TIFF #4: Memories

If I haven’t said it before, allow me to say it now: seeing one film a day is terribly relaxing. There’s no wild sprinting from one theater to another, no skipping meals, no end-of-day exhaustion. It’s the leisurely way to festival, and I have to say I may adopt this program again next year.

On Tuesday, I had a single screening – the fascinating documentary Ahead of Time (7/8), which profiles Ruth Gruber, her work as a journalist and her unprecedented coverage of the Jewish-refugee experience after WWII. Filled with amazing archival footage, much of which was shot by Gruber herself, the film examines her richly textured life and the accomplishments she amassed (including earning her PhD at 20!)… and it only covers her achievements up until about age 36. Still whip smart at 97 (!), Gruber reflects on the people and places that shaped her, and watching her revisit her past – both the painful and the profound – is incredibly moving. At only 75 minutes, the film felt too short and I would have happily sat there for another hour or more.

As an aside, there’s also a really lovely song that plays over the closing credits. It’s called “Memory,” written by Reuben Chess and David Dawda, and you can hear it here.

Now, as I’ve mentioned in previous TIFF diaries, I often find myself sitting next to weird people. And, last year, we dubbed these folks The Creepertons. Well, when I arrived inside the theater hosting Ahead of Time, it was empty. I chose my favourite seat, and sat down for a spell. The entire area around me was vacant. I put my bag on my chair, left to use the washroom and returned to see that all the seats around me were STILL empty… save for the one RIGHT next to mine, which was now occupied by Edgar Creeperton.

Not two seats over, not in the row in front of me… RIGHT beside me.

Edgar is a fest veteran and friend of Mouthy Martha and he’s older (60s) and weird and just gives off an energy that doesn’t jive with mine. And there he was upon my return. Planted in the spot beside mine. I literally took two seconds to assess the situation – did I really want to sit next to him? did I want to risk Mouthy Martha showing up and joining him? – then picked up my bag and moved farther down into the row.

“Oh,” said Edgar. “Are you moving?”

“Yep,” said I, as I walked to the opposite end of the row… which, if I can reiterate, was completely empty. As were the rows ahead. And I don’t care if he thought it was rude, because I thought his behavior was creepy and I had no interest in socializing. Sorry.

And, once I’d moved, I looked back to see that Edgar had moved into my vacated seat which, I suspect, might have been his plan all along.

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