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So Much Tenderness

So Much Tenderness, movie, image,
Image courtesy of Rayon Verde.

118 minutes – Drama
Language: English and Spanish with English subtitles
Festival release date:
Release date: 2022
Production companies: Rayon Verde, Arbitrage Pictures, Timelapse Pictures
Canadian distributor: Mongrel Media

So Much Tenderness follows Aurora (Noëlle Schönwald), a Colombian environmental lawyer who is forced to flee her native country when her husband (Juan Pablo Cruz) is murdered. With the help of a young couple (Deragh Campbell and Kazik Radwanski), she illegally crosses into Canada from the U.S. inside the trunk of a car, and is forced to start her life from scratch as a refugee. Six years later, she leads a seemingly normal life in Toronto with her tempestuous daughter Lucía (Natalia Aranguren), until her estranged cousin Edgar (Francisco Zaldua), who was a suspect in her husband’s murder, resurfaces, threatening everything she’s built.

No Poster Available, image,

Crew:

Producer:

Lina Rodriguez
Brad Deane

Executive Producer:

Neil Mathieson
Albert Shin
Igor Drljaca
Priscilla Galvez

Line Producer:

Priscilla Galvez

Director:

Lina Rodriguez

Screenwriter:

Lina Rodriguez

Cinematographer:

Nikolay Michaylov

Editor:

Lina Rodriguez
Brad Deane

Composer:

Chris A. Cummings

Production Designer:

Jorge Lozano

Costume Designer:

Mara Zigler

Cast: Roles:

Noëlle Schönwald
Natalia Aranguren
Deragh Campbell
Augusto Bitter
Andreana Callegarini-Gradzik
Charlotte Creaghan
Juan Pablo Cruz
Brad Deane
Lina Gómez
Sebastian Kowollik
Lee Lawson
Alexander Macdonald
Kazik Radwanski
Francisco Zaldua
Luisa Alvarez Restrepo
Esme Cockerill
Nicole Deane
Robin Guillen
Douglas Hann
Rodrigo Michelangeli
Clara Monroy
Claudia Montoya
Almeiro Rodriguez
Jasmine Shek
Perry Stockwell
María Jose Suárez

Aurora
Lucía
Nancy
Félix
Madison
Annabel
Adrián Santana
John
Camila
Alexander
Simone
Alex
Rob
Edgar
Interpreter
Esme
Woman In Spanish Class
Thomas
Immigration Officer
Man At Store
Grandmother
Claudia
Grandfather
Border Officer
Edward
Latin Cafe Owner

NFB Offers Six

NFB Offers Six, image,
Still from the animated short The Commute courtesy of NFB.

NFB Offers Six
by Staff Editors

(August 10, 2022 – Montréal, Québec) The National Film Board (NFB) is featuring the free online premiere of six one-minute animated shorts produced through its Hothouse program, which brings together emerging animation talents from across Canada.

Now in its 13th season, the Hothouse theme for this year was “100,” which filmmakers were free to use as a quantifying descriptor, a playful graphic element, a musical guide or just a creative jumping-off point. In their shorts, the young animators have channeled this theme in ways that reflect their own richly diverse backgrounds. Renowned animation filmmaker Howie Shia served as this year’s mentoring director, with Maral Mohammadian producing.

The Hothouse 13 cohort features the talents of:

Louis Bodart, Lukas Conway and Noncedo Khumalo from Montreal
Grace An and Tarun Padmakumar from Toronto
karla monterrosa from Vancouver

This. summer these Hothouse animators took part in major animation events. helping them to build skills, make new connections and find out what’s happening in the industry. In June, they travelled to the Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Market in France for a unique opportunity to meet and network with peers from around the world. In July, all six Hothouse 13 films premiered at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival, with several of the filmmakers in attendance.

Following are the details of the six NFB short animations now available online:

From Montreal:

100 Miles. by Louis Bodart. Originally from Belgium, Bodart grew up in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie regions in Quebec before studying at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University in Montreal. His graduation film, Teddy Bear Rescue, was widely screened at festivals, winning awards at the Feel the Reel, Short to the Point and Les Percéides fests.
100 Miles synopsis: Are we there yet? When the kids act up in the back seat, a family road trip gets knocked hilariously off course.

Bang. Lukas Conway co-directed End of Recording, which won the Ottawa International Animation Festival’s Best Student Animation Award. His most recent animated short, Post, took home the Best Documentary Award from the Yale Student Film Festival.
Bang synopsis: In a frenzied attempt to break the isolation, a man drums his head against the wall, unleashing a battery of brightly hued hallucinations.

NFB, image,
Still for 100 Ghosts courtesy of NFB

100 Ghosts. Noncedo Khumalo was raised in Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana. She is a graduate of Concordia’s animation program and her student film, Continuum, was hailed by Cinema Politica as a “gorgeous, animated vision of Black queer community and solace.” It won the York University Award for Best Student Work and was programmed by Mubi.
100 Ghosts synoipsis: A woman awakes to mysterious sounds—and confronts an astonishing surreal world summoned forth by her innermost fears.

From Toronto:

Baek-il. Grace An is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in the Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University in Toronto. She previously graduated from Concordia University’s film animation program. Her credits include Papier Accordéon, part of the NFB series Otherly for Instagram Stories.
Baek-il synopsis: The Korean legend of ungnyeo, a bear reborn as a woman, becomes a percussive and mesmerizing riff on the themes of transformation and quarantine.

The Commute. Tarun Padmakumar was born in Kerala, India and studied in the Film and Video program at India’s National Institute of Design. Moving to Toronto, he continued his studies at Sheridan College, where he specialized in digital character animation. He’s worked as a 3D animator with Toronto’s Guru Studio and Industrial Brothers, and he’s been part of the team behind animated children’s series like Remy & Boo and Sesame Street Mecha Builders.
The Commute synopsis: The distinctive three-note chime of the Toronto subway kicks off a zippy tale of bike theft and survival in an unfamiliar new town.

From Vancouver:

NFB Offers Six, image
Still from Lo 100to courtesy of NFB

Lo 100to. karla monterrosa was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador and now lives in Vancouver. She studied traditional drawing techniques at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design in Washington, D.C., obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in animation from the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and has exhibited throughout the Americas.
Lo 100to. synopsis: When Delia announces a breakup on group chat, she’s bombarded with inappropriate and comic remarks from her Salvadoran family.

The NFB’s Hothouse program in Montreal has helped kickstart the careers of acclaimed animators from across Canada. Over 50 animators have come through the program in the past 18 years, including Patrick Doyon, Paloma Dawkins, Philip Eddolls, Anne Koizumi, Alex Boya, Malcolm Sutherland, Eva Cvijanovic, David Barlow-Krelina and the creative duo of Dale Hayward and Sylvie Trouvé.

As mentioned, acclaimed animation filmmaker Howie Shia was this year’s mentoring director. Shia’s directorial credits with the NFB include the Canadian Screen Award-nominated shorts BAM (2015) and 4 North A (2020), which he co-directed with Jordan Canning.

Maral Mohammadian is a producer with the NFB English Program’s Animation and Interactive Studio in Montreal. Her recent productions include the shorts Hide by Daniel Gray, Impossible Figures and Other Stories I by Marta Pajek, and Paloma Dawkins’ VR work Museum of Symmetry.

Hothouse 13 associate producer is Johanne Ste-Marie, co-founder of the art collective Fluorescent Hill.

Click here to watch these 6 short animations online.

SOURCE: NFB

Deragh Campbell

B: 1989 in Toronto, Ontario

Deragh Campbell made her big-screen debut in 2013 in Matthew Potterfield’s film I Used to Be Darker, which was one of The New Yorker’s Top 25 films of the year. More of a writer than an actor, Campbell studied creative writing at Montreal’s Concordia University. She was named one of the 4 Rising Stars by the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. The sci-fi feature Project Ithaca, directed by award-winning Canadian Nicholas Humphries, was presented for the first time at Cannes in May 2018. Her film, Anne at 13,000 ft was selected to have its World Premiere at TIFF 2019.

