Home Authors Posts by Editor



IVFF Screens 5 Online

IVFF Screens 5 Online, image,

IVFF Screens 5 Online
by Staff

(July 13, 2020 – Ottawa, ON) The International Vegan Film Festival (IVFF) is hosting an online live screening this Saturday, July 18th featuring five short films produced by We Animals Media (WAM), including two Canadian films. The screenings will be followed by a live Q & A hosted by Shawn Stratton, Director of International Vegan Film Festival.

The International Vegan Film Festival is a trailblazing event dedicated to celebrating the vegan ideal: a healthier, compassionate, environmentally-friendly lifestyle that can be achieved through the consumption of plants and animal-free alternatives.

On July 18th at 5:30 PM PDT/8:30 PM EST the Festival invites everyone to gather online to watch five specially selected short films and hear the stories behind the films. The evening will include discussions with Founder & Director of WAM, Jo-Anne McArthur and filmmaker and multimedia producer, Kelly Guerin. WAM’s mission is to bring visibility to hidden animals worldwide through compelling photography and film, and the Festival is proud to share that experience with people around the globe through these five select films and a chance to chat with these talented filmmakers.

As COVID-19 has forced the cancelation of the Festival World Tour for the foreseeable future, festival director Shawn Stratton decided this would be a golden opportunity to bring quality films to the vegan community, not just in local theatres but to a truly global audience online. Stratton adds, “We are thrilled to introduce the filmmakers to our audience and are delighted to kick off the first round of Live Screening events with two truly world-class animal welfare media producers.”

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at www.theivff.com. The recording of the Live Screening will be available to be viewed for one week following the event.

Films to be screened:

IVFF Screens 5 Online, image,

Gold Doesn’t Rust: The Failing Standard of Animal Testing and its Alternatives
Runtime: 23m, 16s
Directed by: Dr. Theodora Capaldo
Country of Origin: USA
Animal testing has been the standard of scientific research and testing for centuries, in spite of a long history of ineffective results and unimaginable cruelty. Now, emerging technologies promise to revolutionize the field of biomedical research by rejecting the failing animal model in lieu of human-based in-vitro methods. Can these new models break their way into mainstream, or will they be blocked by a scientific community so deeply rooted in animal research?

The Farm in My Backyard
Runtime: 16m, 27s
Directed by: Jo-Anne McArthur
Country of Origin: Canada
In many countries around the world, markets for fur are closing down as demand wanes. But in the tiny Canadian province of Nova Scotia, the government is putting its own citizens’ wellbeing second to this controversial industry, doubling down on its support for the fur industry despite its devastating impacts on the environment, animals, and the local residents pleading for change.

Runtime: 1m, 44s
Directed by: Jo-Anne McArthur, Kelly Guerin
Country of Origin: Canada
Walk with photographer Jo-Anne McArthur through an abandoned pig farm. Witness as the suffering fades from the bars and metal and life reclaims a small part of the industrial farming machine.

IVFF Screens 5 Online, image,

Runtime: 5m, 37s
Directed by: Jan Sorgenfrei
Language: English
Country of Origin: Denmark
Behind the closed doors, in the dark and out of human sight, Jan Sorgenfrei and award-winning Toronto based photographer Jo-Anne McArthur conduct an investigation into the industrial farming of chickens.

Runtime: 3m, 33s
Directed by: Kelly Guerin
Produced by: We Animals
Language: English
Country of Origin: USA
Undercover reveals the stark, mechanized workings of the slaughterhouse, offering an unflinching and intimate look at the animals caught in this system.

Images courtesy of The International Vegan Film Festival. There is more information about the festival online.

Big Brother Canada: Season 9

Big Brother Canada: Season 9, image, Arisa Cox,
Photo of Arisa Cox at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards © 2017 by Ralph Lucas. Used with permission.

Big Brother Canada: Season 9
by Staff

(July 13, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Global, a Corus Entertainment network, and Insight Productions have announced that Season 9 of Big Brother Canada will go ahead, and that series host Arisa Cox (pictured above) will become Executive Producer.

“We have reached a turning point in history and as the fight against racism and issues facing Black, Indigenous and people of colour around the world have been pulled into the spotlight, Big Brother Canada is seizing this moment to become a leader in the reality TV world,” said Cox. ”Our top priority is bold, lasting change by embracing the rich diversity of Canada in front of and behind the camera. Both are vital. And as one of the biggest and best reality TV shows in the country, we have both the ability and the responsibility to do just that.”

As an Executive Producer, Cox now plays a critical role in all storytelling aspects of Big Brother Canada. In partnership with Showrunner and Executive Producer Erin Brock, Cox’s responsibilities now include key creative input on the show’s real-time storylines, casting and outreach, and increasing BIPOC representation across the board, among others. Global and Insight Productions are working together to implement anti-racism policies and procedures that foster a creative environment where equity, inclusion, and diversity can flourish on and off camera.

“Arisa Cox has been an integral part of Big Brother Canada, always armed with an arsenal of bold and bright ideas, thoughtful insights, and a deep passion for the show,” said Brock. ”We’re passionately committed to leading thought-provoking conversations, telling uniquely Canadian stories, and reflecting the diverse culture of Canada. Arisa has always demonstrated a fierce commitment to these ideals and I’m excited to elevate our partnership and to continue to make trailblazing content.”

Big Brother Canada is an original production like no other and we are so proud of its unprecedented success across platforms. It is the ultimate social experiment and, oftentimes, a microcosm of our own society,” said Lisa Godfrey, Vice President, Original Content, Corus Entertainment. “As producers of original content in Canada, we are dedicated to paving new paths for creators to thrive in all aspects of storytelling, and are honoured to recognize Arisa Cox’s longstanding success as a Canadian storyteller in her new role as Executive Producer.”

Set to debut on Global in spring 2021, pre-production for Season 9 of Big Brother Canada includes a thorough review of current production practices and the development of new ones, anti-racism personnel policies, racial-equity training, and more. Additional announcements regarding Season 9, including casting opportunities, will be made at a later date.

Commissioned by Corus Entertainment, Season 9 of Big Brother Canada is produced by Insight Productions Ltd. in association with Corus Entertainment and Endemol Shine. Global is available through all major TV distributors, including: Shaw, Shaw Direct, Rogers, Bell, Videotron, Telus, Cogeco, Eastlink, SaskTel and the new STACKTV, streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video channels.

SOURCE: CNX/Corus Entertainment

The Cuban

109 minutes – Drama
Language: English
Festival release date: December 7, 2019 – Whistler Film Festival (World Premiere)
Release date: July 13, 2020 (Limited)
Production company: S.N.A.P.Films
Canadian distributor: A71 Entertainment

Luis is an elderly Cuban musician and one of Mina’s most enigmatic patients – he has dementia and Alzheimer’s and spends most of his his time closed to the outside world and living inside his own mind. Mina’s attempts to get through, even just to feed Luis, are futile, but one day a poster of musician Benny More inspires Mina to hum a jazz tune that, to her surprise, ignites a spark inside Luis. As each day passes the music awakens Luis more and more until the colourful world of his past becomes vibrant and real again. Mina comes into her own as she gets to know him and their friendship blossoms. But as Luis becomes more awake to the world, tensions rise in the nursing home.

