It is September 11, 2012. The previous year I visited the former 9/11 Twin Towers site in New York City, I brought a letter to make an official statement of reflection and rebirth for all people concerned. Yet this year I sit in the heart of Yorkville, quite purposefully at Bellair, recording a video in relation to the Toronto International Film Festival on the topic of the role of spy agencies within global communications and feature films.
Most celebrities require the unofficial fortification of a massive entity as a spy agency, religious group, political or corporate body for example, in order to ever think to engage feature films with worldwide distribution. These groups then battle one another in the more public arena of movie screens worldwide, and thereby gain valuable PR, territory, or even commence or cease social wars to mention a few applications.
Within this segment of the video, I start with the fact that I was born into numerous top secret entities, and I am the only one that has taken on the near impossible route of a public face and voice.
Within my immediate family, my father Robert was with the Department of National Defense. There are CIA operatives. United Nations ambassadors, advisors, and Royalty for a few examples. The most fun example is Kryptos. My family founded Sudbury Ontario that inspired Smallville and Kryptos of the Superman comics.
Just south of Sudbury is Toronto, that is where the first Superman comic was published, in the Toronto Star. The Toronto Star building was the image of the initial Daily Planet, where Toronto served as the first Metropolis. Kryptos is the Latin root for the term that ‘something is hidden’. To offer an example of the ability of Kryptos to be hidden, a statue was placed out front of the CIA Headquarters in Langley VA, that is entitled ‘Kryptos’ for fun, and is a bit of a lark for them. The CIA agents as well have fun trying to solve the puzzle of the Kryptos statue, some of them have websites on it, and to date none of them have been successful. My family founded the region that inspired that statue, so now you know a secret that the CIA have yet to figure out.
I complete my video and glance at my mobile, and a text awaits me from an intriguing phone number. It has my beloved 474 Mason Lodge of EmPress Victoria, that is in Toronto within it. I have been invited to cover the screening of ‘Inescapable’ at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), yet I have to arrive to the gala venue within thirty minutes. The term ‘cape’ of the title is not lost on me, and I agree, knowing no more than that. I reply that I am en route, and take off immediately.
I had debated covering the film festival as press in 2012 for some time. In truth the heart of the festival had always been with the systems that fortify my own world here in Toronto. Yet with any place, when a foreign entity throws a ton of money at something in order to get a stronghold within another political sphere, the heart of the true venture has been lost. Covering the festival as press, I feel that some of that heart is regained, yet the situation still sits bitter within.
I run up to the box office to gain my ticket. ‘Hi there, I am Clark. Kelly has a ticket for me.’ ‘Your name is Kelly Clark?’ I am asked several times. ‘Mmm, I have relatives that were Kelly, yet no, that is not my name’ I state. One Kelly relative of mine in truth, had Top Secret clearance in the United States with the first space missions and nuclear submarines that used to live in Julian, California. I gain my ticket from Kelly, and head in just in time. Purposefully, I sit in row 11, and find that I am between chairs named for J. Langley and Robert Whittier on both sides of me, and quite satisfied with my selection, I settle in.
The CEO of TIFF, Piers Handling, heads onto the stage to introduce this night’s gala presentation, along with “Inescapable“‘s producers, director Ruba Nadda, actors Alexander Siddig, Joshua Jackson, Marisa Tomei amongst others, and uncharacteristically the crew as well, that I found refreshing.
The first AD whispers to Ruba to mention the DOP that was unable to attend, Luc Montpellier. Luc is a former classmate of mine where I studied film at Ryerson on Bond and Victoria Streets in Toronto. Ryerson became a University the year that I required it to, and James Cameron received his honorary degree the year I graduated. Luc as I remember, has a personality that makes everyone at ease. The crew, actors, and director could all be functioning under severe strain, yet he will merely smile, be calm, and everything is set right. Luc is from Sudbury as well, and so is one degree of separation from the tumultuous world that I have to deal with.
