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Lesley Smith

Lesley Smith, actress,

Lesley Smith is a Halifax based actor who has been teaching theatre for over a decade. Recent credits include Jan in Valley Summer Theatre’s I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. She is currently an instructor at Neptune Theatre School and The Shambhala School. Her favourite theatre game is Slow Motion Racing and her favourite play is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. She is a graduate of George Brown Theatre School.

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

Driven (2004, short)

Black Cop (2017)
The Child Remains (2017)
10 Minute Time Machine (2017, short)
Danny Dare Me (2018)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Haven: Origins (2014)
Trailer Park Boys: Out of the Park (2016)
Mr. D (2016)
Let’s Get Physical (2018)

The Child Remains, movie, poster,

Jean-François Caissy

Jean-François Caissy, director,

B: September 15, 1977 in Carleton-sur-Mer, Québec

Jean-François Caissy was nominated for a Genie Award for his film, La Belle Visit. It was the first of his films to receive international recognition. It had its world premiere at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival (Forum) and won “Best Documentary” at the FICFA. His third documentary feature, La marche à suivre (2014), was selected at the 64th Berlinale and won the “World Pulse Award” at IndieLisboa, Portugal. It also received the Special Jury Mention at the Camden International Film Festival, in addition to being presented at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC as part of the MoMA Presents Series.

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

La saison des amours (2005)
La belle visite (2009)

La marche à suivre (2014)
Premières armes (aka First Stripes, 2018)

Video Art Installations:
Derby (2011)
Exposition agricole (2017)

CDN Films at Hot Docs Today

CDN Films at Hot Docs Today
by Staff

(April 30, 2018 – Toronto, ON) Time flies. Today is the fifth day of the 25th annual Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. As our regular readers know, our focus is onCanadian films and this about those films screening today at North America’s largest documentary festival.

That said, we would be totally remiss to not notice that the big film on today’s schedule isn’t Canadian. Tonight at 9:30 at the Hot Docs Cinema it’s the International Premiere of The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man. It runs 70 minutes and will screen three more times during the festival, twice at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and once back at the Hot Docs Cinema. Now to the Canadian content.

There are five Canadian feature-length docs on today’s schedule. There are also two shorts programs, one showcases all Canadian shorts, the other includes a Canadian short in its program.

The first Canadian feature screens at noon and is titled First Stripes. It runs 106 minutes and covers the 12-week intensive training military recruits are subjected to—willingly sign-up for—at a training camp for the Canadian Armed Forces. Directed by Jean-François Caissy, it’s a look inside boot camp where there is no rest and very little, although some, humour. Caissy was born in Carleton-sur-Mer in Québec in 1977. This particular doc isn’t a stand-alone work yet stands alone within the larger work Caissy is creating. Completely finished it is, in a way, a work in progress in that it is the third part of a five-documentary series that’s meant to be a free-flowing meditation on the stages of life.

The first, La Belle Visite, was a film about ageing, shot in a seniors’ home that went on to screen at the sixtieth Berlinale. It was followed by La Marche à Suivre in 2014, a film about teens that was shot at a rural high school. Now, in First Stripes, he explores why young people would voluntarily want to abandon civilian life with all its freedoms and embrace military life with its strict code of obedience. The young people in First Stripes give varying reasons for their choice of profession, but one stands out: the search for a challenge. You do not have to have seen the first two to appreciate this one.

First Stripes has already had its first screening at Hot Docs and will have its last on May 5th. It screens at noon today at the ScotiaBank Cinema 4.

Image from United We Fan.
Next up at 3:00PM is United We Fan. Directed by Michael Sparaga, anyone who has ever mourned the loss of their favourite TV show will get the premise of this doc right away. In particular if you’re a fan of Star Trek then this doc is for you. It’s primary focus is on a couple of superfans who began the letter-writing to save the sci-fi series in the ‘60s. They were also successful for in petitioning NASA and then-president Gerald Ford to name the one of the space shuttles Enterprise. There are appearances by some of the actors and some of the people behind the scene in the making of Star Trek, Veronica Mars and Designing Women.

This is the second screening for United We Stand. It’s on today at 3:00PM at the Hart House Theatre on the University of Toronto campus. It’s last screening is scheduled for this Thursday also at Hart House.

CDN Films at Hot Docs,
Image from Cielo.
The third of the five Canadian features screening today is Cielo. It’s from Writer/Director/Producer Alison McAlpine and it’s her first feature documentary. Cielo is a Spanish word. It means Heaven. The film has been described as “a cinematic reverie on the crazy beauty of the night sky, as experienced in the Atacama Desert, Chile.” There is also a remarkable cast of characters who populate this doc, including a planet hunter, an algae collector, some Chilean cowboys, a photographer of UFOs and then there’s the director herself. Her roots in poetry help explain the visual poetry she has captured by pointing her time-lapse cameras up toward the stars, distant galaxies and all things vastly beyond our reach. She once formed a theatre company and wrote and directed plays that were presented at festivals in Canada, Ireland and France. She was encouraged towards cinema and received a commission to write a TV Opera based on a play she had written. The 2008 mid-length film Second Sight was “a nonfiction ghost story,” that screened at more than 35 international film festivals.

Your last chance to see Cielo at Hot Docs today is at 3:30 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. It is its 2nd of only two screenings. It will have a theatrical release later this year in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles, but why wait if you can see it today.

Image from A Little Wisdom.
In Canadian feature number 4, A Little Wisdom, Director, Producer, Cinematographer and Editor Yugi Kang looks at the lives of orphaned young monks living in an isolated Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Lumbini, Nepal, the birthplace of the Buddha. In particular she trains her camera on a young novice monk named Hopakuli, and through him the film looks for transcendent insights on the relationships between brothers, between friends, between teachers and student, and perhaps most importantly, between the rough and tumble lives of adolescent boys and the austere religious environment they call home.

