Greetings from (virtual) Toronto,

Columbia’s streets are dotted with ranch houses built in the two decades immediately following World War II — like some of you reading this, I live in one of them. At some point in the life of my house, perhaps inspired by sitcom television or Bob Villa, its basement was converted into what some would call a rumpus room. Its funky linoleum floors and low ceilings had, up until this point, been a place for our toddler to run wild on rainy days, but with international travel still in disarray, and with the wonders of technology, my humble rumpus room has become a prestige venue at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In six days, I’ve mainlined close to twenty films and likely twice as many cups of coffee. While I can’t divulge much of what I’ve been able to see just yet, there are two major takeaways from my experience thus far: Films can be wonderful, and a TV is not a movie theater.

Jessica Chastain as "Tammy Faye Bakker" in the film THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Luckily, we don’t have to wait very long to experience some of Toronto’s offerings together the way they’re meant to be enjoyed. This Friday, hot on the heels of its premiere this past weekend, we open The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Comedian, actor, and director Michael Showalter’s sweeping biography of the American televangelist is more than just a vehicle for Jessica Chastain’s knock-out performance. On its surface, the film is an indictment of the hypocrisy and greed at the core of a faith-based media empire, and the rigid men — Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, and Jim Bakker — behind it. But it is the empathy that Showalter brings to his Tammy Faye as she pierces through the superficiality of her male contemporaries that sets the film apart. Did I mention that it's funny? 

On the topic of experiencing film together, next Thursday at 7pm, with the help of the Daniel Boone Regional Library’s One Read program, we will be showcasing a series of experimental short films that respond — directly or through something like dream logic — to some of the themes central to both To Kill a Mockingbird and The Furious Hours. The program is free, and seating is limited as we will be removing seats to project some of the films in their original 16mm format. We’re calling it Associative Reactions, and you’re invited.
Let’s think abstractly together, friends.