The CubanThe Cuban
Producer: Taras Koltun
Alessandra Piccione
Ana Golja
Sergio Navarretta
Executive Producer:

Paul Golini
Ryan Kimel
James O’Donnell
Divya Shahani

Associate Producer:

Patrick Doyle
Michael Hearns
Pazz Neglia

Line Producer:

Cristian de la Rosa (Cuban Unit)


Sergio Navarretta


Alessandra Piccione


Celiana Cárdenas


Jane MacRae

Production Designer:

Ciara Vernon

Costume Designer:

Kristin Somborac


Louis Gossett Jr.
Ana Golja
Shohreh Aghdashloo
Lauren Holly
Giacomo Gianniotti
Shiva Negar
Jonathan Keltz
Layla Alizada
Tabby Johnson
Margaret Lamarre
Kane Mahon
Gerry Mendicino
Pazz Neglia
Emily Piggford
Nadine Roden
Jeffrey R. Smith
Mazida Soroor
Wajma Soroor
Paulbaum Wildbaum
Tanner Zipchen

Luis Garcia
Bano Ayoub
Nurse Baker
Zahra Karzai
Mrs. Neil
Dr. Rosetti
Nurse Vella
Nurse Ronan
Mama Karzai
Mr. Vandusen

Random Acts of Violence

Random Acts of Violence, movie, image,

80 minutes – Horror

Language: English
Festival release date: September 19, 2019 (Fantastic Fest)
Release date: July 31, 2020 (Online, Digital)

Production company: Elevation Pictures, Manis Film, (in association with) Kickstart Productions
Canadian distributor: Elevation Pictures
U.S. distributor: Shudder (August 20, 2020, Online)

Comic book creator Todd Walkley (Jesse Williams), his wife Kathy (Jordanna Brewster), assistant Aurora (Niamh Wilson) and best friend, Hard Calibre Comics owner Ezra (Jay Baruchel), set out on a press tour to announce the launch of their final issue of a comic book based on a real-life serial killer called Slasherman. They visit the town where Slasherman wreaked havoc twenty years earlier. Upon their arrival, a series of new murders unfold… murders that look eerily familiar to imagery in Todd’s Slasherman comics. It soon becomes clear that a crazed fan is using Todd’s Slasherman as inspiration for the killings and as the bodies pile up, and Todd’s friends and family become victims themselves, Todd will be forced to take artistic responsibility.

Adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, Random Acts of Violence is directed and co-written by Jay Baruchel. It explores the idea of legitimizing cruelty, and the fact that monsters are not merely monsters, they are broken people. Stretching from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, it holds a mirror up to art, society and violence.

Random Acts of ViolenceRandom Acts of Violence
Producer: Jay Baruchel
Randy Manis
Noah Segal
Executive Producer:

Jonathan Bronfman
Matt Code
Matt Foster
Ken F. Levin
Jean-Charles Levy
Jason Netter
Jimmy Palmiotti
Sandra Singer
Jesse Williams
Lisa Wolofsky


Ariella Naymark

Supervising Producer:

Andrew Bronfman


Jay Baruchel


Jay Baruchel
Jesse Chabot


Karim Hussain


Andrew Gordon Macpherson


Wade MacNeil
Andrew Gordon Macpherson

Production Designer:

ichelle Lannon

Art Director:

Sophie Ward

Costume Designer:

Linda Muir


Jay Baruchel
Jesse Williams
Jordana Brewster
Simon Northwood
Niamh Wilson
Isaiah Rockcliffe
Clark Backo
Victoria Snow
Eric Osborne
Nia Roam
Aviva Mongillo
Wade MacNeil
Amir Sám Nakhjavani
Kyle Gatehouse
Mark Andrada
McKale Thompson
Julia Knope
Cyrus Aazam
Peter Schoelier
Stacie Dunlop

The Man
Young Todd
Todd’s Mother
General Store Clerk
Awkward Fan
Small Boy
Young Woman
Young Man
Homeless Man
Singer Duo

Above the Law on CBC

Above the Law, image,
Photo of Godfred Addai-Nyamekye courtesy of Lost Time Media.

Above the Law on CBC Docs
by Staff

(July 7, 2020 – Toronto, ON) It would be hard not to know about the lives of Black Americans and their unjust and unjustifiable treatment at the hands of U.S. law enforcement. We may think things in Canada are vastly different, vastly better, but that would be a lie. Five years in the making, Above the Law is an essential new documentary that uncovers systemic flaws in the oversight of police in Calgary, Alberta, and exposes the consequences of failing to adequately address police misconduct.

The recent killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, among other cases, has sparked outrage and mass protests around the world as people demand an end to racial inequality and police brutality, including in cities across Canada. Above the Law brings together disturbing video evidence and powerful interviews with current and former Calgary police chiefs, lawyers, a survivor, and victims’ families, to investigate the current system of checks and balances for law enforcement in Alberta, and raises critical questions about policing in Canada.

The documentary investigates three cases of excessive force involving the Calgary Police Service, two of which were perpetrated by the same officer less than 18 months apart. We hear from Godfred Addai-Nyamekye (pictured above), an immigrant from Ghana, who, in 2013, was detained unlawfully and abandoned in -28°C weather by two officers, before being assaulted by Constable Trevor Lindsay after calling 911 for help. Despite Addai-Nyamekye’s formal complaint with the Calgary Police Service, Constable Lindsay remained on duty and, in 2015, assaulted a handcuffed man in his custody, Daniel Haworth, causing him a traumatic brain injury. “Growing up as a kid with my dad as a cop, they were my heroes,” said Robert Haworth, Daniel’s brother. “I couldn’t believe that someone would be handled so aggressively when they were in handcuffs. No one deserves to have that done to them.”

A third incident, also in 2015, involved a “wellness check” that turned deadly for 27-year-old Anthony Heffernan. Viewers will hear directly from the Heffernan family, who relentlessly seek justice as the shooting goes unprosecuted despite the provincial police watchdog’s recommendation of criminal charges. In the words of Anthony’s father, Patrick, a retired high school principal from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, “We do not have a just society if police can come to a wellness check, kick in a door, and shoot an unarmed man four times.” Unfortunately, Anthony’s killing is not an isolated occurrence, with the Calgary police responsible for disproportionately high numbers of officer-involved shooting deaths in recent years. In 2018, Calgary police officers were responsible for five fatal shootings — more than the Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Edmonton police combined, and, strikingly, more than either the New York or Chicago police departments in the same year.

“This is not the film we would have liked to make about the city where we were born and raised,” said Marc Serpa Francoeur, co-director of Above the Law, “and we’ve been profoundly impacted by the stories we’ve examined and the devastating effects of police brutality on victims, families, and communities. While the problems we highlight are not unique to Calgary, it’s clear that there are extremely serious issues at the Calgary Police Service and on the provincial level that need to be addressed.”

“It’s hard to imagine a more timely moment for this film,” said co-director Robinder Uppal. “As the current uprising demonstrates, people from diverse backgrounds across the nation are realizing that systemic racism and excessive force are not distinctly American issues, but are also widespread  in Canada, and we cannot afford to ignore them any longer. Like the courageous participants featured in the film, the public is demanding that police be held accountable for their actions.”

Produced by Lost Time Media (The World in Ten Blocks, 2016) and Big Cedar Films (The Missing Tourist, 2017), Above the Law premieres on CBC Docs POV, on CBC and the free CBC Gem streaming service on Saturday, July 11 at 8 p.m. Above the Law will air subsequently in Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland.

Introducing Century Studio

Introducing Century Studio, image,
Photo supplied by CNW Group/William F. White International Inc.

Introducing Century Studio
by Staff

(July 7, 2020 – Toronto, ON) William F. White International Inc. has opened Century Studio, its 3rd studio location in Toronto, and 9th property in Canada.

“There’s no denying it’s been a difficult year, not only within the film industry, but all over the world,” said EVP/COO, Garin Josey. “We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes ramping up our core operations while significantly expanding others. It’s the perfect time to share our latest Toronto studio property with an industry eager to get back to work.”

Located in Mississauga, Ontario, Century Studio (pictured above) joins the Edwards Blvd. Studios and Cantay Studios. It features 81,500 square feet split between shooting space boasting a 32′ clear height, offices, costume and wardrobe, and extra support area. Additional offices, mill and paint are also available minutes away at Millcreek Support.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing a 3rd studio property to Mississauga in order to serve production in the GTA,” said VP, Business Development, Rick Perotto. “As with all our Toronto-based studio properties, Century is less than 30 minutes away from our William F. White Toronto office, bringing all the other equipment rental services we offer within easy reach.”

“As Century Studio opened its doors on July 1st, 2020, it marked the latest addition to our portfolio bringing our company’s total studio footprint to over 1 million square feet nationwide,” said Alex Godfrey, Vice President of Studios. “We’re excited and ready to serve our clients with the level of service both in studios and gear they have grown to expect from William F. White.”

Founded in 1963, William F. White International Inc. is Canada’s most iconic provider of production equipment to the entertainment industry.  With offices across the country, the company services productions of all sizes from coast to coast and houses an extensive state-of-the-art inventory, including camera, lighting, grip, specialty equipment, location support and studio properties.

