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I Like Movies

99 minutes – Comedy, Drama
Language: English
Festival release date: September 9, 2022 – TIFF – World Premiere
Release date: March 10, 2023
Production companies: VHS Forever
Canadian distibutor: 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.

NOTE: The Cast is listed in Order of Appearance.
Also see: Thom Ernst reviews I Like Movies and two other movies
Also see: Our Top Films of 2022.
Also see: Vancouver Film Critics Like I Like Movies.

I Like Movies, movie, poster,



Lindsay Blair Goeldner


Evan Dubinsky
Chandler Levack


Chandler Levack


Chandler Levack


Rico Moran


Simone Smith


Murray Lightburn

Production Designer:

Claudia Dall’Orso

Art Director:

Todd Bolton

Costume Designer:

Courtney Mitchell

Cast: Roles:

Isaiah Lehtinen
Percy Hynes White
Anand Rajaram
Eden Cupid
Krista Bridges
Alex Ateah
Andy McQueen
Romina D’Ugo
Rodrigo Stoll
Gwynne Phillips
Sarah Camacho
Trina Skan
Tanner Zipchen
Dan Beirne
Veronika Slowikowska
Aiden Altow
Alicia Di Monte
Adrian Misaljevic
Davis Okey
Elora Sarmiento
Samantha Vu
Danial Chang
Mikal Dixon
Margaret Rose
Natalie Smith
Malea Yarde

Lawrence Kweller
Matt Macarchuck
Mr. Olenick
Lauren P.
Terri Kweller
Yuppie Man
Yuppie Woman
The Kweller Family Dog
Legally Blonde Customer
Old Man
Cineplex Ticket Agent
Video Store Hottie

Rachel Mutombo

Rachel Mutombo, actress,

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.

Official website.

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

The Fall of Grace (2017, short)
Fatherhood (2021)
Single All the Way (2021)

TV Series – Cast:
The Bold Type (2020-2021)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Let Go (2020)

Rachel Mutombo is represented by:
Meaghan Denomme
250 The Esplanade, Suite 304
Toronto, ON

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

The Bold Type, poster, Rachel Mutombo,

The Reluctant Traveler

The Reluctant Traveler, Eugene Levy, image,

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.

The Reluctant Traveler, series, poster, Eugene Levy, 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.

Images courtesy of AppleTV+

Also see: Eugene Levy’s filmography.

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.

Spring 2023 Film Festival Preview

The Babysitter, photo,

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.

The Whale, movie, poster, 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.

Études for Augmented Piano, photo,

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.

The Babysitter, movie, image,

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.

If we missed your film festival, we’d love to hear from you. It’s a free listing.

Also see: March Film Festivals, April Film Festivals, May Film Festivals.

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.

Celebrating Black History Month – Trey Anthony

Trey Anthony, image,

(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.

Read more about Trey Anthony.

Dorly Jean-Louis

Dorly Jean-Louis, actress,

B: in Hispaniola, Republic of Haiti

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)

TV Series:
Kevin Hill (2004)
1-800-Missing (2006)
Jeff Ltd (2007)
Instant Star (2008)

Breakout Kings (2011)
Single Ladies (2015)
12 Monkeys (2015)
Heroes Reborn (2015)
Salvation (2017)

Mayor of Kingstown (2021)
The Umbrella Academy (2022)
Holly Hobbie (2022)
Zik (2022)
Fellow Travelers (2022)

Dorly Jean-Louis is represented by:
Michael Marino
Noble Caplan Abrams
1260 Yonge Street, 2nd floor
Toronto ON M4T 1W5
416-920-5385 ext.312

The Man from Toronto, movie, poster,

Celebrating Black History Month – Roger Cross

Roger Cross, actor,
Click to enlarge.

(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.

Read more about Roger Cross.

Remembering Gordon Pinsent

Gordon Pinsent, actor,

Remembering Gordon Pinsent
by Staff Editors

(February 26, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Renowned and honoured Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent has died. He was 92 when he died in Toronto last night, February 25, 2023. Click here to read more about his life and career.

Celebrating Black History Month – Hubert Davis

Celebrating Black History Month, Hubert Davis
This photo of Hubert Davis is © 2016 by R.A.Lucas. Used with permission.

(February 25, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Hubert Davis received a BA in film and communications from McGill University and studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia with screenwriter Peggy Thompson (The Lotus Eaters). He edited more than 30 commercials and music videos at Panic and Bob, a Toronto company specializing in editing for the advertising industry. He was hired as the first assistant editor on Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood/Hollywood (2002) and The Republic of Love (2003).

