Vladimir Jon Cubrt is best known for his portrayal of Garret Jacob Hobbs on NBC’s hit series, Hannibal. He is also the founder of the stage production company Zocalo Toronto, writing and producing three original works between 2007 and 2012 including Samkon and Francis Go Swimming; Flin Flonning and The Weeping Salsa, a dance-drama hybrid in which he also starred. The film Luba, in which he costars, is also his debut as a feature writer and producer.
Features & TV Movies: VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
Closer and Closer (TV-1996) Color of Justice (TV-1997) The Wall (TV-1998) The Wrong Girl (TV-1999)The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer (TV-1999)
Her Best Friend’s Husband (TV-2002) A Christmas Visitor (TV-2002) Ham & Cheese (2004) Confessions of an American Bride (TV-2005) Hollywoodland (2006) The Engagement Party (2007, short)
Planet Sun: The Tan-Fastic Adventures of Shay and Stay (2010, short) The Eternal Void (2010, short) Pirates Are Bad People (2011, short) Dreemer (2012, short) Swept Under (TV-205) I Had a Dream (2015, short) Prisoner X (2016) Kodachrome (2017) Luba (2018) Stockholm (2018)
TV Series – Cast: Hannibal (2013-2015)
TV Series – Guest appearances: The Hardy Boys (1995) The Famous Jett Jackson (1999)
Earth: Final Conflict (2002) Odyssey 5 (2002, 2003) Queer as Flik (2003) Veritas: The Quest (2003)
Lost Girl (2010) King (2011) Against the Wall (2011) Nikita (2012) Covert Affairs (2012) Warehouse 13 (2013) Rookie Blue (2013) Beauty and the Beast (2013) Designated Survivor (2016) In Contempt (2018)
87 minutes – Drama Language: English Festival release date: March 24, 2018 (Canadian Film Fest, Toronto) Release date: January 10, 2020 (Toronto, Calgary) Production company: Canadian distributor:
After her ex-husband’s secret addiction to crack cocaine lands him in jail, Luba manages to scrape together a life for herself and her newborn son. She strives to turn her life around while juggling a floundering love-life, odd jobs and an uncertain financial future. Six years later, with bills piling up and no one else to depend on, Luba is relieved that Donnie is on the mend and back in their son’s life. But when he relapses and spirals out of control, Luba is thrust into a fight for survival.
An official selection of 8 international film festivals, Luba marks the feature film debut of director Caley Wilson. It had its Canadian Premiere at the Canadian Film Fest in Toronto.
Nicole Maroon Vladimir Jon Cubrt Porter Schaefer Jillian Rees-Brown Jeff Kassel Brianna D’Aguanno Patricia Casey Frank MacLeod Patrice Goodman Jim Codrington Precious Chong Suzanne Coy Sam Moses Dwight McFee Gerry Mendicino Derek Murchie Brendan Beiser Courtney Deelen Stephen Jackson Karen Ivany Carl Bauer Jamie Robinson Cassidy Civiero Phi Huynh Nicola St. John Tiana Asperjan Paul De La Rosa Joy Tanner Donna Christo Stephanie Warren Richard Lett
Luba Broda Donnie Marchuk Matty Marchuk Baba Nancy Ben David Jasmine David Lena Mabley Mike Mabley Melanie Perly Angela Paula (Case Worker) Dr Znaimer Luba’s Father Paolo the Landlord Officer Howard Justin Tara Jerry Mrs. Woodhead Officer Bower Yann Clerk Richard Micks Spike Delmore Novotny Adult Ed Teacher Wilma Dealer
(January 7, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Designer Yves Saint Laurent said he was constantly looking for perfection. Had he lived long enough, he would have found it in the choice of Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen, fresh from Season 4 of Baroness Von Sketch Show, as the hosts on the 2020 CAFTCAD Awards gala on March 1st at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
CAFTACAD stands for the Canadian Alliance of Film and Television Costume Arts and Design. For over a decade, the organization has worked towards bringing together Canadian costume professionals from all corners of the industry, regardless of union affiliation. They held their inaugural awards event in 2019.
“Aurora and Jennifer ably personify the hilarity, the glamour, and the madness that is our business. But more than that, with 144 sketches in Season five of Baroness Von Sketch Show, and 902 distinct characters, they know better than anyone else that while drama is easy and comedy is hard, sketch comedy is kickass warfare that you can’t win without brilliant costumes. We are thrilled beyond words that these Baronesses will take the helm of the awards show this year,” said Co-Chairs Cynthia Amsden and Joanna Syrokomla.
Aurora Browne is proud to be one of the co-creators, writers, executive producers, and stars of CBC’s acclaimed Baroness von Sketch Show, Aurora Browne graduated from York University’s theatre program with a BFA in Acting, and began honing her sketch chops when she was hired by Toronto’s world-renowned Second City Mainstage. She recently co-created and starred in Newborn Moms, and stars in The Writer’s Block on CBC digital. She has been nominated for Canadian Comedy Awards, Dora, and ACTRA awards, and in 2008 won the CCA for Best Female Improviser.
Jennifer Whalen is also co-creator, executive producer, writer, and co-star on Baroness von Sketch. She has been the showrunner for Season 4 and Season 5 of the critically acclaimed show that has won multiple awards including 12 Canadian Screen Awards, three Canadian Comedy Awards, two Banff Rockies and one ACTRA award.
The CAFTCAD Awards will be held at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto on Sunday, March 1st, 2020. Click here for more information.
(January 6, 2020 – Montréal, QC) For the last ten years it was the best of times for Québec cinema. Success story followed success story from 2010 and into the new decade that just kicked in. I won’t be corny enough to say it has also been the worst of times, but for sure dark shadows sometimes loomed, and in the middle of the decade, the tightly knit film community got assaulted by the worst possible news.
In 2009, Xavier Dolan signalled a rising wave of Quebec filmmakers with his provocatively titled, quasi-autobiographical movie, I Killed My Mother. The then 19-year-old writer-director-producer-editor-costume designer, not to mention actor since childhood, followed up his attention grabbing debut with Heartbeats (2010). Back in 2012, I asked Dolan about his proclivity for style in his work, and in his personal appearance. “No style,” he said, “no taste. No taste, no judgement. No judgement, no brain.”
Dolan’s prolific, often gay-themed output continued with Laurence Anyways (2012), Tom at the Farm (2013), the explosively brilliant Mommy (2014), and It’s Only the End of the World (2016). During a round table interview session at TIFF 2014, he offered an insight into his inspiration: “Working with actors, and working as an actor is the sheer joy of this business for me, the sheer pleasure of understanding acting, of fine-tuning it, of exploring a variety of acting styles, and more and more the feasibility of working with great actors who I’ve admired. I have childhood heroes with whom I would love to work, and more and more, I feel that I may be getting closer to them.”
For Dolan’s next project, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, he got close and worked with a dream cast that included Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Thandie Newton, Kathy Bates, and Kit Harington. Over the next two years, the industry yammered away about how Dolan’s first English-language movie had bogged down in endless post-production. After years of screening his projects at Cannes, Dolan withdrew Death and Life from the 2018 festival and premiered it at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Reviews and box office for the film’s limited release were more than disappointing.
By the end of the decade, Dolan was talking about restraining his flamboyant moviemaking. At the end of 2019, he released the intimate comedy-drama Mathias et Maxime, which has been received warmly, but without the excitement triggered by previous pictures.
Other thriving Quebec filmmakers managed to finesse English-language productions with a success that has so far eluded Dolan. Following the release of his last mainly French-language film, Café de Flore (2011), Jean-Marc Vallée drew admiring attention with his Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club (2013), Wild (2014), and Demolition (2015). He has worked with Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams on multiple award-winning shows.
Wild was produced by and starred Reese Witherspoon, with whom Vallée launched a working relationship on the hit series Big Little Lies (2017-). “I feel safe with Jean-Marc,” Witherspoon told Variety, “more safe than I’ve ever felt with anybody, because he’s my brother, he’s my partner … We don’t have any artifice between us.” Working with a different team, Vallée directed the hit Sharp Objects (2018), another series that delves into shadowy areas. Vallée says he loves filmed stories that allow him to narrate “as if they are fables.”