SOURCE: William F. White International Inc.

Nick Cordero

Nick Cordero, actor,

B: September 17, 1978 in Hamilton, Ontario
D: July 5, 2020 in Los Angeles, California

Born Nicholas Eduardo Alberto Cordero, Nick Cordero appeared in a handful of films and television series but was known for his wrk on Broadway. He first appeared off-Broadway in a musical, a production of The Toxic Avenger, as well as in regional productions of Little Shop of Horrors, The Last Five Years, Blood Brothers and Equus. He made his Broadway debut as Bourbon Room owner Dennis in the Broadway company of Rock of Ages. Set in L.A.’s Sunset Strip in 1987, Rock of Ages features songs from Journey, Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon and others. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role as Cheech in the 2014 Broadway musical adaptation of the 1994 Woody Allen film Bullets Over Broadway and was twice nominated for the Drama Desk Awards. He had moved to Los Angeles with his family to star in Rock of Ages where he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in late March 2020 for what was initially thought to be pneumonia but ultimately proved to be COVID-19. He was 41 when he died in Los Angeles.

Also see: Remembering Nick Cordero.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Apartments at 254 (VR-2007, short)

Don Juan (2011)
A Stand Up Guy (2016)
Going in Style (2017)
Inside Game (2019)
Mob Town (2019)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Queer as Folk (2005)
Lilyhammer (2014)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2015, 2019)
Blue Bloods (2017, 2018)

Remembering Nick Cordero

Remembering Nick Cordero, image,

Remembering Nick Cordero
by Staff

(July 6, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Broadway actor Nick Cordero has died. With only a few film and television credits, he made his Broadway debut as Bourbon Room owner Dennis in the Broadway company of Rock of Ages. Set in L.A.’s Sunset Strip in 1987, Rock of Ages features songs from Journey, Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon and others. Cordero appeared in The Toxic Avenger musical off-Broadway, as well as in regional productions of Little Shop of Horrors, The Last Five Years, Blood Brothers and Equus. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role as Cheech in the 2014 Broadway musical adaptation of the 1994 Woody Allen film Bullets Over Broadway and was twice nominated for the Drama Desk Awards. He had moved to Los Angeles with his family to star in Rock of Ages.

Born Nicholas Eduardo Alberto Cordero in Hamilton, Ontario, he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in late March for what was initially thought to be pneumonia. A first coronavirus test came up negative, though a subsequent test was positive for COVID-19. Over the next 13 weeks, he faced a series of complications, including a leg amputation, infections in his lungs and the insertion of a temporary pacemaker. He died yesterday, July 5.

His wife, Amanda Kloots, released an Instagram post stating, 
”My darling husband passed away this morning. He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth. I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere. My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him.”

His career included a handful of film and television roles. He appeared in a few episodes of Blue Bloods and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He also had a role in the film Going in Style and more recently the 2019 film Mob Town.

Nick Cordero was 41.

Canadians Who Changed the Face of British Film and Television

anadians Who Changed the Face of British Film and Television, image,
Sydney Newman and Harry Saltzman

Canadians Who Changed the Face of British Film and Television
By Wyndham Wise

(July 3, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Two remarkable Canadians, Harry Saltzman (1915–94) and Sydney Newman (1917–97), changed the face of British film and television during a time of seismic cultural upheaval known as The Swinging Sixties. Saltzman, from Sherbrooke, Quebec, co-produced nine of the first films in the James Bond franchise and launched the careers of Sean Connery, Albert Finney and Michael Caine. Newman, from Toronto, launched The Avengers (the British series, not Marvel’s super group) and the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who. Both men were part of a large and largely undocumented influx of creative Canadians that arrived in London in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The gregarious Herschel (Harry) Saltzman landed in England with his family in the mid-1950s. Coming of age during The Great Depression, he literally ran away from home at 15 to join the circus. From such an auspicious beginning, he spent a lifetime in show business. Moving to pre-war France, he discovered he had an eye for picking theatrical talent and learned the ropes on the European vaudeville circuit. This took him to Hollywood and eventually he managed a travelling circus on the East Coast. At the start of the Second World War he signed up with the Royal Canadian Air Force and after the war he was back in Paris signing talent for film and the stage. He returned to America in the early 1950s, this time operating a profitable company that installed coin-operated Hobby Horses in department stores.

In England, he turned his considerable energy and promotional talents to producing theatre. Here his timing was prescient. It was pre-Swinging London and the theatre of the ‘angry young men’; a time of working class ‘kitchen sink’ dramas and films of the British New Cinema. He formed a production company with up-and-coming director Tony Richardson and playwright John Osborne. They produced the seminal Look Back in Anger in 1958 starring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom from the hit play by Osborne and directed by Richardson, The Entertainer (1960) starring Laurence Olivier, again from a play by Osborne and directed by Richardson, and Karl Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), which made Albert Finney a star in England before his international breakthrough three years later in Richardson’s Tom Jones.

Although critics hailed these films as a breath of fresh air blowing through the stuffy British cinema, they were only moderately successful at the box office and Saltzman was eager for a hit. He found it, when, in early 1961 he came across Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, the seventh book featuring the suave British spy, and made a successful bid to buy the film rights to the character of Bond… James Bond. Leaving his partnership with Richardson and Osborne behind him, he was introduced to the American producer Albert R. Broccoli, who was also interested in the Fleming books. Saltzman wouldn’t sell, but given that he was still a neophyte film producer he sensibly formed a partnership with the more experienced Broccoli whose previous producing partner had been Irwin Allen. In 1962 they created a parent company Danjat (combing the first names of their wives) and Eon Productions to produce the films, starting with Dr. No in 1962. The title character was played by Canadian-born Joseph Wiseman. In an extraordinary moment of cultural synergy, Dr. No opened Friday, October 5 in London, the same day as “Love Me Do,” the first single by The Beatles, dropped.
Dr. No, movie, poster,
Sean Connery was not United Artist’s first choice for the lead. The studio, which agreed to back the film when others turned it down, wanted a recognizable star for its investment and turned to Cary Grant, but he was judged too old and would only sign for one film. David Niven was considered next (he would later play Bond in the 1967 spoof Casino Royale), as was Roger Moore who had just begun his seven-year stint with The Saint. At the time he was considered too ‘pretty’ and would have to wait his turn to fill the Bond shoes. The producers settled on the rugged Connery, a former Scottish bodybuilder who only had a few movie credits to his name and was not a star. However, the savvy talent scout Saltzman saw a diamond in the rough, signed him to a five-picture deal and ordered a complete Savile Row makeover.

When the film was released, a star was born. Even though Dr. No was only a modest hit, it caused a sensation with its causal treatment of violence and indulgence in sex. The next installment in the series, From Russia with Love (1963), was a huge international hit, launching the longest-running series in movie history that is still going strong – six Bonds later – with the 25th film, No Time to Die, coming out later this year.

Not content with just one successful spy series, Saltzman, through a separate production company he owned, purchased the rights to Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer character. He then launched a second series staring Michael Caine as the unflappable spy, a sort of working class, downbeat version of Bond. The Ipcress File was not the hit Saltzman had hoped for and the reviews were mixed; however, he did go on to produce two more Palmer films starring Caine, Funeral in Berlin (1966) and The Billion Dollar Brain (1967).

Michael Caine was another roll of the dice by Saltzman that paid off big time. Toiling in British television for nearly a decade, Caine got his break playing against type as the posh Lt. Gonville Bromhead in Zulu (1964), a dramatic account of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift during the Boer War, still one of the most popular British movies ever made. Coming just one year before his breakout role in Alfie, The Ipcress File, directed by Canadian Sidney J. Furie, is now regarded as one of the most influential British films of the period. It’s not just the downbeat world the film portrays that contrasts notably with the glitz and international glamour of the Bond films. It’s Caine’s magnetic presence as the ultra cool Palmer that dominates every scene he’s in and remains fresh to this day. The story falls off towards the end, but Caine papers over the plot holes and delivers a performance worthy of comparison to the King of Movie Cool, Steve McQueen in Bullet.