A Little Wisdom had its first screen on Saturday. It screens today at 5:45 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 3. It’s last screening will be on Saturday, May 5th.

CDN Films at Hot Docs,
Image from This Mountain Life.
The last Canadian feature today is This Mountain Life. Set in British Columbia, a province that is 75% mountains, anyone familiar with the various ranges that are grouped under the name The Rockies has wondered about how the earliest explorers or Indigenous peoples made their way through this impossibly beautiful and impossibly impassable terrain. This Mountain Life centres on a daughter and her 60-year-old mother as they make what you would immediately think is an impossible trek of some 2300 kilometres north into Alaska.

This Mountain Life runs 77-minutes and has its World Premiere tonight at 6:15PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 1.

The first of two Shorts programs is titled Kino with sons, daughters and grandkids, using everything from old VHS tapes, animation and the latest smartphones, explore the topic of family. It runs tonight at 8:30 at the Innis Town Hall and there are six shorts ranging between the UK film Maybe It’s Me at 6-minutes to the Danish film Haunted running 30-minutes. The only Canadian short in this program is My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes. It runs 14 minutes and its from Charlie Tyrell. Enough said. This program repeats tomorrow, May 1st, at the ScotiaBank on Richmond Street in downtown Toronto.

The all-Canadian shorts program is titled Below The Surface. Four shorts contribute to this selection that looks a little deeper than normal into the lives lived in unique ways. One of the more intriguing titles is Jackie Torrens’ 17-minute film Bernie Langille Wants to Know Who Killed Bernie Langille, There’s a 21-minute short titled Carousel, another, the longest at 23 minutes, titled The Head & The Hand, and the last is Turning Tables, which runs 16 minutes. All together it’s a 77 minute program and as we have said before, the nice thing about shorts is if you’re watching something you don’t like, wait a few minutes because something else will be right along.

For more information and tickets to these and other Hot Docs films, click here.


Scanners, movie, image,
This image was scanned from an original set of 8 Lobby Cards in the Northernstars Collection.

103 minutes – Science Fiction, Horror
Release date: January 14, 1981
Distributor: Avco Embassy Pictures

Scanners are men and women born with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers. There are many who exercise the benefits of their special gifts in a safe and judicious manner. A private security firm, ConSec, wishes to deploy “scanners” and holds a demonstration of their powers. When ConSec’s scanner turns his attention to a volunteer, it quickly becomes apparent that the volunteer is a far more powerful scanner, who causes the ConSec scanner’s head to explode, via hydrostatic shock from biopathically-increased blood pressure. When ConSec officials attempt to take the “volunteer” into custody, he kills them and escapes. Stung by this embarrassing experience, ConSec security head Braedon Keller advocates shutting down ConSec’s scanner research program. However, there is a group of renegade scanners who plan to create a race that will rule the world. The film’s focus is on an attempt by Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), a renegade scanner, to wage a war against ConSec. Another scanner, Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack), is dispatched by ConSec to stop Revok.

Scanners, movie, poster



Claude Héroux

Executive Producer:

Pierre David
Victor Solnicki


David Cronenberg


David Cronenberg


Mark Irwin


Ronald Sanders


Howard Shore

Art Director:

Carol Spier

Costume Designer:

Delphine White

Cast: Roles:

Michael Ironside
Patrick McGoohan
Jennifer O’Neill
Stephen Lack
Lawrence Dane
Robert A. Silverman
Lee Broker
Mavor Moore
Adam Ludwig
Murray Cruchley
Fred Doederlein
Géza Kovács
Sonny Forbes
Jérôme Tiberghien
Denis Lacroix
Elizabeth Mudryn
Victor Désy
Louis Del Grande
Anthony Sherwood
Ken Umland
Anne Anglin
Jock Brandis
Jack Messinger
Victor Knight
Karen Fullerton
Margaret Gadbois
Terrance P. Coady
Steve Michaels
Malcolm Nelthorpe
Nicholas Kilbertus
Don Buchsbaum
Rolland Nincheri
Kimberly McKeever
Robert Boyd
Graham Batchelor
Dean Hagopian
Alex Stevens
Neil Affleck

Darryl Revok
Dr. Paul Ruth
Kim Obrist
Cameron Vale
Braedon Keller
Benjamin Pierce
Security One
Arno Crostic
Programmer 1
Dieter Tautz
Killer in Record Store
Killer in Attic
Killer in Attic
Killer in Barn
Killer in Barn
Dr. Gatineau
First Scanner
Scanner in Attic
Scanner in Attic
Scanner in Attic
Scanner in Attic
Scanner at Door
Dr. Frane
Pregnant Girl
Woman in Mall
Security 1 Car Passenger
Security 1 Car Driver
Ray, Security 2
Security 2 Car Partner
Large Man in Mall
Large Man in Mall
Hallucinating Guard
Hallucinating Guard
Yoga Technician
CONSEC Programmer 2
CONSEC Programmer 3
Medical Student in Mall

Lee J. Campbell

Lee J. Campbell, actor,

B: in Winnipeg, Manitoba

In addition to his work in film and television, Lee J. Campbell is a stage actor. A few selected credits include Romeo & Juliet at the Neptune Theatre, How I Learned to Drive at the Persephone Theatre, The Crucible at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare In the Ruins, The Motor Trade at Theatre New Brunswick, How Could You Mrs. Dick? at Theatre Terra Nova, Hamlet at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and Desire Under the Elms at Theatre Plus.