Another writer-director, Philippe Falardeau, picked up awards, strong box office, and international admiration for Monsieur Lazhar (2011), a touching story about an immigrant teacher. The films that followed, inside and outside Quebec, did not achieve the overseas status of work by Dolan, Vallée, or Denis Villeneuve, but they are solid projects reflecting Falardeau’s love for intimate stories and his fascination with varied cultures.
The Good Lie (2014), set in the Sudan, features Reese Witherspoon; My Internship in Canada (2015) is a political satire about culture clash; and Chuck (2016) tells the real-life story of the failed boxer who inspired Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky character and stars Liev Schreiber, Elizabeth Moss, and Naomi Watts. As the Twenties begin, Falardeau is in post-production on My Salinger Year, which probes the life of legendary writer, J.D. Salinger.
The most spectacular rise of a Quebec filmmaker has been Denis Villeneuve’s; the Hollywood Critics Association just named him the filmmaker of the decade.
Villeneuve was already accomplished and highly respected in 2010 when Incendies, his powerful film about a family caught up in Middle-Eastern chaos, picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign-Language film, 9 Prix Jutra and 8 Genie wins, as well as a strong return at the Canadian box office. Hollywood called, and Villeneuve went on to one taut, muscular exploration of human darkness after another: Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), Sicario (2015), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
For a sci-fi movie lover since his teenage years, Blade Runner 2049 was Villeneuve’s dream project, one that achieves moments of visionary strangeness. Arrival (2016) plays as more gentle sci-fi from a moviemaker currently trying to pull off an adaptation that his hero David Lynch screwed up. In post-production on Frank Herbert’s Dune, Villeneuve is also prepping another cherished venture, Cleopatra.
Movies are “like dreams,” Villeneuve told me during an interview. “When you dream, that’s a way for the subconscious to get rid of dark matter. My movies all have in common that I’m trying to dig into my fears. Deep fears. And the fear of violence is very alive. I’m trying to feel the impact of violence, trying to explore it. It’s so present in our world.”
While times have changed, productions by men still outnumber women’s work. Meanwhile, disturbingly rare in Quebec and TROC (The Rest of Canada), Jephté Bastien’s Sortie 67 (Exit 67) was an uncompromising, striking movie about black characters. Released in 2010, the film depicted Haitian gang bangers in Montreal’s St. Michel District. At the premiere, an ex-gangster told me that the movie made him cry. “That was my life on the screen.”
Loaded with style, substance, and seductive cool, the picture aspired to be a barrier-breaker, “an entry point,” as Haitian-born Bastien said. It won the Claude Jutra Award for best feature by a first-time film director at the 31st Genie Awards.
Ironically, despite the success of filmmakers inside and outside Quebec, the domestic film business took a hit. In 2009, local movies commanded 13% of the market, and in previous years, box office was even healthier. In 2010 the numbers fell to 9%. In 2009, the madcap comedy De père en flic (Fathers and Guns) earned $10 million; the biggest hit of 2010 was the air crash story, Piché entre ciel et terre, which barely made it to $3.5 million.
Pictures that were geared for commercial success failed to bring in big bucks. The escalating success of high-profile American shows gave the local industry the heebie-jeebies; maybe Quebecers were getting bored with local product. In fact, by the end of the decade, films like Ken Scott’s comedy Starbuck (2011), re-made in the U.S. as Delivery Man (2013), did respectable business without attaining the heights they reached back in the day.
Despite the downturn, top producers Luc Déry and Kim McCraw of micro_scope, which made Villeneuve’s Incendies and Enemy, Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar and My Internship in Canada, have consolidated as one of the country’s most fine-tuned production operations. Their company is about to release Falardeau’s My Salinger Year.
In 2016, the Quebec film scene was shattered by terrible news. For years, the late Claude Jutra’sMon Oncle Antoine (1971) was routinely named the best Canadian film ever made. Then suddenly, the brilliant director-writer, beloved inside and outside the industry, mourned since his tragic death in 1986, was credibly alleged to be a sexual predator and pedophile who systematically assaulted a six-year-old boy into his adolescence.
The credibility of the charges led Quebec officials to eliminate Jutra’s name from eight streets and parks. And 2017 was the second year that Quebec’s annual film awards were no longer named after the filmmaker. The award is now called the Prix Iris, and except for a few of Jutra’s closest friends, who fear there might have been a rush to judgment, no-one says very much about him anymore. I have memories of casual encounters with a guy who was warm and friendly. It’s shocking to contemplate that over many years, this genial and talented man poisoned a young boy’s life.
The decade began relatively well for founder and president of the Montreal World Film Festival, city legend Serge Losique. In 2010, one of his fiercest critics, Le Devoir’s Odile Tremblay wrote that the beleaguered fest seemed to be getting back on the rails.
Talented filmmaker Louis Belanger, whose Route 132 opened the 2010 edition, told media, “This festival has been a very good launching pad for my films.” Denis Villeneuve agreed that the MWFF worked for Quebec releases, but he told the Journal de Montreal, “The truth is that the World Film Festival no longer exists on the world stage.”
As was his wont, the pugilistic Losique shot out a press release proclaiming, “The Montreal World Film Festival leads all prominent Quebec festivals in international media coverage.” Then over the years, various problems, including lawsuits, tax issues, and overall financial crises plagued the event.
I programmed for the fest in 2016 and 2018 when thousands of inquiries and submissions poured into the festival office on Bleury street. Contrary to popular myths, some excellent movies screened. But apart from the festival’s gracious Imperial Theatre, Losique found it harder and harder to book venues, scheduling got chaotic, and audiences dwindled. Finally, in the summer 2019, Losique announced he was cancelling the 43rd edition, claiming he wanted to prepare for 2020.
Meanwhile, in 2010, the FanTasia International Film Festival opened the decade in the aftermath of a breakthrough moment. The previous year, the fest enjoyed a Quentin Tarantino-approved screening of his Inglourious Basterds. Telefilm Canada exec Sheila De La Varende showed up at the opening of the 2010 event and addressed the typically excited Fantasia fans. It was a confirmation that the fest was finally benefitting from official recognition, and it hasn’t looked back since.
FanTasia screenings are more popular than ever, and it hosts various events, including Frontières, a forum for genre picture professionals. Likewise, the Festival du Nouveau cinéma (FNC), despite some turbulence a couple of years ago, has kept a steady course, drawing in its loyal fans with an intelligently curated program split into various sections, among them competitions.
In July, 2018, the Montreal film scene lost one of its most beloved characters, the curly-haired, impishly witty Harry Gulkin. Gulkin was one of Canada’s first indie producers (1975’s Lies My Father Told Me, 1978’s Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, a Mordechai Richler children’s story, 1978’s Two Solitudes) who went on to become a project manager at SODEC (Société de développement des entreprises culturelles du Québec). Moviemakers Gulkin worked with all say he was helpful and inspiring. Late in his life, Gulkin and moviemaker-actress Sarah Polley revealed that he was her birth father. The revelation led to Polley’s innovative and award-winning doc, Stories We Tell.
In May, a few months before Gulkin’s death, his friend, producer Kevin Tierney died prematurely. I had a once-in-a-while smoked meat lunch ritual with Kevin, and we had the final get-together with Harry at Lester’s Deli in Outremont. It was a warm summer’s day on the terrace, and like all Montrealers we discussed Lester’s sandwiches compared to Schwartz’s, the Main’s, and the Snowdon Deli’s.
Conversational sparks flew, sarcasm reigned. Kevin was always irreverent and funny, known best as the producer of Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which he co-wrote, the highest-grossing Canadian film at the time and winner of the 2006 Genie Award for Best Picture.
After a long career as a teacher, publicist, and producer for Montreal’s Rock Demers’ company, Tierney struck out on his own and his own Park Ex Pictures. He was a welcome sight on panels at industry events, and key festivals, an enthusiastic supporter of Canadian filmmaking, working for institutions like the Cinémathèque québécoise. Tierney produced films written and directed by his son Jacob. His daughter Brigid is an actress.