In April 1966, Time magazine hailed “Swinging London” on its cover. It was a magical time for England when it was the centre of the fashion and music world. Mary Quaint and Twiggy ruled the fashion world with polka dots and mini skirts sold on Carnaby Street in Chelsea. The Beatles were on top of their game and had just released Revolver, now regarded as the best rock album of all time, and England won the World Cup, beating Germany 4–2 in overtime (the first and last time that would happen). In the middle of all this incredible national pride and boundary-breaking creative energy was a portly Canadian who, by simply being in the right place at the right time, helped make international box office stars out of three iconic Oscar-winning actors.

However impressive an accomplishment this might seem for any one producer, for pure cineastes this pales in comparison to his greatest gift to the canon of world cinema – coming to the rescue and saving Orson Welles’ Chimes of Midnight (1966). Welles had started the film a year before without securing final financing and had to stop production when he ran out of money (not an unusual situation for him). He turned to Saltzman for the funds to complete his masterpiece.

While Saltzman was taking a gamble with the always-unreliable Welles, he thought it worth the risk, and if completed, the film would at least make its money back. It barely did that when it was first released to mixed reviews, but over time it is now regarded as one of the finest Shakespearian adaptions on film. It was Welles’ personal favourite and hands down his best film since Citizen Kane. Chimes of Midnight combines story elements from Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor with Welles in a towering central performance as Shakespeare’s greatest comic creation, the noble and tragic Sir John Falstaff.

Saltzman continued his partnership with Broccoli through to the Man with the Golden Gun (1974), the second Roger Moore film, then due to numerous financial difficulties sold his half in the franchise to United Artists in 1975. Always impeccable in his judgments regarding talent, Saltzman nearly made a huge misstep with the music for Moore’s first outing as the iconic spy. Paul McCartney had been commissioned to write a killer theme song to reboot series with a bang. Saltzman was set on hiring a powerful black vocalist such as Shirley Bassey, whom he had previously used to great effect for the Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever opening numbers. The Beatles’ producer George Martin, who was the middleman in this particular negotiation, told him in no uncertain terms either Paul sang the song or there would be no song. Needless to say, McCartney’s rousing To Live and Let Die is the most popular Bond theme song ever written and a staple in his live performances to this day.

Sidney Newman (née Nudelman) arrived in England in 1958 to start his new job as Head of Drama at the Associated British Corporation (ABC), which was part of the ITV Network and one of only a few independent broadcasters at the time. Prior to this Newman had tried to break into the film business in Canada and U.S. as a graphic artist. He was not entirely successful, however it did lead him to a job as an editor at the newly established National Film Board of Canada. Impressed by his producing and managerial skills, in 1943 John Grierson, the founder of the NFB, put Newman in charge of its flagship wartime series Canada Carries On. After the war, when Grierson left the Board and went south to work for American television, he invited Newman to join him in New York City. He spent a year at the NBC learning the ropes and reporting back to the Canadian government on American television techniques.
Flight Into Danger, book cover,
This led to a position at the fledging CBC-TV as Supervisor of Drama Production in 1954. He oversaw the live shows sponsored by GM, General Motors Theatre (1954–60), and one in particular, Arthur Hailey’s Flight into Danger, was sold to the BBC, the state-run broadcaster in the U.K., which is how Newman’s name came to the attention of the management at ABC. Flight into Danger was a major television hit on both sides of the Atlantic and provided the template for almost every airline disaster movie to come, including the brilliant 1980 satire Airplane!

Newman spent four years with ABC and during that time established himself as hard working, imaginative producer who oversaw 152 episodes of ABC’s flagship Sunday night drama, Armchair Theatre. Like his contemporary Saltzman, Newman had a taste for the contemporary working class ‘kitchen sink’ drama that was popular at the time and hired the likes of Harold Pinter and Alun Owen (who wrote the screenplay for The Beatles’ A Hard Days Night) to write original work for the anthology strand. In 1960 he developed the drama Police Surgeon with actor Ian Hendry that ran for a season but was not considered good enough to be renewed. The pair reworked the premise and came up with The Avengers, a series about the adventures of John Steed, a sophisticated, bowler-wearing, tightly-rolled-umbrella-carrying secret agent played by Hendry, who had a partner played by Patrick Macnee.

The first season was cut short due to a strike, at which point Hendry left for a career in film and Macnee took over the part of Steed and over the years his partners were Honor Blackman (later Pussy Galore in Goldfinger) and most famously, butt-kicking Diana Rigg in her tight-fitting leather outfits. The Avengers was one of the first British series to be sold to American prime time television. In total it ran for six seasons and is regard as one of greatest British cult hits of all time. It certainly attracted the attention of the BBC and in 1962 Newman was offered the job as Head of Drama. He accepted.

Seen as an outsider at the entrenched old-boy network, he was brought in to shake up ‘Aunty BBC’ and develop contemporary programs employing freelance writer-directors. He was immediately put to work overseeing production of The Wednesday Play, an anthology strand not unlike the Armchair Theatre. Launched in 1964, the series gained a reputation for presenting serious, thought-provoking social dramas and drew on the emerging talents of Dennis Potter (the future author of The Singing Detective wrote eight entries) and Kenneth Loach (who directed 10 entries). It is regarded as one of the most influential and popular programs to be produced by the BBC during the 1960s, and two entries, Peter Watkins’ The War Game, a powerful anti-war docudrama so controversial it was withdrawn before broadcast and later released as a theatrical film (it was finally showed on the BBC in 1985), and Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach’s drama about the homeless in contemporary England, are considered classics of British television.

Yet despite all the praise and accolades heaped on The Wednesday Play, what Sidney Newman will always be remember for is his creation of the Doctor Who series in 1963, one of the most successful and enduring sci-fi shows ever produced for television, pre-dating Star Trek by six years. The BBC was looking for something new to bridge the gap between its Saturday afternoon sports programing strand and an early evening pop-music show; in other words, something for the entire family.

Newman pitched the idea of an educational sci-fi show, something he had always wanted to do, and wrote the initial outline with BBC producer Donald Wilson, the series’ first showrunner, and co-creator C.E. Webber. Newman is credited with coming up with the time-travelling character of “The Doctor” and the idea that the inside of his time machine, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space in the distinctive shape of a British police box), would be larger than the outside. Newman left BBC after five years in 1967, leaving behind an impressive lasting legacy. He literally changed the face of British television. He returned to Canada in 1969 for a controversial stint as Film Commissioner at the NFB (1970–75), the organization that launched his career back in the 1940s.

Some of the other notable Canadians of influence to work in England during The Swinging Sixties include directors Ted Kotcheff (28 episodes of Armchair Theatre and Life at the Top starring Laurence Harvey, the sequel to Room at the Top), Paul Almond (the documentary Seven Up!, one episode of Armchair Theatre), Sydney J. Furie (Leather Boys, The Ipcress File), Alvin Rakoff (10 episodes of Armchair Theatre), and Allan King (who established a branch of Allan King Associates in London); actors Donald Sutherland (The Avengers, The Saint and a half-a-dozen low-budget horror films leading up to his breakout role in The Dirty Dozen, which was shot in England), John Vernon (the voice of Big Brother in the film version of George Orwell’s 1984), Douglas Rain (the voice of HAL in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey), Lois Maxwell (Ms. Moneypenny in 14 Bond films, Armchair Theatre, The Wednesday Play), and Cec Linder (CIA agent Felix Leiter in Goldfinger and a small part in Kubrick’s Lolita); writers Mordecai Richler (three episodes of Armchair Theatre, Life at the Top) and Lister Sinclair (one episode of Armchair Theatre); and two gifted animators, ex-NFBer George Dunning (Yellow Submarine) and Toronto-born Richard Williams (future Oscar winner for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit).

Also see: Sydney Newman’s filmography.
Also see: Harry Saltzman’s filmography.

Northernstars logo imageWyndham Wise is the editor of Take One’s Essential Guide to Canadian Film and the former editor and publisher of Take One: Film & Television in Canada (1992–2006).