His 2005 directorial debut, the short Hardwood, is a powerful film exploring the life of his father, former Harlem Globetrotter Mel Davis. Davis chronicles his father’s life as a basketball player, and as the father of himself and his half-brother in Chicago, where the elder Davis was married to a black woman before returning years later to Vancouver to be with Hubert’s white mother. Exploring ideas of fatherhood, multiracial relationships and the politics of the family, Hardwood is an unflinching, thoughtful and compassionate journey through the Davis family album. It was nominated for an Oscar in the documentary short subject category, and a News & Documentary Emmy Award for outstanding cultural and artistic programming.

Learn more about Hubert Davis.

Celebrating Black History Month: Arlene Duncan

Arlene Duncan, actress,

(February 24, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Arlene Duncan was born and grew up in Oakville, Ontario, west of Toronto. Her father, Alvin B. Aberdeen Duncan, was a decorated Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) veteran of the Second World War and a man who could trace his roots to the days of the Underground Railroad. Her mother was from Jamaica. Best known for her role as Fatima Dinssa (pictured above), the rather conservative owner of the café in 91 episodes of Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007-2012), Duncan’s career has taken her around the world: through Europe, the United States, across Canada, as far north as the Arctic and as far south as New Zealand. Duncan has appeared in numerous notable film and television projects including the role of American abolitionist and humanitarian, Harriet Tubman.

Read more about Arlene Duncan.

Celebrating Black History Month – Charles Officer

Charles Officer, actor,

(February 23, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Growing up, Toronto-born Charles Officer wanted to be an architect. He focused on sculpting during his foundation year at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), but he had always been active in sports and left OCAD to play professional hockey in the UK. Upon being picked in the draft by the Calgary Flames, Officer moved from England to Salt Lake City to play for a Flames’ farm team. While there he developed tendinitis in his wrist, and after a brief stay with a minor league team in Canada he concluded that the NHL was not in his future and he quit the game altogether. He returned to OCAD to complete his studies and had a brief career as a designer and creative director for a major Toronto ad agency.

Read more about Charles Officer.

CDN Screen Awards Announces Nominees

Canadian Screen Awards, image,

CDN Screen Awards Announces 2023 Nominees
by Staff Editors

(February 22, 2023 – Toronto, ON). Today, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) announced the nominees for the 2023 Canadian Screen Awards in 145 television, film, and digital media categories, which also include the inaugural nominations in gender-neutral performance categories for lead and supporting performers in film and television.

The first season of CBC’s The Porter leads both television and overall 2023 Canadian Screen Award nominations with 19, including Best Drama Series and Best Lead Performer, Drama Series nominations for Aml Ameen, Ronnie Rowe Jr., and Mouna Traoré. Both CBC’s Sort Of and CBC Gem’s Detention Adventure received 15 nominations, followed by CBC’s Pretty Hard Cases with 11.

In film, Clement Virgo’s Brother tops nominations with 14, including Achievement in Direction and Performance in a Leading Role for Lamar Johnson. Stéphane Lafleur’s Viking follows with 13, while David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future boasts 11.

Revenge of the Black Best Friend leads digital media nominations with nine, including Best Web Program or Series, Fiction; followed by Avocado Toast The Series with seven and Tokens with four.

“From legendary directors like David Cronenberg to new voices like Bilal Baig, the 2023 Canadian Screen Award nominees reaffirm that our country has an immensely talented industry, and we are lucky to call them Canadian,” said Tammy Frick, CEO, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. “Supporting these artists has never been more important, and we are proud to be at the centre of those efforts. I’m thrilled to share my heartfelt congratulations with all of the nominees and look forward to raising a glass to them in person this April.”

“The nominations for the 2023 Canadian Screen Awards shine a much-deserved spotlight on the brilliant creative minds behind some of the best Canadian television, film, and digital media works of the past year, and we could not be more excited to gather in person — for the first time in four years — to celebrate these tremendous achievements,” said John Young, Chair, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

The 2023 Canadian Screen Awards will be presented in a series of seven intimate genre-based awards presentations, with esteemed members of the Canadian screen-based industry who brought us the best work from the last year, gathering in person at Meridian Hall in Toronto from Tuesday, April 11, 2023 through to Friday, April 14, 2023, all culminating with The Canadian Screen Awards with Samantha Bee, broadcasting on Sunday, April 16 at 8 PM (9 AT, 9:30 NT) on CBC and CBC Gem.