Thinking about Harry and Kevin as I write this, I realize how much I miss them. Another loss to Quebec’s film world is venerable actress Andrée Lachapelle who died recently after returning to the screen at the age of 88 in Louise Archambault’s And the Birds Rained Down, which will stand as one of the best movies of the decade.
Maurie Alioff is a film journalist, critic, screenwriter and media columnist. He has written for radio and television and taught screenwriting at Montreal’s Vanier College. A former editor for Cinema Canada and Take One, as well as other magazines, he is affiliated with the Quebec media industry publication, CTVM.Info. His articles have appeared in various publications, including Canadian Cinematographer, POV Magazine, and The New York Times.
(January 5, 2020 – Toronto, ON) On December 31, 2009, we published an article titled The Top 10 Canadian Films of the Decade. There was some discussion as to whether or not it was an “official” decade, but in late 2009 if you counted all the years that started with a 2 and a 0, you would end up with 10 by time you got to 2009. Here it is 10 years and 5 days later and it’s time again to look back over the previous decade and pick our Top 10 Canadian Films of the 2010s.
Regular contributors Maurie Alioff and Wyndham Wise prepared their own lists as did I. The only rule we used ten years ago was asking if the film was memorable. As I wrote back then, “Without consulting any previously published list, which 10 Canadian titles first come to mind when you think back over the past 10 years?”
Although we reference them in this article, my thinking was we should discard box office numbers and the number of awards won, and strictly determine our choices based on whether or not the film was memorable. If you can remember a film ten or nine or eight years later, that should be more important than anything else. For example, if Casablanca was on TCM this week, 78 years after it was released, no one would care if it made money or won any awards. There are people who can recite whole scenes, pages and pages of the screenplay for The Godfather. Its box office take and award count mean nothing compared to how it lives on in our memory. All of the films that made this final cut are highly memorable. They were also on at least two of the lists submitted. Many of them showed up on all the lists.
As we did 10 years ago our choices are listed in alphabetical order:
A Dangerous Method (2011) This co-production (UK-Germany-Canada-Switzerland-USA) costarred Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, and Vincent Cassel. Directed by David Cronenberg, the screenplay was adapted by writer Christopher Hampton from his own 2002 stage play The Talking Cure, which itself was based on the 1993 non-fiction book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein. A Dangerous Method premiered at the 68th Venice Film Festival and had its Canada/North American Premire at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. It won 15 awards, five of them Genie Awards (but not Best Picture) and five of them Directors Guild of Canada Awards including Best Feature Film and Best Director. It’s box office take was just shy of $27.5-million.
Barney’s Version (2010) This film was on lists and off lists and made it to the final for a variety of reasons but mostly because of it being memorable for the fact it was the one novel by Mordecai Richler that everyone said could never be made into a film, while the novel itself was his last and some have said his best. It was also memorable for scenes including Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti being totally politically incorrect just as political incorrectness was starting to come under fire. Nominated for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, it won 7 Genie Awards including Best Actor for Giamatti and Best Supporting Actor for Hoffman. Giamatti also took a Golden Globe home as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Film. It made a little under $9-million but reportedly cost about $30-million to make. It’s why we don’t use awards or box office info to select our 10 Best.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) This film also made it to the list for being highly memorable both visually and in terms of nerdy film stuff. The nerdy film stuff is that when the decade began no one would have bet money on a Québec director being chosen to direct the sequel to one of the best movies ever made. This also helps to illustrate my argument about “Memorable” being equally and possibly more important than box office or awards. Movies become classics years after they were first released and reach some higher unnamed special status decades later. Blade Runner had become a classic and getting to make Blade Runner 2049 was only going to go to a director in which Hollywood had absolute faith and that director is Denis Villeneuve. It’s on our list because it was a USA-UK-Hungary-Canada-Spain co-production. It brought in over $260-million dollars. Other Canadian content included the film’s star, Ryan Gosling and some of the special effects were provided by visual effects companies in Montréal. It took 4 months to shoot and didn’t win many awards but should become its own future classic in its own right, not because it is a sequel.
Incendies (2010) This film is one of three that was up for consideration on all lists. It was also directed by Denis Villeneuve. It won 34 international awards and made a little over $16-million. The film tells the story of twins Jeanne and Simon Marwan who discover their father they thought dead is alive, and they have a brother they never knew existed. Adapted from Wajdi Mouawad’s acclaimed play. Incendies (Scorched) looks at the roots of all wars through two young adults’ personal voyage to the core of hatred and enduring love. Awards: Genies – Nominated for 10, won 8 including Best Picture, Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, Cinematography, Editing, Sound and Sound Editing. Jutras – Best Film, Director, Actress, Art Direction, Cinematography, Screenplay, Editing, Sound and Costume Design. 34 awards 10 nominations including a 2011 Oscar® Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Selected as Best Film by the Toronto Film Critics Association, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, Toronto International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Atlantic Film Festival, Australian Film Critics Association and the Boston Society of Film Critics. The Montreal Gazette’s Brendan Kelly gave the film five stars and called it a “masterwork” and it is highly memorable a full decade after it was released.
Juste la fin du monde (2016, aka It’s Only the End of the World) This is a special film from a special filmmaker. Xavier Dolan who, like Denis Villeneuve, has two films on our list, called this his “best yet” in 2016 when he went to Cannes for the third time. A France-Canada coproduction, the film was adapted by Dolan from the play by Jean-Luc Lagarce. The story revolves around a writer, Louis, 34-years-old who decides to return to his hometown after an absence of 12 years. He plans to tell his family of his upcoming death. The film had already won the Ecumenical Jury award at Cannes for its “human qualities that deal with the spiritual dimension.” Surprising most critics it went on to win the Grand Prix, which is second only to the coveted Palme d’Or. Canadian directors Denys Arcand and David Cronenberg have been honoured at Cannes, but Xavier Dolan became only the second Canadian, after Atom Egoyan, to be handed the Grand Prix. Juste la fin du monde made $9.2-million at the box office. Including the Cannes Grand Prix it won 17 awards including 6 Canadian Screen Awards (Best Picture, Best Director) and 5 Prix Iris, which had replaced the Jutra Awards. Dolan also picked up a coveted César in France as Best Director for his work on this film.
Mommy (2014) Also by Xavier Dolan, Mommy is memorable for its story line about a single-parent who inherits custody of her teenage son who has ADHD and can often be impulsive and violent, and the people who inhabited those characters. It was one of three Canadian feature films to screen at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It swept the Canadian Screen Awards winning an incredible nine of the coveted trophies including Best Motion Picture and Best Director for Dolan. It won 10 Jutra Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. His 5th film as a Director, while all of his previous film’s pointed to a very special talent, Mommy solidified his grasp on the Québec film industry, confirming his “wunderkind” status, which was helped by Dolan sharing the Cannes Jury Prize with French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and winning a Best Foreign Film César as well. It reportedly made $13.1 million worldwide.
Monsieur Lazhar (2011) This film was a favourite the day it opened; an immediate hit. Adapted from the play Bashir Lazhar by Évelyne de la Cheneliére, it was Canada’s official entry for Best Foreign Film at the 2012 Academy Awards. It won six Genie Awards in March of 2012 including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Editing. Produced by the same team behind Incendies (Luc Déry and Kim McGraw), in addition to a remarkable and touching piece of work from award-winning writer-director Philippe Falardeau, it also introduced us to the very young Sophie Nélisse launching her career. The film made about $6.5 million and was one of the three films that made it on all of our lists, guaranteeing it a place on our Top 10 of the ‘10s.