Sydney Newman

Sydney Newman, producer,

B: April 1 1917 in Toronto, Ontario
D: October 30, 1997 in Toronto, Ontario

Born Sydney Cecil Nudelman, Sydney Newman was the son of a Jewish Russian immigrant father who ran a shoe shop in Toronto. He dropped out of school at thirteen but later enrolled at Central Tech ( Central Technical School), studying commercial and fine arts. He began his career as a film editor at the National Film Board of Canada. During the Second World War, he was promoted to film producer, working on documentaries. In this role he oversaw acclaimed features such as Fighting Norway and Banshees Over Canada, along with various other wartime propaganda pieces. In 1952 he moved to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He moved to Britain in 1958, working first with the Associated British Corporation (ABC) then moving to the BBC in 1962 as Head of Drama. It was during this time that he cemented his stature as a brilliant program creator, responsible for two hugely popular fantasy series, The Avengers (for ABC) and Doctor Who (for BBC), as well as overseeing the production of groundbreaking social realist drama series such as Armchair Theatre and The Wednesday Play. Much like The Avengers and Dr. Who, although he was the creator of these programs, as far as we can tell he never produced or wrote any of the scripts for these programs. Sadly, on both the original Dr. Who series (1963-1989) and the reboot (2005-2017) there was no credit for him as creator. The website of the Museum of Broadcast Communications describes Newman as “the most significant agent in the development of British television drama.”

Many of his drama productions were broadcast as part of a named series, for example General Motors Theatre, First Performance or Armchair Theatre. We list those productions as TV movies, and credit the originating program following the year of broadcast. We list Sidney Newman’s credits as a Producer first.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Banshees Over Canada (1943, documentary, short)
Trans-Canada Express (1944, documentary, short)
Fighting Sea-Fleas (1944, documentary, short)
Suffer Little Children (1945, documentary, short)
The New North (1946, documentary, short)
Ski Skill (1946, documentary, short)
Montreal by Night (1947, documentary, short)
Johnny at the Fair (1947, documentary, short)
Careers and Cradles (1947, documentary, short)
Canada Dances (1947, documentary, short)
Science in Bloom (1948, documentary, short)
Pay-off in Pain (1948, documentary, short)
It’s Fun to Sing (1948, documentary, short)
A Capital Plan (1949, documentary, short)
Summer Is for Kids (1949, documentary, short)
Red Runs the Fraser (1949, documentary, short)
Passport to Canada (1949, documentary, short)
Choral Concert (1949, documentary, short)

Talent Showcase (1951, documentary, short)
Sing with the Commodores No. 1 (1951, documentary, short)
Sing with the Commodores No. 2 (1951, documentary, short)
Sing with the Commodores No. 3 (1951, documentary, short)
Screaming Jets (1951, documentary, short)
Royal Canadian Army Cadets (1951, documentary, short)
Music Master (1951, documentary, short)
Gangway for Navy (1951, documentary, short)
Eye Witness No. 30 (Executive Producer, 1951, documentary, short)
Eye Witness No. 33 (1951, documentary, short)
Chansons créoles (1951, documentary, short)
Cadet Holiday (1951, documentary, short)
After Prison What? (1951, documentary, short)
The Man in the Peace Tower (1952, documentary, short)
Wits End (1952, documentary, short)
Eye Witness No. 39 (Executive Producer, 1952, documentary, short)
Yoho: Wonder Valley (1953, documentary, short)
Alfie’s Tulip (Production Supervisor, TV-1953, Ford Theatre Playbill)
Suspicion (Production Supervisor, TV-1953, Ford Theatre Playbill)
Turn of the Road (Supervising Producer, TV-1954, Ford Theatre Playbill)
Sweet Larceny (Supervising Producer, TV-1954, Ford Theatre Playbill)
Tobacco Farm (Supervising Producer, TV-1954, Ford Theatre Playbill)
The Bottle Imp (Supervising Producer, TV-1954, On Camera)
Edwina Black (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, Folio)
Broadway Story ((Supervising Producer, TV-1955, On Camera)
The Sand Castle (Supervising Producer, TV-1955, General Motors Theatre)
Forever Galatea (Supervising Producer, TV-1955, General Motors Theatre)
The Sponger (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, General Motors Theatre)
Flight Into Danger (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, General Motors Theatre)
Shadow of Suspicion (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, General Motors Theatre)
Distinguished Gathering (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, General Motors Theatre)
Queen of Spades (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, General Motors Theatre)
The Owner (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, On Camera)

Aunt Mary (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, On Camera)

They Shot an Arrow (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, On Camera)

Stagecoach Bride (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, On Camera)

The Idealist (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, On Camera)

Some Are So Lucky (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, On Camera)

Enchanted Nightmare (Supervising Producer, TV-1956, On Camera)

The Return of Don Juan (Executive Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
The Acrobats (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
Whiteoaks (Executive Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
Black Chiffon (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
Passport to Yesterday (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
Course For Collision (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
Lady’s Choice (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
The Plastic Item (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
99 Times Around the Block (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
Night of the Plague (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
Birthday Party (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)
Brass Tacks (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Reunion (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Street Music (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

The Witness (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Big League Goalie (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

A Godmother for Amy (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Just Try It (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

The Telephone Rings for Bertha Schrumm (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Time Exposure (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

A Trip for Mrs. Taylor (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Double Exit (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Romantic Interlude (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

A Woman’s Point of View (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Black Cats Are Good Cats (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

The Stowaway (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Mama’s Sidewalk Cafe (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Countess Keller (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

The Swamp (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

A Lesson in Psychology (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Wait for Me (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

The Egghead Approach (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, On Camera)

Seeds of Power (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, First Performance)
Ice on Fore (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, First Performance)
Janey Canuck (Supervising Producer, TV-1957, First Performance)
The Widower (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
The House of Bernarda Alba (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)

Murder in Slow Motion (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
I Can Destroy the Sun (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
Time of Your Life (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
The Terrorist (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
The Greatest Man in the World (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
Underground (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
The Report on Jessie Dean (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
Dangerous World (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
The Criminals (TV-1958, Armchair Theatre)
he Break (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Soundings (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)

Hot Summer Night (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
The Fabulous Money Maker (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
No Gun, No Guilt (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Strange Meeting (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
The Trouble with Benny (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Hand in Glove (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Till Death Do Us Part (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
The Big Client (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
The Girl on the Beach (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Wedding Day (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
My Guess Would Be Murder (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
The Devil’s Instrument (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
The Model Marriage (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Lysette (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Black Laughter/Double Exit (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
The Scent of Fear (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)

After the Show (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Worm in the Bud (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Light from a Star (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
No Trams to Lime Street (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
A Trick of the Sun (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Small Fish Are Sweet (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)

The Last of the Brave (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Dr Kabil (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)

Roast Goose and Walnut Stuffing (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
The Golden Horn (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
A Phone Call for Matthew Quade (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)
Three on a Gas Ring (TV-1959, Armchair Theatre)

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)

Where I Live (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)

Fifth Floor People (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Cold Fury (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)

Night Panic (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Guardian Angel (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Pink String and Sealing Wax (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
China Doll (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Some Talk of Alexander (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
The Girl in the Market Square (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Roman Gesture (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre
After the Funeral (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Hold My Hand, Soldier (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
A Night Out (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
The Innocent (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Nest of Four (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
On the Spot (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
A Heart and a Diamond (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Lena, O My Lena (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
I’ll Have You to Remember (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
The Cake Baker (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Mr Nobody (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Clip Joint People (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre)
Rain (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre

I’ll Have You to Remember (TV-1961)
Till the Day I Die (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
Honeymoon Postponed (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
A Head Full of Crocodiles (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Money Makers TV-(1961, Armchair Theatre)
Tune on an Apron-String (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Man Out There (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Conscientious Gauger (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
Danger! Men Working (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
Man on a Mountain Top (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Ship That Couldn’t Stop (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Executive Producer, TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Omega Mystery (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)

Looking for Frankie (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Rose Affair (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Trouble with Our Ivy (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
Murder Club (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Rank and File (TV-1961, Armchair Theatre)
The Full Chatter (TV-1962)
Night Conspirators (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Girl in a Bird Cage (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Night Stop (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
The Irish Boys (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Dumb Martian (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
The Hard Knock (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
North City Traffic Straight Ahead (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
The Fishing Match (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)

