It’s Amir here, reporting on a couple of films I saw at the David Cronenberg exhibition currently held at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. As the biggest Canadian director working in cinema today, the master of body horror is held in high esteem in national circles. This comprehensive tribute to his body of work is a tremendous showcase for a filmmaker whose work has done a major service to the Canadian film industry over the past three decades.
Running alongside the exhibition that includes all things Cronenberg like film memorabilia, set props and a life-size mugwump, Long Live the Flesh also hosts screenings of the director’s films with lectures and Q&A sessions. I had the chance to attend two of these events: a screening of Naked Lunch introduced by David Cronenberg and his longtime producing partner Jeremy Thomas (Oscar winner for The Last Emperor) and my first big screen experience with his seminal science fiction film, The Fly, which was followed by a Q&A with the film’s Oscar-winning make-up artist Stephan Dupuis. Both conversations were illuminating though the films didn’t quite affect me in equal measure.
Naked Lunch, adapted from the William S. Burroughs novel of the same name, is one of the more personal projects in Cronenberg’s canon, born of his passion for the writer’s work. Cronenberg described the film as both a dream-come-true for allowing him the opportunity to adapt one of his personal favorite novels, but also one that made him extremely anxious as he felt the necessity to get the Burroughsian elements just right. Asked if adapting the supposedly unfilmable novel was a difficult task, Cronenberg referred to the project as one of the easiest screenplays he’s written for the way Burroughs’ prose and his dialogue transfers itself directly to the screen.