Rebelle (2012) The story, briefly: “Somewhere in an outport in sub-Saharan Africa, Komona, a girl of twelve lives quietly with her parents. One day when the rebels arrive, they loot the village and Komona is captured then forced to kill her parents. At fourteen, she is pregnant and begins to tell her life story to the child she carries but does not want in her womb.” A stunning comment on a part of the world we live in, writer-director-co-producer Kim Nguyen’s tale of heartbreak at a very different level touched everyone who saw the film and became a witness to how some lives are lived in this so-called modern day. At the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, Rebelle, or War Witch as it is titled in English, picked up the World Narrative Award and the Best Actress in a Narrative Feature for the young Congo native, Rachel Mwanza. After winning 10 Canadian Screen Awards on March 3rd, 2013, it went on it win 8 Jutra Awards in Quebec at the 15th annual Prix Jutra in Montréal. Shot in the Democratic Republic Of Congo, the film returned only a small fraction of its production budget.
Room (2015) An Ireland-Canada co-production, Room is about a women who had been kidnapped and held in a shed for years. She now has a young son and this shed, this one room, is all he has ever known until one day they escape. Room was named Best International Independent Film at the Moët British Independent Film Awards in December, 2015. In 2016, Brie Larson won the Best Actress Academy Award® for her role as Ma in this film. Written by Emma Donoghue, who was born in Ireland but moved to Canada in 1998, Room won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015. According to Box Office Mojo Room grossed a little over $35.4 million, just shy of 3 times its production budget. It’s also the film that launched the career of Jacob Tremblay.
Stories We Tell (2012) The last film on our list, alphabetically, was the first on all the lists that helped guide our final decision. It is also the only documentary. Stories We Tell is a highly personal visual recounting about the family Sarah Polley grew up in, as told largely by that family in a film directed by Polley. Her 7th film and first faction film, the docu-drama works particularly well because of the scenes recreated using actors and seamlessly matched with the archival family footage Polley was using. It touched a chord with many in an era of blended families, the always shifting sands of love and lust, and the early days of people getting really interested in who they are and where they came from; Ancestry.com had launched in 1996. On January 8, 2013, Stories We Tell won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, which includes a $100,000 cash prize. It recently ranked 26th on BBC’s 100 Greatest Films Directed by Women.
It is highly probably none of the people who participated in this our 2nd Top 10 of the Decade exercise will be around for the next one in 2030. That said, it is our collective hope that whoever is publishing Northernstars at that time keeps up this tradition if, our 2nd hope, there is still a Canadian film industry worth writing about.
Ralph 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.
(December 31, 2019 – Toronto, ON) For the past many years as the year draws to a close, Northernstars.ca has looked back at the Canadian actors, directors and other crew members behind the cameras that have died in the previous 12 months. Instead of writing a lengthy article this year we decided to produce a video remembering those we have lost in 2019.
Some of the names are, or should be, familiar. Others less so. There are directors, screenwriters, actors and actresses, composers, animators…34 people who entertained us with their words, ideas, music or performances on stage or on screens large and small. Some were old, some were too young. Some may surprise you. It’s common for us to get emails that begin with “I didn’t know they were Canadian.”
Northernstars was founded more than 20 years ago on the idea we can never really have a true film industry until we have a true star system. It is safe to conclude that some of the people we lost this year toiled in relative obscurity. We assume they loved what they did and that was enough to sustain them. It would be nice if they were all household names, stars in their own right, known and acknowledged while they were alive for the work they did and the joy they brought by entertaining us.
We do our best during the year to celebrate Canadian screen talent, but we also set aside time at the end of each year to remember those stars we have lost.
Ralph 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.
Twice proclaimed ‘best singer of the year’ and ‘woman of the year’ in the Canadian Press’ annual survey of women’s editors, singer-actress Monique Leyrac was a fixture in Montreal cabarets of the 1950s and ’60s. Chosen by CBC to sing at the 1965 International Song Festival in Sopot, Poland, she won the Grand Prix of International Day for her rendition of Vigneault’s anthem ‘Mon Pays’. She later taped 39 shows for CBC radio in Toronto. In 1967 she appeared at Toronto’s Massey Hall, at Carnegie Hall in New York and before Princess Margaret in London. Accompanied by the Québec pianist André Gagnon, she performed at the Expo Theatre and at the Canadian Pavilion during Expo 67. She was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967. In 1969 she performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. She made regular trips to Paris and toured the USSR appearing in Moscow, Leningrad, Tallinn, and other cities. In 1972 she performed at the Stratford Festival in The Threepenny Opera. After three years living in France, Leyrac returned to Montreal in 1975 to play the title role in Robert Athayde’s Mademoiselle Marguerite at the Théâtre du Nouveau-Monde. In 2013 Leyrac was presented with the Prix Denise-Pelletier for her outstanding career in the performing arts. She was 91 when she died in Cowansville, Québec.
Features & TV Movies: VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
Les lumières de ma ville (1950) Act of the Heart (1970) DIVINE SARAH (TV-1984) C’est la première fois que j’la chante (1988)
TV Series – Cast: Anne-Marie (1954)
TV Series – Guest appearances: Les enquêtes Jobidon (1962) The Wayne and Shuster Hour (1967) Musicolor (1969) Des dames de coeur (1986)
Shane Belcourt is an award-winning Métis filmmaker, writer, and musician based in Toronto. His debut feature film, Tkaronto, screened at many international film festivals, winning the Best Director prize at the 2008 Dreamspeakers Film Festival and 2008 Talking Stick Film Festival. He was been nominated twice for a Canadian Screen Award. He co-directed, with Lisa Jackson, the award-winning CBC Firsthand documentary Indictment, which was given the 2017 imagineNATIVE Best Documentary Award, he was series creator, executive producer, and show-runner for the APTN music documentary series Amplify. He was a TIFF Talent Lab participant, an IFC Mentorship Award recipient, and a Filmmaker in Residence at the Winnipeg Film Group. His father, Tony Belcourt, was the founding President of the Métis Nation of Ontario..
We list his credits as a director first.
Features & TV Movies: VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
The Squeeze Box (2005, short) Pookums (2006, short) Tkaronto (2007) Vistas: Boxed In (2009, short)
Keeping Quiet (2010, short) F*%K Yeah!! (2010, short) Say Yes (2012, short) A Common Experience (2013, short) Kaha:wi – The Cycle of Life (2014, documentary) Indictment: The Crimes of Shelly Chartier (co-directed, TV-2017) Red Rover (2018)
TV Series – at least 1 episode of: Urban Native Girl (2016)
Credits as a Screenwriter: The Squeeze Box (2005, short) Pookums (2006, short) Tkaronto (2007) Vistas: Boxed In (2009, short)
Keeping Quiet (2010, short) F*%K Yeah!! (2010, short) Say Yes (2012, short) A Common Experience (2013, short) Kaha:wi – The Cycle of Life (2014, documentary) Indictment: The Crimes of Shelly Chartier (co-directed, TV-2017) Red Rover (co-writer, 2018)
TV Series – at least 1 episode of: Urban Native Girl (2016)
(December 27, 2019 – Toronto, ON) Two new NFB virtual reality works will be presented at the Sundance Film Festival, along with an award-winning short doc set in British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii. The productions are Randall Okita’s The Book of Distance, Sandra Rodriguez’s Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter and Now Is the Time, which is the latest work by award-winning Vancouver-based Haida director, animator and illustrator Christopher Auchter. Sundance gets underway on January 23 and runs until February 2.
Presented in the festival’s Short Film section, Now Is the Time (pictured above) had its world premiere earlier this year at TIFF. The 16-minute short revisits the day in August 1969 when three generations of Eagle and Raven clan gathered to raise the first totem pole on Haida Gwaii in over a hundred years. Christopher Auchter made his directorial debut in 2017 with the NFB animated short The Mountain of SGaana, named Best Animated Film or Series for Young Audiences – Ages 6–12 at the Ottawa International Animation Festival and Best Animated Short – Iron Giants Children’s Jury Prizes (ages 14+) at the Seattle Children’s Film Festival. Now Is the Time is produced by Selwyn Jacob and executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse, with Teri Snelgrove as associate producer, for the NFB’s BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver.
Sundance’s New Frontiers program will see the world premiere of The Book of Distance, the first VR work by acclaimed Toronto-based artist and filmmaker Randall Okita (The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer), as well as a prologue to the AI project Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter, created by distinguished Montreal-based creative director, filmmaker and sociologist of media technologies Sandra Rodriguez. It is an NFB-Schnellebuntebilder-EyeSteelFilm production.