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

So Long to Run (1978, short)

The Suicide Murders (TV-1985)
The Cuckoo Bird (TV-1985)
The High Price of Passion (TV-1986)
Bluffing It (TV-1987)

Lost in the Barrens (TV-1990)
Bordertown Cafe (1992)
Lost in the Barrens II: The Curse of the Viking Grave (TV-1992)
Black Ice (1992)
The Diviners (TV-1993)
For Angela (1994, short)
The Arrow (TV-1997)
A Marriage of Convenience (TV-1998)
Heater (1999)

Nostradamus (2000)
Red Team (2000)
Three Days (TV-2001)
Phase IV (2002)
Trudeau (TV-2002)
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
The Riverman (TV-2004)
Trudeau II: Maverick in the Making (TV-2005)
Pickled Punk (2006, short)
The Conclave (2006)
Wedding Wars (TV-2006)
A Christmas Wedding (TV-2006)
Poor Boy’s Game (2007)
Pawnshop (2008, short)
Darwin’s Darkest Hour (2009, NOVA)

Big Driver (TV-2014)
The Child Remains (2017)

TV Series – Cast:
Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion (2003, mini-series)

Sex & Violence (2015, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
The Littlest Hobo (1984)
Adderly (1986, 1987)
Street Legal (1987, 1988)
My Secret Identity (1988)
The Twilight Zone (1988)
Friday the 13th: The Series (1989)

Forever Knight (1995)

NOVA (2009, Darwin’s Darkest Hour)

Haven (2010)
Mr. D (2016)
The Mist (2017)
Let’s Get Physical (2018)

Lee J. Campbell is represented by:
49 Church Street, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5B 1Y4

Phone: 416-928-0299
Fax: 416-924-9593
Email: info (at) ggagency.ca

The Child Remains, movie, poster,

Greg Klymkiw – Biography

Greg Klymkiw, producer, filmmaker,
Greg Klymkiw at the 2018 Hot Docs Film Festival
© 2018 by Ralph Lucas.

Greg Klymkiw – Biography
by Staff

(April 26, 2018 – Toronto, ON) Greg Klymkiw was born in Winnipeg. His love for film began when he was eight years old and he saw the opening night performance of Planet of the Apes at Winnipeg’s Metropolitan Theatre. He realized there and then that he had no other choice than to be a film producer. Klymkiw studied English and Theatre at the University of Manitoba, but actually began his career as a journalist and broadcaster. His film and theatre reviews appeared in a variety of publications, including, The Winnipeg Sun; The Winnipeg Free Press and CBC Radio. KJymkiw also served as a repertory cinema programmer in Winnipeg and a film booking agent for rural cinemas in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and north-western Ontario.

Klymkiw went on to direct numerous theatrical productions for The Black Hole Theatre Company in Winnipeg. One of these shows starred Guy Maddin as Dr. Cukrowicz in Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer. Other plays directed by Klymkiw include William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life, Murray Schisgal’s Luv, Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie and Paul Zindel’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds. KJymkiw went on to produce several low-budget films and television series. With the birth of prairie post modern cinema in the 1980s, a Winnipeg art movement that gained major international acclaim, Klymkiw, once described as a “subversive punk renegade,” produced, acted in and distributed all of the major early works of Guy Maddin and John Paizs.

Directed by Cynthia Roberts and produced by Klymkiw, The Last Supper was named Best feature film and given a Teddy Award, which is an international film award for films with LGBT topics, presented by an independent jury as an official award of the Berlin International Film Festival.

Greg Klymkiw served as Director of Marketing for the Winnipeg Film Group before moving away. He returned to Winnipeg in late 2017 to become the organization’s Executive Director.

Also see: Greg Klymkiw’s filmography.

Northernstars logo imageThis biography is © Copyright 2018 by Northernstars.ca and may not be copied without prior written approval. Click here for more information about copyright.

Greg Klymkiw

Greg Klymkiw, producer, filmmaker,
Greg Klymkiw at the 2018 Hot Docs Film Festival
© 2018 by Ralph Lucas.

B: April 26, 1959 in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Greg Klymkiw was born in Winnipeg. His love for film began when he was eight years old and he saw the opening night performance Planet of the Apes at Winnipeg’s Metropolitan Theatre. He realized there and then that he had no other choice than to be a film producer. Klymkiw studied English and Theatre at the University of Manitoba, but actually began his career as a journalist and broadcaster. We list his credits as a Producer first.

Also see: Greg Klymkiw’s biography.

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

Springtime in Greenland (1982, short)
Oak, Ivy and Other Dead Elms (1983)
The International Style (1984)
Tales From the Gimli Hospital (1988)

Archangel (1990)
Smoked Lizard Lips (1990)
Night Visions (1991)
Careful (1992)
Jack of Hearts (1993)
The Last Supper (1995)
Bubbles Galore (1996)
Symposium: Ladder of Love (1996, documentary)
City of Dark (1997)

Vinyl (2000, documentary)
UFO Doggies (2005, documentary)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
The Last Supper (1995)
Bubbles Galore (1996)
Zabava (1999, short)

UFO Doggies (2005, documentary)

Credits as a Director:
Zabava (1999, short)

Credits as an Actor:
Springtime in Greenland (1982, short)
Tales From the Gimli Hospital (1988)

Mob Story (1989)

Archangel (1990)
Smoked Lizard Lips (1990)

Careful (1992)

The Heart of the World (2000, short)

God Straightens Legs at DOXA

od Straightens Legs at DOXA,

God Straightens Legs at DOXA
by Staff

(April 25, 2018 – Toronto, ON) Toronto-based conceptual artist Joële Walinga must have had a lot to wrap her mind around when it came to the making of her second film and first feature-length documentary. It’s titled God Straightens Legs and it’s about her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer. Renée Davies, a Christian French-Canadian expat in the American South, made an uncommon and controversial decision following her diagnosis five years ago. She remained committed to her rejection of conventional medical treatments and opted for alternative approaches primarily healing through prayer. On December 25th, 2016, after cancer spread from her breast down to the bones in her legs, Renée suffered a fracture to her femur, leaving her stranded and bedridden. She remained in bed for over six months, each day believing and prayingGod Straightens Legs, movie, poster, that the following day she would walk again. On the seventh month, Renée was informed that her bone had healed, albeit crookedly, and that she could work on regaining her mobility, beginning with a wheelchair.