Nothing to Pay (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
The Sin Shifter (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Afternoon of a Nymph (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Dead Letter (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Always Something Hot (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Thank You and Goodnight (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
The Big Ride (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Joker (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Hear the Tiger See the Bay (TV-1962, Armchair Theatre)
Hold My Hand, Soldier (TV-1963)
Workshop Limits (TV-1963)
Blue and White (TV-1963, Armchair Theatre)

The Push Over (TV-1963, Armchair Theatre)

The Trial of Dr. Fancy (TV-1964, Armchair Theatre)
Tea Party (TV-1965)

Utilities (Associate Producer, 1983)

TV Series:
Space Command (Supervising Producer, 1953-1954)
Counter Attack (1960, 7 episodes)
Target Luna (1960, 6 episodes)
Inside Story (1960, 13 episodes)
Pathfinders in Space (1960, 7 episodes)
Pathfinders to Mars (1960-1961, 6 episodes)
Pathfinders to Venus (1961, 8 episodes)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Fighting Sea-Fleas (1944, documentary, short)
Ski Skill (1946, documentary, short)

Credits as a Director:
Fighting Norway (1943, documentary, short)
Train Busters (1944, documentary, short)
Flight 6 (1944, short)
Fighting Sea-Fleas (1944, documentary, short)
Suffer Little Children (1945, documentary, short)
8 (1949, short)

Talent Showcase (1951, short)

Canada Day 2020

Canadian flag, image,

Canada Day 2020
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher

(July 1, 2020 – Toronto, ON) We all knew that a lot of things can change in the span of a year. None of us on this day a year ago could have foreseen the seismic shift we would have to deal with as 2020 dawned. At the very start of this year, as I had done for a few years before, I offered my Facebook friends a toast by posting “Here’s to a vastly improved 2020.” This is not my idea of vastly improved.

Some of us have lost friends, some of us have lost family, many of us have lost both. The industry we have tried to cover since 1998 has witnessed emergency measures to protect those people who work behind and in front of the cameras. Some have found the courage to admit that being an actor had prepared them for these past few lean and desperate months. The late Vera Lynn described that attitude best with the words “Keep Smiling Through.”

Cineplex went from being a giant Canadian company to being bought by an even larger British company and back to being a Canadian company when that deal fell through, driven by the fact there have been no bums in seats for months and there will be no return to normal for months to come.

Films originally scheduled for release this year are stuck in post-production and a huge list of 2020 films will become 2021 films. Festivals that relied on attendance numbers have been reduced to streaming their offerings essentially going from a large screen experience to watching television. The Canadian Screen Awards opted to do the same thing and although I haven’t seen the audience numbers I hazard a guess that this virtual experiment drew virtually no audience. The glitz and glamour of the red carpet could not be replaced by tepid narration and a series of images that had all the production values of a bad Powerpoint presentation.

Even James Bond has been delayed and is being held for a big screen release. I wonder if there’s a Canadian blockbuster somewhere in an Avid suite waiting to tempt us all back to life as normal. I certainly hope so.

As the year tumbles unsteadily toward 2021 it is our sincerest hope that today marks a turning point. As Churchill once said “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Today we’re republishing a column by Jim Slotek who, a few years ago, picked a handful of Canadian films to highlight on Canada Day. We have updated that by adding a few links that were missing the first time, notably the 2002 film Fubar, an expression that’s totally apt for our current situation, and Scott Pilgrim vs The World, starring Michael Cera. Also check out our Canada Day Birthday Canadians including Dan Ackroyd, Geneviève Bujold, Pamela Anderson, Brian George and Jared Keeso.

Happy Canada Day 2020. Here’s to a vastly improved last six months of the year.

Northernstars logo imageRalph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.

Canadian Films for Canada Day

Canadian Films for Canada Day, image,

Canadian Films for Canada Day

by Jim Slotek

(July 1, 2018 – Toronto, ON) It was a moment of clarity years ago when I interviewed the CEO of a Toronto-based company that specialized in digitally erasing Toronto landmarks, especially the CN Tower, from Hollywood movies shot in Hollywood North.

We had become a nation of background performers, our country a chameleon. Sure, the Americans gave us billions of dollars to pretend to be New York or Chicago (or in the case of Manitoba, Antarctica), but at what price?

Happily, the hometown filmmakers never forgot where they came from (or still were). Watching Andrew Cividino’s 2015 film Sleeping Giant – about teens living through an aimless summer outside Thunder Bay – I fairly felt the sun bake down as I watched adolescents jump off cliffs composed of the oldest rock on Earth, the 1000-mile-wide bald spot that remained after a mile of ice carved its way across the top half of North America.

In my own teens in the Lakehead, I believe I jumped off some of the very cliffs in the movie. So, this Canada Day weekend, let’s consider some of the other filmic experiences that remind us who we are.

ONE WEEK (2008): Joshua Jackson firmed up his Canadian bona fides forever with his performance in Michael McGowan’s beloved film about a Toronto professional who is diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and decides to do a bucket list motorcycle tour of the entire country. His journey includes, as anybody’s should, stops along the way for things like the Wawa Goose, Sudbury’s Big Nickel and Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta.

SCOTT PILGRIM vs. THE WORLD (2010): Other films have offered sharp snapshots of Toronto. Reg Harkema’s Monkey Warfare portrayed aging hipsters in Kensington. Bruce McDonald’s Broken Social Scene-themed drama This Movie Is Broken captured that special smelly summer of 2010 when the city suffered through a prolonged garbage strike. But it’s nice that a Brit, Edgar Wright, thought to use Hogtown as its own backdrop in this quirky, graphic novel-based movie about a guy (Michael Cera) who must face each of his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriends in ritual combat to prove his worth. Casa Loma, Pizza Pizza, the Second Cup and yes, the CN Tower all take their bows.

THE SHIPPING NEWS (2001): Tarnished somewhat these days by the doings of its star Kevin Spacey (and featuring uncharacteristically laconic Newfoundlanders), this Lasse Hallstrom take on Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is all cliffs and coves and mist in its stark and beautiful representation of the fictional village of Kil-Claw.

MY WINNIPEG (2007): It’s a Guy Maddin film, so some of the fever-dreamish things didn’t happen (like a herd of horses being frozen alive in the Red River). But yeah, there was a picture of the Queen in the old Winnipeg Arena that was the size of a Jumbotron. And the Bay cafeteria, with its old-school jello-dessert menu, really was a bit of a hangout. Winnipeg is best experienced as a fever dream anyway.

ATANARJUAT: THE FAST RUNNER (2001): Zacharius Kanuk’s masterpiece based on a millennium-old Inuit folk story is as close to actually living off the snow and seals in Nunavut as most of us will ever get. Between the riveting story of a cursed love triangle, the movie seamless and lovingly weaves Inuit traditions of hunting and crafts. An unforgettable film, worth repeated viewings.

THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ (1974): You could honestly choose any of the films adapted from a Mordecai Richler novel (Joshua Then And Now or Barney’s Version) for an evocation of Montreal – the English and Jewish side of it, anyway. This one best evokes Richler’s St. Urbain neighbourhood and the various smoked meat delis and characters that populated it.

C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005): Meanwhile, for a true, nostalgically painted French-Canadian slice of life, you couldn’t do much better than Jean-Marc Vallee’s transcendant tale of growing up gay and loving David Bowie in the working class Eastern Townships in the ‘70s.

FUBAR (2002): To the chagrin of those trying to upscale the city’s image, this mockumentary about Terry and Dean, two head-banging best friends who learn to “give ‘er” and “drink like a man,” has become a cult favourite – especially in Calgary where it’s set. Not the side of the city they normally show Conde Naste magazine. The sequel sent them to the oil patch to look for jobs.

MEATBALLS (1979): A classic for the mere tour de force performance by Bill Murray alone as head counselor Tripper. But this comedy comes by its representation of summer camp life honestly, being set at the real-life Camp White Pine in Haliburton. (The camp still operates, and crazily, does not have a pic of Bill Murray on its website).

GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD (1970): The granddaddy of Canadian road trip movies, Don Shebib’s movie starred Paul Bradley and Doug McGrath as two lifelong friends in Cape Breton who set off for “the good life” in Toronto in a beat-up old sedan with “My Nova Scotia Home” painted on it. Things being as they are, a lot of the East Coast still looks like that.