Randall Okita’s third NFB production is titled The Book of Distance and embraces his family’s history. In 1935 his grandfather Yonezo Okita left his home in Hiroshima, Japan, for Canada. Then war and racism changed everything. Three generations later, Randall Okita created an interactive pilgrimage through an emotional geography of immigration and family to recover what was lost. The Book of Distance is produced by David Oppenheim and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio in Toronto.
The prologue to Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter is a timely conversation on Artificial Intelligence’s biggest promises and pitfalls. Lured by the possibility of emulating one of today’s most famous minds, we meet and engage with CHOMSKY_AI, an entity under construction, evolving from the arsenal of digital traces professor Noam Chomsky has left behind.
Created by Sandra Rodriguez, a Montreal-based artist and visiting scholar and lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her past work includes groundbreaking documentaries, webdocs and VR/XR projects, including as director of the fifth episode of the NFB-co-produced web series Do Not Track, recipient of a Peabody Award and over two million hits, and creative director/producer of Manic VR, winner of a prestigious Golden Nica at Ars Electronica.
Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter is produced by Sandra Rodriguez (EyeSteelFilm), Sebastian Huber (Schnellebuntebilder) and Marie-Pier Gauthier (NFB Digital Studio), and executive produced by Bob Moore (EyeSteelFilm), Louis-Richard Tremblay and Hugues Sweeney (NFB Digital Studio), and Michaela Pnacekova (Schnellebuntebilder), and was funded by the Canada-Germany Digital Media Incentive. The experience is supported in part by Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Lab Programs with a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Click here for a link to the Sundance Film Festival and other January 2020 film festivals. All images courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).
Cineplex: The Little Company That Could By Wyndham Wise
(December 27, 2019 – Toronto, ON) Just months after the 40th anniversary of the opening of the first Cineplex multi-theatre complex in Toronto’s Eaton Centre in the fall of 1979, Cineworld of Great Britain announced it is buying the company for $2.8 billion CND, subject to federal regulatory approval. The Cinewold Group is the world’s second largest cinema chain with over 9,500 screens across 10 countries. It’s the largest cinema operator in the U.K. and Ireland and now the largest in North America.
The origins of Cineplex can be traced back 85 years to 1934 when Toronto-born pioneering independent film exhibitor / distributor / producer / publisher Nat Taylor (1906–2004) founded 20th Century Theatres. Over the years it became the third largest exhibition chain in Ontario; however, well behind the national chains of U.S.-owned Famous Players and British-owned Odeon Theatres. By 1941, he operated 17 theatres and in addition was hired by Famous to operate 25 of theirs in order to keep him from linking up with Odeon.
He built one of the world’s first multi-screen theatres in Ottawa at his Elgin Theatre. The Elgin’s second screen opened in 1947, adjacent to the original 1935 theatre. At first, the same program played in both auditoriums but several years later Taylor came up with the idea of selling tickets to different movies from the same box office, laying claim as the first to do so. He also opened one of the first movie theatres in a shopping mall, the dual-screen at Yorkdale Plaza in suburban Toronto in 1964. By the 1970s Taylor had sold all but a few of his 20th Century Theatres to Famous Players, holding on to a few at prime locations such as the upscale Towne Cinema on Bloor Street East at Yonge (now gone) and the New Yorker (Yonge at Charles Street, now a live theatre) in Toronto. Then he started a second chain from scratch in partnership with Garth Drabinsky, an energetic young Toronto entertainment lawyer and aspiring producer, co-founding Cineplex Cinemas.
Although Taylor had pioneered the idea of multi-theatre locations as early as 1948, the new site, with 18 screening rooms, was much more ambitious than anything he had previously built. In order to distinguish the Eaton Centre location, Taylor coined the name ‘Cineplex,’ an abbreviation of cinema complex, and the company was born. The Eaton Centre theatres were small and played 16-mm specialty films, European art films and Hollywood second runs. When the multiplex first opened its doors, the major American distribution companies limited the access to their first-run films to the two largest national chains.
Competitors failed to take Cineplex seriously at first. The consensus in the industry was that Drabinsky and Taylor would be lucky to last six months. Yet Drabinsky was a canny lawyer and aggressive businessman. He never gave up on breaking the tight grip Famous and Odeon had on the exhibition market, and in 1983 Cineplex received a hearing before the Restrictive Trade Practices Commission in Ottawa. Just hours before the hearing began, the six major American distributors issued a joint statement saying they would change their practices and ensure competition in the distribution and exhibition of films in Canada. Odeon and Famous Players had been accused of operating as a duopoly and choking off the film supply so smaller theatres could not show first-run films. With the fabled Bronfman family of Montreal as a major investor, Cineplex bought the Odeon chain to become Cineplex Odeon in 1984.
Drabinsky launched a major buying spree in the U.S., setting up Cineplex to become the second-largest theatrical chain in North America. His ambitions, however, went beyond operating a large number of screens. He adopted a two-pronged approach that involved both the restoration of old theatres and the introduction of smaller theatres in locations such as shopping malls. This combination of luxury and variety changed the movie-going experience and halted the decline in attendance that had become pronounced in the 1970s. He spent millions of dollars refurbishing run-down theatre complexes and in some cases painstakingly restoring historical landmarks. Art Deco motifs, plush seating, state-of-the-art sound equipment, and cappuccino bars revolutionized the way North Americans thought of the cinema experience. Even Drabinsky’s rivals admit that he forced the standard of service and appearance in the industry to rise.
In 1986 Drabinsky sold 49 per cent of Cineplex Odeon to MCA Inc., the parent company of Universal Studios, effectively putting Cineplex under American control. In 1989 he attempted to buy back his company from the American investors in a side deal with the Bronfman family but lost in a much-publicized corporate struggle with MCA who demanded whatever buy-back deal Drabinsky was negotiating with the Bronfmans should be offered to all the shareholders equally. With a great deal of high drama, Drabinsky was ultimately unable to secure the financing to close the deal. In December 1989 the era of Cineplex’s wild leveraged expansion came to an end when he was forced out of the company. His golden parachute included a generous cash settlement and the Imperial Theatre on Yonge Street (which he converted into the upscale Pentages Theatre, the venue’s original name) and the Canadian rights to The Phantom of Opera. This led to a second career as CEO of the Live Entertainment Corporation of Canada. Livent, as it was known, quickly became the largest live-entertainment company in North America. (His third career was inmate in the Beaver Creek Institute, Ontario, for fraud and forgery following the dissolution of Livent in the late 1990s and the discovery of “accounting irregularities” in the company books. He was released in 2014.)
In 1998, the chain of U.S. and Canadian Cineplex Odeon theatres was bought by the Japanese communications giant Sony. In turn, Onex Corporation, a Canadian holding company, acquired Loews Cineplex from Sony in 2002. It sold Loews, the American parent, but kept the Canadian theatres. A year later, Cineplex Odeon merged with Galaxy Entertainment (a company created in 1999 by two former Cineplex executives) to create Cineplex Galaxy. The new company acquired Famous Players Canadian Corporation for $500 million from its U.S. parent Viacom in 2004, effectively bringing an end to a legendary business rivalry dating back 60 years. The Federal Competition Bureau required Cineplex to divest itself of 34 theatres from B.C. to Ontario.
Through its operating subsidiary Cineplex Entertainment LP, at the point of sale Cineplex operated 165 theatres across Canada. It also owned and operated multiple brands for in-house entertainment and restaurants and the Scene Loyalty program in conjunction with Scotiabank. Cineworld offered to pay $1.65 billion US for the company and funded the remainder of the purchase with debt financing. Combined with its ownership of the 564-location Regal Cinemas chain in U.S. (which it acquired in 2018), the sale will make Cineworld the largest cinema chain in North America. The company stated that Cineplex’s operations were to be integrated with those of Regal, and that it planned to reach $120 million in cost efficiencies and revenue synergies (including the adoption of a subscription service scheme similar to Regal and Cineworld) by the end of fiscal year 2020.