Needless to say, this was greeted as just the first of several required miracles. While viewers of all faiths can accept this visual retelling of a highly personal story on its face value, it can also equally be assumed that some will not be quite so definite in their optimism. What is clear is that Renée Davies’ faith remained unwavering. The first half of God Straightens Legs explores Davies’ immobility, and the second half explores her newfound mobile freedom.

In writing about God Straightens Legs, Joële Walinga says, “I believe the film contains the subtle subtext of my own confusion and sadness, as well as my somewhat obvious inclination to make Renée happy, from giving her access to her dream bedroom, to taking her out to the pool on a sunny day (despite what looks like her indifference towards the outing). I mention this because, though I did not intend to include myself in the film, I believe I have ultimately seeped in and created a work with two subjects: the mother, waiting for a miracle, and the daughter, worried and sad, watching her mother wait.”

God Straightens Legs will have its World Premiere at DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver on Tuesday, May 8 2018 at 8:45PM at the Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. Click here to learn more about director Joële Walinga and follow the link to watch trailer for God Straightens Legs.

Joële Walinga

Joële Walinga, Canadian, director,

B: 1988 in Calgary, Alberta

Joële Walinga is a conceptual artist working in film, performance, sculpture and community collaboration. Her work explores subjective experience, outsidership, and the aesthetics of empowerment. She studied intermedia at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University and then at Montréal’s Concordia University.Her work has been shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Khyber Centre for the Arts, Narwhal Contemporary, Xpace Cultural Centre, the Roundtable Residency and Wendy’s Subway, and has been featured in Canadian Art, CBC Arts, Daily VICE, Art Matters, The Coast, Women and Hollywood and CANADALAND. God Straightens Legs is her first feature film and it will be debuting at the DOXA Documentary Festival in Vancouver on May 8, 2018. Born in Calgary, Joële Walinga moved to Ontario in 2000.

Also see: God Straightens Legs at DOXA.
Click here to watch a trailer for God Straightens Legs.

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

Cave Small Cave Big (2017, short)
God Straightens Legs (2018)

God Straightens Legs, movie, poster,

Erin Agostino

Erin Agostino, actress,

B: June 27, 1985 in Montréal, Québec

Born in Montreal, Erin Agostino is a graduate of that city’s Dawson College Professional Theatre Program. She was nominated for two Gemini awards for Best Ensemble Cast in CBC’s 18 to Life where she played the role of Ava Turner in 24 episodes of the series between 2010 and 2011. She plays the role of Nina Bloom on Murdoch Mysteries.

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

Nausea (2007, short)
Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom (voice, 2007)

You Are So Undead (2010)
Laurentia (2011)
The Howling: Reborn (VR-2011)
Crisis Point (TV-2012)
Soon to Be Infamous (2012, short)
Dive (2013, short)
GirlHouse (2014)
John Lives Again (2017)
Eye on Juliet (2017)
Brad’s Status (2017)
A Swingers Weekend (2017)
Christmas Encore (TV-2017)

TV Series – Cast:
18 to Life (2010-2011)
Murdoch Mysteries (2016-) The Kennedys After Camelot (2017, mini-series)
ToonMarty (voice, 2017)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Bitter End (2009)

Blue Mountain State (2010)
Supernatural: The Animation (voice, 2011)
Being Human (2012)
Seed (2013)
Hemlock Grove (2015)
Quantico (2015)
The Art of More (2015)
Beauty and the Beast (2016)
Good Witch (2018)

A Swingers Weekend, poster, movie,


Kodachrome, movie, image,

105 minutes – Drama
Language: English
Festival release date: September 8, 2017 (TIFF – World Premiere)
Release date: April 20, 2018 (Netflix)
Production companies: The Gotham Group, 21 Laps Entertainment, Blue Ice Pictures Ltd., Motion Picture Capital
Distributor: Netflix

Based on A.G. Sulzberger’s 2010 New York Times article “For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas” Jason Sudeikis co-stars as Matt Ryder, a struggling A&R executive for a boutique record label who is feeling more and more irrelevant as the music business grows more shallow and myopic. His world gets turned upside down when his estranged father’s nurse shows up unexpectedly in his office. Matt’s father (Ed Harris), a famed bad-boy photojournalist, is facing terminal cancer and his dying wish is for Matt to join him on a road trip from New York to Kansas to process his last rolls of Kodachrome film before the sole remaining lab closes and those captured moments are gone forever.

Kodachrome is a Canada/U.S. co-production and the second feature from Toronto director Mark Raso.

Also see: Mark Raso talks about the making of Kodachrome.

