The Film Programme in Toronto with Terence Stamp
Editor's note: This week Francine Stock presents The Film Programme from The Toronto International Film Festival; she catches up with Terence Stamp, soon to be seen in a new film alongside Vanessa Redgrave, Song for Marion. You can hear The Film Programme on Thursdays at 4pm and repeated on Sundays at 11pm.
Francine Stock and Terence Stamp at The Toronto Film Festival
Eavesdropping at festivals is always intriguing - people talking up their projects, chewing over the commercial records ('The Expendables' was really cute for us in Germany') and sucking their gums at the prospects, ('Cloud Atlas - at 2 hours 43 minutes, you've sliced the box-office in half, just one showing a day!'). These snippets can be more bizarre and snappy than anything you hear onscreen.
It may not have the pouting starlets (or, this year, the torrential rain) of Cannes or the architecture and gravitas of Berlin but the Toronto Film Festival (known locally as TIFF) is big and approachable. It's a bear-hug of a festival. And it probably shows more films that may actually be found in cinemas in Britain sometime soon. Most of the screenings here are within walking distance of the elegant new TIFF building, the Lightbox, which hosts smaller festivals and regular screenings round the year. The volunteers in their orange t-shirts sporting slogans for the festival (where epic meets indie, where OMG meets WTF etc ) are cheery even late at night as you stagger out, grey and puffy-eyed.
Grey is this year's colour, though. After decades of believing that cinema was just for the under-25s, the industry has realised that a combination of the demographic bulge and changing technology means that the people most likely to go out and spend in the evenings may not be kids. And older people demand a different kind of film, one perhaps with more talking, fewer explosions and the odd face that hasn't been immobilized or pumped up by cosmetic toxins.
As luck (or talent) would have it, some of those films are British - The King's Speech, which premiered here two years ago is the recent exemplar. This year at Toronto, there are several - among them Hyde Park on Hudson (FDR meets George VIth) Quartet, a tale of retired opera singers directed by Dustin Hoffman but with a cast including Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Tom Courtenay, Sally Potter's intimate, atmospheric Ginger and Rosa about friends growing up under the threat of the Bomb in the early sixties and the film that will show as the Closing Gala on Sunday, Song for Marion.
This casts Terence Stamp opposite Vanessa Redgrave - a juxtaposition of some of the finest bone structure onscreen in the past half century - as a couple coping with ageing and the inevitable separation that follows. They've never made a film together before, although they might have done had Stamp played the lead in Blow-Up (1966) as Antonioni originally intended. Or indeed sung along as Lancelot with Redgrave as Guinevere in Camelot (1967). There's no glamour in the setting for Song for Marion - a modest bungalow - and neither of them shrinks from looking their age. But then again, they are both, in their seventies, strikingly handsome.
Francine Stock presents The Film Programme on BBC Radio 4