An intimate look at Canadian storytelling excellence on screen, The Canadian Screen Awards with Samantha Bee is an hour-long star-studded broadcast special featuring celebrity interviews, highlights from the awards presentations throughout Canadian Screen Week 2023, and the presentation of the Cogeco Fund Audience Choice Award. The special will also include exclusive access to this year’s Special Award recipients, including: Ryan Reynolds, recipient of the Humanitarian Award, presented by Paramount+; Catherine O’Hara, who will receive the Academy Icon Award, presented by CBC; and Simu Liu, the recipient of the Radius Award, presented by MADE | NOUS.

The full schedule for the 2023 Canadian Screen Awards is as follows:

Tuesday, April 11
12:00 PM ET – The Sports Programming Awards, presented by CTV
6:00 PM ET – The News, Documentary & Factual Awards

Wednesday, April 12
12:00 PM ET – The Children’s & Animation Awards, presented by Shaw Rocket Fund
6:00 PM ET – The Lifestyle & Reality Awards, presented by CTV

Thursday, April 13
12:00 PM ET – The Digital & Immersive Awards

6:00 PM ET – The Cinematic Arts Awards, presented by Telefilm Canada and supported by Cineplex

Friday, April 14
4:00 PM ET – The Comedic & Dramatic Arts Awards

Sunday, April 16
8:00 PM (9:00 PM AT, 9:30 PM NT) – The Canadian Screen Awards with Samantha Bee on CBC and CBC Gem

The 2023 Canadian Screen Awards Box Office opens today, Wednesday, February 22, 2023. Each of the awards presentations from Tuesday, April 11, 2023 to Friday, April 14, 2023 will include cocktail receptions for attendees, taking place before and after the shows. Canadian Screen Award nominees and guests can book their tickets online.

The nominees for the 2023 Canadian Screen Awards were chosen by voting members of the Canadian Academy and by nominating juries, conducted virtually with representatives from the film, television, and digital media industries. The membership will now cast their votes between Wednesday, February 22, 2023 and Friday, March 10, 2023 to determine the winners.

Click here to see the full list of 2023 Canadian Screen Award nominees.

SOURCE: The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television

Celebrating Black History Month – Jackie Richardson

Jackie Richardson, singer, actress,

(February 22, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Born in the United States, Jackie Richardson made her home in Canada from a very young age and grew up in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto. She began her career at the age of 7 singing in her church choir and by time she turned 17, she was fronting her first group. Later she would be a regular performer at Canadian Armed Forces bases across Canada, throughout the South Pacific, and the Far East. Those who know anything about the family probably expected the young girl to break into song as soon as she could talk. It seemed to be in her genes. Her grandmother listened to gospel, her mother was a big Frank Sinatra fan and her father sang jazz.

Read more about singer-actress Jackie Richardson.

25 Years of Canadian Film

25 Years of Canadian Film, image,

25 Years of Canadian Film
by Thom Ernst – Film Correspondent

(February 21, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Northernstars.ca is twenty-five years old. You can’t tell by looking at us. Still as fresh as the day we were born, Northernstars™ continues a path to celebrate all that is Canadian Cinema. To honour this landmark achievement, we’re looking at the highlights in each of those 25 years.

Let us know what we got we right and what we might have missed.


The most underrated film is a black comedy directed by actor Saul Rubinek titled, Tom & Jerry while the most overtalked about film is director François Girard’s The Red Violin. But the film that stands out for me that first year Ralph Lucas founder and editor-in-chief began chronicling, categorizing, and championing Canadian film with the Northernstars.ca site is an understated little film from the late UofT film professor, Amnon Buchbinder called The Fishing Trip.


eXistenZ, movie, poster,
This poster for eXistenz was scanned from an original in the Northernstars Collection
Thom Fitzgerald follows up the premiere success of The Hanging Garden with the highly anticipated Beefcake. Actor Nicholas Campbell gets into the feature film game with Boozecan and Canadian heavyweights Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg both have successful titles with Felicia’s Journey and eXistenZ respectively. This is also the year gonzo Canadian producer Robert Lantos releases his epic pet project Sunshine directed by István Szabó and starring Ralph Fiennes. There are arguably films that outshine Sunshine, but Sunshine wins the Genie that year..


Denys Arcand teases but ultimately disappoints with Stardom while director Gary Burns surprises us with the impressive waydowntown. Alan Zweig continues to provide solid examples of the power in documentaries, with Vinyl. And in the horror genre, despite opposition from a fringe group who balk at the idea of a horror film getting public funding, the best film of the year is Ginger Snaps by director John Fawcett.


Sean Garrity hops onto the scene with Inertia. Cult filmmaker (and now Ottawa theatre owner) Lee Demarbre catches our attention with Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. Bertrand Bonello directs an erotic thriller called The Pornographer. But 2001 is directer Bruce Sweeney’s year—Or it should be as his film Last Wedding catches the attention of critics, but remains criminally under-seen.

Men With Brooms, movie, image,
Men With Brooms still courtesy of Serendipity Point Films and Alliance Atlantis.


Canadian television iconic handyman, Red Green makes his big screen debut with Duct Tape Forever, while actor-writer-director Paul Gross jumps in with a curling sports comedy, Men with Brooms. Peter Mettler draws positive attention for his documentary Gambling, Gods, and LSD. But it is Michael Dowse’s spectacular mockumentary, FUBAR: The Movie that tops my best-of list.


A remarkable year in Canadian cinema. Allan King makes his final documentary Dying at Grace. Denys Arcand releases The Barbarian Invasions, a long-awaited sequel to his 1986 success, The Decline of the American Empire, and Guy Maddin makes the art-house rounds with The Saddest Music in the World. But for me, it is Maury Chaykin’s performance that makes director Richard Kwietniowski’s Owning Mahowny the year’s best feature.


Lots for Northernstars.ca to talk about in 2004. In animation, Sylvain Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville earns Oscar’s attention. Mockumentaries enter the scene with Michael Dowse’s, It’s All Gone, Pete Tong and Peter O’Brian’s Hollywood North timed perfectly, I think, for Robert Lantos teaming up with director István Szabó (again) for the full-scale blockbusting effort, Being Julia. In the non-faux documentary world, Peter Raymont’s Shake Hands with the Devil is a Sundance favourite and director Alan Zweig entertains us (again) with I, Curmudgeon. And while Michael McGowan charms big with the coming-of-age story, Saint Ralph I’m bitten by Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, which brings the zombie movies back to life.


Late director Jean-Marc Vallée’s C.R.A.Z.Y wins Best Canadian Feature. Monty Python alumni Terry Gilliam makes Tideland encouraging actor/director Sarah Polley to speak out about onset safety issues when around children. Deepa Mehta releases Water, the third in her element’s trilogy.

Sarah Polley, director,
Photo of Sarah Polley directing a scene from Away From Her courtesy of Mongrel Media.


Actor Sarah Polley makes a phenomenal entrance onto the scene with Away From Her. Bon Cop, Bad Cop is the top-grossing domestic film at the box office. Director Glen Morgan remakes a Canadian horror classic, Black Christmas, and Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary Manufacturing Landscapes wins Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Tragic events eventually take director Rob Stewart from us, but his dedication to filming sharks and then educating people on just how beautiful and misunderstood these creatures are live on, and it begins in 2007 with his documentary Sharkwater. Director Jeremy Podeswa returns with Fugitive Pieces based on Anne Michaels’ novel and Richie Mehta takes his cameras and actor Rupinder Nagra to New Dehli to film Amal. Director Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg wins Best Canadian feature at both TIFF and the Toronto Film Critics Association.

Northernstars has been online for 10 years at this point. Director Yung Chang’s documentary Up the Yangtze chronicles those affected by the building of a dam crossing China’s Yangtze River. The film gets international praise from critics and wins the Genie for Best documentary. Inspired by his grandfather’s war stories, actor/director Paul Gross directs Passchendaele, a movie that declares war to be hell for Canadian soldiers too. Charles Officer, after a run of short films and one made-for-television movie, makes an unforgettable theatrical debut with Nurse.Fighter.Boy. But it’s Pontypool, director Bruce McDonald’s reimagining of the zombie movie that stands out; only McDonald can get away with making a creepy, unsettling zombie feature with barely a zombie in it. Northernstars launches its video interview productions interviewing McDonald on the set of Pontypool. Also in 2008, Northernstars interviews Kari Skogland about her film Fifty Dead Men Walking.

Patricia Clarkson in a starring role brings director Ruba Nadda’s Cairo Time to exquisite light while a young and unknown Xavier Dolan makes his directorial debut with I Killed My Mother. Director Denis Villeneuve films the unfilmable, taking one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history, the murder of 14 female engineering students at the École Polytechnique, and turning it into a gripping, yet respectful and ultimately moving experience.

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


First time director Ryan Redford brings to the screen his film, Oliver Sherman, a sensitive and moving tale of heroism, gratefulness, and the lasting effects of PTS. Denis Villeneuve has another hit and gains a larger audience with Incendies. Michael McGowan releases Score: A Hockey Musical and Richard J. Lewis directs heavyweights Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, and Scott Speedman in an adaption of Mordecai Richler’s final book, Barney’s Version. With respect to Villeneve’s spectacular success with Incendies, the film that sticks out for me is the much smaller production of director Sean Garrity’s Zooey and Adam shot on a digital camcorder.


What a year for Canadian Cinema. Documentary filmmaker Nisha Pahuja lands big with The World Before Her, a look at the diverse paths of a woman entering an Indian beauty pageant against the life of another woman following a chosen path of political activism. Xavier Dolan has a third hit in as many years with Laurence Anyways and director Michael Dowse punches up with the hockey comedy, Goon. This year saw two Cronenberg films with David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and junior, Brandon Cronenberg’s, Antiviral. Director Deepa Mehta films her friend Salman Rushdie’s epic magic realism novel, Midnight’s Children. But the film that rocks me and most Canadian filmgoers is Sarah Polley’s autobiographical account of discovering the truth about her family history with Stories We Tell.

Inrid Veninger, diretor,
Ingrid Veninger still from a 2013 Northernstars interview.


Director Ingrid Veninger proves that D.I.Y. (Do it yourself) filmmaking can bring about some captivating results. The Animal Project is one of Venniger’s best—which is saying a lot. Director Bruce Sweeney comes out with an understated comedy about television talk shows with The Dick Knost Show, and Michael Dowse crashes the international market with the romance comedy The F Word (retitled What If for the American market) starring Daniel Radcliff. Radcliff is good but it’s Meagan Parks in a minor role who steals the show. Director Louise Archambault finds a charming subject in the film Gabrielle, and an equally charming star in Gabrielle Marion-Rivard. Prominent documentary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin adds to an already long and productive career with Hi-Ho Mistahey! Director Larry Weinstein and Drew Taylor’s documentary Our Man in Tehran corrects the errors made in the entertaining but factually inaccurate Oscar-winning film, Argo, about the release of hostages from Iran. Filmmaker Alan Zweig scores another win with the appropriately hilarious documentary When Jews Were Funny. The late Jeff Barnaby enters the scene with Rhymes for Young Ghouls, a film I initially diss but now recognize the film’s essential narrative. But in 2012, the film that resonates strongest for me is director Matt Johnson’s The Dirties an independent movie about a high-school outsider plotting violent revenge on his classmates.


Daniel Perlmutter directs Big News from Grand Rock a wickedly good comedy in the spirit of Preston Sturges with a brilliant comedy turn from Ennis Esmer. Big Muddy by director Jefferson Moneo described as a Neo-Western crime drama delivers so much more as a film noir highlighted by a solid performance from Nadia Litz plus James Le Gros with a monstrously good turn as the film’s villain.


This year sees the release of director Maxime Giroux’s Felix and Meira, one of the best relationship films to come around in a long-time. Rock and Roll documentarians Sam Dunn and Scott McFadyen team up with director Reginald Harkema to chronicle the crazy career of Alice Cooper in Super Duper Alice Cooper. David Cronenberg’s Hollywood scandal film, Map to the Stars is a delight, even if I’m one of few critics who think so. But it’s Xavier Dolan’s Mommy that hits all the right buttons. A triumphant story of love, devotion, and mental health.

Sleeping Giant, movie, image,
Production still for Sleeping Giant courtesy of D Films.

Director Robert Eggars gives the horror genre an artistic twist with The Witch, while directors Grant Harvey, Steve Hoban, and Brett Sullivan stick with traditional schlock and kills all to great results (especially the final scene) in the horror anthology, A Christmas Horror Story. After the Last River is Victoria Lean’s documentary that reveals an uncomfortable truth about the neglect of an Indigenous community following the empty promises from a diamond corporation. Film critic Brian D. Johnson brings his passion for the poetry of Al Purdy with Al Purdy Was Here. Director Stephen Dunn’s Closet Monster wins Best Canadian Feature at TIFF. The Oscars took notice of director Lenny Abrahamson’s thriller, Room while director Andrew Cividino won Best Canadian First Feature at TIFF and a Canadian Screen Award for best actor for the devastatingly real and engaging coming-of-age story, Sleeping Giant.