Kodachrome, movie, poster,



Leon Clarance
Ellen Goldsmith-Vein
Dan Levine
Shawn Levy
Eric Robinson
Jonathan Tropper

Executive Producer:

Dan Cohen
Jo Monk
Myles Nestel
Laure Vaysse
Mary Anne Waterhouse
Lisa Wilson

Associate Producer:

Priscilla Galvez

Line Producer:

Mary Anne Waterhouse


Mark Raso


Jonathan Tropper


Alan Poon


Geoff Ashenhurst


Agatha Kaspar
Philip Moross (Executive Music Producer)

Production Designer:

Oleg M. Savytski

Art Director:

Shelley Silverman
Joe Susin (Set Decorator)

Costume Designer:

Diana Irwin

Cast: Roles:

Jason Sudeikis
Ed Harris
Elizabeth Olsen
Amanda Brugel
Bruce Greenwood
Wendy Crewson
Dennis Haysbert
Gethin Anthony
Bea Santos
Humberly González
Sebastian Pigott
Elena Juatco
Al Mukadam
Laura M. D’Alessandro
Jerry Rector
Marie Dame
Vladimir Jon Cubrt
Paolo Mancini
James Collins
Isaak Bailey
Bill Lake

Matt Ryder
Ben Ryder
Zoe Barnes

Larry, Ben’s manager
Dwayne’s Daughter
Smoking Girl #1
Little Boy

Northernstars Interviews Mark Raso

Northernstars Interviews Mark Raso
by Staff

(April 18, 2018 – Toronto, ON) Toronto-born Mark Raso went to the University of Toronto and graduated with a BA in English Literature and Cinema Studies. He went on to study directing and screenwriting at Columbia University where he received an MFA in film. While at Columbia, Raso wrote, directed, and produced a number of short films that culminated in winning the Gold Medal, the highest honour a student can receive, from the Student Academy Awards of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His first feature, Copenhagen generated critical acclaim and his second feature, Kodachrome, enjoyed huge interest at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Shot entirely on film stock, Kodachrome costars Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ed Harris in a touching road movie that doubles as an elegy for analog in the digital age. It will be released as a Netflix Original on Friday of this week. Last week Mark Raso sat down with Jim Slotek to talk about The Making of Kodachrome.

Meet Andrew Lockington

Andrew Lockington, film, composer,

Meet Andrew Lockington
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher

(April 19, 2018 – Toronto, ON) Quick, name a film composer. Okay. We guess that most of you thought of John Williams. He has, after all, created the music for some of the most popular movies ever made including the Star Wars series, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones series, the first two Home Alone films, the first two Jurassic Park films, Schindler’s List… need I go on? It’s understandable. He has been nominated for an Academy Award 51 times, at last count, and has won five Academy Awards, 24 Grammy Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards and four Golden Globe Awards.

This is a bit tougher: Name a Canadian film composer.

Two Canadian composers that should come to mind are Mychael Danna, who won both a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for his score for the film Life of Pi, and Howard Shore who has won three Academy Awards, three Golden Globes and four Grammy Awards. Shore has scored more than 80 films including almost all of David Cronenberg’s films. There are others. Many others in fact. But let’s face it. When someone suggests going to see a movie no one responds with “Who wrote the music?” The number one question is “Who’s in it?” Followed by, usually in this order, Who directed it, Where is it playing, What time is it playing?

Meet Andrew Lockington. He was born in Burlington, Ontario a usually quiet suburb a little west of Toronto.  He’s been building a career for more than ten years and one of the early highlights was being named Breakthrough Composer of the Year through the International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) in 2008 as well as being nominated for Discovery of the Year at the World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium. He has won numerous BMI and SOCAN Film Music Awards.

What’s he written? You’re going to be surprised. In addition to a slew of Canadian films, including some my personal favourites (One Week, Maudie), Lockington made just about everybody sit up and take notice when the Warner Bros/Newline Blockbuster San Andreas Rampage, movie, poster,grossed close to $475 million worldwide. He composed the epic score. He also wrote the music for the Golden Globe nominated Frankie and Alice starring Halle Berry.

Mychael Danna is often associated with Atom Egoyan and, as mentioned, Howard Shore is most often associated with David Cronenberg. Andrew Lockington has now composed the music for four Brad Peyton films including San Andreas, Journey to the Mysterious Island and the recently released Rampage starring Dwayne Johnson. For this film, Lockington drew upon his knowledge and love of world music, his orchestral skills and electronic experimentation for the creation of a unique score. Rampage features large orchestra, processed brass and world percussion, vintage computer game electronics, manipulated animal noises recorded in the jungle on two continents and The African Children’s Choir from Uganda. Click here to watch a trailer for Rampage.

As I and others have written before, the role of music in a film is to tell you what to feel. Think of the strident repetitive strings in that famous Hitchcock shower scene from Psycho. Or that time you cried in the dark theatre, surprising yourself that a film could get to you that way. It is a powerful element. In fact, from the earliest days when so-called “silent” movies were screened, there may not have been any dialogue or sound effects but there was, almost always, music. Who hasn’t heard that piano riff indicating a chase scene?

It is National Canadian Film Day. Here at Northernstars it’s been Canadian Film Day every day since we went online (as northernstars.net) in February of 1998. For more than 20 years we have celebrated Canadian film. We thought it appropriate to use this day to draw attention not just to a single composer, but to all film composers who are one of the most important contributors to any film and, unfortunately, usually, along with producers, one of the most overlooked.

Here’s to Canadian film. Go watch something today or tomorrow or this week. And pay a little attention to the music and wait for the credits to find out who it was that moved your emotions around with such ease. Try to remember the name. It’s how we can build a true Canadian star system.

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 at 25th Hot Docs

Canadian Films at 25th Hot Docs

Canadian Films at Hot Docs
by Staff

(April 18, 2018 – Toronto, ON) We’re only eight days away from the 25th anniversary edition of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. Because of who we are we and the audience we serve, each year around this time we focus on the Canadian films screening at North America’s largest and most important documentary festival. As we have in past years we again praise the festival for maintaining a Canadian section. It’s called Canadian Spectrum and this year it features 17 Canadian feature-length docs, a shorts program with four films in it and five other shorts that will screen with some of the features. But that’s just within the Spectrum program. There is a large number of other Canadian films throughout the festival.

