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VIFF Wraps a Record Year

VIFF, 2014,

(October 20, 2014 – Vancouver, BC) The 33rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) set a new box office record, seeing a 10% increase on 2013, the festival`s previous benchmark year. Between September 25 and October 10, 2014, VIFF presented 549 public screenings of 349 films from more than 70 countries, confirming its status as one of the continent’s largest film festivals.

Over the course of those 16 days, 219 feature films and 130 short or mid-length films played on nine screens at seven venues. An additional 24 media screenings occurred prior to the festival and there were 25 VIFF Repeats screenings over the holiday weekend that followed the festival. All told, gated attendance for VIFF and the VIFF Industry conference exceeded 144,000.

“It was a pivotal year for VIFF as we focused on internal transition and Industry repositioning,” said Jacqueline Dupuis, VIFF Executive Director. “In addition to the overwhelming response from audiences and the box office, we also tested new initiatives from the sold out Style in Film series to spoken word artist Shane Koyczan world premiering his new piece prior to the Closing Gala screening of Whiplash. The foundation has been set for our next stage of growth and we are excited with what we now have planned for audiences in 2015.”

“We were fortunate to have a truly outstanding array of films in the festival this year,” said Alan Franey, VIFF Programming Director. “The response from visiting filmmakers, industry attendees and our large and diverse audience all points in one direction: tough as making a movie is, the seventh art is alive and capable of amazing us. People long to renew the pleasures of seeing cinema as it was intended: on the big screen in the presence of others.” Here are the winners, runners-up and special mentions of our adjudicated awards, as well as the films that scored big with audiences.

Following is a list of the adjudicated awards:

Best Canadian Film ($8,000 cash prize sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada):
Violent (dir. Andrew Huculiak, British Columbia)

Best BC Film
($10,000 development bursary sponsored by the Harold Greenberg Fund plus a $15,000 post-production services credit supplied by Encore Vancouver) Violent (dir. Andrew Huculiak) Honourable Mention: Everything Will Be (dir. Julia Kwan)

BC Emerging Filmmaker Award ($7,500 cash prize sponsored by the Union of BC Performers/ACTRA and ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society plus a $10,000 equipment credit supplied by William F. White) Sitting on the Edge of Marlene (dir. Ana Valine)

VIFF Impact Award ($5,000 cash prize sponsored by Agentic Digital Media plus $5,000 in marketing and strategic in-kind services supplied by Agentic and Story Money Impact) Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (dir. Grant Baldwin, British Columbia)

Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film ($2,000 cash prize sponsored by an anonymous donor) The Cut (dir. Geneviève Dulude-Decelles)

Best New Director (international) ? ex aequo Miss and the Doctors (dir. Axelle Ropert, France) Rekorder (dir. Mikhael Red, Philippines) Honourable Mention: Asteroid (dir. Marcelo Tobar, Mexico)

Thousands of ballots were cast during VIFF 2014, representing a considerable proportion of the audience at every screening. Of our 219 feature films, 117 were rated 4 to 5 (very good to excellent) and 92 were rated 3 to 4 (good to very good). Following are the International Winners at VIFF

The Rogers People`s Choice Award:

The Vancouver Asahi (dir. Ishii Yuya, Japan)

VIFF Most Popular International Documentary Award
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (dir. James Keach, USA)

The next 22 international films (10% of 230 programs) in order of popular rating are:
Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) (dir. Damián Szifrón, Argentina/Spain)
Whiplash (dir. Damian Chazelle, USA)
Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados) (dir. David Trueba, Spain)
The Salt of the Earth (dirs. Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, France/Italy/Brazil)
Jalanan (dir. Daniel Ziv, Indonesia/Canada)
Lakshmi (dir. Nagesh Kukunoor, India)
Difret (dir. Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, Ethiopia)
Coming Home (Gui lai) (dir. Zhang Yimou, China)
Behavior (Conducta) (dir. Ernesto Daranas, Cuba)
Marmato (dir. Mark Grieco, Colombia/USA)
Red Army (dir. Gabe Polsky, USA/Russia)
Handmade with Love in France (Le Temps Suspendu) (dir. Julie Georgia Bernard, France)
Una Vida: A Fable of Music and The Mind (dir. Richie Adams, USA)
Boychoir (dir. Francois Girard, USA)
Still Life (dir. Uberto Pasolini, UK/Italy)
Advanced Style (dir. Lina Plioplyte, USA)
Noble (dir. Stephen Bradley, Ireland/UK)
Charlie`s Country (dir. Rolf de Heer, Australia)
The Liberator (Libertador) (dir. Alberto Arvelo, Spain)
Foxcatcher (dir. Bennett Miller, USA)
Class Enemy (Razredni sovraznik) (dir. Rok Bicek, Slovenia)
Force Majeure (Turist) (dir. Ruben Östlund, Sweden)

The Canadian winners at VIFF included:

Most Popular Canadian Feature Film Award:
Preggoland (dir. Jacob Tierney, British Columbia)

VIFF Most Popular Canadian Documentary Award:
All the Time in the World (dir. Suzanne Crocker, Yukon)
Runners-up: Marinoni (dir. Tony Girardin, Quebec) and Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (dir. Grant Baldwin, British Columbia)

