The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 8 September 2016

Image: Alamy

Reel deal

The 41st Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) – bellwether for the Oscars – kicks off today. This year will see 397 films from 83 countries, including 138 world premieres, light up silver screens across the city over the course of 11 days. With a record-breaking half a million visitors expected, Tiff has come a long way from the humble festival it originated as in 1976. Today it’s a stalwart institution in the film industry and a pillar for Ontario’s economy, annually bringing in about CA$189m (€131m). This year’s highlights include Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven, Rebecca Zlotowski’s Planetarium and designer-turned-director Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. When it comes to the next decade Tiff’s CEO Piers Handling has a clear vision for the Canadian festival: “I would hope that they would look to us the way they would look to the Tate Modern or MoMA or the Louvre for art, or the Met for opera,” he told the press. “As one of the essential organisations for the thought and preservation of film, the Oxford and Cambridge of cinema.”

Image: Getty Images

Off the wall

Britain’s Home Office minister Robert Goodwill has confirmed plans to erect the “Great Wall of Calais”: a hulking concrete boundary that will stand four-metres high and stretch 1km to protect the port of Calais from the refugee camp known as the “Jungle”. The British government is funding the construction as part of David Cameron’s £17m (€20m) package to ramp up security at the major jumping-off point for refugees travelling to the UK. But is building another physical obstacle really the solution for stemming the flow of migrants to British shores? For one thing it’s the same measure that Donald Trump has proposed to stop migration across the Mexico-US border – and that’s never a good sign. More crucially critics fear that it will increase tariffs for people smugglers and in turn prompt refugees to go to more extreme, potentially life-endangering efforts to get beyond the wall. It seems the money would be better spent improving on-the-ground security.

Image: Alamy

On the right track?

Tens of thousands of people pass through Harajuku Station’s portals each day and now the current structure, which dates from 1924, is set to be renovated in time for the 2020 Olympics. The distinctive Tokyo landmark, which sits next to Meiji Shrine and one of Tokyo’s busiest fashion districts, comes close to a standstill at weekends – and its proximity to Yoyogi National Gymnasium, built for the 1964 Olympics and due to be a venue in 2020, only adds to the crowds. The station’s owner, East Japan Railway Co, is being careful not to reveal too much about its plans for the popular old building but it has published a design proposal: a functional structure that will increase capacity with room for retail but that is lacking in charisma. Local residents are being consulted later this month but the future doesn’t look promising for this small Tokyo gem.

Image: Alamy

Making a move

Bureaucratic red tape as the antithesis of artistic freedom is a cliché that Singapore’s Ministry of Law and Intellectual Property Office may yet overturn. This afternoon the government bodies will host a public consultation at The Treasury with independent makers such as authors, musicians and film directors regarding changes to the nation’s copyright law, which was last updated in 2004. The proposed legal amendments, which include transferring default ownership and distribution rights to the artist from the buyers, would greatly benefit creatives by giving them rightful recognition as well as protection from commercial exploitation. This is an apt reminder that offering support for a growing national creative community must go beyond grants or one-off promotional campaigns and instead include practical infrastructural revisions – even to the law.

From Monocle 24

God’s Own Junkyard

Tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood in northeast London is the largest stock of vintage neon signs in Europe and a family business that’s perfected the art of making them over half a century. We visit God’s Own Junkyard.

From Monocle Films

Vive le béret

Monocle Films pays a visit to the last béret-maker in France and meets the Irishman trying to revive this quintessentially French piece of headwear.

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