For example, when Hot Docs kicks off on Thursday April 26th, it will be with the World Premiere of the Canadian film The Heat: A Kitchen (R)Evolution. This 75-minute film is the latest from Hot Docs veteran Maya Gallus and is in a section of the festival called Special Presentations. Gallus is a highly talented filmmaker with a string of successes. She won a Gemini Award for Best Direction in a Documentary for her 2007 feature-length film, Girl Inside. It premiered at Hot Docs, launched the 2007 season of The View From Here on TVO and played at festivals worldwide. Her provocative feature-length documentary Erotica: A Journey Into Female Sexuality, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for a Genie for Best Feature-Length Documentary and for Best Arts Documentary at Hot Docs. The film screened theatrically in Toronto, San Francisco, San Sebastian and Tokyo and was broadcast in Canada, the U.S. and internationally. Her 1991 film, Elizabeth Smart: On The Side of the Angels, which she co-produced, directed and wrote, premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival, and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. The 60 minute dramatic retelling of the life of the real Elizabeth Smart starred Jackie Burroughs.

The Heat: A Kitchen (R)Evolution focuses on the changing makeup of restaurant kitchens. Once, almost exclusively the territory of the brutal and bullying male chef, The Heat: A Kitchen (R)Evolution takes viewers behind-the-scenes to meet a few of the pioneers who have broke through the glass ceiling, including Anne Sophie Pic of Maison Pic in Valence, France – the only three-Michelin starred female chef in France and one of only a handful in the world, she has been dubbed “the “Queen of French Cuisine”; Angela Hartnett of Murano in London – a beloved UK star and two-Michelin starred chef who survived Gordon Ramsay’s kitchens to become his first female protége; Iron Chef and Top Chef Master Anita Lo, – she led the first all female team to beat an Iron Chef in the U.S. and closes her beloved Greenwich Village restaurant Annisa, after 17 years.

The film also introduces us to the new generation, including award-winning chef and media darling Amanda Cohen of the trendy vegetarian restaurant, Dirt Candy in New York’s Lower East Side; rising star Victoria Blamey, who received critical accolades for her culinary skills at the famed Greenwich Village Chumley’s in New York; Toronto favourite Suzanne Barr of Saturday Dinette, The Gladstone and Kid Chocolate, who is diversifying kitchens one restaurant at a time; renegade Toronto chef Charlotte Langley, who has done away with traditional brick and mortar to host elaborate dinners off the grid, as well as Toronto writer/former line cook Ivy Knight on why she left the industry. Maya Gallus and special guests from the film will be on hand following the Opening Night screening to take part in a Q&A at the Hot Docs Cinema.

The Heat: A Kitchen (R)Evolution will also screen on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, May 6.

There are 38 films in the Special Presentations section, eight of them are Canadian, including the World Premiere of The Trolley, which we have already covered, and a 25th Anniversary screening of Alanis Obomsawin’s Kanesatake: 270 Years of Resistance. The Trolley has one screening only at the Cinesphere at Ontario Place. Kanesatake: 270 Years of Resistance also has only one screening on Saturday, May 5 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. In late-breaking news, Hot Docs added the World Premiere of Barry Avrich’s The Reckoning: Hollywood’s Worst Kept Secret to its Special Presentations section.

Just a few highlights from The Canadian Spectrum include the World Premiere of a truly frightening documentary titled The Guardians. Set in the US city of Las Vegas, Toronto filmmaker Billie Mintz delves into the legalized seizure of property, money, bank accounts, wills, in fact the very lives of older people who are hospitalized against their wishes or need in a scheme that is in every way a scam. As one participant in the film states, “If you’re going to retire, do not move to Las Vegas.” At 104 minutes it’s a long film but compelling filmmaking and well worth the time.

OMNI: An Act Against Gravity is a quirky delight. The 80-minute doc looks at the efforts of a young Montreal engineer and inventor to create a fully operational hoverboard. The expression “nothing is easy” comes to mind and this film proves that. It also proves that patience and perseverance pay off.

Anyone who has driven through or flown over the various mountain ranges known collectively as The Rockies inevitably thinks “how did the first peoples and later explorers ever make it through this impossible and beautiful terrain?” This Mountain Life tracks the journey of a 60-year-old mother and her daughter as they spend six months trekking through the Rockies in a 77-minute film from director Grant Baldwin.

Canadian Films at 25th Hot Docs
Canadian filmmaker John Walker is the subject of a special Focus at this year’s Hot Docs. We had the pleasure of interviewing Walker in 2016 when his film Quebec My Country Mon Pays screened at the festival. This year he has five of his films screening in the Focus feature. All but one will screen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. On May 1 it’s his 1989 film Strand: Under the Dark Cloth about renowned photographer Paul Strand. On May 2nd, A Drummer’s Dream will screen at the Scotiabank Theatre. On May 3rd Passage and on May 5th both The Fairy Faith and Men of the Deeps. Walker is one of the best documentarians this country has produced and you should make an effort to see at least one of the films in this important retrospective.

One of the films in Artscape is Canadian. It’s about legendary Canadian rocker Randy Bachman and is titled simply enough, Bachman.

Three of the six films in the Virtual Realty and Interactive section of the festival are Canadian. Anote’s Ark, Holy City VR and Living with Jaguars VR.

There is so much to see and every film on the schedule worthy of your time and attention. As we wrote last month, “This year’s slate of films was gleaned from 3059 submissions, resulting in a schedule of 246 films and 16 interdisciplinary projects from 56 countries in 14 screening programs. Organizers can be justifiably proud of the announcement that female filmmakers represent 50 per cent of the 2018 program.”