Northernstars logo imageJim Slotek is a longtime Toronto Sun columnist, movie critic, TV critic and comedy beat reporter who has interviewed thousands of celebrities. He’s been a scriptwriter for the NHL Awards, Gemini Awards and documentaries, and was nominated for a Gemini Award for comedy writing on a special. His writing also appears in Cineplex, Movie Entertainment magazines and in the blog Original-Cin.


77 minutes – Mockumentary, Comedy
Language: English
Festival release date: January 2002 (Sundance Film Festival)

Release date: May 24, 2002

Production company: Busted Tranny
Canadian distributor: Odeon Films

Fubar is a 2002 mockumentary based on the lives of two lifelong friends, Terry and Dean, who are head-bangers living out their lives, constantly drinking beer. It premiered in January 2002 at the Sundance Film Festival in the ‘Park City at Midnight’ category, where it was described as “An earnest filmmaker attempts to create a coherent documentary about two bumbling, beer-lovin’ heavy metal Canadians.” It quickly became a cult classic comedy. Filmed and set primarily in and around Calgary, Alberta, the characters are partly based on a comedy routine performed by costars David Lawrence and Paul Spence that they developed based on the head-banger subculture of the time. Most of “the cast” were real people and this is the only movie they have appeared in.

Producer: Michael Dowse
David Lawrence
Paul Spence
Executive Producer:

Bryan Gliserman
Marguerite Pigott
Mark Slone

Associate Producer:

Melanie Owen


Michael Dowse


Michael Dowse
David Lawrence
Paul Spence


Michael Dowse


Michael Dowse

Art Director:

Melanie Owen


Paul Spence
David Lawrence
Gordon Skilling
Tracey Lawrence
Sage Lawrence
Rose Martin
Dr. S.C. Lim
Jim Lawrence
Andrew Sparacino
Laurie D’ Amour
Roxanna Oltean
Carmen Lewis
Margaret Spence
Elizabeth Simon
Eric Amber Sr.
Christopher Wright
Melanie Owen
Anne Marie Wheeler
Brian Dowse
Josh Mason
Bret Moncrieff
Glen Wilson
Jason Schmooley
Jesse Klimove
Trevor Maisey
Shawn Davis
Leonard Paul
Jessica Rowlan
Susan Dowse
Sandra Balcer
Mo Lawrence
James Lawrence
Iris Sim
Joanne McCalllum
Andrew Chambers
Joy Dums
George Spence
Ann Dowse
Paul Ross
Charles Lawrence
Mike Parker

Chastity Anderson
Rose Murdoch
Ron Miler
Tron / Tory
Laurie D’ Amour
Cooler Girl 1
Cooler Girl 2
Mrs. Mitchner
Eric Amber Sr.
Farrel’s Friend
Prostitute in High River
BBQ Bangerette 2
Raquet Ball Player
Fighter (winner)
Fighter (loser)
Fight crowd member
Fight crowd member
Fight crowd member
Fight crowd member
Fight crowd member
Leonard Paul
Girl at Bar
Funeral Attendee
Funeral Attendee
Funeral Attendee
Funeral Attendee
Funeral Attendee
Funeral Attendee
BBQ Attendee
BBQ Attendee
BBQ Attendee
BBQ Attendee
BBQ Attendee
BBQ Attendee
BBQ Attendee

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

112 minutes – Action/Adventure, Comedy
Language: English

Release date: August 13, 2010
DVD release date: November 9, 2010

Production company:

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Meet charming and jobless Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera). A bass guitarist in a garage band, the 22-year-old has just met the girl of his dreams…literally. But there’s a catch to winning Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He will need to defeat her seven evil exes who are coming to kill him. Genre-smashing filmmaker Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) tells the amazing story of one romantic slacker’s quest to power up with love in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a U.S.-Canada co-production.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldScott Pilgrim vs. the World
Producer: Eric Gitter
Nira Park
Marc Platt
Edgar Wright
Executive Producer:

J. Miles Dale
Jared LeBoff
Adam Siegel
Ronaldo Vasconcellos


Lisa Gitter
Joe Nozemack
Steven V. Scavelli


Edgar Wright


Michael Bacall
Edgar Wright


Bill Pope


Jonathan Amos
Paul Machliss


Nigel Godrich

Production Designer:

Marcus Rowland

Art Director:

Nigel Churcher
Odetta Stoddard (Set Decoration)

Costume Designer:

Laura Jean Shannon


Michael Cera
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Kieran Culkin
Anna Kendrick
Alison Pill
Aubrey Plaza
Jason Schwartzman
Johnny Simmons
Mark Webber
Ellen Wong
Satya Bhabha
Will Seatle Bowes
Celine Lepage
Keita Saito
Mark LeRoy
Kjartan Hewitt
Ben Lewis
Nelson Franklin
Kristina Pesic
Matt Watts
Ingrid Haas
Maurie W. Kaufmann
Marlee Otto
Christine Watson
Chris Evans
Chantelle Chung
Don McKellar
Jung-Yul Kim
Erik Knudsen
Brie Larson
Abigail Chu
Mae Whitman
Joe Dinicol
Craig Stickland
Bill Hader (voice)

Scott Pilgrim
Ramona Flowers
Wallace Wells
Stacey Pilgrim
Kim Pine
Julie Powers
Gideon Graves
Young Neil
Stephen Stills
Knives Chau
Matthew Patel
Party Goer
Party Goer
Kyle Katayanagi
Party Goer
The Other Scott
Party Goer
Demon Hipster Chick
Lucas Lee
Tamara Chen
Envy Adams
Roxy Richter
Elevator Hipster
Elevator Hipster
The Voice

Dominique Cardona

Dominique Cardona, film director,

B: 1955 in Algeria

Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert are internationally acclaimed directors. They are the recipients of multiple awards for their complex films about women. A few of these include their first feature, Finn’s Girl, which screened at Outfest: Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, where it won the Outstanding Emerging Talent Award. Their first short dramatic film, Below the Belt, was selected for both the Berlin International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for a Genie Award. Their ground-breaking 1997 doc, My Feminism, featuring Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, Urvashi Vaid and Urvashi Butalia, premiered at the Montreal International Film Festival and won Best Feature Documentary at Reel Affirmations Washington D.C. They are known for their ability to combine feminist activism with compelling storytelling, continue to use film as a medium for sharing the global truth of women’s lives. Born in Algeria and raised in France, Dominique Cardona moved to Canada in 1990.

We list her credits as a Director first.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Thank God I’m a Lesbian (1992, documentary)
My Feminism (1997, documentary)
Below the Belt (1999, short)

Sharia in Canada: The Pitfalls of Diversity (2005, documentary, short)
Sharia in Canada: Something to Fear? (2005, documentary, short)
Finn’s Girl (co-director, 2007)
Margarita (co-director, 2012)
Catch and Release (aka Keely and Du, co-director, 2019)

TV Series:
Amélie et Compagnie (2018-2019, 23 episodes)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Margarita (2012)
Catch and Release (aka Keely and Du, 2019)

Credits as a Producer:
These Shoes Weren’t Made for Walking (Associate Producer, 1995, documentary, short)
Finn’s Girl (co-director, 2007)
Margarita (co-director, 2012)
Catch and Release (aka Keely and Du, co-director, 2019)

Catch and Release, movie, poster,

Catch and Release

80 minutes – Drama, Thriller
Language: English
Festival release date:
Release date: July 10, 2020 (Digital, On Demand), July 14, 2020 (iTunes Canada)
Production company: Dykon Films
Canadian distributor:Game Theory Films

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-Nominated play “Keely and Du”, by Jane Martin, in Catch and Release, Keely (Laurence Leboeuf), a young pregnant woman, wakes to find herself captive on a remote northern island. Frightened and desperate, she clashes violently with Du (Nancy Palk), the seemingly impenetrable religious fundamentalist who is both her guard and caregiver. Keely quickly discovers that she is nothing more than a pawn in a sinister anti-abortion game being played out far from her wilderness prison. With escape from the island impossible, she must rely on her wits if she hopes to outplay her captors and win back her freedom.