The next 8 Canadian films in order of popular rating are:
Boy from Geita (dir. Vic Sarin, BC)
Mommy (dir. Xavier Dolan, Quebec)
The Price We Pay (dir. Harold Crooks, Ontario)
Everything Will Be (dir. Julia Kwan, BC)
Black Fly (dir. Jason Bourque, BC)
Violent (dir. Andrew Huculiak, BC)
Turbulence (dir. Soran Mardookhi, BC)
Elephant Song (dir. Charles Biname, Quebec)

Subject of the documentary David & Me Released from Prison

Subject of the documentary David & Me
Released from Prison

;Subject of the documentary David & Me Released from Prison;
(October 16, 2014 – Toronto, ON) There can be no greater sense of success for a documentary filmmaker than learning your work has had a positive impact on a situation, government, injustice or life. For the filmmakers behind the doc David & Me, the news yesterday that its subject, David McCallum, had been released almost 29 years to the day he was convicted for a murder he didn’t commit, must have been overwhelming.

In a statement released yesterday the filmmakers Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy said: “We cannot begin to express how happy we are with District Attorney Ken Thompson and the CRU`s decision. After filming with David and his family and following this case for almost ten years David`s release began to feel like a dream that might never be realized. That this day has now come to pass feels like a beautiful dream as well and we’re pinching ourselves to make sure it`s all real. David`s demeanor, patience, and determination has inspired us to no end and we look forward to watching him enjoy his new life as a free man — if anyone deserves it, it`s him.”

The story of David McCallum and the Canadian filmmakers who became his friends and championed the cause to free him is chronicled in the Markham Street Films documentary David and Me which had its World Premiere at the 2014 Hot Docs festival in Toronto this spring.

The filmmaker`s statement went on to say, “We’re so grateful to TVO and Markham Street Films for helping us make this film and to DA Ken Thompson for holding true to his commitment to righting wrongs by appointing Ronald Sullivan to head the Conviction Review Unit. The true heroes of this story are Oscar Michelen, David`s lawyer who has worked this case pro-bono for 10-years, Private Investigator Van Padgett, Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions Steve Drizin, Laura Cohen of Rutgers University, and Ken Klonsky of Innocence International — all of whom worked tirelessly to see justice finally prevail. Lastly, we must mention our hero Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who, when learning that he had terminal cancer wrote a letter to the NY Daily News declaring that his dying wish was to see David McCallum`s case get back into the courts. Dr. Carter can rest in peace knowing that his last public act lead to this glorious day. David`s demeanor, patience, and determination has inspired us to no end and we look forward to watching him enjoy his new life as a free man.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said: “In the interest of justice, I will ask the Court today to vacate the murder convictions of David McCallum and Willie Stuckey. After a thorough and fair review of the case by my Conviction Review Unit and the Independent Review Panel, I have concluded that their convictions should not stand and that Mr. McCallum should be released from prison.” Which is exactly what happened.

Hoping that this day would eventually come, the filmmakers created a fund to help David McCallum get back on his feet after release from prison. Click here to learn more about the film, David & Me.

Corner Gas: The Movie. Coming Soon. Maybe to a Theatre Near You

Corner Gas: The Movie. Coming Soon.
Maybe to a Theatre Near You

;Corner Gas: The Movie, cast;
(October 14, 2014 – Toronto, ON) The nice peoplebehind Corner Gas: The Movie are pulling out all the stops and breakong new territory with the planned multi-platform roll out beginning with an exclusive Cineplex Front Row Centre Events theatrical debut across Canada, December 3 to 7. The theatrical premiere will feature in-theatre cast appearances across the country, a “Corner Gas Tweet Up,” giveaways and a special pre-event show including a special message from Corner Gas creator, Brent Butt. There will also be Corner Gas trivia, and excerpts from the Canada-wide Corner Gas Sing-a-long. And that`s just the beginning.

Want Corner Gas: The Movie to screen in your hometown? Fans are being encouraged to show off their hometown’s Corner Ga pride. Fans should visit cornergasthemovie.com and Light Up the Map of Canada. By casting their vote online, fans have the opportunity to bring Corner Gas: The Movie to their hometown theatre.
;Corner Gas: The Movie, 2014 teaser poster;
The multi-platform part begins immediately following its theatrical release when the 90-minute feature will make its network broadcast debut in December on CTV and CTV GO, following a special preview for The Movie Network and TMN GO subscribers. The movie will also air on The Comedy Network in December. Want more? A special collector’s edition DVD will be available for purchase before the holidays.

Headlined by creator and comedian Brent Butt, as Corner Gas: The Movie opens, it`s been five years since the end of the TV series and there’s still not a lot going on 40 kilometers from nowhere. But that’s all about to change as the fine folks of Dog River, Saskatchewan face their biggest crisis ever. Brent and the gang discover that the town’s been badly mismanaged, leaving residents with little choice but to pack up and leave. As residents make one last rally to save Dog River as they know it, they discover a devious plan by a corporate giant that would change life for Dog Riverites forever.

