Toronto On My Mind

by Djb September 12, 2008
Toronto International Film Festival

Tears for Sale was, in a word, freaking amazing, and it was this year's Film You Thought Would Be Too Weird And Foreign To Love But Was In Fact Totally More Accessible Than Most Hollywood Films But Better.

It is one of the biggest-budget Serbian films of all time, in which director Uros Stojanovic almost single-handedly revived a film industry that, outside of his movies, consist almost exclusively of government propaganda films. Tears for Sale is not a government propaganda film, but instead one the best Hollywood movies not to come out of Hollywood. And when quirky, hat-wearing Stojanovic admitted his naked ambition to escape Serbia and start making films in L.A....well, let's just say that if you're a bored customs official reading this at work, by all means LET THIS MAN IN. He could easily direct the next Harry Potter movie. Y'know, the one that would actually get released on time.

For the apparent enormous culture divide between America and Serbia, Tears for Sale is the shockingly accessible story of a Serbian village in 1918. All of the men have been killed in various wars, so the women are left to impregnate themselves by one old man named "Grandpa Bisa." When two sisters accidentally kill him, the village casts them out and gives them three days to return with a new man. End of act one.

Tears for Sale is incredibly directed, beautifully shot, wonderfully acted (with a stable of Serbian stage actors, most of whom are taking their first crack at film), and weaves a compelling narrative that keeps you engaged in the story from start to finish. The closest parallel I can think of is Pan's Labyrinth, where you spend the whole movie loving it so much you forget that there were subtitles when you're finished. You'll never see Tears for Sale, but if you happen to find yourself in Belgrade, hit up your closest Blockbuster and pick it up. You'll recognize it, because it will be the only movie there.

Our final film of the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival was The Dungeon Masters, a documentary about the men and women who run Dungeons and Dragons games. I know nothing of D&D (other than that my brother and his friends called it "D&D" when they played it growing up), and I still found it a completely absorbing film about the people who play the game (often) and the lives they live when they're not playing it (rarely).

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