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

I Used to Be Darker (2013)
Person to Person (2014, short)
Stinking Heaven (2015)
Beach Week (2015, short)
How Heavy This Hammer (2015)
O, Brazen Age (2015)
The Other Half (2016)
Never Eat Alone (2016)
The Intestine (2016)
Mobile Homes (2017)
It’s Hard to Be Human (2018)
Project Ithaca (2018)
Anne at 13,000 ft (2019)

Possessor (2020)
Succor (2020, short)
So Much Tenderness (2022)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Stinking Heaven (2015)

Project Ithaca, movie, poster,

Anne at 13,000 ft., movie, poster,

imagineNATIVE Announces Programmers & Venues

imagineNATIVE Announces Programmers & Venues, image,

imagineNATIVE Announces Programmers & Venues
by Staff Editors

(August 9, 2022 – Toronto, ON) The 23rd annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival has announced new details about the 2022 Festival. This October, imagineNATIVE will feature over 100 short films curated into 13 programs, plus 17 feature films, by Indigenous creators from around the world. The 2022 festival program was curated by Festival Curatorial Advisor Rhéanne Chartrand along with Festival Programmers Cole Forrest, Leo Koziol, and Paul Seesequasis.

imagineNATIVE will welcome artists and audiences back to Toronto/Tkaronto for in-person screenings and events October 18 – 23, 2022. To improve on accessible offerings imagineNATIVE will also be providing Festival selections online October 24 – 30, 2022 to ensure they connect with those who are unable to attend in-person offerings.

imagineNATIVE is also pleased to announce the return of TD Free Friday at the 2022 Festival, which means tickets to all screenings on Friday, October 21, 2022, will be free. TD Free Friday is intended to provide a greater opportunity for a larger number of individuals to experience imagineNATIVE’sprogramming.

In-person imagineNATIVE events and screenings will take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, and Artscape Sandbox, and will feature an exciting series of special events including the Welcome Gathering, Opening Night Screening + Party, Art Crawl, The Beat, and Closing Night Screening. iNdigital Days will return in-person to The Gallery at the TIFF Bell Lightbox with an immersive showcase of VR, video games and more, while Industry Days will return in-person to the Artscape Sandbox for panels, workshops, and networking opportunities.

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival strives to provide an accessible environment and positive festival experience for all patrons. imagineNATIVE is committed to developing and maintaining Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards per the provincial Path to 2025, with several accessibility features available at the 2022 festival. Click here for more detailed information on accessibility at imagineNATlVE.

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world’s largest Indigenous festival showcasing film, video, audio, and digital + interactive media made by Indigenous screen-content creators. The Festival presents compelling and distinctive works from Canada and around the globe, reflecting the diversity of Indigenous nations and illustrating the vitality and dynamism of Indigenous arts, perspectives, and cultures in contemporary media.

Ticket packages are on sale as of today, August 9th, with individual tickets on sale October 1, 2022. All festival programming will be announced September 20, 2022.

SOURCE: imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

Carmen Gets Released

Carmen Gets Released
by Staff Editors

(August 9, 2022 – Toronto, ON) Valerie Buhagiar’s latest film, Carmen, which had its World Premiere at the Whistler Film Festival last December, is set for release in the United States and Canada in September. Set in a sun-dappled village in Malta in the 1980s, Natascha McElhone gives a career-best performance as a 50-year-old woman finding a new start in life through romance.

Carmen, movie, oster, In Malta, it is tradition for the younger sister to devote her life to the church when an older brother enters the priesthood. Inspired in part by the real experiences of writer-director Valarie Buhagiar’s own aunt Rita, Carmen lives a life of servitude from the age of 16 until 50, looking after her brother (Richard Clarkin), the local priest, who has died. When the Church abandons Carmen, she is mistaken for the new priest and begins to see the world, and herself, in a new light. Realizing her own mortality, she leaves the church and makes up for lost time.

Carmen is Buhagiar’s third feature film as a director. She first burst on the scene as a performer in such classic Canadian films as Roadkill (1989) and Highway 61 (1991).

With exclusive engagements in Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco (Bay Area), Columbus and more, Carmen will screen at the Cinema Village in New York, and the Laemmle Monica in Los Angeles. It will also be available on VOD in the US and Canada including Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, XFinity Cable, and more.

Distributed in Canada by Storyboard Media, Good Deed Entertainment is the film’s U.S. distributor.

CMPA & CRTC in the News

Film production, image,
This "on location" photo is not meant to represent any specific film production.

CMPA & CRTC in the News
by Staff Editors

(August 8, 2022 – Ottawa, ON) On Friday of last week, the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) submitted a petition to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, asking him to set aside, or refer back, the CRTC’s Licence Renewal decision for the CBC, released in June. In the petition, the CMPA expresses its deep concerns about the damaging impact that will result from the elimination of a key licence condition, which required the CBC to work with independent media producers in the production of Canadian programming.

“This is a decision from the CRTC that frankly came out of left field, and will negatively alter the Canadian media production landscape in a number of troubling ways,” said Reynolds Mastin, President and CEO, CMPA. “The decision undermines federal broadcasting policy objectives, and is fundamentally dangerous to the future of Canada’s independent media production sector.”

In its appeal to the Minister, the CMPA asserts that the CRTC decision removes pivotal protections responsible for the recognized success of the Canadian broadcasting system. It further notes that the CRTC’s removal of the broadcasting obligation in question was taken without prior warning, without evidence supporting the need for such a shift, and was not requested by the CBC or by any other stakeholder that participated in the licence renewal process.

The CMPA petition also notes the organization is aligned with the dissenting decisions issued by Commissioners Lafontaine and Simard, which noted that, in line with historical CRTC practices, such a fundamental shift should only take place following a full-scale policy review with input from experts and impacted industry stakeholders.

“The CBC is the most significant commissioner of independent programming in Canada, and the removal of this condition will have a precedent-setting negative impact on the future of Canadian programming,” added Mastin.”

The Canadian Media Producers Association is the national advocacy organization for independent producers, representing hundreds of companies engaged in the development, production, and distribution of English-language content made for television, cinema, and digital media channels.

SOURCE: Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA)

Lina Rodríguez

Lina Rodríguez, director,
Photo of Lina Rodríguez by Calvin Thomas. Used with permission.

B: 1981 in

Columbia

Colombian-born writer-director Lina Rodríguez studied film at York University in Toronto. Her films and installations have been shown at international venues and festivals such as Montreal’s Festival des Films du Monde, the New York Film Festival, Images Festival, and Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. Her film, Señoritas, premiered at the International Film Festival of Cartagena de Indias and at Latinbeat 2013 (EEUU). Her most recent film, Mañana a esta hora (This Time Tomorrow ) screened at the 2016 Locarno International Film Festival and all have its theatrical release at the Metrograph in New York on August 4, 2017, then in 6 cities in Colombia starting August 10 and at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto on August 18.

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

Convergences et rencontres (aka In Memoriam, 2007, short)
Pont du Carrousel (2009, short)

Einschnitte (2010, short)
Protocol (2011, short)
Señoritas (2013)
Mañana a esta hora (aka This Time Tomorrow, 2016)
ante mis ojos (before my eyes) (2018, short)
Aquí y allá (Here and There) (2019, short)

Mis dos voces (My Two Voices) (2022)
So Much Tenderness (2022)

Credits as a Screenwriter: Convergences et rencontres (2007, short)
Pont du Carrousel (2009, short)

Einschnitte (2010, short)
Protocol (2011, short)
Señoritas (2013)
Mañana a esta hora (aka This Time Tomorrow, 2016)
ante mis ojos (before my eyes) (2018, short)
Aquí y allá (Here and There) (2019, short)

Mis dos voces (My Two Voices) (2022)
So Much Tenderness (2022)

Manana-a-esta-hora-Poster300

Joely Collins

Joely Collins, actress,

B: August 8, 1972 in Vancouver, British Columbia

Joely Collins began life as Joely Bertorelli. Her mother, Andrea Bertorelli married famed Genesis drummer and singer Phil Collins in 1975 and Joely was adopted by him. Her mother and Collins divorced in 1980. She studied acting at the Vancouver Youth Theatre, then at England’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. She is usually remembered for her role as Christine Wren in 57 episodes of Cold Squad between 2000 and 2005.

