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  • Report from HotDocs 2015

    After a wild and wonderful weekend at the TriBeCa Film Festival, full of screenings, Q&As and meeting fans from all parts, not to mention the 40th anniversary celebration of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ and chat with John Oliver at the Beacon Theater, Python Terry Jones left early Monday morning for Toronto’s HotDocs festival for the Canadian premiere of ‘Monty Python - The Meaning of Live’.

    The visit wasn’t even two days long, but Terry J. had a jam-packed schedule. Along with directors James Rogan and Roger Graef, and producer Holly Gilliam, Terry made his way over to the Bloor Theater, where he treated the press along the red carpet to his memories of his days with Monty Python and the 2014 O2 reunion shows, behind the scenes footage from which form the backbone of ‘Meaning of Live’.

    “Thank you for selecting us and hosting us,” Holly Gilliam told one reporter.

    Director Roger Graef joked that the audience at TriBeCa had given the film a standing ovation, so his expectations were high for the Toronto crowd.

    Roger had nothing to fear, the screening was warmly received, with Now Toronto writing that 'Meaning of Live' “offers far more insight than the usual backstage documentary. The doc uses the troupe’s July 2014 performances at the O2 arena in London – the first time John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin have performed on stage together since 1980, and purportedly the last – as a lever into the history, evolution and cultural significance of Monty Python. If you’ve been waiting for a definitive examination of the Python mentality, this is it.”

    On Tuesday morning Terry J. and co. made their way early to CTV Canada AM, where he regaled the hosts with a story about the origins of the ‘Spam’ sketch. Everyone agreed the reception the previous evening for ‘Meaning of Live’ was fantastic. Another round of interviews followed back at the hotel.

    ‘Meaning of Live’ was screened again on Tuesday afternoon, with Holly Gilliam, James Rogan and Roger Graef in attendance for a Q&A afterwards that offered excellent insight into the making of the film, with loads of anecdotes from the rehearsals leading up to the O2 shows. James recalled catching John Cleese coming off stage during the first show and asking him simply how he’d thought it went. In his inimitable way, John of course gave him a blow-by-blow of what went right and wrong and what he thought needed to be tightened or improved for the next night’s performance.

    “To get that sort of in the moment feedback from such a comedy genius was priceless,” James said.

    Soon it was time to go, and Terry J. headed off to the airport for an overnight flight back to London. But not before a brief moment of reflection.

    “New York and Toronto we wonderful,” Terry said as he got ready to board his plane. “Just wonderful!”

    By Jeff Slate @jeffslate

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