An all-female crew and several frank sex scenes highlight director April Mullen’s erotic drama, Below Her Mouth, written by Stephanie Fabrizi. Not a critical darling, but guaranteed; once seen, not forgotten. Visual artist turned filmmaker Randall Okita releases the crime drama, The Lockpicker while director Daniel Grou shoots Alexandre Goyette’s stage play King David in one continuous shot. A highlight of the year is director Aisling Walsh’s Maudie, an understated biopic on the famed Canadian painter, Maud Lewis.


Telefilm at TIFF, image,
Mina Shum at TIFF 2017. Photo by Ralph Lucas for Northernstars™.
In Adventures in Public School, actor Daniel Doheny’s perfect blend of naivety and charm makes for one of the year’s best comedic performance as Liam, a home-schooled teen venturing to public school for the first time. Attiya Khan and Lawrence Jackman direct a very personal documentary about abuse and reconciliation with A Better Man. Canada meets Michelle McLeod playing the lead in director Pat Mills’ Don’t Talk to Irene and director Mina Shum wows us with Meditation Park starring Sandra Oh and Don McKellar. But it’s director Cory Bowles’ powerful pitch-black comedy/drama Black Cop that turns expectations to give viewers a clear (and disturbing) understanding of the nature of police brutality. Nothing like it before nor since.


Northernstars.ca has been online for 20 years. Twenty-two years after the success of director Denys Arcand’s The Decline of the Empire comes his kind-of-but-not-really sequel, The Fall of the American Empire. Filmmaker Jasmin Mozaffari turns her short film Firecrackers into one of the year’s best Canadian features. Keith Behrman directs Giant Little Ones, an LGBTQ coming-of-age drama complete with a twist. Director Danishka Esterhazy thrills viewers with Level 16, a mysterious horror/drama worthy of an episode of Black Mirror. The highlight for many critics (me included) is director Patricia Rozema’s Mouthpiece.


There are almost too many films worthy of mention coming out of 2019. There is something for everyone from director Carol Nguyen’s short film No Crying at the Dinner Table to the dark open-ended tale of violence in director Nicole Dorsey’s Black Conflux and onto Blood Quantum, the late Jeff Barnaby’s Indigenous take on the zombie horror film. Directors Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn score big with The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open and director Louise Archambault does Jocelyne Saucier’s novel justice with And the Birds Rained Down. Director Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 ft. is unforgettable as is Rob Grant’s Harpoon—a violent film-noirish black comedy set on a yacht. But the film that moves me most is the documentary Prey by director Matt Gallagher chronicling a man’s journey for justice against the Catholic clergy who abused him.

Beans, movie, image,
Promotional still from Beans courtesy of Mongrel Media.


The most talked about Canadian films of 2020 are director Tracey Deer’s Beans and (for reasons both good and then bad) Michelle Latimer’s Inconvenient Indian. Fewer people are talking about director Chad Faust’s underrated revenge thriller Girl featuring Bella Thorne in the title role with an underused Mickey Rourke as a Sheriff. Bone Cage by director Taylor Olson is the first review I write for Northernstars.ca and upon rereading the review, my opinion stands—Bone Cage remains a perfect example of the kind of human drama Canada does well. In the horror sector, nothing beats the sheer audacious spectacle that is Psycho Gorman, a low-budget monster flick that is as hilarious as it is outrageous. But by far my favourite film of the year is director Evan Morgan’s The Kid Detective.

Wildhood, movie, image,
Wildhood promotional still by Riley Smith. Used with Permission.


First-time director Bretten Hannam delivers Wildhood, a beautiful coming-of-age story between two young Indigenous men. Danis Goulet wins praise for her Indigenous-themed science-fiction thriller, Night Raiders, and Kids in the Hall alumni, Scott Thompson and Paul Bellini entertain with a documented account of their two-man Rivoli show in Mouth Congress. Sébastien Pilote’s Maria Chapdelaine is a masterclass in how to direct epic period pieces. Ivan Grbovic’s Drunken Birds becomes a critical favourite. Scarborough directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson adapted from the book by Catherine Hernandez is a personal favourite from 2021.

Women Talking, movie, image,


Two notable films from 2022 come from film critics Brian D. Johnson and Chandler Levack. Johnson’s The Colour of Ink takes a fascinating look at—yes—ink; a surprisingly rich and rewarding documentary. Levack comes out of the directing gates with the remarkably charming comedy I Like Movies starring a dynamic Isaiah Lehtinen. Another comedy to shine this year is Stay the Night, a romantic comedy in the vein of Before Sunrise (only funnier) from director Renuka Jeyapalan. Director Stéphane Lafleur also dives into comedy with Viking. Valerie Buhagiar writes and directs Carmen, a winning story of a woman suddenly faced with the task of discovering who she is and where she fits in the world. Sarah Polley astounds yet again with Women Talking. But it’s Nisha Pahuja’s searing documentary To Kill a Tiger that takes the lead in an edge-of-the-seat real-life drama.

Infinity Pool, photo, image,
Promotional still for Infinity Pool courtesy of NEONTopic.


Northernstars.ca completes its 25th year online on January 31. We’re only two months into 2023, but since you asked; the best in Canadian cinema so far goes to Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool, and I suspect that it will still be on the list at the end of 2023.

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. He is the author of The Wild Boy of Waubamik, published in early 2023 by Dundurn Press.

Celebrating Black History Month – Lyriq Bent

Lyriq Bent, Actor,
Lyria Bent in his role as Chekura in the mini-series, Book of Negroes. Click to enlarge.

(February 21, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Northernstars continues our look at the careers of a different actor, actress or director during Black History Month. Lyriq Bent was born in Jamaica and moved to Toronto with his family at the age of six. He did well in high school, and later attended Seneca College, graduating with high honours. He began working as a computer graphic technician; his plans, however, were short lived as he decided to take up acting on a dare. From his first appearanceas a non-speaking extra on the series Relic Hunter in 2000, this versatile actor has played an eclectic mix of roles and his multiple guest-starring television roles have kept him very busy. He is perhaps best known as Sgt. Frank Best appearing in 45 episodes of the hit Canadian cop drama Rookie Blue and for his role as Chekura in the CBC mini-series The Book of Negroes.

Read more about Lyric Bent.

Celebrating Black History Month – Maurice Dean Wint

Maurice Dean Wint, actor,

(February 19, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Equally at home on the stage and in front of the camera, Maurice Dean Wint was born in Leicestershire, England. His family moved to Canada in 1967 and he started acting on the stage and in television after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama at York University. He has been on the small screen pretty much non-stop ever since his first appearance in the Canadian cop series Night Heat in 1987. His stage work includes Michael Healey’s Courageous, a social satire set at the marriage registry at Toronto’s Old City Hall produced by Toronto’s Taragon Theatre and Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. It was named best new production at the Dora Awards in 2011 and Wint won for Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role/Ensemble. Wint also played Othello for A Taste of Shakespeare, a series of DVDs made for the library and educational market by the Toronto-based non-profit Eugenia Educational Foundation.

Read more about Maurice Dean Wint.

Celebrating Black History Month – Enuka Okuma

Enuka Okuma, actress,
Enuka Okuma pictured as detective Traci Nash from the police drama series, Rookie Blue. Click to enlarge.

(February 18, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Born in Vancouver, Enuka Okuma is of Nigerian descent and sometimes shows up in the credits as Enuka Vanessa Okuma. Before finding a successful career in film and television, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre from Simon Fraser University. With over 50 television roles to her credit, Okuma has become familiar to audiences as a series regular playing the role of Traci Nash (pictured above) on Rookie Blue, which was also broadcast south of the border on ABC where it had dominated its time slot in the ratings over rivals NBC and CBS. Prior to that she was best known for her long run as Sheri Davis on the Canadian series, Madison appearing in episodes 14 to 65 between 1994 and 1998.

Read more about Enuka Okuma.

Celebrating Black History Month – Clark Johnson

Clark Johnson, actor,
Clark Johnson publicity still from The Wire. Click to enlarge.

(February 17, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Born in Philadelphia to interracial parents, Clark Johnson arrived in Montreal with his sister Taborah at the age of 15. He attended Concordia University and Eastern Michigan University on a partial athletic scholarship for football. He attended several other universities including Loyola and the University of Ottawa before ending up at the Ontario College of Art as a film major. Johnson was drafted by the CFL and even played stints with the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburg Steelers before he decided to make a go of it in the film and television business.

In 1980 he broke into the business as a special effects technician on David Cronenberg’s Videodrome and The Dead Zone. He began appearing in front of the camera with small parts in films like Nowhere to Hide, Adventures in Babysitting and Colors before securing a recurring part in the popular Canadian cop series Night Heat (1985–88). A busy and highly respected director, look for his new film, Percy, opening in August.

Read more about actor-director Clark Johnson.