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

Moment of Truth: To Walk Again (TV-1994)
Hideaway (1995)
Beauty’s Revenge (TV-1995)
Deadly Sins (1995)
Annie O (TV-1995)
Generation X (TV-1996)
Home Song (TV-1996)
Urban Safari (1996)
Diamond Girl (TV-1998)
Our Guys: Outrage at Glen Ridge (TV-1999)
Summer Love: The Documentary (1999)

The Dinosaur Hunter (TV-2000)
Evolution: The Animated Movie (VR-2002)
Defining Edward (2003)
The Final Cut (2004)
A Clown’s Gift (2004, short)
Ill Fated (2004)
The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess (TV-2004)
Almost Heaven (2006)
Four Extraordinary Women (TV-2006)
Joanne Learns to Cook (2007, short)
Kick Me Down (2009)

What Could Have Been (2011)
Becoming Redwood (2012)

TV Series – Cast:
Cold Squad (2000-2005)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Neon Rider (1994)
The New Adventures of Madeline (1995)
Hurricanes (voice, 1994, 1995)
Action Man (1995)
Poltergeist: The Legacy (1996)
Madison (1997)
North of 60 (1997)
Viper (1998)
First Wave (1998)
Da Vinci’s Inquest (1998, 1999, 2004)
NightMan (1999)

MythQuest (2001)
The Dead Zone (2005)
The Collector (2006)
Northern Town (2006)

Coded (2015)

Becoming Redwood, movie, poster,

Camping Trip – A Review

Camping Trip, movie, review,

Camping Trip – A Review
by Thom Ernst – Film Correspondent

(August 6, 2022 – Toronto, ON) I didn’t care for Camping Trip. It’s too talky. It holds onto to clever camera tricks for too long—twirling cameras, slow motion, long interludes of exposition. And it loses itself in its earnest (and unconvincing) pursuit to be more important than just a pandemic thriller.

Camping Trip, movie, poster, This story of a quartet of outliers who, on the first sign of a break in COVID restrictions, abandon masks, distancing protocols, and acceptable limits on body contact—and man! they do enjoy disregarding the body contact rule. But they are outliers not because they circumvent any prevalent ideology but because they are so pointedly annoying with piercingly unfunny banter and off-the-mark camaraderie, performed with such stagey dramatics that nearly any scene involving dialogue comes across as inauthentic.

I am under no delusion that acting is easy. No one should be. Try it. It’s hard. I failed so badly at acting that I fear I traumatized the cameraman during my audition. Still, there are no bad actors, just bad acting. But maybe it’s not the performances that hurt as much as knowing that these wonderful people—each of them professional actors—have been horribly miscast. Some are more miscast than others.

Camping Trip, movie, review,

Individually, the actors pour all they can into their characters. This admirable effort has the unfortunate effect of being too much. The movie relies wholly on buying into Polly (Caitlin Cameron), Enzo (Leonardo Fuica), Ace (Alex Gravenstein) and Coco’s (Hannah Forest Briand) unshakeable friendship. But the performances lack a cohesiveness that ties the characters together and—to simplify a reaction—gives us characters to care about. If the actors in Camping Trip are friends off camera, they effectively turn off the friend switch when the camera rolls.

There are exceptions. Enter veteran character actor Michael D’Amico as Orick and Jonathan Vanderzon as Billy have scenes that work well enough to wish for their characters to be in a different movie. They are the bad guys, and traditionally—or so it seems—bad guys are the meatier roles. Ironic that two psychopath henchmen are the film’s most interesting (if not likable) characters.

Camping Trip, movie review,

Less effective as a bad guy—and again, I blame miscasting—is Doc (Ben Pelletier), a nerdy COVID warrior who looks like Bronson Pinchot in Jeffery Dahmer glasses. Doc is not great at being wrong, but his half-hearted effort to double-cross Orick and Billy strikes me as less a character defect than it does lazy writing.

Blame the writing, too, not for laziness but excessiveness in a scene where Enzio delivers the bad news that (spoiler alert) COVID has changed the world forever. But it’s not just Fuica’s acting choices at fault— Enzo suffers from theatrics going from petty to insolence to prophesizing doom with wildly expressive theatrics. Fuica’s performance is just too big for the camera. But the COVID debate comes across as an impassioned speech with the added annoyance of ineffective preachiness.

We live in the aftermath of COVID and debates about a hopeless and bleak future dating the movie even before its release. Even the opening sequence showing a scenes-from-the-pandemic montage feels like a film that just missed its window of relevance.

Also see: Watch the trailer and learn more about Camping Trip.

Northernstars logo imageThom Ernst is a Toronto based film critic and writer and an active member of the (TFCA) Toronto Film Critics’ Association. His work has appeared in various publications including Playback Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. He is known to CBC Radio listeners for his lively contributions to Fresh Air, Metro Morning, and CBC Syndication as well as appearing on-air for CTV News Channel and The Agenda with Steve Paikin. He was host, interviewer and producer of televisions’ longest running movie program Saturday Night at the Movies. Currently he can be heard interviewing Canadian filmmakers on the Kingston Canadian Film Festival podcast, Rewind, Fast-Forward.

Camping Trip

104 minutes – Thriller, Horror
Language: English
Festival release date:
Release date: August 16, 2022
Production company: Fuica Films Picture Inc.
Canadian distributor: 8Cube.

In the summer of 2020, two couples decide to go on a COVID era camping trip after months of being in lockdown. The freedom of nature and the company of their best friends offer the group a rare sense of normality, but though secluded, they’re not alone. Nearby, during a botched drop off, two goons decide to go rogue; inadvertently, implicating the campers. What started as a fun-filled vacation quickly turns into a test of loyalty and survival. Suddenly the pandemic is the least of their worries.

Also see: Northernstars reviews Camping Trip.

Campring Trip, movie, poster,

Crew:

Producer:

Damian Fuica
Leonardo Fuica

Executive Producer:

Leonardo Fuica

Supervising Producer:

Damian Fuica (Post production)

Director:

Damian Fuica (Co-director)
Leonardo Fuica (Co-director)

Screenwriter:

Leonardo Fuica<br />

Cinematographer:

Damian Fuica
Tibo L’Amy

Editor:

Damian Fuica

Composer:

Michel DeMars

Art Director:

Alexandra Fuica

Cast: Roles:

Leonardo Fuica
Caitlin Cameron
Alex Gravenstein
Hannah Forest Brand
Ben Pelletier
Johnathan Vanderzon
Michael D’Amico
Gabriel Desjardins
Irma Adriazola
Miguel Fuica

Enzo
Polly
Ace
Coco
Doc
Billy
Orick
Boat vendor
Neighbour
Neighbour

Discovery & Midnight Madness at TIFF

Discovery & Midnight Madness at TIFF, image,
Image edited from the poster for the Canadian film Until Branches Bend from director Sophie Jarvis.

Discovery. Midnight Madness & More at TIFF 2022
by Staff Editors

(August 4, 2022 – Toronto, ON) One day after reporting on TIFF’s Platform Program, today we learned about the film festival’s Discovery, Midnight Madness and Wavelength programs. A lineup that features 54 titles from filmmakers representing 26 countries.

“For TIFF audiences in the know, the Discovery, Midnight Madness and Wavelengths programmes are where you’re rewarded for taking risks and being adventurous,” offered Anita Lee, Chief Programming Officer, TIFF. “Whether it’s the discovery of an audacious new auteur, a brilliant visionary work that reimagines storytelling or the most wicked cinematic experience you will ever have, this is where you will find it.”

“TIFF’s Discovery programme is a showcase of cinema and talent from around the world — a place to unearth work that is bold, distinctive, and, above all, passionate,” said Dorota Lech, Discovery Lead and International Programmer, TIFF. “The section has a rich history of championing the first and second features of visionary filmmakers such as Chantal Akerman, Julie Dash, Yorgos Lanthimos, Ildikó Enyedi, Jafar Panahi, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Steve McQueen, Michael Haneke, Christopher Nolan, Lav Diaz, Barry Jenkins, Alfonso Cuarón, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Warwick Thornton, Maren Ade, Joachim Trier, David Gordon Green, Pablo Larraín, Valeska Grisebach, and Jean-Marc Vallée, to name just a handful. This year’s robust programme offers 24 films that shook us to the core, filled us with joy, broke our hearts, and, most importantly, reminded us that the future is bright.”

Unless otherwise noted, all the the films that follow will enjoy World Premieres at TIFF 2022. There will be another film aded to this list at a later date:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Aitch Alberto | USA

Baby Ruby Bess Wohl | USA

Carmen Benjamin Millepied | Australia, France

Daughter of Rage (La Hija de todas las Rabias) Laura Baumeister | Nicaragua

A Gaza Weekend Basil Khalil | United Kingdom, Palestine

I Like Movies Chandler Levack | Canada

The Inspection Elegance Bratton | USA (Discovery Opening Night Film)

A Long Break Davit Pirtskhalava | Georgia

Pussy Joseph Amenta | Canada

Return to Seoul Davy Chou | South Korea, France, Germany, Belgium
International Premiere

ROSIE Gail Maurice | Canada

Runner Marian Mathias | USA, France, Germany

SHIMONI Angela Wanjiku Wamai | Kenya

Snow and the Bear Selcen Ergun | Turkey, Germany, Serbia

Something You Said Last Night Luis De Filippis | Canada, Switzerland

Susie Searches Sophie Kargman | USA

Until Branches Bend, movie, poster, Sweet As Jub Clerc | Australia
International Premiere

The Taste of Apples is Red Ehab Tarabieh | Israel, Germany

This Place V.T. Nayani | Canada

Unruly (Ustyrlig) Malou Reymann | Denmark

Until Branches Bend Sophie Jarvis | Canada

When Morning Comes Kelly Fyffe-Marshall | Canada

The Young Arsonists Sheila Pye | Canada

“I am thrilled to announce that Midnight Madness has returned to its traditional 10-film configuration and has a new home at the Royal Alexandra Theatre,” said section curator Peter Kuplowsky. “I also couldn’t have hoped for a more appropriate Opening Night film than Weird: The Al Yankovic Story — a beautifully deranged ‘biopic’ made in the great Midnight movie tradition of challenging conventions and forging one’s own path, no matter how weird.”

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, movie, poster, Starring Daniel Radcliffe as music and comedy legend “Weird Al” Yankovic, the film leads a gonzo Midnight Madness lineup that includes a double dose of gore-filled action (Sisu and Project Wolf Hunting), two wildly surprising new instalments to iconic horror films (Pearl and V/H/S 99), some magnificently meta genre comedies (The Blackening, The People’s Joker, and Leonor Will Never Die), and a few killer creative horror team-ups (John Hyams and Kevin Williamson’s Sick, Jaume Balagueró and Álex de la Iglesia’s Venus).

Unless otherwise noted, all the the films that follow will enjoy World Premieres at TIFF 2022.

The Blackening Tim Story | USA

Leonor Will Never Die Martika Ramirez Escobar | Philippines (Midnight Madness Closing Night Film)
Canadian Premiere

Pearl Ti West | USA
North American Premiere

The People’s Joker Vera Drew | USA

Project Wolf Hunting Kim Hongsun | South Korea

Sick John Hyams | USA

Sisu Jalmari Helander | Finland

Venus Jaume Balagueró | Spain

V/H/S 99 Flying Lotus, Johannes Roberts, Maggie Levin, Tyler MacIntyre, Vanessa & Joseph Winter | USA

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story Eric Appel | USA (Midnight Madness Opening Night Film)

“The selections in this year’s Wavelengths lineup reimagine the possibilities of cinema in ways both inspiring and rejuvenating,” said Senior Curator Andréa Picard. “The programme itself continues to champion film as art in a climate increasingly challenging for non-commercial and non-conforming work. The filmmakers and artists in this year’s edition expand the language of film and video, employing narrative, documentary, hybrid, and formalist approaches to assert film’s status as an autonomous art form and the cinema itself as an essential, communal experience.”

Showcasing a mix of established auteurs, celebrated visual artists, and emerging filmmakers, this year’s Wavelengths presents eight features, two shorts programmes, and an exhibition, placing timeless, durational works alongside projects of the utmost contemporary urgency — each political by nature of its very existence and, by extension, resistance. Additionally, we are honoured to present a number of important moving-image works from recent gallery and museum exhibitions in the cinema, including an exceptional theatrical screening of Tacita Dean’s latest 16mm film, Fata Morgana. Another of this year’s highlights includes the first Canadian solo exhibition of Brooklyn-based Moroccan artist Meriem Bennani in an exciting partnership with The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and The Vega Foundation. Meriem Bennani: Life on the CAPS will be exhibited free to the public at The Power Plant from September 9 through 18.

Unless otherwise noted, all the the films that follow will enjoy World Premieres at TIFF 2022.

Concrete Valley Antoine Bourges | Canada

De Humani Corporis Fabrica Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor | France, Switzerland
North American Premiere

Dry Ground Burning (Mato Seco em Chamas) Joana Pimenta, Adirley Queirós | Portugal, Brazil
North American Premiere

Horse Opera Moyra Davey | USA
Festival Premiere

Pacifiction Albert Serra | France, Spain, Germany, Portugal
North American Premiere

Queens of the Qing Dynasty Ashley McKenzie | Canada
North American Premiere

Unrest (Unrueh) Cyril Schäublin | Switzerland
North American Premiere

Will-o’-the-Wisp (Fogo-Fátuo) João Pedro Rodrigues | Portugal, France
North American Premiere

Shorts:

After Work Céline Condorelli, Ben Rivers | United Kingdom
North American Premiere

Bigger on the Inside Angelo Madsen Minax | USA

EVENTIDE Sharon Lockhart | USA

F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now Fox Maxy | Mesa Grande Reservation/USA
Festival Premiere

Fata Morgana Tacita Dean | United Kingdom, USA
Festival Premiere

Hors-titre Wiame Haddad | France
North American Premiere

I Thought the World of You Kurt Walker | Canada
North American Premiere

Moonrise Vincent Grenier | USA, Canada

The Newest Olds Pablo Mazzolo | Argentina, Canada

Puerta a Puerta Jessica Sarah Rinland, Luis Arnías | Mexico, USA, Venezuela
International Premiere

The Time That Separates Us Parastoo Anoushahpour | Canada, Jordan, Palestine

What Rules the Invisible Tiffany Sia | USA
North American Premiere

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival runs September 9 to 18. The deadline to purchase ticket packages is August 14.

SOURCE: TIFF

TIFF Announces Platform Films

TIFF Announces Platform Films, image,
Screen grab from the film Viking.

TIFF Announces Platform Films
by Staff Editors

(August 3, 2022 – Toronto, ON) With the start of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) a little over a month away, organizers have announced the 10 features that comprise the Platform programme for 2022. Platform is TIFF’s competitive programme that champions bold directorial visions. From first-time feature directors to veterans, this year’s Platform lineup offers a diverse range of talent and distinct directorial voices that are emerging around the globe. It is a year rich in perspectives, genres, and exceptional performances by newcomers, as well as established actors. All films in this year’s Platform will have their World Premiere at TIFF.

Emily, the feature debut by Frances O’Connor, has been selected as the programme’s opening film, and — like all 10 films in the programme — is a World Premiere. This year’s selection also includes two Canadian titles: Riceboy Sleeps and Viking.

Cameron Bailey, TIFF,
Photo of Cameron Bailey © Ralph Lucas for Northernstars.ca
“We launched Platform to shine a brighter light on some of the most original films and distinct voices at our Festival,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO. “Now in year seven, it’s become a true home for international auteurs on the rise.”

Named after Jia Zhang-ke’s groundbreaking second feature, Platform is curated by TIFF Chief Programming Officer Anita Lee; Director, Festival Programming Robyn Citizen; and Senior Manager, Festival Programming Ravi Srinivasan.

“Eclectic in vision, this year’s selection not only represents all World Premieres of exciting, on-the-rise voices from around the world, but it also reflects the very timely and unique perspectives of racialized filmmakers from diasporic communities broadening the canvas,” said Lee.

The 10 films in the programme are eligible for the Platform Prize, an award of $20,000 CAD given to the best film in the programme, selected by an in-person international jury. This year’s Platform Prize jury will be announced later this summer. Previous jury members include: Claire Denis, Béla Tarr, Brian De Palma, Mira Nair, Riz Ahmed, and Jia Zhang-ke.

Previous Platform selections include Hany Abu-Assad’s Huda’s Salon (2021), Kamila Andini’s Yuni (2021), Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal (2019), Alice Winocour’s Proxima (2019), Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 Ft. (2019), Sarah Gavron’s Rocks (2019), Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin (2017), Pablo Larraín’s Jackie (2016), Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016), William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth (2016) and Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise (2015).

Platform’s full 2022 lineup:

Charcoal (Carvão) directed by Carolina Markowicz | Brazil, Argentina

Emily directed by Frances O’Connor | UK (Platform Opening Night Film)

The Gravity (La Gravité) directed by Cédric Ido | France

Hawa directed by Maïmouna Doucouré | France

How to Blow Up a Pipeline directed by Daniel Goldhaber | USA

Riceboy Sleeps directed by Anthony Shim | Canada

Subtraction (Tafrigh) directed by Mani Haghighi | Iran, France

Thunder (Foudre) directed by Carmen Jaquier | Switzerland

Tora’s Husband directed by Rima Das | India

Viking directed by Stéphane Lafleur | Canada

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival runs September 9 to 18. The deadline to purchase ticket packages is August 14.

Also see: Discovery & Midnight Madness at TIFF

SOURCE: TIFF

Stephan James

Stephan James & Marisa Tomei in Delia's Gone, photo,
Stephan James at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards. Photo © 2017 by Ralph Lucas for Northernstars.ca

B: December 16, 1993 in Toronto, Ontario

Stephan James got his start in television landing a recurring role in the long-running series Degrassi. He landed his first major feature film role playing opposite Tatyana Ali and Fefe Dobson in the 2012 film Home Again. John Boyega had originally been tapped to play the lead role in the Jesse Owens biopic Race, but was offered Star Wars: Episode VII, opening the door for Stephan James to play Owens in the inspirational Olympic tale, for which he was given a Best Actor Canadian Screen Award in 2017. In 2019 he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the category Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series-Drama for his work opposite Julia Roberts in the series Homecoming. Stephan James and fellow Canadian Taylor Kitsch costarred with J.K. Simmons, Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller in the 2019 film 21 Bridges. In 2020 he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on #freerayshawm. Stephan James plays the role of Thomas Baden, an undercover cop on the Apple TV Plus series Surface, which is shot in Vancouver.

Also see: Shamier Anderson
Also see: Stephan James & Marisa Tomei will costar in Delia’s Gone
Also see: Cineplex Partners with The Black Academy.

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

My Babysitter’s a Vampire (TV-2010)
12 Dates of Christmas (TV-2011)
Home Again (2012)
The Railpath Hero (2013, short)
The Gabby Douglas Story (TV-2014)
Perfect Sisters (2014)
Apple Mortgage Cake (TV-2014)
The Dependables (2014)
When the Game Stands Tall (2014)
Selma (2014)
Lost After Dark (2015)
Across the Line (2015)
Race (2015)
Unveiled (TV-2016)
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
21 Bridges (2019)

Delia’s Gone (2021)
Natioanl Champions (2021)

TV Series – Cast:
The Book of Negroes (2015, mini-series)
Shots Fired (2017)
Homecoming (2018-2020)
#Freerayshawn (2020)
Surface (2022)
Beacon 23 (2022)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
How to Be Indie (2010, 2011)
My Babysitter’s a Vampire (2011)
Clue (2011)
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2010, 2011, 2012)
The Listener (2012)
The L.A.Complex (2012)
Cracked (2013)

#freerayshawn, poster, National Champions, move, poster,

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures, movie posters,

Guilty Pleasures
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher

(July 25, 2022 – Toronto, ON) There are times when I have to force myself away from my computer. I’m not addicted to it, but I seem to have a real need to get stuff done and most of what I do requires a computer. Sometimes I grab my camera and go for a walk around one of Toronto’s best neighbourhoods and sometimes I leave the camera and just enjoy the walk. If it’s too hot or raining, I’ll turn on the TV and punch around the remote until I find something I like.

Last week, looking for something, anything to watch for a few minutes, I came in toward the end of Barney’s Version. I had forgotten how wonderful it was and lost part of my work day to what is decidedly a guilty pleasure. I’ll come back to that film later.

I assume we all have “guilty pleasures” when it comes to film. One person’s hit is another’s bomb. Even when critics generally like or dislike a film, there are usually differences in what they liked or disliked. In addition, the ups and downs of someone’s personal life—Woody Allen comes to mind—can have a major impact on their past work as well as temper the reception of future projects—Roman Polanski comes to mind—yet in the privacy of our own screening rooms or cellphones we watch what we like and the rest of the world be dammed. Three such films come to mind. From 2009, the Joshua Jackson feature One Week, Jean-Marc Vallée’s 2011 film Café de Flore and as mentioned, Barney’s Version. There are others, maybe for another time.

One Week, movie, image,
One Week, 2008 movie still courtesy of Mongrel Media. Click to enlarge.

Often films that end up in this category make some personal connection. I began my review of One Week recounting two trips I had made that were echoed in Michael McGowan’s hit film. Joshua Jackson plays a man about to get married who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. This one sentence from the review encapsulates the story: “Facing that unanswerable question about facing death, McGowan essentially casts it aside and deals with what you could do if you had a life.” The performances are wonderful, the travelogue aspect of the film highly enjoyable and there’s a sort of surprise ending. At the 2010 Genie Awards, Joshua Jackson was named Best Actor, the only award given to the film. To be fair, every film was up against the brilliant black and white documentary-style retelling of one of Canada’s darkest moments in Denis Villeneuve’s Polytechnique. If you missed it first time around, should One Week pop up on TV have a look. I think’ you’ll like it.

Cafe-de-flore, image,

Jean-Marc Vallée’s Café de Flore is very different. It’s a complicated story that requires a certain amount of concentration as the plot shifts in time and place and tells separate stories. As the synopsis on our page for that films states, “What binds the two stories together is love – euphoric, obsessive, tragic, youthful and ultimately timeless love.” Café de Flore came six years after Vallée’s 2005 multi-award-winning hit C.R.A.Z.Y. and two years before he made Dallas Buyers Club. In his remarkable but short list of films it might be easy to miss Café de Flore but that would be a mistake. It is in its own very special way captivating and if you give it a chance you will be drawn back to it time and again.

Barney's Version, movie, image,
Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman costar in Barney’s Version.

Lastly, back to Barney’s Version. One of the reasons it took so long to go from book to screen (14 years) was the belief the book could not be filmed. The author, Mordecai Richler tried it and couldn’t find a taker for his screenplay. When it was finally made and released many thought and wrote about how the movie never lived up to the promise of the book. Writing for Northernstars, Wyndham Wise concluded his review by saying the feature ended up being… “the equivalent of an expensive, up-scale movie of the week.” When I came across it recently and watched the last half, I loved what I was watching (for the third or fourth time) particularly the various cameo scenes. The film stars Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver, Rosamund Pike and many others, but look for appearances by David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Ted Kotcheff and especially for me, Denys Arcand playing the role of a hotel Maître’D.

I mostly agree with the critics who thought it just wasn’t Big Screen stuff, but it looked great on the small screen. In conversation last week with our Film Correspondent Thom Ernst, we both agreed the scenes between Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman (playing Giamatti’s father) were some of the best moments in the film and we both wished there had been more screen time for Hoffman>

In getting ready to write this I kept thinking about how well Barney’s Version worked on television. And then I had another thought, possibly addressing the issue that the book could never be made into a film. This line, taken again from our review of the film, says it all “…taken as a whole, Barney’s Version is too much of a sprawl, with too much to say about the ephemeral nature of relationships, Jewish guilt, politics and the television business, even hockey, to have much of a lasting emotional impact. There’s something wandering and indistinct about the picture.”

My solution: If there’s some enterprising producer out there and a streaming service with deep pockets, Barney’s Version could be an absolutely brilliant television mini-series. Until then, if you get a chance, give it a shot.

Click on the title links to learn more about the films and watch their trailers.

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.

Arsenault & Fils

105 minutes – Drama
Language: French
Release date: July 17, 2022 – Quebec
VOD release date: August 16, 2022
Production company: La maison de prod
Canadian distributor: Sphere Films

Meet the Arsenaults, a tight-knit family that has profited from illegal hunting for decades and have been laying down the law for several generations in the small village in the Bas-du-Fleuve back-country district of Témiscouata, Québec. When the young, impetuous Anthony returns home things begin to change, especially with the arrival of Émilie (Karine Vanasse), a radio host who exerts a certain power over Anthony and his older brother Adam. After decades of successful poaching, the harmony of the clan will be tested.

English title: Arsenault & Sons.

Aresenault & Fils, movie, poster,

Crew:

Producer:

Stéphanie Morissette
C.S. Roy

Line Producer:

François Bonneau

Director:

Rafaël Ouellet

Screenwriter:

Rafaël Ouellet

Cinematographer:

François Dutil

Editor:

Myriam Magassouba

Composer:

Robin-Joël Cool
Viviane Audet
Alexis Martin

Art Director:

Marie-Pier Fortier

Costume Designer:

Niole Magny

Cast: Roles:

Guillaume Cyr
Pierre-Paul Alain
Karine Vanasse
Luc Picard
Julien Poulin
Micheline Lanctôt
Robin-Joël Cool
Sebastien Beaulac
Jason Cavalier
Yusaku Matsuda
Juzo Itami
Saori Yuki

Adam Arsenault)
Anthony Arsenault)
Émilie Émond
André Arsenault
Armard Arsenault)
Irène
Fraser
Police Officer 2
Chuck
Yoshimoto
Mr. Numata
Mrs. Numata

Anna Cathcart

Anna Cathcart, actress,
Photo of Anna Cathcart at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards by Ralph Lucas for Northernstars.ca

B: June 6, 2003 in Vancouver, British Columbia

Anna Cathcart is pictured with her 2019 Canadian Screen Award for her work as Agent Olympia on the series Odd Squad. She went on to star as Zoe Valentine in 15 episodes of the series titled Zoe Valentine and stars as Kitty in the 2022 series XO, Kitty. Kitty was the name of her character in the To All the Boys series of movies.

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

Odd Squad: The Movie (2016)
Descendants (2012)
Descendants 2 (2017)
Odd Squad: World Turned Odd (TV-2018)
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
Under the Sea: A Descendants Story (TV-2018)
Spring Breakaway (2019)
Descendants 3 (TV-2019)

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)
To All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021)
Spin (TV-2021)
Descendants the Royal Wedding (voice, TV-2021, short)

TV Series: Cast:
Odd Squad (2016-2019)
OddTube (2016-2020)
Zoe Valentine (2019)

XO, Kitty (2022)

TV Series: Guest appearances:
Dino Dana (2017)
Once Upon a Time (2017, 2018)
Fast Layne (2019)

Hallelujah: A Film About Leonard Cohen

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song, image,
Leonard Cohen with his Guitar ready to go out on Tour. Circa late-2000s. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of the Cohen Estate

Hallelujah: A Film About Leonard Cohen
Interview by Thom Ernst – Film Correspondent

(July 14, 2022 – Toronto, ON) There are no bad films about Leonard Cohen. Profiles, tributes, and concert films alike celebrate the Canadian icon with equal measures of adulation along with evidence to substantiate the claim. It might seem like we don’t really need another Cohen film, but directors Dayna Goldfine and Daniel Geller, upon seeing Cohen perform live on the advice of a friend, couldn’t contain the passion they felt hearing Cohen’s music. So, when a dinner guest (famed film writer, David Thompson) challenges them to make a film about a song, Dayna and Dan both knew what that film would be. And so, they step into the ring with their Cohen film, Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song. The song, as the title of Geller’s and Daniel’s film suggests, is Hallelujah, one of those brilliant, otherworldly achievements that seem to come by the power of grace rather than hard work and talent.

The filmmakers get Cohen’s blessing to do the film, but unfortunately he dies before taking part in the film himself, although the deal was that the movie be made without Cohen’s direct involvement. But interviews from Cohen friends, collaborators, and journalists; Adrienne Clarkson, John Lissauer, Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman, and footage from the likes of Bob Dylan, Rufus Wainwright, and others make up for whatever perceived absence is felt from not having Cohen present.

Hallelujah. A Film about Leonard Cohen, photo,
Co-directors Dan Geller & Dayna Goldfine. Photos by Chris Hardy, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Northernstars™ got to sit down with both Dayna Goldfine and Daniel Geller to chat about one of Canada’s greatest troubadours.

Thom: Right out of the gate, a question that doesn’t need to be asked: What about Leonard Cohen appealed to you enough to want to make a film?

Daniel: Seeing him perform those last year’s concerts. When twice he came through the San Francisco Bay area, we saw him at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland—not having been exposed to Leonard before–much of anything but to see him in those performances. There were no confetti canyons, no video screens, and, you know, none of that light up wristbands. It was just this quiet, beautiful incredible church-like, as some people say in the film, church-like experience of a man full of grace and wisdom in conflict and musicality. So, that’s the background against which this funny thing happened at a dinner party.

Dayna: Right, I mean I have to say the first concert that we went to–the first was in like I think 2009 when he first came through the Bay Area–and friends took us we would not even gone to that concert. Because they bought us a pair of tickets. They say, “You have to go” and within two songs I was total Cohen-head. I wanted to just follow him for the rest of his, that particular leg of the tour which is only three shows. And when we came back, we were quick to buy tickets and got as good a seat as we could in the house because we knew that we were in for, as Dan said, is almost religious experience so that maybe Leonard indelible. And that image of Leonard getting on his knees to start singing Hallelujah was something, you know, I’ll never forget. So yeah, we were sitting at this dinner party in a friend of ours, David Thompson, who’s a really great film writer, posed this kind of questions-slash-dare to us which was, “Have you ever considered making a film about a song?” And within a few minutes that indelible image washed over me, and I turned to Dan, and I said, I know the only song and the only songwriter that I would even think could keep us motivated and make for a great film and that’s Leonard Cohen and his song Hallelujah.

Hallelujah. A Film About Leonard Cohen, photo,
Leonard Cohen Seated Circa 1980s CAPTION AND CREDIT: Leonard Cohen portrait, circa early 1980s. Photographer un-known. Courtesy Cohen Estate.
Daniel: We hadn’t read Alan Light’s book or Sylvia Simmons’ excellent biography (*Note: likely referencing Light’s, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah and Simmons, I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen) at that point. So, what Dayna and I found Sympatico about this idea we had no idea about any of the story of the song itself: how long it took Leonard to write it, the banging his head on the floor of the Royalton, the rejection of the album, the way this song came to prominence. Not a clue. So, that we were grabbed by the feeling of the song and the possibility of a movie before knowing how just like a gift from heaven of how the plot would unfold so that it would be really a fun movie. That suggests that when the other pieces came into play that we would have a hell of an experience, a hell of a ride just making the movie and diving into Leonard’s journal, and diving into his interviews, and meeting people like Adrienne (Clarkson) who’s so fascinating so interesting to talk with.  

Thom: Had Leonard passed when you started working on the film?

Dayna: No, he was about to turn 80 when we finished reading Alan Light’s book and approached Leonard and his manager with a very short note: Hi Mr. Cohen, we understand you’re about to turn 80, and we know you’re really busy. Would you consider letting us turn Alan Light’s book—which we know you liked–into a feature length documentary. So, he was alive and well and very quickly responded positively which shocked us.

Daniel: Well, because it’s also (that) Alan had coached us and said that Leonard was not interested in giving any interviews to anybody at that point. And that if we were to go to Leonard and Robert with that upfront saying, “We will not ask for an interview. We just want your tacit blessing so we can get the rights to the song”. We had to negotiate that (rights to the song) separately with Sony which we did for two years. If we had his tacit blessing, we could move ahead and otherwise just not involve him or take us time in anyway. So, he said yes very quickly. He was intrigued by our past work evidently–Robert told us. And then when we began to film it in August 2016, he was still alive at that point but that was only a few months before ultimately passed unfortunately.

Thom: But fortunately, you got to meet him.

Dayna: No. We didn’t meet him. So, our entire two paragraph proposal that was sent out in August of 2014 was predicated on us not requesting to meet him and only requesting his blessing. We don’t think he would have given his blessing had we asked to take up any of his time. I mean, clearly in the back of our minds, you know you’re not going to go down this path without secretly hoping that you might get to meet the man at some point. But then of course he passed away just a couple years later when we were first getting into production. So, that never happened. But we kind of feel like we know him. We spent eight years in his world and then especially all the time we spent with him in the editing room, looking for his journals, and talking to his really close friends and confidants. Obviously, we don’t know the man firsthand, but we feel like we have a sense of who he was.  

Thom: Watching your film I felt I was meeting a very generous, approachable man whose reputation as a lady’s man, an intellect, and who—at least from my perspective—seemed unapproachable, did him a disservice.

Daniel: I think, just as the lyrics of his songs, particularly Hallelujah, shows so many facets that he probably was that way too. He could be incredibly generous. He could be removed. There’s that withholding that I often see in really good actors, that there’s something held back. The thoughts are on. You see the thoughts going but he’s not saying anything and that could be intimidating. And he also was famously conflict adverse. There’s an interview bit, and it’s not under the movie, but where he talked to one interviewer and said that when things would get hot. And he would run. He would get on a train or plane or boat and run away from something where he felt confined, or emotions were heating up into conflict. And I think that’s partly as you see it with John Lissauer that he just disappeared. I don’t know why he disappeared. I don’t think it had to do with John or that album. But he would run. 

Hallelujah:Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song, movie, poster,Dayna: But I have a different take on it. I think that he was an incredibly generous human being. I think that what he gave the world was his work. And his performances. There’s this moment when at the beginning of the final montage where you see Leonard singing Hallelujah all around the world, that incredible concert tour that went on for five years, and he says in voiceover, you need to stand at the centre of your song. And you need to give your audience basically everything you’ve got. And I think he did that from the very beginning. I don’t feel like a singer-songwriter, or any famous person, owes us anything more than that. Then, giving us everything they’ve got in their artform.

Thom: One thing that struck me to watching the film is, you know I wondered if Leonard Cohen ever said anything that wasn’t absolutely essential.

Daniel: I’m going through all those interviews over all those years occasionally you would see a story, or an idea repeated. But not often. Clearly, he thought a lot about the things that he then would be asked about. But he spoke in these incredibly well thought through, well-formed paragraphs about his life, about his career, about other people. And that was so interesting to me because you don’t normally see—I mean usually you get canned answers after a while you would start to see it–but I just don’t see in all those interviews over all those years. There are rarely, if ever, was a glib or canned answer.

Dayna: We talked to a music writer last week who had been lucky enough to interview Leonard a couple times. He said immediately upon starting an interview with Leonard Cohen you needed to realize that you were never going to be the smartest person in the room. And just give in to that because what Leonard had to give you was worth it. So, I love that. I love that analogy like, Yeah, you’re not going to be the smartest person in the room but look what I get to learn from this guy.
 
Thom: You didn’t get to meet (Leonard) in person but were you able to glean some of that infamous charisma he was said to have?

Dayna: I felt it on the tapes. I did the first pass; the first cut, and every single day sitting with that material, whether it was an interview from the 60s or an interview in 2008 or nine, I fell in love with that man every single day because he was just so palpably charismatic and wise and generous.

Daniel: But I also like watching the evolution from a very early interview that he had with the one we talked about changing his name he’s toying with her. He’s young and he’s playing a game. You see the later Leonard he’s not playing games with people anymore. I mean, he’s matured into something else. And I feel that that’s part of the journey to watch him grow and of course of what we are so privileged to have to string together. To watch him grow and then begin to, I would argue, began to respect himself and respect other people more and the way that most people do with your grow from a callow youth into a wise old man.

Thom: The way he described rebranding himself as September Cohen made sense to me.

Daniel: Yes. Yes.

Dayna: It did make sense?

Thom: It did. To me.

Daniel: It does.

Dayna: It did or didn’t?

Daniel: It did.

Dayna: Yes. It does make sense. I didn’t feel like he was being callow there. I thought he was being generous.

Daniel: Nah, he was toying with her. It’s a huge close-up from the CBC. You know he’s toying with in such a Leonard way. He’s also then moving it to this other level not just toy with her but to say, “There’s something serious going on here.”

Dayna: You know, it’s interesting because we had seen that interview footage early because we were collecting archival material. But it wasn’t until we sat down with Rabbi Findley to talk. Unsolicited, Rabbi Findley said, “By the way, did you ever see that Canadian footage from the 60s where Leonard’s asked about changing his name?” And he completely unpacked that moment for us. And it was such an exciting interview moment where we’re like, “Oh my God, can’t wait to go back and look at that footage. It’s gotta go in the film now.” Because what Leonard was doing– I don’t think it was (toying), maybe it was toying–but I thought what he was doing was so brilliant and so multilayered.

Daniel: But that’s just it. It’s always both with him. You don’t get just this level of Leonard. In anything that he’s saying or doing, there is six layers deep—over 1000 kisses deep. That made it so fascinating to work with the material over those eight years that you’re not getting bored with Leonard Cohen material.

Thom: I remember the album Death of a Ladies’ Man for its cover art, not so much the music. Your film holds that Death of a Ladies’ Man was not particularly successful for Leonard. That it was an album unsuited to Leonard’s style.

Daniel: That was an unfortunate pairing that Marty Machat put together because there was a huge advance sitting there that had to be consumed.

Dayna: Leonard’s manager.

Daniel: Leonard’s manager, who managed Phil Spector. I also liked what Leonard said to Adrienne Clarkson in that interview from a little bit later. Where he said the album was a disaster, but the songs were good, and Tina Turner should’ve sung it. He’s right. The songs are good. They’re just not Leonard Cohen vocal material or arrangements.

Thom: God, wouldn’t that have been fun if Tina Turner did that album?

Dayna: Or anyone of her genre. Maybe someone will see the film and decide they need to try to think they should. I think they should

Thom: Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah is the first version I heard. Any idea how Cohen felt about the song taking on a life of its own?

Daniel: Just talking with Robert Corey, who did know Leonard so well over those years and now manages the estate. And Robert was on tour with us, going around the world with the film. Robert said that Leonard knew that this was something very special that had happened. And that this song did go beyond Leonard Cohen, the songwriter, Leonard Cohen, the performer. He was happy about that. As John Lissauer puts it nicely in the film, you don’t get to be involved in something like this very often in your life. It transcends. You lose ownership of it in a way. It belongs to the world at that point. Robert was saying that Leonard did find some deep satisfaction in the song became what it has.  

Dayna: And there are a handful of mostly radio interviews I came across throughout the years later in his life where Leonard talked about how blessed he felt when people covered this song. His songs in general, not just Hallelujah. He was very humble about it. I think that Leonard maintained this humbleness about his work and did continue to feel gratified every time he heard a cover of it.

Thom: Did Leonard have a happy life?

Daniel: There’s a moment in the film where he says that the search itself had dissolved. That the depression that plagued him vanished. He didn’t want to examine it too much to fear it somehow dispelling the lightness. So, I didn’t know how to answer definitively, but it sure looked like in that interview and the way he was singing in those incredible tours and that he could make music right up to the very end that seemed pretty good to me.

Dayna: Well, no one can be with any individual right when they’re facing the very very end. There’s that Tennessee Williams quote you know that life is a fairly good play until you get to the third act. But then (Leonard) even says that for me, the beginning of the third act, at least, has gone well. I think that acknowledgment of how he was blessed towards the latter part of his life says a lot.

Also see: Watch the trailer and see more about Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song.
Also see: Leonard Cohen’s filmography.
Also see: The Myth about Night Magic.

Northernstars logo imageThom Ernst is a Toronto based film critic and writer and an active member of the (TFCA) Toronto Film Critics’ Association. His work has appeared in various publications including Playback Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. He is known to CBC Radio listeners for his lively contributions to Fresh Air, Metro Morning, and CBC Syndication as well as appearing on-air for CTV News Channel and The Agenda with Steve Paikin. He was host, interviewer and producer of televisions’ longest running movie program Saturday Night at the Movies. Currently he can be heard interviewing Canadian filmmakers on the Kingston Canadian Film Festival podcast, Rewind, Fast-Forward.

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song

118 minutes – Documentary, Music, Biography
Language: English
Festival release date: September 1, 2021 – Venice Film Festival
Release date: July 15, 2022
Production companies: Geller/Goldfine Productions
Canadian distributor: Mongrel Media

Hallelujah:Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is a definitive exploration of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned hymn, “Hallelujah.” This feature-length documentary weaves together three creative strands: The songwriter and his times; the song’s dramatic journey from record label reject to chart-topping hit; and moving testimonies from major recording artists for whom “Hallelujah” has become a personal touchstone. Approved for production by Cohen just before his 80th birthday in 2014, the film accesses a wealth of never-before-seen archival materials from the Cohen Trust including Cohen’s personal notebooks, journals and photographs, performance footage, and extremely rare audio recordings and interviews.

Above photo: Leonard Cohen with his Guitar ready to go out on Tour. Circa late-2000s. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of the Cohen Estate.
Also see: Northernstars™ interviews directors Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller

Hallelujah:Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song, movie, poster,

Crew:

Producer:

Dayna Goldfine, p.g.a.
Dan Geller, p.g.a

Executive Producer:

Jonathan Dana
Morgan Neville
Robert Kory
Michael Drews
Robin Sagon

Consulting Producer:

Alan Light
Celeste Schaefer Snyder

Director:

Dan Geller
Dayna Goldfine

Cinematographer:

Dan Geller
Brian Harnick (Additional Cinematography)
Kuba Cachro (Additional Cinematography)

Editor:

Dayna Goldfine
Bill Weber
Dan Geller

Composer:

John Lissauer

Cast: Roles:

In order of appearance:
Leonard Cohen
Larry “Ratso” Sloman
Adrienne Clarkson
Judy Collins
Clive Davis
John Lissauer
Nancy Bacal
Rabbi Mordecai Finley
Sharon Robinson
Glen Hansard Bob Dylan
John Cale
Brandi Carlile
Myles Kennedy
Susan Feldman
Janine Nichols Hal Willner
Shane Doyle
Steve Berkowitz
Joan Wasser
Vicky Jenson
Rufus Wainwright
Bathabile Mthombeni
Eric Church
Amanda Palmer
Regina Spektor

Critch Goes For 2

Critch Goes For 2, Mark Critch, photo,
Photo courtesy of CBC.

Critch Goes for 2
by Staff Editors

(July 14, 2022 – Toronto, ON) CBC and Lionsgate have announced the start of production on season two of Mark Critch’s original comedy series Son of a Critch in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The 13-part, half hour comedy stars Mark Critch (pictured above) alongside Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Malcolm McDowell, Claire Rankin, Sophia Powers and Mark Rivera. The second season will premiere on CBC and CBC Gem in winter 2023.

Critch Goes For 2, image,
Photo Credit: Derm Carberry
Caption (Left to Right): Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Young Mark and Mark Rivera as Ritche Perez with two new school friends.

Based on his autobiographical memoir, a hilarious and very real story of 12-year-old Mark coming of age in St. John’s in the 80s, the series was created by Critch (This Hour Has 22 Minutes) and Tim McAuliffe (The Office, Last Man on Earth and MacGruber) and produced by Schitt’s Creek Emmy® and Golden Globe® winning producer Andrew Barnsley.

Since its premiere on January 4, 2022 Son of a Critch has ranked as the most-watched original Canadian comedy in the country and as one of the top 5 most-watched comedies overall in Canada according to the audience research firm Numeris. It is currently one of the most-streamed comedies on CBC’s streaming service, CBC Gem according to Adobe Analytics.

Son of a Critch is executive produced by Critch, McAuliffe, Barnsley, Ben Murray and Allan Hawco. Renuka Jeyapalan, Perry Chafe and Anita Kapila serve as co-executive producers. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports; Trish Williams is Executive Director, Scripted Content; Sandra Picheca is Director, Current Production, Comedy; and Mélanie Lê Phan is Executive in Charge of Production. The series is produced by Project 10 Productions Inc. and Take the Shot Productions in association with CBC and Lionsgate Television. Lionsgate handles worldwide distribution rights outside Canada.The second season will premiere on CBC and CBC Gem in winter 2023.

SOURCE: CBC

Canadians and The Emmy – 2022

Canadians and The Emmy, image,

Canadians and the Emmy
by Staff Editors

(July 12, 2022 – Toronto, ON) Nominations for the 2022 Emmy Awards were announced earlier today and a large number of Canadians got the nod for the coveted award, including the late comedian Norm Macdonald. The posthumous nominations recognize his comedy special, ironically titled Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special. The three nods were in the variety special category, while Macdonald was nominated as a director for a variety special, and outstanding writing in a variety special.

Staying with comedy, Martin Short has been nominated for his work as lead actor in a comedy series for Only Murders in the Building, where he’ll compete against co-star Steve Martin. It is generally accepted that this is some of the best work Short has ever done in a long and successful career.

Lorne Michaels, producer,Still with comedy, Lorne Michaels has two new nominations, both tied to Saturday Night Live, which has been on the air since 1975. Michaels received one nod for writing on the long-running series and another for the web series Saturday Night Live Presents: Stories From The Show, which was nominated for outstanding short form non-fiction or reality series.

And still with comedy, but this time with a bit of a snarky edge, Samantha Bee picked up a nod for her look at her own series, Full Frontal. She turned the cameras on her crew and talked to them about their experiences in the entertainment industry. The result was a nomination for Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: Once Upon A Time In Late Night.

Seth Rogen received a nomination for his work on a series usually described as both drama and dark comedy. The nod was in the category of supporting actor in a limited series for Pam & Tommy, a show based on the seamier side of life, the leak of a Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape.

Sandra Oh, photo,
Sandra Oh pictured in her role on Killing Eve.

Sandra Oh was nominated for lead actress in a drama series for her work in Killing Eve, bringing her nominations for this show to four, one for each year the series ran.

Montreal’s Antoni Porowski shared a nomination with the other five hosts of the realty series Queer Eye. The nomination was for outstanding host for a reality or competition program.

And finally, Canadian composers were represented by Cristobal Tapia de Veer for his work on the score of HBO’s The White Lotus, specifically for outstanding music composition for a limited for anthology series, movie or special. And Mychael Danna, was nominated for the original score on a documentary series or special for his work on the NASA and SpaceX documentary Return to Space.

A quick footnote for fans of Succession. It received a total of 25 Emmy nominations, more than any other series. The 2022 Emmy Awards will be broadcast on NBC on Monday, September 12.

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