Cineplex, at 1,700 screens, is a relatively minor player compared to Cineworld. In an industry in which streaming services are weaning studios off their dependence on cinemas, joining a corporate giant such as Cineworld is seen as a good move for the company. Cinemas have been struggling to hold on to their right to screen films exclusively for several months before they’re shown on other platforms. With studios such as Disney running their own streaming services, the pressure to shrink the theatrical window will grow. Across the Cineworld cinemas there are currently seven different ways in which viewers can watch a movie: 2D, 3D, 4DX, IMAX, Superscreen, VIP and ScreenX. The 4DX experience includes seats that move while you get blasted with air, light and other things that are designed to make you forget you’re actually sitting in a cinema.
As director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Irishman) perceptively put it recently, the movie-going experience has become more like attending a theme park, complete with arcades, flashing lights, food stalls, in-seat service, and movies that more resemble video games and thrill rides. Cineplex has to move aggressively in this direction if it wants to survive in the fiercely competitive business of putting bums in cinema seats.
113 minutes – Drama, World War II, Music Festival release date: September 2019 (TIFF, World Premiere) Release date: December 25, 2019 (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal) Canadian distributor: Elevation Pictures U.S. distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Based on the book by Norman Lebrecht, The Song of Names is set just as Europe erupts into World War II. We meet 9 year old Martin who loves his new adopted brother Dovidl, a highly gifted violin prodigy of the same age and a recent Polish-Jewish refugee to London. The years pass, and then, just hours before Dovidl’s debut concert performance at the age of 21 he vanishes without a trace, causing shame and ruin for their family. A lifetime later, a young violinist shows Martin, now 56-years-old, a stylistic flourish that could only have been taught by Dovidl. This triggers Martin’s odyssey overseas in search of his lost brother, one that will lead to surprising revelations for both men and for Helen, the woman who stood between them. A Song of Names is an epic detective story spread over two continents and half a century, it is a bold journey through friendship, betrayal and reconciliation culminating in the titular The Song of Names, in a film that shows that within the darkest mysteries sometimes only music has the power to illuminate the truth, heal and redeem.
A Song of Names was selected to have a Gala Presentation for its World Premiere at TIFF 2019.
Tim Roth Clive Owen Catherine McCormack Magdalena Cielecka Eddie Izzard Saul Rubinek Gerran Howell Jonah Hauer-King Julian Wadham Richard Bremmer Amy Sloan Stanley Townsend Max Macmillan Kamil Lemieszewski Magdalena Cielecka Matt Devere Sharon Percy Steven Hillman Misha Handley Jeffrey Caine Viktoria Kay Jesse Noah Gruman Ralph Berkin Yank Azman Tamás Puskás Luke Doyle Marina Hambro Joanna Caplan Daniel Mutlu Jakub Kotynski
Martin Dovidl Helen Anna Radio Presenter Feinman Martin 17-21 Dovidl 17-23 Arbuthnot Bailey Billy Enid Gilbert Peter Stemp Hebrew Rabbi / Polish Doctor Anna Milkman Jenny Burrows Mayor Froggatt Martin 9-13 Tom Barnes Ellen Stemp Zygmunt Rapoport Jr. Sanderson Katzenberg Professor Carl Flesch Dovidl 9-13 Young Helen Broche Young Rebbe Zygmunt Rapaport
(December 20, 2019 – Toronto, ON) Corus Entertainment has announced a series of new and renewed series for its suite of acclaimed Global Originals programs, growing its investment and maintaining its commitment to creating premium Canadian scripted content with global distribution. From SEVEN24 Films and Lark Productions comes the Global Original series Family Law. The 10, 60-minute episodes will begin production in Vancouver this spring with casting and pre-production currently underway. Global has also proudly ordered second seasons, in advance of their broadcast premieres, of its upcoming 2020 drama Nurses, (10×60) from eOne and ICF, and Shaftesbury’s Departure (6×60).
“Corus is a powerhouse in fostering domestic talent to create internationally appealing scripted content for audiences in Canada and around the world,” said Lisa Godfrey, Vice President Original Content, Corus Entertainment. “Today’s announcement underscores our long-term commitment to producing scripted Canadian content with creators who reflect diversity both on camera and off, and delivering that content to audiences on our largest platform – Global.”
Set in Vancouver, Canada, Family Law follows lawyer and recovering alcoholic Abigail Bianchi struggling to put her career and family back together after hitting rock bottom. As a condition of her probation, Abby is forced to work at her estranged father’s firm, practicing in family law for the first time while forging new relationships with the half-brother and half-sister she’s never met. The end result is a dysfunctional family law firm operating to help other families with their own dysfunctions. Family Law is helmed by Showrunner Susin Nielsen, Executive Producers Tom Cox and Jordy Randall (SEVEN24), and Executive Producer Erin Haskett (Lark Productions). Casting and start of production details to be announced at a later date.
Previously announced Global Originals Nurses and Departure each received early orders for sophomore seasons ahead of their series debuts, reinforcing the network’s long-term investment in scripted dramas.
Produced by ICF Films and eOne, with industry veteran Ilana Frank (Rookie Blue, Burden of Truth) serving as Executive Producer, Nurses is a coming-of-age series following five young nurses working on the front-lines of a busy downtown Toronto hospital, dedicating their lives to helping others, while struggling to help themselves. Starring an all-Canadian ensemble cast, including Sandy Sidhu, Tiera Skovbye, Natasha Calis, Jordan Johnson-Hinds and others, the series makes its world premiere on Monday, January 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global. Nurses is produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.
From Shaftesbury, led by 2019 Order of Canada recipient Christina Jennings, Departure is a six-part event series created by Vincent Shiao with Director T.J. Scott and Showrunner Malcolm MacRury. Season 1 stars Archie Panjabi, Christopher Plummer, Kris Holden-Ried, Rebecca Liddiard, Allan Hawco and others, Departure is an adrenaline-fueled serialized thrill ride following the mystery of a passenger plane that vanishes over the Atlantic Ocean. Broadcast details for the North American premiere of Departure will be announced soon. Casting and production details for Season 2 will also be announced in 2020.
Other Global Originals returning to the network in 2020 include Season 4 of Private Eyes (eOne) starring Canadians Jason Priestley and Cindy Sampson and Season 8 of reality juggernaut Big Brother Canada (Insight Productions). Elsewhere at Corus, HISTORY® Original series Vikings (TM Productions and Take 5 Productions), one of Corus’ biggest scripted success stories, is currently on air with its sixth season Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HISTORY.
Corus Entertainment’s Original Content team driving its slate of scripted series is helmed by industry executive Lisa Godfrey as VP Original Content and supported by longtime TV veterans Rachel Nelson (Director of Scripted & Factual), Susan Alexander (Production Executive), and Kathleen Meek (Production Executive).
Top 10 Christmas Movies at the Box Office By Staff
(December 20, 2019 – Toronto, ON) Should the topic of Top 10 Christmas Movies erupt in your home this holiday season, you might be able to avoid family disputes over by leaving the film choices to science this year. Crystal Ski has done the research and allowed us to share it with you. The following list is based on research and how these 10 films performed at the all-important U.S. box office.
1. Home Alone
This American comedy follows eight-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) on his mission to protect his home from the burglars nicknamed the “Wet Bandits” after his family accidentally leave him home alone while they travel to Paris. Costars included Canadian actor (and Schitt’s Creek costar) Catherine O’Hara. Home Alone made $285,7611,243 in Box Office sales and has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 65%, which isn’t the highest of the films that placed in the top 10.
2. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018)
Based on Dr Seuss’ book How The Grinch Stole Christmas, this 3D adaptation shows the adventures of the Grinch as he plans to spoil Christmas for Whoville. With the help of six-year-old Cindy Lou Who, the Who’s discover the true meaning of Christmas which is far more than receiving presents. The international cast of actors providing voices includes Benedict Cumberbatch as The Grinch, Jennifer Garner as Betty Lou Who, Bill Hader as Whobris and Canadian Michael Cera providing the voice of Drew Lou Who. How The Grinch Stole Christmas is the highest-grossing Dr Suess adaptation with sales that totalled $270,620,950 and a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 59%.
