The Toronto Film Festival, still apparently shaken to the core by actor Sean Penn’s obscene and deeply subversive act of lighting up a smoke at the event last year, has decided to kick off this year’s festival with some public bowing and scraping. Grant money is clearly at stake.

After the government sent out a warning letter to the festival reminding it that anyone caught smoking will be fined, organizers responded with an embarassingly obsequious press release.

“The Toronto International Film Festival has always and will continue to adhere to policies and laws set out by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. We are aware of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and will do everything in our power to uphold this law."

Quite an impressive statement, and one that should buy ass-coverage insurance for the festival for some time to come. Not much room left for bohemian nonconformity or individual defiance in the artistic community these days. Not only does the festival pledge to adhere to the laws from all levels of Canadian government, it faithfully pledges adherence to the “policies”. Yikes. Any policy, any time, anywhere that’s concocted by a regulatory or legislative body or municipal council nationwide is by (their own) definition wise and lovable to these courageous festival organizers. As to the law, it’s not just a matter of obeying it, the festival vows to uphold it. With “everything in our power”, no less. Such language is usually reserved for describing the role of law enforcement and the justice system.

All this cringing cowardice over a measly $605 fine at an event where the scent of multi-millions is in the air. If the fine were a couple of thou, we’d no doubt be treated to the spectacle of festival organizers dropping off the top of the CN tower like suicidal lemmings.

Anyone up for a screening of Triumph of the Will?



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