Toronto International Film Festival 2010What a great film festival. Maybe it’s how lovely Toronto is in September. Maybe it’s the enthusiastic audiences. Maybe it’s the great restaurants. Or maybe it’s how the festival treats otherwise art-house fare like big blockbusters. These are just a few of the reasons I have always loved the Toronto International Film Festival over the many years I attended. (Really, the best thing about the festival is how it achieves a balance between commercial and quality with such great finesse.)

Time and life have interceded, and it’s been a few years since I’ve been there. But when I look at the documentary slate that Thom Powers & Co. have compiled, it just makes me shake my head in awe. I want to take a look at some of the most notable films on the list, but before I do, allow me to make one very selfish plea: Why does the festival have to happen when the first week of school begins? Don’t any of you people have children? As a concerned father, I don’t like to abandon my kids during this time of need. Can anyone else relate? Please, you heartless Canadians, move the festival back one week into mid-September!

Anyway, for now, let’s take a look at this fest feast:

POV Blog - Springsteen, Cover of "Darkness at the Edge of Town" AlbumThe Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town: Of all the fiction and non-fiction films, this documentary by Thom Zimny is getting some of the most buzz because of its subject matter: A trip into the studio with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for the recording of their fourth album. The Boss will be on hand to celebrate, and this rock doc will be the hottest ticket in town.

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer: ?OK, so Alex Gibney‘s exposé of the sex scandal that rocked New York’s governor has been seen before in a rougher version, but the film is complete and it’s a near lock for an Oscar nomination.

Inside Job: The much-anticipated sophomore effort from Charles Ferguson will do for the financial crisis what his No End in Sight did for the Iraq war: Tell it like it is.

Tabloid: ?The master Errol Morris goes back to his strong suit with this sick and weird but oh-so-American story of a former Miss Wyoming with serious relationship issues.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams: ?I’d watch Werner Herzog‘s next movie if it was just about him contemplating his navel. In fact, his last film — Encounters at the End of the World, was pretty much that, with a very white (Antarctica, that is) backdrop. But here, he goes into the Chauvet caves of southern France, and he does it in 3-D!

Boxing Gym: ?One of the guiding lights of documentary cinema, Frederick Wiseman, returns with a classic tale of a boxing gym in Austin, Texas.

Other documentaries of note: ?Erotic Man, in which director?Jørgen Leth, covers the planet in search of the erotic; Armadillo, another entry into the expanding genre of grim Afghanistan war docs, tells of Danish troops in combat; The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical? looks to be a tearjerker that’ll hit all the right notes as it tells of children living in Mumbai, India, who perform The Sound of Music with a classical orchestra; in Pink Saris, top director Kim Longinotto paints a portrait of Pal Devi, the leader of the “Pink Gang,” who combats violence against women.?

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Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen