Taborah “Tabby” Johnson, is the sister of actor Clark Johnson and rock and jazz singer Molly Johnson. She was still in her teens when she began her career on stage in the Toronto production of Hair. The rock musical had its Canadian Premiere at The Royal Alexandra Theatre in December 1969 and became the first theatrical production in Toronto to play a record 53-week engagement. Johnson went on to be a backing vocalist for Rick James, touring with the singer from 1979 to 1982. Back in Toronto, she sang as a jazz performer and as a backing vocalist for her sister. She also began her acting career being cast for both film and television including being a host on the beloved TVOntario kids program Polka Dot Door. Her great “pipes” also led to voice work in animated series including 13 episodes of Star Wars: Ewoks, 65 episodes of Babar, The Care Bears, Rupert, Beverly Hills Teens and many, many more. Her voice also brought gigs as a radio announcer in Toronto in the early 2000s.
Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
Voice of the Fugitive (1978, short)
Title Shot (1979)
The Magic Show (1983)
The Guardian (TV-1984)
One Night Only (1984)
Letting Go TV-1985)
Madballs: Gross Jokes (voice, VR-1987)
Hearts of Fire (1987)
Blood Brothers (1993)
Kids for Character: Choices Count! (voice, VR-1997)
Noddy: Anything Can Happen at Christmas (TV-1998)
Deadly Arrangement (1999)
The Big Comfy Couch – Sticks and Stones (VR-1999)
The Big Comfy Couch – My Best Friend (VR-1999)
The Big Comfy Couch – Let’s Try Sharing (VR-1999)
A Holiday Romance (TV-1999)
On Their Knees (2001)
Loves Music, Loves to Dance (TV-2001)
The Sentinel (2006)
Just One Word (2017, short)
TV Series – Cast:
Polka Dot Door (host, 1971)
Star Wars: Ewoks (voice, 1985-1986)
Air Waves (1986-1987)
The Big Comfy Couch (1992-1996)
The Busy World of Richard Scarry (1993-1997)
The Animal Shelf (voice, 1997-2000)
TV Series – Guest appearances:
The Littlest Hobo (1979)
Gagney & Lacy (1981)
THe Edison Twins (1985)
Night Heat (1988)
Star Wars: Driods (voice, 1985)
Philip Marlowe, Private Eye (1986)
The Elephant Show (1988)
Top Cops (1990)
E.N.G. (1990, 1993)
Dark Eyes (1995)
Homicide: Life on the Street (1997)
Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend (voice, 1998)
Rescue Heroes (voice, 2002)
George Shrinks (voice, 2003)
Copper (2013) Kim’s Convenience (2017) Private Eyes (2019)
Pretty Hard Cases (2023)
(March 20, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Page Boy Productions, Night is Y, and Prospero Pictures has confirmed Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe nominee Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld, Thirteen) had joined the cast of D.W. Waterson’s feature directorial debut Backspot. Executive produced by Elliot Page and starring Devery Jacobs and Kudakwashe Rutendo in lead roles as queer young athletes, the film has wrapped principal production after weeks of filming in the Toronto area.
“The importance of excellence in queer storytelling has never been more necessary and attracting a dream cast which includes the transcendent genius that is Evan Rachel Wood is a testament to the quality of the Backspot production,” said Matthew Jordan Smith, Head of Development & Production, Page Boy Productions. “The depth of Evan’s multidimensional talent and her natural raw power are essential to bringing her character Eileen to life. From the script to execution, we are incredibly proud to be producing Backspot as one of the first projects under the Page Boy banner.”
Wood stars as professional cheer coach Eileen McNamara, head coach of the high-performance Thunderhawks squad who pulls Riley (Jacobs) and Amanda (Rutendo) from their mid-level cheer team to be a part of her group of intensely competitive athletes.
“Backspot has been five years in the making and now that we’ve completed production, we can say with all confidence that we have created something very special. Having Evan join the cast was a fantasy fulfilled as she was who we wanted for the role of Eileen from inception,” said D.W. Waterson and Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs of Night is Y and producer Alona Metzer. “We feel so privileged to have worked with the caliber of talent Evan exemplifies alongside the rest of our cast and dedicated crew. Every single person involved left it all on the mat and we are eternally grateful.”
“Independent films require tremendous skill, perseverance, and a strong community of actors and artisans to come together under one unique vision. With Evan, Devery, Kudakwashe and others under the immensely talented eye of D.W. Waterson and in partnership with Page Boy Productions, we are honoured to be able to support a much needed new wave of visionary and diverse storytelling,” said Martin Katz, Prospero Pictures.
Backspot is executive produced by Elliot Page, Matthew Jordan Smith, J.C.Davidson, and Katisha Shaw; and produced by Alona Metzer, D.W. Waterson, Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, and Martin Katz. It will be distributed by levelFILM in Canada, and will subsequently stream on Crave, followed by CBC and CBC Gem. The film is produced in association with Telefilm Canada, Ontario Creates, CBC Films, and Shaw Rocket Fund. International and US rights to Backspot are represented by UTA.
SOURCE: Page Boy Productions, Night is Y, Prospero Pictures.
Tymika Tafari provides the voice for Liberty in the PAW Patrol series. In March of 2023 she attended the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas in support of the the series Slip in which she plays the role of Gina.
Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
The Marijuana Conspiracy (2020)
TV Series – Cast:
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (2020, mini-series)
Chateau Laurier (2022)
Christopher Yip is a writer-director based in Toronto. His six-episode short-form series, Streams Flow From A River was Executive-Produced by Yip and Shant Joshi (Framing Agnes), co-executive produced by Abdul Malik (Peace By Chocolate), and produced by Lindsay Blair Goeldner (I Like Movies). The drama is about the invisible struggles immigrant families face while trying to make a home in the West. A freak snowstorm traps a dysfunctional Chinese-Canadian family together in their rural Albertan hometown, forcing them to confront events from a decade ago that tore them all apart. The series will premiere on opening night of this year’s Canadian Film Fest – March 28th at 9PM as a Super Channel broadcast, and is the first ever digital series to be included in the festival. Afterwards it will continue to be available on Super Channel from April 1st. We list his credits as a Director first.
Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
Shrine Island (2016, short)
Forest of the Deer God (2016, short)
Sports Day (2016, short)
Kagura (2017, short)
True North Strong (2019, short)
Turn Back (2021, short)
Fish Boy (2013, short)
Streams Flow from a River (2023, 6 episodes)
Credits as a Screenwriter:
Kagura (2017, short)
Muse Room(2019, short)
True North Strong (2019, short)
Turn Back (2021, short)
Fish Boy (2013, short)
Denis and Me (2021, 3 episodes)
Blynk & Aazoo (2022, 2 episdoes)
16 Hudson (2022, 2 episodes)
Streams Flow from a River (2023, 6 episodes)
Born in Russia, Vitali Makarov served as a soldier in the Red Army for four years before studying drama at the Moscow Art Theater School founded by Constantin Stanislavski1. Based in Quebec since the 1990s, he is both a stage and screen actor. the theater community in Quebec, he has participated in more than 30 theatrical productions in Montreal and on tour. In 1997, he received the Montreal Critics Award for his work in the title role of the Hamlet at Théâtre La Licorne, which helped boost his screen career.
Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
117 minutes – Drama
Languages: English, Korean
Festival release date: September 11, 2022 – Toronto International Film Festival
Release date: March 2023
Production companies: Lonesome Heroes Productions, Kind Stranger Productions, A Lasting Dose Productions
Canadian distributor: Game Theory Films
So-young is a Korean single mother raising her adolescent son Dong-hyun in the suburbs of Canada during the 90s. Determined to provide a better life for him than the one she left behind in her native country, she does her best to overcome the constant racial and cultural challenges that confront them. As Dong-hyun gets older, he becomes increasingly curious about his Korean heritage and in particular, about his deceased father – a topic that So-young refuses to address. Instead, she is set on continuing to build on her new life which now includes a relationship with a kind Korean-Canadian man who is eager to take on the role of Dong-hyun’s surrogate father. This only exacerbates the tense relationship between her and Dong-hyun. Then, sudden devastating news prompts the mother and son to return to South Korea for the first time since their initial departure with hopes of reconnecting to their roots and reconciling their tragic past.
Riceboy Sleeps was the winner of the TIFF 2022 Platform Prize, winner of the Best Canadian Film Award by the Toronto Film Critics Association and was nominated for six 2023 Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture.
Andrew Yong Hoon Lee
Tiana P. Gordon
Brendan Taylor (Set Decoration)
Dohyun Noel Hwang
Anthony Shim Hunter Dillon
Kang In Sung
Eric Keenleyside John Cassini
Dong-Hyun as a Child
Won-Shik / In-Shik
119 minutes – Drama Language: English Festival release date: September 2022 – TIFF (World Premiere) Release date: March 17, 2023 Production companies: Conquering Lion Pictures, Hawkeye Pictures Canadian distributor: Elevation Pictures
Set in Toronto and based on the novel of the same name by David Chariandy, Brother is the story of Francis and Michael, sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men. The film explores themes of masculinity, identity and family as a mystery unfolds during the sweltering summer of 1991, and escalating tensions set off a series of events that change the course of the brothers’ lives forever. Brother crafts a timely story about the profound bond between siblings, the resilience of a community, and the irrepressible power of music. The cast is listed in order of appearance:
Lamar Johnson Aaron Pierre Kiana Madeira Marsha Stephanie Blake Jacob Williams Sebastian Singh Alsseny Camara Lovell Adams-Gray Delia Lisette Chambers Maurice Dean Wint Orville Cummings Beth Hornby Ho Chow Dujean Williams Samuel Archer Dwain Murphy Joseph Pierre Latoya Webb John Cleland Franco Lo Presti Evan Buliung Jamillah Ross Peter Williams Taveeta Szymanowicz Michael Antwi Mazin Elsadig Irena Huljak Khalid Karim Isaiah Peck Karl Campbell Dillon Jagersky DL Macdonald Anthony Grant Joris Jarsky Inderjeet Bajwa Isaiah Rockcliffe
Michael Francis Aisha Ruth Young Francis Young Michael Anton Jelly Young Aisha Samuel Youth News Anchor Robbery Clerk Young Black Man #1 Young Black Man #2 Dru Raj Singer Shop Teacher Reilly Duke Bus Stop Woman Michael’s Father Goose Oberlin Lobby Guy Scatter Cop #2 Cop #3 The Professa Black Bouncer White Bouncer #1 White Bouncer #2 The Conductor The Promoter Nurse Young Brother
(March 13, 2023 – Toronto, ON) The Future of Film Showcase (FOFS) has made two key appointments as they begin to ramp up for their 10th annual festival this May. Pictured left to right above, Kim Christmas becomes Chief Operating Officer and Samantha Summers, who is Manager Individual Giving at the Toronto International Film Festival, joins the FOFS Advisory Board.
Summers joins returning board members Paige Murray, Executive in Charge of Development, Drama, CBC; Samah Ali, Founder, Sisterhood Media; Shant Joshi, President, Fae Pictures; and Jenn Kuzmyk, Executive Director and Publisher, BANFF World Media Festival. FOFS gratefully acknowledges the significant contributions and guiding vision of board member Ravi Srinivasan, International Programmer, Canada at TIFF, who passed away in January 2023.
Kim Christmas brings more than 17 years of professional experience in the areas of change and project management, people management, and service development. She is Prosci® Change Management Certified, and has years of hands-on project management experience, including full-cycle projects. Kim has experience supporting and leading organizational learning and development initiatives. She holds Master’s degrees in English Literature and Language, and Library and Information Science.
The Festival’s milestone 10th edition will take place May 18th – 21st, with a hybrid of virtual and in-person events connecting veteran industry professionals with emerging talent nationwide. The newly expanded Festival will once again hold screenings at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto, opening with a Canadian shorts programme and closing with a debut feature film from a Canadian director. The FOFS programming team grows this year with the additions of Associate Programmers Winnie Wang, C.J. Prince and Andres Herrera, joining Director of Programming Zac Goldkind, who has been with the Festival since 2018.
“Over the past nine years it’s been a true privilege to work alongside the amazing team at FOFS that has helped cement our Festival as a launch pad for emerging Canadian filmmakers,” said Eric Bizzarri, CEO of the Future of Film Showcase. “This is an exciting time of growth for the organization and our leadership team is dedicated to fostering the next generation of storytellers.”
FOFS is funded by Telefilm Canada, the DGC Ontario, Canada Media Fund and the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA). FOFS is a Canadian Screen Award qualifying Festival.
(March 12, 2023 – Toronto, ON) It’s been quite some time since Canada made a mark at the Academy Awards but last night all of that changed. Nothing can compare to the near sweep by Everything Everywhere All at Once, but our haul, which might be an exaggeration, was still impressive compared to past years.
It began with a win for documentary filmmaker Daniel Roher for his 2022 film Navalny, which is about the events related to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the subsequent investigation. Navalny fell sick during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, and was hospitalized in serious condition. He was then taken to a hospital in Omsk after an emergency landing there, and put in a coma. Two days later, he was evacuated to the Charité hospital in Berlin, Germany. The use of the nerve agent was confirmed by five certified laboratories. Navalny shows how Bellingcat journalist Christo Grozev and Maria Pevchikh, the head investigator for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, reveal the details of a plot that indicates the involvement of Putin. Navlany screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award in the US Documentary competition. Based on applause, it was the favorite of those at the Dolby Theatre last night.
James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water won a 2023 Oscar® for Best Visual Effects. The team behind the work included Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon and Daniel Barrett.
Montreal-based prosthetics whiz Adrien Morot and his crew Judy Chin and Annemarie Bradley won the 2023 Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for the feature The Whale, starring Brendan Fraser. Morot picked up a nomination for his work on the Canadian feature Barney’s Version 13 years ago.
The next award in the Canadian list may have surprised many if not most watchers. Up against Top Gun: Maverick, All Quiet on the Western Front, Living and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, Sarah Polley won for her cinematic retelling of the Miriam Toews book, Women Talking. “First of all, I want to thank the academy for not being mortally offended by the words ‘women’ and ‘talking’ so close together like that,” Polley said to laughter.
Our “streak” ended with a well-deserved Oscar® for Best Actor for Brendan Fraser for his remarkable role in The Whale. It was his first Oscar®.
Northernstars.ca congratulates all of the nominees and winners at the 95th Annual Academy Awards, hosted for the third time by Jimmy Kimmel and held at the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
(March 12, 2023 – Toronto, ON) When the 95th edition of the Academy Awards unfolds tonight as it should, the competition will be fierce with 10 feature films vying for the single Best Film award. Two films with substantial Canadian content are on the list and they are James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water and Sarah Polley’s Women Talking. Neither is a “Canadian” film, but it’s hard to deny they are two extremely good cinematic storytellers.
One of the reasons Avatar: The Way of Water is on the list is when it was launched not many people were going to movies and the entire industry was in a funk. When they stopped counting the 2022 box office take worldwide, Cameron’s film was on top with more than 2.2 billion dollars. That’s billion, with a B. Often referred to as Avatar 2, this is the second instalment in the multi-film, multi-decade saga. It is also up for awards in best visual effects, best production design and best sound. James Cameron was not nominated for Best Director.
Sarah Polley has made her mark adapting books into screenplays. The first was her first feature film, Away From Her, based on the Alice Munro story, The Bear Came Over the Mountain. She also adapted Margaret Atwood’s book Alias Grace, writing each episode of the mini-series. Her latest, Women Talking, is based on the book by Miriam Toews and Polley is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Her last Oscar-nominated film was the 2012 revealing Stories We Tell about her family. Sarah Polley, like Cameron, was not nominated for Best Director.
Another feature with some noted Canadian talent is The Whale. Nominally Canadian actor Brendan Fraser is up for a Best Actor award and the Montreal-based prosthetics whiz Adrien Morot is up for Best Makeup artist for his work creating the physical transformation of Fraser into the obese English professor. Fraser already has many nominations and several film festival awards, but nailing an Academy Award would be nice for a guy that had essentially been forgotten by Hollywood. Thirteen years ago, Adrien Morot picked up a nomination for his work on the Canadian feature Barney’s Version.
Three animated films with strong Canadian connections have been nominated, two features and a short. Domee Shi won an Oscar for her 2018 short Bao and is back in Hollywood with Turning Red. Set in Toronto’s Chinatown East area, it tells the story of a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who unwillingly transforms into a giant red panda whenever she is overwhelmed by life as an adolescence.
Toronto’s Sheridan College is renowned for its animation program and Chris Williams is one of its stars. He directed 2008’s Oscar-nominated Bolt, then won an Academy Award for 2015’s Big Hero 6 and was co-director on 2016’s Moana, which was also nominated. This year he’s nominated for The Sea Beast about an orphaned girl who teams up with a legendary sea monster hunter.
Turning Red and The Sea Beast are competing against Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
The National Film Board already has a large collection of Academy Awards and hopes to add one more with the short The Flying Sailor from Calgary-based animators Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis. They previously worked together on the Oscar-nominated shorts When The Day Breaks (2000) and Wild Life (2012). The Flying Sailor is based on the real-life 1917 Halifax ship explosion.
Two documentaries are in the running for golden glory tonight. Ina Fichman is one of the producers behind Fire of Love, which tells the story Katia and Maurice Krafft. For two decades, the daring French volcanologist couple roamed the planet, chasing eruptions and documenting their discoveries. Director Sara Dosa has fashioned a lyrical celebration of the intrepid scientists’ spirit of adventure, drawing from the Kraffts’ spectacular archive. The volcano scientists and life partners died during a 1991 volcanic eruption on Japan’s Mount Unzen.
Daniel Roher, who gave us the remarkable and totally enjoyable Once Were Brothers about Robbie Robertson and The Band is back with a look into the life of a man who is a thorn in Vladimir Putin’s side, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny is about the events related to his poisoning and the subsequent investigation. He fell sick during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, and was hospitalized in serious condition. He was then taken to a hospital in Omsk after an emergency landing there, and put in a coma. Two days later, he was evacuated to the Charité hospital in Berlin, Germany. The use of the nerve agent was confirmed by five certified laboratories. Navalny shows how Bellingcat journalist Christo Grozev and Maria Pevchikh, the head investigator for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, reveal the details of a plot that indicates the involvement of Putin. Navlany screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award in the US Documentary competition.
Flashback: Sarah Polley in 2006 By Maurie Alioff – Québec Correspondent
(March 11, 2023 – Montréal, QC) The fate of writer-director–actress Sarah Polley’s new film, Women Talking, will be keenly watched tomorrow night when the 95th annual Academy Awards display their usual glitz and glamour. It has been nominated for Best Picture and in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for Polley’s work turning Miriam Toews’ book into a screenplay. What follows is an interview I did with Polley when she was in Montreal for a screening of her debut feature, Away from Her. The deeply moving film starred Gordon Pinsett, who died on Frebuary 25, and the onetime emblem of the sixties promisculous free-spitited sixties Julie Christie (pictured above). Pinsett character’s attempts to normalize relations with his wife are heartbreaking. The interview appeared originally in Jean-Pierre Tedros’s daily industry publication, CTVM.INFO.
Talking to Sarah Polley
Away from Her, Sarah Polley’s first feature is based on an Alice Munro story about a long-married couple whose relationship implodes when the wife, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, leaves home for a care facility. Faithful to the source material, the movie’s strange plot developments, haunted tone, and emotional ambiguities are a long way from the crass tearjerking you might expect.
Polley’s movie is obviously not a blatant shot at box-office gold, but I think it is, in agent-speak, a smart package guaranteed to arouse audience interest. Drawn from a story by a widely read author, the project involves a respected 28-year-old actress and burgeoning director making an unusual subject choice: an offbeat love story about older people. On top of that, Polley’s cast features mythic 1960’s actress Julie Christie in her first lead role in years. What aging baby-boomer wouldn’t be at least curious about watching the onetime emblem of romantic youth playing a woman with Alzheimer’s – especially if the movie worked, and the performance clicked?
When I asked Sarah Polley whether anyone picked up on her movie’s commercial potential before its successful opening weekend, she laughed. “God, no. I think everyone was horrified. They said you’ve chosen the most uncommercial, unlikely thing to do for your first film.” For Polley, who was in Montreal to talk up Away from Her just before its Canadian and U.S. releases widened, the film’s excellent reviews and robust attendance “goes to show that there’s no formula. In everyone’s mind this movie was laughable in terms of ever getting seen outside of one arthouse theatre in Toronto.” In fact, the release’s first week earned a per screen average of $10,100 in Canada and almost half a million in American ticket sales.
Sadly, most English-language Canadian films do fade away in one Toronto theatre. When Polley addresses the problem, there’s a hint of angry impatience in her voice. “So much has to change at every single level. In everything from distribution to exhibition, there have to be huge shifts. There has to be political will to do it, and there has to be fighting for it. Right now there’s neither. It’s very hard for me to see how things are going to fundamentally change.”
Making it clear that she’s “speaking about English Canada because I don’t know enough about Quebec,” Polley finds it ludicrous that industry types keeping pining for hits like The Full Monty or 4 Weddings and a Funeral. “We actually may well have had those films ten times over in the last twenty years, but if they did exist, they were buried” without decent marketing and exhibition.
Certain that reforms to the film industry must be “handed down” in the same way that the Canadian music industry was once regulated, Polley believes that people in the business are just waking up from a protracted delusion. The real dreamers are not hardcore auteurists, but those who believe that “with a 100th of the marketing budget, we can somehow compete with giant studio films. What we can realistically compete with are independent films. The most romantic, absurd idea is that foolproof can take on a giant film with Tom Cruise in it.” During he past few years, Canada’s tradition of individualistic filmmaking was disrupted, Polley believes, and its reputation on the international scene faded. “There was a real desert, and I think we’re just hopefully beginning to recover from that”
While many players, including funding agency types, believe that stronger scripts would lead to more potent films, Polley challenges this conventional wisdom. “I don’t agree,” she argues, “that we produce substandard scripts. I feel that I read great scripts in Canada every year.
“I also feel that generally in this country we place too much emphasis on the script and not enough on the creative team. We’ve decided that it’s all about the screenplay, and that’s simply not my experience being involved in films. I’ve been in great films that come from shells of scripts that would never get financed in this country, and I’ve been in terrible films that had really brilliant screenplays. I feel that actually we should be looking more at the filmmaker and filmmaker’s visions than we should be looking at screenplays.”
Polley recalls that after the success of Deepa Mehta’s film Water, the veteran director asked Telefilm Canada for $3,000,000 to make an improvisational film. The agency, which did support Away from Me, “turned Mehta down because they didn’t see enough of a script. I think you have to say at some point, this person has a track record. This is a different kind of film that’s going to be based on improvisation. Let’s trust that person as opposed to what’s on the page, which sometimes can be meaningless.”
As a writer, Polley is disturbed by the average script reader’s need for stories to reach neat conclusions. “But in fact, all of my favourite films have huge questions that never get answered. That’s life, isn’t it? This idea that everything gets didactically explained makes for a very uninteresting film.”
While Polley’s adaptation of Munro’s story offers a little more story resolution in its last act, overall, the movie works up a haze of ambiguities. Memories are “murky and subjective,” says Polley. Moreover, Julie Christie’s Alzheimer victim Fiona might be a little sadistic in the way her faltering memory torments her husband Grant (Gordon Pinsett). Grant is an ex-university professor who was once a serial adulterer and whose current love and devotion may not be entirely pure.
At the end of the movie, says Polley, “There’s a moment of grace, but I don’t know what happens after that moment”
Editor’s note: Away from Her won seven Genie Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. Northernstars™ chose Away From Her as one of its Top 10 Canadian Films of the Decade in December of 2009.
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. He is the Québec Correspondent for northernstars.ca.
100 minutes – Drama
Release date: May 28, 2010
DVD release date: October 5, 2010
Canadian Distributor: Alliance Vivafilm
L’enfant prodige (Child Podogy) is based on the life of André Mathieu, the Canadian pianist and composer, who expressed an interest in music at a very early age and was originally taught music by his father, Rodolphe Mathieu, a composer in his own right. In the 1930s the Mathieu family went to Paris where André continued his studies, and in December of 1936 gave a recital of his works at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, and again at Salle Gaveau in 1939. His recitals were enthusiastically received by Parisian critics, one of whom dubbed him “little Canadian Mozart.” The following summer, the Mathieu returned to Montréal for the holidays, but due to the outbreak of war, they could not return to Europe. The family left for the USA and the young André gave a remarkable performance at the New York City Town Hall. He remained in New York with his family until 1943, studying composition and appearing in concert and on the radio. In 1946, André returned to Paris to study composition but the trip did not go as planned. Disappointed by his teachers, the young prodigy returned to Montreal only to find that the city, and himself, had changed. He wasn’t a young star anymore and had a hard time finding his place in Québec.
Young André Mathieu
Jacques de la Presle
Andre Mathieu – as a child
Marcel de Valmalète
(March 10, 2023 – Toronto, ON) A constant trickle of news items over the last few days made us decide it was best if we picked the salient points in each and publish them in one article.
We begin with a reminder from White Pine Pictures that the deadline for the Linda Lee Tracey Award is fast approaching. It’s March 31, 2023. Click here for more information and to enter.
The Academy Awards are this Sunday, but the following day brings the JUNO awards. Simu Liu returns to host The 52nd Annual JUNO Awards, broadcasting live in all time zones across the country from Edmonton on Monday, March 13 at 8 p.m. ET/6 p.m. MT on CBC, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, and CBC Listen. The JUNO Awards will also be available on CBC Music’s Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and TikTok pages and for audiences around the globe.
On March 23, Netflix debuts its latest movie, The Night Agent. Based on the novel by Matthew Quirk, The Night Agent is a sophisticated, character-based, action-thriller that centres on a low level FBI Agent who works in the basement of the White House, manning a phone that never rings — until the night that it does. The Night Agent stars Gabriel Basso in the title role. Look for Canadian actors Sarah Desjardins, who plays the teenage daughter of the Vice President, and Eve Harlow who plays an unpredictable killer whose impulses come at a cost.
Notes from the Stage:
Toronto’s Factory Theatre will launch a new dramedy about faith, community, and sex from one of Canada’s most exciting emerging writers, Rachel Mutombo (pictured), Factory Theatre is thrilled to present the world premiere of Vierge. Directed by Natasha Mumba, Vierge stars Yvonne Addai, JD Leslie, Kudakwashe Rutendo and Shauna Thompson, and will be onstage from April 8 to April 30, 2023 at the Factory Theatre. Click here for more information.
A story of unrequited love, creative jealousy, guns and vodka. This spring, Soulpepper Theatre Company brings Anton Chekhov’s timeless tragicomedy The Seagull to the stage as part of Act I of their 2023 season. The acclaimed adaptation of the play by English playwright Simon Stephens will be directed by Toronto theatre scene veteran Daniel Brooks and performed by an all-star cast that includes founding members Diego Matamoros and Robyn Stevan, Academy Alumni Hailey Gillis, Dan Mousseau and Paolo Santalucia, several actors familiar to Soulpepper audiences including Oliver Dennis, Raoul Bhaneja, Randy Hughson, Michelle Monteith, and finally Ellie Ellwand and Farhang Ghajar, making their Soulpepper debut. The show will run April 6 to 30, 2023 at Soulpepper’s Baillie Theatre. There is more information online.
Paul Gross, no stranger to the stage, will be taking on the role of King Lear in the upcoming Stratford Festival. It’s been 23 years since Gross was on stage in Stratford. In 2000, the Due South star played the lead in Hamlet. King Lear is known to some as Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. It’s a story of an aging king who divides his power and land between his daughters, and the havoc that ensues as a result. Previews for King Lear begin April 24. The show runs until Oct. 29, playing at the festival theatre. Find more information online.
From Montreal, the Centaur Theatre has announced the English-language premiere of the Théâtre Duceppe production of King Dave, written by acclaimed actor and playwright Alexandre Goyette and directed by Christian Fortin. Originally revived and adapted by Anglesh Major in 2021, King Dave is an emotionally complex solo work about a young Haitian-Quebecois man’s struggle to survive and thrive in Montreal. This intense, intricate tale stars talented bilingual artist Patrick Emmanuel Abellard. King Dave will be presented March 28 – April 16, 2023 at the Centaur Theatre. Click here for more information. The Centaur Theatre Board of Directors recently announced that after an extraordinary 45-year tenure with the organization, English Montréal theatre champion Charles Childs will be ending his appointment as General Manager on June 30, 2023.
Back to film:
Scrap focuses on artists around the world who are transforming scrap or are working with it in other ways, employing their creativity to help solve environmental problems. For example, sculptor John Lopez uses old farm equipment to make huge sculptures of bison and animals that used to roam the Plains where he lives; architect Tchely Shin makes buildings out of old ships, like the discarded ocean liner he turned into an art installation that is now a cafe located in Seorak-myeon, Korea. Stacey Tenenbaum is an award-winning producer and director, passionate about making cinematic films that are filled with humour and heart. Scrap, from First Run Features, will be available on DVD and will begin streaming on Amazon, Apple TV & iTunes for Earth Day, April 11, 2023. Award-winning documentary director Jennifer Baichwal said this about Scrap: “A beautifully filmed elegy on the metals we discard, and their innate capacity for renewal and transformation.”
Also, Toronto filmmaker Brian D. Johnson’s vibrant feature-length documentary The Colour of Ink, co-produced by Sphinx Productions and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), is finally being released. It opens March 23 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto with both Johnson and his main subject, Jason Logan, in attendance. Other openings include:
March 24 at ByTowne Cinema in Ottawa
March 24 at 7 p.m. at Five Points Theatre in Barrie, as part of the Barrie Film Festival’s Reel Stories
March 24 at Cinéma du Parc in Montreal (in English) with an in-person Q&A with Brian D. Johnson on opening night
March 24 at Cinémathèque québécoise in Montreal (in French)
March 24 at Cinema Le Clap Sainte-Foy in Quebec City (in French)
March 25: Special live event with Jason Logan at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto
March 26 at Cinéma du Musée in Montreal (in French)
April 2 at Metro Cinema in Edmonton
And April 7 at VIFF Centre in Vancouver.
And finally, Kudos to the National Film Board. On Wednesday of this week they announced that 63% of all ongoing projects at the NFB (254) were directed by women or by teams with equal or greater representation of women than men. Notably, 66% of production spending was also allocated to productions led by women. The NFB met or surpassed goals for gender parity in two of four key creative functions, screenwriting (67%) and editing (70%), while women’s participation was lower for cinematography (43%) and music composition (20%).
We don’t normally cover theatre news, if you’d like us to do that more often, please let us know.
99 minutes – Comedy, Drama
Festival release date: September 9, 2022 – TIFF – World Premiere
Release date: March 10, 2023
Production companies: VHS Forever
Canadian distyibutor: Mongrel Media
Set in Burlington, Ontario in 2003, hyper-ambitious teenage cinephile Lawrence Kweller (Isaiah Lehtinen) dreams of attending film school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In order to raise the hefty tuition fee, he gets his dream job at the local video store, Sequels. Wracked with anxiety about his future, Lawrence begins alienating the most important people in his life – his best friend Matt Macarchuck (Percy Hynes White), his single mother Terri (Krista Bridges) – all while developing a complicated friendship with his older female manager, Alana (Romina D’Ugo). As graduation looms ever closer, a series of painful realizations force Lawrence to realize that he is a pretentious asshole.
Isaiah Lehtinen Percy Hynes White
Eden Cupid Krista Bridges
Alicia Di Monte
The Kweller Family Dog
Legally Blonde Customer
Cineplex Ticket Agent
Video Store Hottie
Rachel Mutombo is an award-winning actor and writer. She is an acting graduate of John Abbott College’s Professional Theatre Program as well as the National Theatre School of Canada. Her play Vierge, which is set to premiere at the Factory Theatre in Toronto in 2023, was awarded the Kevin Tierney Prize for first place in Infinitheatre’s annual playwriting competition. The jury for the prize stated that Rachel is “…one of the most exciting, original voices to come out of Canadian theatre in many years.” In 2022 Rachel won the PGC Tom Hendry TYA Award for her play Homeroom, currently in development with Young People’s Theatre.
The Reluctant Traveler Review by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(March 7, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Chances are you are among the legion of Eugene Levy fans who believe no matter the role he was playing, he was just being himself. Wry, cautious, subdued. His latest venture, the AppleTV+ series The Reluctant Traveler will only reinforce that belief. This is a hugely binge-worthy series for many reasons, the most important being Levy is playing himself. He is the title character.
An admitted stay-at-home kind of guy, Levy travels to locations that are all fascinating, all far above the necessary income level for 99% of us, and is cornered into doing stuff he would never normally consider doing. For example, he’s afraid of heights but gets coaxed into crossing a mildly swinging suspension bridge high above a verdant Costa Rican valley, and travels by helicopter in two episodes, white-knuckled and eyes firmly shut. He handles it all with a mixture of trepidation and aplomb and with some of the best very closeup, screen-filling, stoic deadpan takes since Jack Benny.
Levy often reminds viewers of his age, 75 and the fact that he’s Canadian and always, no matter the location, way beyond his normal comfort zone. It leaves you with the impression his ideal location would be an almost soundproof room with large comfortable furniture and someone to bring endless cups of really great coffee. Safe, protected with no demands on his activity level other than raising a cup to his lips as frequently as required. Which makes him the perfect host for this British-produced series in which he also serves as one of the producers.
There are only 8 episodes and each worth watching more than once, more than twice. The scenery is stunning, the hotels to die for and the people he meets are gracious and fascinating in their own right. We also get to learn more about Eugene Levy. Timid yet brave, set in his ways yet flexible, fearful yet willing to take a risk and in a couple of places, involving wildlife (something he has only seen on television) we learn he can be easily moved, his emotions seen and felt. And everything tied together with his gentle and often gently pointed sense of humour.
The Reluctant Traveler debuted on February 24 and visits Finland, Costa Rica, Venice, Utah, the Maldives, South Africa, Lisbon and Tokyo. If you don’t, and may never have those destinations stamped into your passport, the series is your next best bet. Here’s to more destinations in the future. If they can ever get Mr. Levy to leave home again.
Spring 2023 Film Festival Preview by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(March 6, 2023 – Toronto, ON) We’re about 14 days from the official start of Spring, but depending on where you live and how much snow is on the ground, that might seem like some distant promise. Between now and June there are 25 Canadian film festivals that we know about. There are links to our festival pages below.
There are a handful of large festivals and many small festivals across the country. The Kingston Canadian Film Festival wrapped last night. It launched on March 2nd, the same day as the Kamloops Film Festival in British Columbia, where they are celebrating their 27th festival and it runs until March 11th. The Whale, which has created a lot of buzz and some awards for its star, Brendan Fraser, screens tonight at 6:30. Of local note is the documentary Finding Fred Lee. The young Kamloops man joined the Rocky Mountain Rangers in 1916 and disappeared at the Western Front during World War One. Presumed killed at the Battle of Hill 70 in France, Fred Lee’s body was never recovered. His life was forgotten for 100 years. Kudos for director Jack Gin for bringing this man’s story back to life. Finding Fred Lee screens this Thursday, March 9 at 6:00PM.
The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is running their in-theatre dates from March 8 to the 11 and then again but online only from March 12 to the 25, which is why they are listed twice. Now in their 18th year, VIWFF is the only film festival dedicated to women and gender diverse people in Western Canada, and one of just three international film festivals for women and gender diverse people in Canada.
The International Ottawa Film Festival (IOFF) also kicks off on March 8 with a screening of I Like Movies, which was chosen as the best Canadian film of 2022 by the Vancouver Critics Circle. A highlight of the festival is a world premiere screening of the recently restored When Night is Falling with director Patricia Rozema and costar Pascale Bussieres in attendance.
One of the more fascinating film genres, to me anyway, is art films and Montreal hosts the annual International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). Billed as “the largest art and art film festival in the world,” this year, the festival’s 41st edition, will screen more than 220 films from 49 countries. In one of the festival’s section titled La Nuit de la danse (The Night of the Dance), there are 28 films, 19 of them from Québec filmmakers. Also of note, Études for Augmented Piano by Su Rynard (pictured above) has been selected and will be screening at the International Competition Short Films. It takes viewers inside Eve Egoyan’s world as she creates new work for augmented piano. The story is told through snapshot like moments, journal entries and visual explorations that playfully reveal the secrets of how the elusive sounds in her compositions are produced. FIFA runs from March 14 to 26.
One of our favorites is the Canadian Film Festival. Northernstars™ was there for its first year and it returns this year starting on March 28 and running until April 1. One of the reasons we like it is, like the Kingston Canadian Film Festival, it’s all Canadian all the time and we’re all for that. The Opening Night film is The Babysitter, an 87-minute comedy from director Monia Chokri.
One of the smaller festivals takes place in the town of Hudson, Quebec, some 55kms from downtown Montreal. Calling itself the “BIG little festival” it opens April 12 with the Canadian feature Run Woman Run from director Zoe Leigh Hopkins, which had its premiere screening at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Other festivals next month include the Montreal Independent Film Festival, the Toronto Next Wave and the Calgary Underground Film Festival. But the biggie in April is another of our favorite festivals, Hot Docs which opens April 27 and runs until May 7. No details yet, but if you love documentaries, mark these dates for this year’s Hot Docs.
Just as Hot Docs is ending, Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary festival begins. Running from May 4 to 14. Submissions to the festival are now closed and the selection process is underway, but it’s too early to know what’s on their 2023 schedule. Also coming in May, the ReelAbilities Film Festival in Toronto and the Montreal Underground Film Festival.
Small but important is the two-day Yorkton Film Festival in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. It’s been around since 1947 and winning its Golden Sheaf Award is a real honour. The festival handed out the first one in 1958.
The InsideOut 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival launches on May 25 and runs until June 4 and the Calgary Black Film Festival runs from May 26 to 29.
(February 28, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Born in England of Jamaican parents, Trey Anthony began doing stand-up comedy during African Nubian Comedy Nights at Toronto’s Yuk-Yuk’s Comedy Cabaret. She has performed as well with Second City, and was a writer for HBO’s The Chris Rock Show (1997–2000) and a writer and performer on After Hours with Kenny Robinson (2001). Her first theatrical play, ‘Da Kink in My Hair, debuted in 2001 at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Set in a hair salon run by Caribbean immigrants, and composed of a series of monologues, the play introduces the audience to the women who work at and visit the place. Anthony’s aunt was in the styling business, and the play’s characters and monologues are based largely on her childhood memories.
Dorly Jean-Louis was born on the island of Hispaniola, Republic of Haiti. Her parents immigrated to Montreal before settling in Ottawa where she grew up. Now based in Toronto, she took a leap of faith and belief in her aptitudes to launch her acting career. After completing her media studies at Humber College she worked part-time at a financial institution solely to pay her bills. The remainder of the workweek was dedicated to her craft including acting classes. Equipped with a postgraduate degree in broadcast journalism, Dorly started her career landing mostly journalistic roles from news anchor to show host or TV interviewer. She got her first big break when she landed a principal role in the Hallmark romantic film Daniel’s Daughter playing Talisha, an inquisitive entertainment news reporter interviewing New York socialite Kate Madigan played by Laura Leighton. Fluent in both official languages, Dorly recently landed a recurring role showcasing her comedic chops on the second season of the French television series Zik, on TFO. The show explores the world of music, its history, culture and sound. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honours in Mass Communication from the University of Ottawa, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Humber College School of Media Studies and a Canadian Fashion Designer Diploma from the Richard Robinson Fashion Design Academy.
Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
Dead Lawyers (2004)
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005)
Firehouse Dog (2007)
Daniel’s Daughter (2008)
Do What You Need To Do (2008, short)
Vacation With Derek (TV-2010)
Whole Lotto Love (2016 short)
Business Ethics. (2019)
A Very Country Christmas Homecoming (TV-2020)
Christmas on 5th Avenue (TV-2021)
The Man From Toronto (2022)
May the Best Wedding Win (2022)
Royal Recipe for Love (2023)
Kevin Hill (2004)
Jeff Ltd (2007)
Instant Star (2008)
(February 27, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Roger Cross was born in Jamaica and lived there until he was eleven when he and his family moved to Canada’s west coast settling in Vancouver. There were no signs in his early life that he was interested in acting. In fact when he graduated from Trinity Western University in Langley B.C., he took with him a degree in Aviation and General Studies. He has said that he was drawn to acting simply out of “curiosity” and something to do, “just for fun.” He began his career as a part time stunt performer. Years later, answering his interest in aviation and his quest to find something to do just for fun, he must have enjoyed being cast as “a Pilot” in 1993’s Look Who’s Talking Now. Roger Cross plays Detective Donovan McAvoy on the series Coroner.