canadian insecurities? (And yes, the irony of this blog post has been duly noted.)

(Additional reporting by Cameron French)

(Caption: (T0p) Actor Robert De Niro attends a press conference to promote the film Stone during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival September 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Fred Thornhill (Bottom) Actor Keanu Reeves attends a news conference to promote the film “Henry’s Crime” during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival, September 14, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

Comments

What a shame the journos couldn’t have formulated a question or two about the movie and its production process. Mr Reeves has never discussed his private life; can’t imagine he’s going to start now. The premise of this movie looks good – pity we haven’t been told much about it. Don’t reporters train to ask searching questions these days? Or perhaps all we care about is where a movie star eats? Sigh…

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