David Walsh at the Toronto International Film Festival

World Socialist Web Site arts editor David Walsh attended the 23rd Toronto International Film Festival, which ran September 10 through 19. At this year's event, the largest held in North America, organizers screened some 311 films from 53 countries.

As always, the festival was a contradictory affair, a mix of art and commerce, authenticity and public relations. The aim of our coverage will be to bring some of the more interesting works to the attention of the widest possible audience.

A number of films stood out this year. Among the more compelling and illuminating were veteran Japanese director Shohei Imamura's Dr. Akagi and the first feature by Iran's Samira Makhmalbaf (eighteen years old), The Apple.

Other remarkable works included Darezhan Omirbaev's portrait of the moral state of post-Soviet Kazakhstan, Killer; Hou Hsiao-Hsien's exquisite Flowers of Shanghai; Abolfazl Jalili's Dance of Dust from Iran; The Silence, directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf; from Mali, Abderrahmane Sassako's Life on Earth; Tsai Ming-liang's The Hole, set on the eve of the twenty-first century in Taipei; French filmmaker Eric Rohmer's Autumn Tale; and My Name is Joe by Ken Loach.

Also of some significance were Santosh Sivan's The Terrorist, about a would-be suicide bomber; West Beirut, by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri; the Taviani brothers' Tu Ridi; and Pecker, by John Waters, among others. Needless to say, few of these films will receive significant distribution.

The WSWS coverage was undertaken in four parts, from September 29 to October 9, 1998.


  • Part 1: A comment on the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival
  • Part 2:
    Dr. Akagi ; Dance of Dust ; Flowers of Shanghai
  • Part 3:
    Killer ; 2000 seen by ; Life on Earth ; Book of Life ; The Hole ; Trans ; Pecker ; Autumn tale
  • An interview with Tsai Ming-liang, director of The Hole
  • Part 4:
    The Apple ; The Silence ; The Terrorist ; My Name is Joe ; Eternity and a Day
  • An interview with the director, Santosh Sivan, and leading actress, Ayesha Dharkar, of The Terrorist
  • See Also:
    On what should the new cinema be based?
    [17 June 1996]