3. How The Grinch Stole Christmas
The second animated screenplay adaptation featuring the Grinch stars Jim Carrey. This film reveals the Grinch’s tragic past after Cindy Lou Who becomes fascinated by him after meeting him in the post office. After stealing Whoville’s presents, the Whos sing Christmas carols around the Christmas tree together. The sight of this grows the Grinch’s heart by three sizes, who later joins them in their festivities. The movie had a total box office gross of $260,044,825 and a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 51%.
Buddy was brought up in the North Pole as an Elf after crawling into Santa’s sack as a baby. Now an adult Buddy (Will Ferrel) has to learn how to live like a New Yorker while building a relationship with his biological father. He spreads much-needed Christmas cheer to everyone he meets causing some chaos along the way. Elf ticket sales total $173,840,591 and received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 78%.
5. Polar Express
Based on the 1985 children’s book, this film used live-action motion capture animation that follows the story of a young boy who was beginning to doubt Santa’s existence. On Christmas Eve, he boards a train called The Polar Express towards the North Pole. Through this journey, the boy learns about the spirit of Christmas, friendship and bravery. The Polar Express made $187,224,490 in box office sales and a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, is bored with his job and feels that life in Halloweenland lacks meaning. Then he stumbles upon Christmastown and promptly decides to make the Yuletide his own. The cast of this 1993 animated feature written by Tim Burton included Catherine O’Hara providing the voices of Sally and Shock. Danny Elfman was the voice behind Jack Skellington. The Nightmare Before Christmas made $75,082,668 in box office sales and a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
7. The Santa Clause
When a down on his luck dad Scott (Tim Allen) accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, him and his son are magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf explains that Scott must take Santa’s place before the next Christmas arrives. While Scott tries to ignore the whole situation, a rapidly growing belly and white beard show this certainly wasn’t just a dream. Released in 1994, Wendy Crewson played Laura Miller and Jayne Eastwood played a waitress in the movie that starred Tim Allen. The Santa Clause made $144,833,357 at the box office and scored 65% on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. Arthur Christmas
Everyone knows that Father Christmas delivers presents to everyone on Christmas eve but nobody knows how. However, when Father Christmas’ high-tech solution fails and he misses one poor individual out, someone has to come to the rescue. They turn to Arthur (James McAvoy), Father Christmas’ youngest son, to deliver the present to this missed child before they wake up on Christmas morning. Arthur Christmas made $46,462,469 in box office sales and a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. The Santa Clause 2
Following on from the success of The Santa Clause, this follow-up see’s Scott (Tim Allen) face the awful news that his own son is on the naughty list! Turning his world upside down and into further chaos, Scott has to find himself a wife before Christmas Eve or he will no longer be Father Christmas. Wendy Crewson returned to play Laura Miller for the second time. The Santa Clause 2 made $139,236,327 at the box office and scored 55% on Rotten Tomatoes.
10. A Christmas Carol (2009)
Some will argue that nothing will ever top the dramatic effect of the black and white 1951 version of this Charles Dickens classic story, which starred Alastair Sim in the role of Scrooge, but in the 2009 animated remake Scrooge is portrayed by Jim Carrey. In a remarkable feat of performance, Carrey is also the voice of Scrooge as a Teenage Boy, Scrooge as a Young Man, Scrooge as a Middle Aged Man, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. As in all versions, the story follows the mean Scrooge as he treats those around him miserably. Until, one night he is visited by the ghost of a recently deceased friend and then the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future that endeavour to make him change his bitter “humbug” ways for good. The 2009 version of A Christmas Carol made $137,855,863 at the box office and scored 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. It should be noted that its take worldwide came to a very respectable $325,286,646.
With additional information by Northernstars, we thank Crystalski for providing this information and the images used above. Find the full list on the Winter Movie Index.
90 minutes – Drama Language: English Release date: October 2, 2019 (Montréal, Québec) Production company: Sula Studio, Telefilm Canada Canadian distributor: Raging River Pictures
After traveling abroad for years, April returns to Toronto and helps her sister Sara care for their ailing mother. Upon April’s return, she literally unearths old family secrets that threaten the gentle balance of home. Sara, who is studying the music of French composer Erik Satie, befriends a homeless man Erik who may have a connection to her mother’s romantic past, while April equivocates on a marriage proposal from her long distance boyfriend she met on her travels. The story culminates on the eve of their mother’s birthday dinner, when Oscar arrives unannounced from Argentina and Sara’s homeless friend shows up for the celebration.
April in Autumn was selected to screen at the prestigious 2018 Cannes Festival as a participant in Telefilm Canada’s Perspective Canada, Marche du Film.
92 minutes – Documentary Festival release date: November 29, 2019 – International Premiere, IDFA Release date: November 7, 2019 (Toronto) Production company: White Pine Pictures Canadian distributor:
Margaret Atwood: A Word After A Word After A Word Is Power is the result of more than a year of. work, including exclusive access to Atwood and her late partner Graeme Gibson, as they travelled to speaking engagements around the world. Margaret was enthusiastically welcomed by crowds of all ages. The crew accompanied Atwood to the set of The Handmaid’s Tale, where she met lead actor Elisabeth Moss and Ane Crabtree, costume designer of the blood-red robes worn by protesters around the world. The film also looks into Margaret Atwood’s “backstory”, growing up in the Canadian wilderness, her early days as a poet at Harvard where she met and married a classmate, later meeting her life-partner Graeme Gibson and writing The Handmaid’s Tale. Her major works are explored and threaded through the film, revealing the personal and societal factors that inform her stories. Stories are shared by her closest friends and family and, of course, directly by Atwood herself. Finally, the filmmakers were there as she completed the final chapters of her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale – a rare glimpse into the writer’s practice, as she wrote on planes, boats and on the road.
NOTE: Margaret Atwood’s Poetry and Prose is read by Tatiana Maslany. NOTE: Developed and Produced with the participation of Telefilm Canada, Margaret Atwood: A Word After A Word After A Word Is Power has been edited to various lengths: 78, 52 and 44 minutes.
100 minutes – Documentary, Biography Festival release date: September 5, 2019 – (Toronto International Film Festival, World Premiere) Release date: September 20, 2019 (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver) Production companies: White Pine Pictures, Bell Media Studios, Diamond Docs, Imagine Documentaries, Universal Music Canada, Shed Creative Canadian distributor: Imagine Documentaries U.S. distributor:
Inspired by Robbie Robertson’s 2016 memoir, “Testimony,” Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band tells the story of Robertson, one of Canada’s musical legends, who was both lead guitarist and primary songwriter for The Band which had previously served as Bob Dylan’s backup band and before that as the band behind another legendary musician-composer Ronnie Hawkins. Featuring rare archival footage knitted carefully together by interviews with friends and collaborators including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Peter Gabriel, David Geffen and Ronnie Hawkins. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the documentary was directed by Daniel Roher and was selected to open the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.
Robbie Robertson Martin Scorsese Bruce Springsteen Bob Dylan Eric Clapton Peter Gabriel David Geffen Van Morrison Rick Dano Jann Wenner Ronnie Hawkins Taj Mahal Jimmy Vivino John Scheele Dominique Robertson John Simon Bill Scheele Jon Taplin John Hammond Larry Campbell Elliott Landy Grant Smith George Semkiw
Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself Himself
Nonnie Griffin was born Lorna Margaret Jean Griffin and began her career onstage when she was 16 at the now defunct Red Barn Theatre in Jackson’s Point, Ontario. She went on to study first at the Toronto Conservatory and then at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London where she studied voice, speech arts and drama. She also studied with the famed mime artist Marcel Marceau. Her stage work includes a 10-month run as the title character in Hello, Dolly! at the Limelight Dinner Theatre in Toronto in 1990. She appeared in the original Toronto production of John Murrell’s Waiting for the Parade and played Jessica in the original Montreal production of David French’s Jitters. Other stage work included appearances at the Canadian Repertory Theatre in Ottawa, the Peterborough Summer Theatre, the Jupiter Players in Toronto and the Bristol Old Vic in London, England, among many others.A generation of children grew up with her when she was part of the TVOntario children’s series, Polka Dot Door. Her dramatic work on television dates back to the medium’s so-called Golden Age, including her being cast in the role of Diana Barry in the first televised production of Anne of Green Gables in 1956. For all of her early career she was credited as Margaret Griffin. She was 85 and getting ready for a new production when she died in hospital of a ruptured aortic aneurysm.