Amanda Parris Honoured by ACTRA

Amada Parris, writer, producer, host,
Amanda Parris at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. Photo by Ralph Lucas for Northernstars™

Amanda Parris Honoured by ACTRA Toronto
by Staff Editors

(February 16, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Award-winning writer, producer and television/radio host Amanda Parris and Toronto-based entertainment agency Jesse Griffiths Casting Inc. will be celebrated tomorrow, February 17 when they accept their 2022 Sandi Ross Awards. During the presentation, Parris and Jesse Griffiths will accept their honours and discuss their own experiences as well as how others can advocate for increased diversity and inclusion. The awards will be presented by ACTRA Toronto Diversity & Inclusion Committee co-chairs Chattrisse Dolabaille and Janet Rose Nguyen.

The Sandi Ross Awards celebrate one individual and one company/organization each year whose work demonstrates a commitment to inclusion on screen.

Amanda Parris is a creatively gifted member of our Canadian storytelling community who uses her platform to fight for racial equity and uplift Canadian artists and Black voices. “Amanda provides a unique perspective that encourages each of us to do our part in examining the world we live in, with all its complexities and contradictions. The need to see true reflections onscreen of this complex world we live in is one that most everyone is aware of, but not everyone demonstrates the same commitment to that need that Amanda does,” said Chattrisse Dolabaille.

“I feel so privileged to get up every day and tell stories – stories that to me are very vital, are important and, hopefully, are pushing conversations forward so we’re not always talking about the same things over and over again,” said Parris (pictured above). “I know I’ve only able to do this kind of work and be in this place in my life because of folks who paved the road for me like Philip Akin, Karen King, Jennifer Hodge De Silva, M. NourbeSe Philip and, of course, Sandi Ross.”

Jesse Griffiths Casting has been an active community member in the push for diversity and inclusion. Jesse and his team are consistently generous with their time, ideas, expertise and giving back to the community. “Since the events of the Black Lives Matter movement and awakening in 2020, the group has really ‘walked the walk’ in creating a safe and inclusive casting community and pushing for diversity on our screens,” said Janet Rose Nguyen.

“Casting with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion not only allows us to tell stories that authentically reflect and represent our communities, but it gives casting directors the opportunity to meet and work with artists with different lived experiences,” said Jesse Griffiths. “This can only enhance the creative process and our industry as a whole.”

“We are thrilled to acknowledge and celebrate Amanda Parris and Jesse Griffiths Casting, who, like Sandi, continue to actively demonstrate their long-standing commitments to diversity,” said ACTRA Toronto President David Gale.

Also see: ACTRA Toronto Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Also see: The Sandi Ross Awards.


Abbey Neidik

Abbey Neidik, film director,

Abbey Jack Neidik is a Producer-Director-Sceenwriter. Married to Irene Angelico, they are the founders of DLI Productions and known for their work in documentary filmmaking. We list his credits as a Producer first. They are all documentaries, unless otherwise noted.

Also see: First to Stand: Irwin Cotler’s Fight for Human Rights.
Company website.

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

Dark Lullabies (1985)
A Song for Tibet (1991)
The Love Prophet and the Children of God (1998)
The Cola Conquest (1998)

The Journey Home: a Romanian Adoption (TV-2000)
She Got Game (2003)
Unbreakable Minds (2004)
Vendetta Song (2005)
Canadaville, USA (TV-2006)
Inside the Great Magazines (TV-2007)
Big Wind (TV-2015)
Beyond Earth: The Beginning of NewSpace (TV-2016)
Shekinah Rising (2018)

Reaching for Zion (2022)

TV Series:
Space’s Deepest Secrets (2017, 1 episode)

Credits as a Director:
Dark Lullabies (1985)
Between the Solitudes (1992)
The Love Prophet and the Children of God (1998)

The Journey Home: a Romanian Adoption (TV-2000)
She Got Game (2003)
Unbreakable Minds (2004)
Canadaville, USA (TV-2006)
Inside the Great Magazines (TV-2007)

Shekinah: The Intimate Life of Hasidic Women (2013)
Big Wind (TV-2015)
Beyond Earth: The Beginning of NewSpace (TV-2016)
Shekinah Rising (2018)

TV Series:
Space’s Deepest Secrets (2017, 1 episode)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Between the Solitudes (1992)

She Got Game (C2003)
Unbreakable Minds (2004)
Inside the Great Magazines (TV-2007)

Big Wind (TV-2015)
Beyond Earth: The Beginning of NewSpace (TV-2016)
Shekinah Rising (2018)

TV Series:
Space’s Deepest Secrets (2017, 1 episode)

First to Stand, movie, poster,

Reaching for Zion, movie, poster,