The 25th anniversary Hot Docs runs from April 26 to May 6. Enjoy. Click here for more information.

NFB at Cannes

(April 17, 2018 – Montréal, Québec) The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) returns to Cannes for the second year in a row, this time with Patrick Bouchard’s animated short The Subject. Produced by Julie Roy, the film has been selected to screen in the 50th-anniversary edition of the Directors’ Fortnight, a section organized by the French Directors’ Guild and held in parallel with the Cannes Film Festival. This year’s Directors’ Fortnight takes place from May 9–19. The Subject is the first of Bouchard’s films to have made the cut of this international lineup. After Cannes, it will go on to screen in competition at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, which runs from June 11–16.

With The Subject, for which he also wrote the soundtrack, stop-motion master Patrick Bouchard (Bydlo, Dehors novembre, The Brainwashers, Subservience) has created his most intimate work to date. In the 10 minute film, an animator dissects his own body, extracting memories, emotions and fears that will nurture his work. As he cuts into his skin, various symbolic objects recalling his past emerge. Reaching the heart, he succeeds in identifying the burden he’s been dying to cast off.

Bouchard took charge of every aspect of the creative process for this rich, constructive, and creative experience—from inception to post-production, up to and including the film poster. Sets and props by Dany Boivin; offline editing by Sacha Ratcliffe and Theodore Ushev; sound design by Olivier Calvert.

“The NFB has always played a leading role in the production of animated films, both in Canada and internationally,” said Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson. “This one-of-a-kind creative centre has nurtured countless filmmakers and contributed to some of the major developments in the format. Being selected for the Directors’ Fortnight attests to the creative strength of our animation studios. Congratulations to Patrick Bouchard and the whole team!”

“Patrick Bouchard’s The Subject perfectly encapsulates production at the NFB’s animation studios,” said Julie Roy, Executive Producer, French Animation Studio, NFB. “Supporting an author (in this case, for the fifth time) by placing our full trust in him and giving him free rein in terms of the creative process—as it turned out, a process as risky as it was out of the ordinary—has resulted in a work that pushes the boundaries of animated cinema. We are very gratified that the Directors’ Fortnight recognizes the value of such a process.”

Andrew Lockington

Andrew Lockington, film, composer,

B: January 31, 1974 in Burlington, Ontario

Andrew Lockington has scored the music for more than 40 television shows, made-for-TV movies and feature films including blockbusters like San Andreas that generated close to $475 million U.S. worldwide, the Golden Globe nominated Frankie and Alice starring Halle Berry, and the Fox film Rampage starring Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and directed by fellow Canadian Brad Peyton. He also worked with Peyton on the Netflix Canadian series Frontier. In 2008, he was named the Breakthrough Composer of the Year through the International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) and was nominated for Discovery of the Year at the World Soundtrack Awards. Lockington wrote the music for the 2018 Warner Bros. release Rampage. Directed by Brad Peyton Rampage stars Dwayne Johnson as primatologist Davis Okoye, a man who keeps people at a distance but shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, incredibly rare albino silverback gorilla. Naomie Harris and Malin Akerman costar. Click here to watch a trailer for Rampage, and be sure too listen to the music.

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

At the End of the Day: The Sue Rodriguez Story (TV-1998)

Xchange (2001)
Stranger Inside (TV-2001)
Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity (2002)
Fast Food High (2003)
Cosmopolitan (TV-2003)
Touch of Pink (2004)
Seed of a Thought (2004, short)
Saint Ralph (2004)
Cake (2005)
One Dead Indian (TV-2006)
Skinwalkers (2006)
The House Next Door (TV-2006)
How She Move (2007)
Left Coast (TV-2008)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)
One Week (2008)
City of Ember (2008)
Deadliest Sea (TV-2009)

Frankie & Alice (2010)
Beat the World (2011)
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)
I’ll Follow You Down (2013)
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)
Siddharth (2013)
Pirate’s Passage (TV-2015)
San Andreas (2015)
Incarnate (2016)
The Space Between Us (2017)
Meditation Park (2017)
Rampage (2018)
Time Freak (2018)

TV Series – at least 1 episode of:
1-800-Missing (2003-2006, 48 episodes)
Independent Lens (2004)
Sanctuary (2009-2011, 28 episodes)

Futurestates (2011)
Primeval: New World (2012-2013)
Aftermath (2016)
Frontier (2016-)

Rampage, movie, poster,

Sladen Peltier

Sladen Peltier, actor,
Photo of Sladen Peltier in Indian Horse courtesy of Elevation Pictures.

Sladen Peltier is based in Ottawa and is a proud Ojibway from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve located on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario. His initial interest in Indian Horse, which is his feature film debut, was due to the hockey storyline. Sladen has been playing hockey in Ottawa since he was four years of age, and every March represents his First Nation in the Little Native Hockey League Tournament, which brings together First Nation hockey players from across Ontario.

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

Indian Horse (2017)

Indian Horse, movie, poster,

Indian Horse

101 minutes – Drama
Release date: April 13, 2018
Canadian distributor: Elevation Pictures

Based on Richard Wagamese’s award winning novel, Indian Horse sheds light on the dark history of Canada’s Residential Schools and the indomitable spirit of Indigenous people. Starring Canadian newcomers Sladen Peltier, Ajuawak Kapashesit and Edna Manitouwabe as well as Forrest Goodluck (The Revenant), Michael Murphy (Away From Her), Michael Lawrenchuck (Tokyo Cowboy), Johnny Issaluk (Two Lovers And A Bear) and Michiel Husiman (The Age Of Adaline), Indian Horse is set in Ontario in the late 1950s. Eight-year-old Saul Indian Horse is torn from his Ojibway (Anishnaabe) family and committed to one of Canada’s notorious Catholic Residential Schools. In this oppressive environment, Saul is denied the freedom to speak his language or embrace his Indigenous heritage while he witnesses horrendous abuse at the hands of the very people entrusted with his care. Despite this, Saul finds salvation in the unlikeliest of places and favourite Canadian pastime – hockey. Fascinated by the game, he secretly teaches himself to play, developing a unique and rare skill. He seems to see the game in a way no other player can. His talent leads him away from the misery of the school, eventually leading him to the Pros. But the ghosts of Saul’s past are always present, and threaten to derail his promising career and future. Forced to confront his painful past, Saul draws on the spirit of his ancestors and the understanding of his friends to begin the process of healing.