For her appearances in television dramas, we list the title of the drama followed by the year of production and the title of the series. Also see: Passages 2019.
Features & TV Movies: VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
The Ox and the Ass (TV-1954, Hidden Pages) Anne of Green Gables (TV-1956) When Soft Voices Die (TV-1956, Folio) Black of the Moon (TV-1956, First Performance) The Painted Blind (TV-1956, General Motors Theatre) Kathleen (TV-1956, General Motors Theatre) Whiteoaks (TV-1957, General Motors Theatre) Black Chiffon (TV-1957, General Motors Theatre) The Trial of James Whelan (TV-1957, Folio) Mr. Bolfry (TV-1957, Folio) A Matter of Principle (TV-1958, General Motors Theatre) The Diary of a Scoundrel (TV-1958, Folio) Three to Get Married: Part 1 (TV-1958, On Camera) A Touch of the Sun (TV-1959, ITV Play of the Week)
Too Young to Love (1960) Roman Gesture (TV-1960, Armchair Theatre) Eye Witness (TV-1960, Armchair Mystery Theatre) The Watching Cat (TV-1961) The Ninety-Ninth Day (TV-1963, Playdate) The Close Prisoner (TV-1964, Festival) The Birthday Party (TV-1965, Festival) The Scotch (TV-1966, Festival) Counter Etiquette. Part 1 (1967, short)
If You Could See What I Hear (1982) Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (voice, 1986) The Believers (1987) Blades of Courage (TV-1988)
The Toy Shop (voice, VR-1996) A Husband, a Wife and a Lover (TV-1996) The Abduction (TV-1996) An Angel for Christmas (voice, VR-1996, short) A Little Princess (voice, VR-1996)
Good Fences (2003)
Wild Life (voice, 2011) Old Stock (2012) Wet Bum (2014) Sundowning (2016, short) A Puppy for Christmas (TV-2016) Stockholm (2018)
TV Series – Cast: Ewoks (voice, 1985) The Care Bears (voice, 1986)
TV Series – Guest appearances: Last of the Mohicans (1957) Strange Paradise (1969) King of Kensington (1978) Bizarre (1980) The Littlest Hobo (1983) Check It Out (1986) Adderly (1986, 1987) Street Legal (1989) The Raccoons (1989, 1991) RoboCop (1994) Forever Knight (1995) Doc (2002, 2003) Bitten (2014)
Barbara March was a stage and film actor, and known to Star Trek fans as the Klingon, Lursa, one of the Duras sisters, from the House of Duras (pictured above). Her character showed up in the Star Trek series The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and in the feature film Star Trek: Generations. She also played the character for the video game, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Klingon Honor Guard released in 1998. Her stage work took her to Ontario’s famed Stratford Festival and to many in other theatres around the world. March played Isabella in Measure for Measure, Desdemona in Othello and Titania in A Midsummer Nights Dream, to name a few. She also played Lady Macbeth several times. Barbara March was also an author, her book The Copper People was published in September 2010. Barbara March died of cancer.
Features & TV Movies: VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
Deserters (1983) Twelfth Night (TV-1986) Kingsgate (1989)
Blood Ties (TV-1991) The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (TV-1991) The Portrait (1992) Star Trek: Generations (1994)
TV Series: Guest appearances: Night Heat (1987)
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1991, 1994) L.A.Law (1992) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) Total Security (1997)
Ronnie Fitzroy Rowe Jr. is also a stage actor. Some of his credits include the 2017 Soulpepper production of Kim’s Convenience; Up the Garden Path at Theatre Passe Muraille; A Bullet for Adolf at the Hart House Theatre and Jesus Hopped the A Train for the Unit 102 Theatre. He trained under David Dunbar, David Smuckler, Debrah Joy, Tom Todoroff and Bernadette Jones as well as at the Armstrong Acting Studios and the Odyssey Studios in Toronto. He is probably best known for playing shuttle pilot R.A.Bryce on the shot-in-Toronto series Star Trek: Discovery.
Features & TV Movies: VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
The Assistant (2012, short) Erasermen (2012, short) Bike Cop: Begins (2013) Mars Is Laughing at Us (2014, short) Looks Just Like the Sun (2015, short) Wagon (2015, short) Section 7 (2017, short) Black Cop (2017) Emmy (2018, short) Recall (2018, short)
TV Series – Cast: Riftworld Chronicles (2015) Star Trek: Discovery (2017-)
(December 12, 2019 – Toronto, ON) The tony Gladstone Hotel was the venue for the 6th annual DOC Institute Honours Celebration last night. Film and documentary industry professionals were hosted by actor, producer and journalist Nicole Stamp, who announced the two 2019 recipients. The BMO-DOC Vanguard Award was given to experimental and emerging filmmaker Millefiore Clarkes, and Canadian documentary trail-blazer Anne Pick was honoured with The Rogers-DOC Luminary Award.
Millefiore Clarkes was born in and grew up on Prince Edward Island. Through her company One Thousand Flowers Productions, she has produced a variety of media work: short and feature documentaries, music videos, drama, experimental shorts, and video installations. Clarkes has directed three documentary films for the National Film Board of Canada, including The Song and The Sorrow, which took home Best Short Atlantic Documentary at FIN – Atlantic International Film Fest, Best Atlantic Documentary at Lunenburg Doc Fest, and many more. Remarking on Clarkes’ work, the jury said she was “highly emotive and visionary.”
“Making art of any kind is an emotional process,” said Millefiore Clarkes. “As a filmmaker, you try to expose yourself, your vision of the world, a little of your soul. You try to communicate. And it’s not always apparent whether you are reaching people or not. Winning this award confirms to me that I have reached some people, at least some of the time – and that is a truly heartening acknowledgement. I have such respect for documentary filmmakers and their struggle to create meaning and empathy in the world – it’s an honour to be recognized by my peers.”
Along with the Vanguard Award, Clarkes will receive $40,000 in in-kind services from Canadian production supplier Sim-International and a thousand-dollar cash prize from the Bank of Montreal.
Anne Pick’s long career as a filmmaker began in 1970’s at CBC. The Rogers-DOC Luminary Award is most fitting given her work over several decades. Pick is a highly regarded, tireless advocate for the Canadian documentary filmmaking community, having lead various boards and committees working to protect and sustain documentary filmmaking opportunities with organizations like DOC, Hot Docs and imagineNATIVE over the past 30 years.
“The Documentary Organization of Canada through its endless advocacy work is essential to the survival of documentary filmmakers in Canada and I am proud to have been a part of it for the past 30 years,” said Pick. “This award is the perfect cap to my career and coming from my friends and colleagues in the doc community it is even more special.”
Among her substantial credits is the creation of a new lifestyle genre with the series Harrowsmith Country Life which launched the Life Network. She also produced Canada’s first official treaty documentary co-production with Australian partners in early 2000. During her career, Pick has been given many accolades including a Gemini Award and the 2015 Don Haig Award at Hot Docs. The jury noted that Pick is a “legendary filmmaker with unwavering passion and dedication.”
The DOC Institute is an initiative of DOC Ontario, the largest chapter of the Documentary Organization of Canada. DOC represents over 800 members across Canada through six regional chapters. Collectively, DOC’s members have produced thousands of documentaries; which have been seen by millions of people; and have been recognized with prestigious awards, including Oscars, Emmys, Peabodys, Geminis, Genies, and Canadian Screen Awards.
The DOC Institute Honours is an annual event. Past winners include Amar Wala, Zoe Dirse, Daniel Cross, Victoria Lean, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Marc Glassman, Chelsea Mcmullan, and Hot Docs President Chris MacDonald.