"The Island President" and "Restoration" at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival
Menemsha Films is proud to present two films at this year's Toronto International Film Festival: The Island President, a stunning documentary from director Jon Shenk (making its World Premiere at TIFF), and Restoration, an award-winning Israeli drama from director Joseph Madmony.
Menemsha represents Restoration at TIFF as its North American distributor, and The Island President as its North American sales agent.
Continue reading for screening times, links and more information about these incredible films.
The Island President
Directed by Jon Shenk
World Premiere - Mavericks
Saturday September 10
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Screening followed by a live conversation with President Mohamed Nasheed and director Jon Shenk
President Mohamed Nasheed governs the small territory of the Maldives, but he’s capable of wielding a large influence over anyone who watches The Island President. Unlike most politicians, Nasheed is refreshingly blunt and unafraid to challenge conventional thinking. He spent two decades leading a pro-democracy movement against a cruel dictatorship in his country, suffering imprisonments and torture, until groundswell support got him elected president at age forty-one. Suddenly he found himself facing a new crisis: the possible extinction of his own country. The Maldives is composed of twelve hundred coral islands off the coast of India (of which two hundred are occupied). If ocean levels continue to rise at their current rate, the region will be submerged like a modern Atlantis.
In this Mavericks event, we present the world premiere of The Island President, followed by a live conversation with President Nasheed and director Jon Shenk. The film gains remarkable access to Nasheed’s first year in office as he sets out to influence the world’s superpowers. The story culminates at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, where we get a rare insider’s look at political deal-making. Though Copenhagen was judged by many as a failure, it marked the first time in history that China, India and the United States agreed to reduce carbon emissions. As we see in the film, Nasheed played a key role in brokering that decision.
The Island President combines stunning cinematography with the haunting music of Radiohead for an unforgettable journey. In most of the world, Nasheed still remains unknown. This film promises to help change that as more people are exposed to his charm and eloquence. Having gone from prison to presidency, he has a powerful will for overcoming hopeless situations. The Maldives, Nasheed says, are “a cross between paradise and paradise,” and he makes us feel deeply invested in their survival. After this encounter, you may come away wishing he was your president.
Restoration (Boker Tov Adon Fidelman)
Directed by Joseph Madmony
Contemporary World Cinema
Tuesday September 13
Scotiabank Theatre 3
Thursday September 15
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sunday September 18
Scotiabank Theatre 1
The images that open director Yossi Madmony’s Restoration show the film’s protagonist, seventy-year-old Yaakov (Sasson Gabai, The Band’s Visit), performing the same tasks that have occupied him for decades: sanding, polishing and piecing together aging furniture with great care and precision. Yaakov’s antique business is considered quaint, itself a sort of antique — customers typically express surprise that such a place still exists — so when his partner suddenly dies and Yaakov is left to deal with the finances, he’s the only one shocked to discover that the store is deep in debt.
Yaakov’s son Noah (Nevo Kimhi), with whom the old man maintains only a terse, chilly relationship, suggests that the building be converted into apartments, but Yaakov is determined to keep things the same at all costs. The store is the only life he knows, and it helps him maintain his rigorous solitude. His sole source of hope arrives when Anton (Henri David), the young man he’s hired to help out around the shop, discovers that the long-forgotten piano collecting dust in the back may be an extremely valuable Steinway. Meanwhile, the mysterious Anton — in a subplot that recalls Five Easy Pieces — may possess some suppressed talents that are also of great value. (Though Anton’s most troubling secret involves his attraction to Noah’s bored and very pregnant young wife.)
Suffusing many scenes with dusty, dusky light, and allowing subtle performances to dominate the film’s quiet emotional power, Madmony keeps the story moving at a deceptively brisk pace while giving screenwriter Erez Kav-El’s complicated and thematically dense script room to breathe. The antique business supplies the film with its premise as well as its essential theme: restoration is a way of preserving the past, but it’s also a way of covering it up. By the time we’ve reached this thoughtful film’s satisfying conclusion, the past has been reckoned with to a greater degree than anyone intended — which is, finally, the only way to look toward the future.
Visit The Island President page.
Visit the Restoration page.