Catch and Release was originally released with the same title of the play, Keely and Du.

Catch and ReleaseCatch and Release
Producer: Laurie Colbert
Paul Lee
Naomi McCormack
Jennifer Mesich
Rechna Varma
Executive Producer:

Sarah E. Johnson
Eve Lewis

Line Producer:

Ryan Reaney


Dominique Cardona
Laurie Colbert


Dominique Cardona
Laurie Colbert

Story Editor:

Lucie Pagé


James Klopko


Gino Zolezzi


David Baron

Art Director:

Justin Reu

Costume Designer:

Nola Chaters


Laurence Leboeuf
Nancy Palk
Aidan Devine
Peter Mooney
Michael James Regan

Young Man

TIFF Goes Hybrid

TIFF Goes Hybrid, image,
Photo of Cameron Bailey at TIFF 2016 by Ralph Lucas for Northernstars.ca

TIFF Goes Hybrid
by Staff

(June 24, 2020 – Toronto, ON) It’s the news Toronto festival-goers have been waiting for. What would TFF do in the face of a continuing, if diminishing pandemic? So far this year all other Toronto-based festivals have opted for a digital version. TIFF is hoping to have it both ways. Actual and Virtual.

In a statement this morning the festival announced that “The 45th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival will take place September 10–19, with 50 feature films that represent a full range of star-driven movies, first-rate international cinema, documentaries, and Canadian creativity. It’s a Festival tailored to fit the moment, with physical screenings at marquee venues and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, digital press conferences, and industry talks.”

They plan to do it by using a lot of common sense and trusting patrons to follow the rules. Their statement goes on to say “Over the first five days, TIFF’s full slate of films will premiere as physical, socially-distanced screenings. Festival-goers can enjoy drive-ins and outdoor experiences that take them beyond the movie theatre. For the first time in its history, TIFF will launch a digital platform for the Festival, affording new opportunities to connect with audiences beyond Toronto. Over the 10 days, the platform will host digital screenings for all 50 films, as well as numerous talks and special events.

For 2020, TIFF will be welcoming 50 celebrated filmmakers and actors invited to help the deliver a strong Festival this year. They will include Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, Anurag Kashyap, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Nadine Labaki, Alfonso Cuarón, Tantoo Cardinal, Riz Ahmed, Rian Johnson, Jason Reitman, Isabelle Huppert, Claire Denis, Atom Egoyan, Priyanka Chopra, Viggo Mortensen, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo, Lulu Wang, Rosamund Pike, Sarah Gadon, and Denis Villeneuve, to name a a few.

The pandemic has hit TIFF hard,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head, TIFF (pictured above in 2016). “But we’ve responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience. Our teams have had to rethink everything, and open our minds to new ideas. In countless video calls over the past three months we have rebuilt our Festival for 2020 drawing on our five decades of commitment to strong curation, support for filmmakers, and engagement with audiences.

We have listened to this year’s urgent calls for greater representation of under-represented voices. You’ll see that this year at the Festival. And we have watched as audiences have embraced cinema’s ability to transport them through screens of all sizes. You’ll see that too. We’re excited to present thoughtful, high-impact programming this September that reflects our belief that there’s no stopping great storytelling.”

“TIFF has a proud history of programming award-winning films, expanding the conversation to include a multitude of voices, and in creating boundary-pushing initiatives for the industry,” said Joana Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head, TIFF. “And this year we’ve added new innovations and ways to give back to the community. In doing so, we’re aiming to advance what a film festival is capable of delivering — for audiences and the film industry. We could never have anticipated the global seismic changes we would be facing in 2020. We tapped into the original spirit of the Festival from when it began in 1976 as our guiding light. The distilled edition of TIFF 2020 reflects a deep love of film, passion for our loyal audiences, commitment to the industry, and a whole lot of heart.”

Information regarding film selection, screening venues, ticket sales for both Members and the public, accreditation, and TIFF’s Industry Conference will be available in the coming weeks.

Nancy Palk

Nancy Palk, actress,
Nancy Palk in a publicity still from the film Catch and Release.

Nancy Palk costars as Du, and anti-abortionist and religious fundamentalist in the film Catch and Release.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

The Way of Duty (TV-1994)
The Defenders: Choice of Evils (TV-1998)
The Defenders: Taking the First (TV-1998)

The Loretta Claiborne Story (TV-2000)
Custody of the Heart (TV-2000)
For Love of Olivia (TV-2001)
Saint Monica (2002)
Conviction (TV-2002)
The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John (2003)

When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story (TV-2010)
The Other Half (2016)
Catch and Release (2019)
Georgetown (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
Rogue (2015-2016)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
The Campbells (1986)
E.N.G. (1993)
Lonesome Dove: The Series (1995)
Traders (1997)
Due South (1998)

Emily of New Moon (2000)
Twice in a Lifetime (2000)
Zoe Busiek: Wild Card (2003)
Mutant X (2003)
Starhunter (2004)
This is Wonderland (2004)
Queer as Folk (2004)
1-800-Missing (2004)
H2O (2004)

King & Maxwell (2013)
Reign (2014)
The Girlfriend Experience (2016)
Salvation (2017)
Cardinal (2018)
Suits (2019)
Private Eyes (2019)

Catch and Release, movie, poster,

Sean Cisterna

Sean Cisterna is a Producer-Director-Screenwriter. We list his credits as a Director first.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Holiday Hypnosis (VR-2005)
War of the Dead (VR-2006)
The Legend (VR-2006)
Blood Creek (VR-2006)
The Haunting at Thompson High (VR-2006)
Chicknapping (VR-2006)
King of the Camp (2008)

Moon Point (2012)
You Are Here: Mapping Skills (VR-2013,short)
30 Ghosts (2013, documentary)
Full Out (2015)
Kiss and Cry (2017)
From the Vine (2019)

One Night (2020)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Holiday Hypnosis (VR-2005)
Air Hockey (VR-2005)
The Haunting at Thompson High (VR-2006)
Chicknapping (VR-2006)

Credits as a Producer:
My Brother’s Keeper (2004)
The Legend (VR-2006)
Blood Creek (VR-2006)
The Haunting at Thompson High (VR-2006)
Chicknapping (VR-2006)
King of the Camp (2008)

Moon Point (2012)
Buyer’s Market (2012, short)
You Are Here: Mapping Skills (VR-2013,short)
30 Ghosts (2013, documentary)
Full Out (2015)
A Sunday Kind of Love (Executive Producer, 2016)
Kiss and Cry (2017)
From the Vine (2019)

From the Vine, movie, poster,

From the Vine

89 minutes – Drama
Language: English, Italian (with subtitles)
Festival release date: July 20, 2019 (Ischia Global Film & Music Fest)
Release date: July 10, 2020 (Digital, On Demand)
Production companies: Mythic Productions, Farpoint Films, Pointmedia Italia SRL
Canadian distributor: Mythic Productions

Based on the acclaimed novel “Finding Marco” by Kenneth Canio Cancellara, From The Vine tells the story of Marco Gentile (Joe Pantoliano) who has experienced an ethical crisis and travels back to his hometown in rural Italy to recalibrate his moral compass. There he finds new purpose in reviving his grandfather’s old vineyard, offering the small town of Acerenza a sustainable future, and reconnecting with his estranged family in the process.

From the Vine is an Italy-Canada coproduction.

From the VineFrom the Vine
Producer: Kyle Bornais
Paula Brancati
Sean Cisterna
Francesco Papa
Executive Producer:

Ken Cancellara


Sean Cisterna


Willem Wennekers


Scott McClellan


Andrew Wall


Francesco Morettini

Production Designer:

Alfonso Rastelli

Art Director:

Carlo Brunori

Costume Designer:

Marissa Schwartz


Joe Pantoliano
Paula Brancati
Wendy Crewson
Tony Nardi
Tony Nappo
Marco Leonardi
Franco Lo Presti
Kevin Hanchard
Ken Cancellara
Rita del Piano
Sonia Dhillon Tully
Blu Lepore
Frank Moore

Marco Gentile
Laura Gentile
Marina Gentile
Train Conductor
Barbara Cavendish
Customs Agent
Gordon Welsh