I quickly read up on the summary of “Inescapable.” It is of a man that was a former agent of the Syrian Military Police, that never tells his family of his involvement when he moves to Toronto, Canada. His daughter, a press reporter, unknowingly returns to the city of his origin, to learn more of her family roots. In the process she is swiftly stolen away, likely by the Military body that he had fled, and her father must break into the country and find her by any means possible.
“Inescapable” speaks to the fact that when one comes from a background of a government agency, that world is truly Inescapable. Yes, I could see why it may be proper that I am covering this screening, and more so on this date. I, in fact cover a tremendous amount of feature films in the industry, many that are political challenges in particular, yet this is my first within a public venue. The film industry is my Lois Lane in many ways.
More than that, the Syrian conflict has been a primary concern of mine for near to a year, and so my immediate attention is to the safety of this quite brave venture for the director.
Ruba, a Toronto resident, is a lovely woman that has taken on this challenge of Middle East politics applied to North American experience, previously with the production “Cairo Time.”
“Cairo Time,” for me, is a ‘make nice’ film of two political groups that traditionally clash within the territory of Alexandria Egypt. There is the legacy of Alexander the Great of Rome, and Queen and Empress Victoria from Kent, her original name being Alexandrina, that as well represents the God Victoria of war and competition of Rome.
“Ciaro Time” with Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig, who also stars in “Inescapable,” play two characters that meet for the first time and fall into an unexpected love affair, when she first visits Egypt to meet with her husband Mark. Luc was the DOP on “Cairo Time” as well, and in truth the film was created with a sense of intelligence and sensibility that I quite frankly did not expect. Too often when there are two opposing political entities that meet in a love affair film, one of them is subtly stabbing the other in the back and making them seem foolish by having them agree to partake in events that are not of their own interest. “Cairo Time” appears more based between two people that have respect for one another and themselves in integrity, and find that they have more in common and an interest in one another than they expected.
The lights dim and the film commences to an audience wearing high end red carpet fashion, to genuine movie lovers that have barely made it through the doors after running to the venue after work. “Inescapable” starts with what feels to be somewhat shaky filmmaking at first, yet is swift to settle into a riveting venture of storytelling.
The Syria that we visit within the feature is pre- Arab Spring, and thereby offers a more fluid setting for the plot to unfold within. We are brought into a Syria that is more metropolitan and maneuverable, with pockets of a mysterious world in religion and a vibrant night life to be explored.
When Alexander’s character, Adib, first enters Syria, he is met with Fatima, played by a favorite of mine, Marisa Tomei. She is completely transformed into a bold and sensual Syrian former agent. That transformation is so genuine, and by use of no more than her own talents as an actor, it is as fascinating as it is seamless, as one just as quickly forgets that they are seeing Marisa within the film at all.
Adib, being outside of the system, balances politics, investigation, and patience as he pushes his way forth to gain answers as to his daughter’s captors.
Joshua Jackson’s character, is a refreshing counter balance and figure within the film that grounds some context for the western audience. His performance is instinctive, and does not play up his obvious ability to gain trust in his natural approachability, nor plays too menacingly as some actors may have, when his character is threatened and aggressive.
The storytelling offers a bit of sensibility that we do not often see in spy films. It does not offer over the top rooftop chase scenes, gadgets made to hack the central computer, nor bulletproof vehicles. This is storytelling that offers some intelligent approaches to what could be a highly disastrous situation, yet still with action scenes in tow.
Ruba, as with “Cairo Time,” builds a refreshing love affair within “Inescapable” that is not a physical exploration, but it also exudes intimacy and familiarity. There are some very powerful moments of performance in the film, with the final scene in particular. Taking into account the fact that the actors had not worked together on screen previously but present a natural chemistry also speaks to a a level of sophistication and talent.
In a personal sense I related to the film a good deal. I cannot remember the last time I had a regular day when I walked out of my front door, and had not been met with people related to my own political sphere, or others that oppose it. In truth any travel abroad must be fortified enormously, and this feature is quite telling to people that live that form of life.
At the same time, many of us in film production that bring a public voice to the enormously challenged political arenas are fortified within this inescapable world.
With that, I must complete this article with well wishing and love to the people of New York and abroad on this day.