The day before the film screening of “1982“, I met the director, Tommy Oliver at the Hello Canada party. We chatted about films and my interviews with various directors and actors in the industry. We had a great conversation and Tommy personally invited me to his premiere screening. I was delighted and took on the offer to cover the event and watched his film at TIFF. In “1982”, the cast included Wayne Brady, Hill Harper, Sharon Leal, Ruby Dee, Bokeem Woodbine, Troi Zee, Lala Anthony and Quinton Aaron.
The moment I arrived at Isabel Bader Theatre, I was impressed with the turnout, there were large crowd of people everywhere waiting to enter for the screening. I had done a number of interviews at Isabel Bader Theatre and I like this building alot. It’s a modern, stylish building located in the heart of the University of Toronto but also closed to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). They formed a great artistic community around the area.
As I walked on the red carpet, I was greeted by the PR of the film and I immediately saw Tommy Oliver. I thanked him for the invitation. As I walked through the crowd, I realized that Tommy had assigned my seat to be sitting with the rest of the casting crew. Honestly, I totally didn’t expect this coming but 3 rows of seats were reserved for the cast so we had a great view of the stage and the screen. A few minutes later, the cast began to make their way and sat around me. I saw a little girl who had a big role in this film. Her name is Troi Zee, who played the daughter in this film (you got to remember her name because this girl can act and will have a bright future). Some of the casts were here at the premiere to support the film as well as providing their insights during the Q & A session. Hill Harper, Sharon Leal and Lala Anthony were on hand.
As you all know, I am a huge Raptors and NBA fan. For a second, I couldn’t believe my eyes, in came a tall, 6’9 man who wore a nice blue, stylish suit and sat one row in front of me. Guess who? That was Knicks Superstar, Carmelo Anthony. I tapped his shoulder and said, “Carmelo, welcome to Toronto but what are you doing here at TIFF?” Anthony replied, “I am here at TIFF because my wife, Lala is part of the film and I am here to support my wife and the film”. I think that was very sweet of him and just think of a second for me to be able to watch the entire 90 minutes of the film with a superstar that was sitting so close to me. That was unbelievable!
Before the screening began, TIFF Artistic Director, Cameron Bailey began his opening speech, greeting the audience and then introduced Director Tommy and his film 1982. Tommy greeted the audience and then introduced some of the casts that were also on hand. Tommy briefly describe the film to the audience but without further adieu, he said the film speaks for itself and he would let the audience enjoy the story.
The story of 1982 took place in Philadelphia, it was also the hometown of where Director, Tommy spend his early childhood life. This story, apparently was based on a true story and some part of the plot was experienced by Tommy himself. Hill Harper plays Tim, a devoted husband to Shenae (Sharon Leal), and a responsible father of the ten-year- old Maya (Troi Zee). Lala Anthony plays a good friend of Shenae. When Maya realized a rocking rift in her parents’ relationship, she thought her mother is having an affair. What Maya didn’t know was that Shenae has fallen too deep into the addiction of drugs and was controlled by a dangerous local pusher (Wayne Brady). So Shenae left her husband and daughter behind and only came in periodically to get money for more drugs. A devastated Tim, meanwhile, trying to stay calm, shielding Maya from the reality of her mother’s addiction, continue to be a good father to Maya, while trying to cope and find ways to save Shenae from falling deeper into the addiction.
This film touched on lots of sensitive topics and I admired and applauded the performance by the casts. Troi Zee, in particular, impressed me because at such a young age, I was impressed with the way she act and the way she handled the touchy topics in the film. It isn’t easy but as she summed it up during the Q &A session, Maya is a deep person. In alot of films, directors would normally take the easy way out and portrait the husband as being mentally breakdown, turning into a crazy person and turned into negative character, especially after seeing how his wife turned into an addict. Not in 1982, Tommy chose to show the stronger side of Tim in this film. Despite dealing with his wife’s strong drug addict, shielding Maya from the negatives stuff and to confront the local pusher isn’t an easy task. Yet, Tim was calm and have a strong mental toughness to deal with everything that comes at him. I applaud the character development by Tommy.
All-in-all, this is a great film and I highly recommend it. The setting and the technology being shown in the film clearly showed the large amount of research Tommy did to portrait what a Philadelphia neighbourhood was like. If you want to know the ending, you got to watch 1982. After the film, there was Q & A session to allow the audience to interact and ask the cast questions. It was a worthwhile session to get to know the cast as well as their mindset when they played those characters in the film.
I thank Tommy for personally invited me to see his premiere film, 1982! It was worthwhile and an eye opener to his amazing directing skills at his young age in his film, 1982. I look forward to seeing more great projects from Tommy in the near future! After the film, I got to chat a bit with Carmelo and took a photo with him. That was awesome experience! Watching 1982 was actually my top 3 TIFF experience this year at TIFF13.
Cool TIFF Moments at 1982:
- Watching 1982 with Knicks superstar, Carmelo Anthony sitting one row in front of me was quite an unbelievable experience
- Hill Harper, sitting along the stairs aisle near me for the entire film was interesting. There was a seat in one of the rows but he didn’t want to cause a scene and distract the audience, he decided to sit along the aisle instead. That’s how calm and down-to-earth he is, never use the “do you know who i am card”. I appreciate that.
- Having Director, Tommy sitting near me at the aisle before his name was called to the stage for the Q & A session was cool as well