Indian Horse, movie, poster,



Paula Devonshire
Trish Dolman
Roger Frappier
Christine Haebler

Executive Producer:

Stephen S.Campanelli
Brent Disbrow
Fei Disbrow
Marna Disbrow
Robert Disbrow
Clint Eastwood
Roger Frappier
Aaron L. Gilbert
Adrian Love
Laurie May


Tex Antonucci
Jim Brebner

Line Producer:

Justin Kelly


Stephen S.Campanelli


Dennis Foon


Yves Bélanger


Jamie Alain
Geoff Ashenhurst
Justin Li


Jesse Zubot

Production Designer:

Oleg M. Savytski

Art Director:

Shelley Silverman

Costume Designer:

Aline Gilmore

Cast: Roles:

Sladen Peltier
Forrest Goodluck
Ajuawak Kapashesit
Michiel Huisman
Martin Donovan
Michael Murphy
Edna Manitowabi
Melanie McLaren
Johnny Issaluk
Skye Pelletier
Evan Adams
Lisa Cromarty
Michael Lawrenchuk
Will Strongheart
Tristen Marty-Pahtaykan
Vance Banzo
Braeden Crouse
Nathan Alexis
Eva Greyeyes
Lisa Oopik Minich
Dylan Cook
Wayne St-George
Marcus Dias
Michael Vincent Dagostino
Wayne V. Johnson
Wayne Charles Baker

Saul (6 Yrs.)
Saul (15 Yrs.)
Saul (22 Yrs.)
Father Gaston
Jack Lanahan
Father Quinney
Benjamin (11 Yrs.)
Fred Kelly
Buddy Blackwolf
Ernie Jack
Lonnie (9 Yrs.)
Lonnie (25 Yrs.)
Rebecca Wolf
Katherine Wolf
Stu Little Chief
Man with Axe Handle
Working Man
Kapuskasing Manager

Rick Mercer Signs Off

Rick Mercer Signs Off
Rick Mercer at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards. Photo by R.A.Lucas

Rick Mercer Signs Off
by Staff

(April 10, 2018 – Toronto, ON) When tonight’s special hour-long episode of The Rick Mercer Report fades to black, it will mark the end of a remarkable 15-season run, more than 275 episodes of one of the most popular shows on television. Think about that. The show made its debut in 2004, and through the magic of television loyal fans have been able to travel across the country several times visiting both large cities and quiet corners of this vast nation.

“It’s been the best job ever hands down,” said Mercer. “I loved every minute of it. We had one goal in mind when we started this show and that was to explore and celebrate Canada every single week.  When you love your subject matter that is an easy thing to do.”

Tonight he wraps things up by taking a look back at some of the most memorable moments of his adventures across Canada. Highlights include clips from his visits with the many Canadians who’ve shared their work place expertise with him and a look back at a few of the very special guests who showed up on the show. He also reviews some of his most daring feats, the show’s funniest sketches, his training sessions with Paralympic athletes, and one final rant.

“Thank you to Rick, Gerald and the entire team for making The Rick Mercer Report a tremendous and enduring success for 15 seasons,” said Heather Conway, Executive Vice-President, English Services, CBC. “Rick has built an incredible legacy by creating a space for communities across the country to share their stories through his unparalleled wit and compassion; it has brought us all closer together as a nation.” 

Rick Mercer began his career in comedy performing and writing in his hometown St. John’s, Newfoundland with a series of one-man stage shows. In 1993, he launched his television career on CBC as one of the creators, performers and writers on the hit topical weekly show This Hour Has 22 Minutes. In 1998, he joined Gerald Lunz and Michael Donovan to create the satirical dramatic series Made In Canada, where he again starred and contributed as a writer. In 2001, his CBC special Talking To Americans became the highest-rated Canadian comedy special ever with 2.7 million viewers.

On July 1, 2014, it was announced that Rick Mercer had been made an Officer of the Order of Canada and he was inducted at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in September 2015. This past Canada Day, Mercer hosted the three-hour CBC special Canada Day 150! At last month’s 2018 Canadian Screen Awards, The Rick Mercer Report was presented with the Academy Icon Award. IN 2009 the series won the prestigious Golden Rose Award for ‘best comedy’ at the 2009 international Rose d’Or Television Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Rick Mercer Report airs tonight, April 10 at 8 p.m. ET (8:30 NT) on CBC.

Samora Smallwood

Samora Smallwood, actress,

B: December 5 in St. John's, NL

Samora Gloria Smallwood may have been born in Newfoundland but her family moved to Windsor, Ontario when she was still a young girl. She received her B.A in Drama from the University of Windsor and now makes her home in Toronto.

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

Beneath Perception (2010, short)
On a Break (2011, short)
Club Utopia (2013)
Exigent (2013, short)
I Wish You Love (2014)
Berkshire County (2014)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Karma’s a B*tch! (2013)
Murder in Paradise (2013)
Teenagers (2014)

Berkshire County, movie, poster,