Corner Gas: The Movie stars the original award-winning ensemble cast including Gabrielle Miller, Eric Peterson, Fred Ewanuick, Janet Wright, Lorne Cardinal, Tara Spencer-Nairn, and Nancy Robertson. Written by Brent Butt, Andrew Carr, and Andrew Wreggitt, and directed by David Storey, who served as key director on the series, the movie was shot in Saskatchewan from June 22 to July 22, 2014.

Gorilla Doctors. This Week of CBC’s Doc Zone

;Gorilla Doctors. This Week of CBC`s Doc Zone;
(October 14, 2014 – Toronto, ON) In the thick of the jungle of Rwanda`s Volcanoes National Park, an infant mountain gorilla has been caught in a snare. If the rope is not removed quickly enough, the young gorilla could lose its hand. In order to remove the snare, a team of veterinarians will first need to sedate the infant`s mother. But if the infant screams too much, the three 400-pound adult males that form part of this gorilla group will all attack. Everything must go perfectly, or there`s no telling what could happen. And being jungle medicine, things rarely go perfectly.

The pioneering group of vets performing this medical intervention is known as Gorilla Doctors. Led by Canadian Mike Cranfield, they work in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, where the world`s last Mountain Gorillas can be found.

Gorilla Doctors practice “extreme conservation” and work to bring the endangered mountain gorilla back from the brink of extinction, one gorilla at a time. They perform routine check-ups, treat orphaned infants, and even do surgery right on the jungle bed. It’s both incredibly risky and important work, as only 880 Mountain Gorillas are left.

The great apes are threatened from all sides. Poaching and habitat destruction are problems, to say nothing of rebel armies making a base out of the gorillas’ home in Congo`s Virunga National Park. In their extreme efforts to save the mountain gorilla, Gorilla Doctors have been held at gunpoint by rebel soldiers while making their rounds. And more than 140 Park Rangers have been killed in the past decade alone, trying to protect the gorillas and their Park.

But more than rebels or poachers, Gorilla Doctors worry about the threat of human disease. Because they share 98% of our DNA, gorillas are susceptible to nearly all human diseases. And with no immunity, they can die from even a simple human cold. With so few mountain gorillas in the world, the vets want to prevent the death of even one.

It`s for this reason that the Gorilla Doctors in Rwanda decide to intervene to treat Muturengere, a sick young adult-male gorilla, even when they know that he has a history of being aggressive. Park Rangers put themselves between Muturengere and the vets as the Gorilla Doctors lift their dart guns to inject him with antibiotics. As if on cue, Muturengere charges. How dangerous can they be? Mike Cranfield responds, “There`s been trackers and guides that have been bitten, there`s been veterinarians that have been bitten. The gorillas are looking to protect their families. But the bites can be fairly severe and painful.”

Living near some of the most densely-populated areas in Africa, the risk of disease transmission is so serious that Cranfield believes pro-actively vaccinating the gorillas is one of the best ways to ensure their survival. But is this going too far? Critics fear that with this level of intervention, the mountain gorilla is losing its “wildness”, and will end up living like any other zoo animal, except with food that regenerates and a much bigger living space. For his part, Mike Cranfield believes that the threats to the gorillas are so severe that it`s either intervention, or extinction.

Even admiring eco-tourists pose a threat to the great apes. Every year, nearly 30,000 people go to Rwanda and pay top dollar to visit the gorillas. While that money has gone a long way towards protecting the Park and the gorillas, allowing so many people to come so close to the gorillas also increases the risk of disease transmission. And while the tourists are supposed to stay seven metres away from the gorillas, in practice that`s not always possible. It`s not hard to imagine that some day an unknowing tourist – enjoying the magical experience of being up close with mountain gorillas – will also bring a disease along with them.

Gorilla Doctors was pProduced by 52 Media, Inc. and directed by Roberto Verdecchia and Michael Boland. It airs this Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 8 PM on CBC-TV.

Cronenberg Conversation to Benefit PEN

;David Cronenberg © 2014 by R.A.Lucas;
Photo © 2014 by Ralph Lucas, Used with Permission

(October 14, 2014 – Toronto, ON) While far from a recluse, it is rare to see David Cronenberg in a public setting. It seems as if he has never sought the attention of the press and most would argue he has never needed to. Now with a new direction in his famed career, David Cronenberg the author will appear on stage in conversation about his new book, Consumed, and talk about The Judicious Use of Solitude, as the event to benefit PEN Canada is titled.

We are, in 2014, just two years shy of Cronenberg`s 50th anniversary as a filmmaker, but it was his 1975 film, Shivers, that laid the foundation for his extraordinary career. In fairly quick order, Shivers was followed by Rabid,;PEN Benefit poster; The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome and The Fly. His slow move to more mainstream films began with Dead Ringers in 1988. A little more than a decade later he gave us Spider, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. More recently, the lush if disturbing A Dangerous Method, and at the end of this month, Maps to the Stars. Now after the highly collaborative profession of filmmaking, David Cronenberg has embraced the rather lonely, by comparison, task of writing a novel.

Crime, disease and philosophy entangle themselves in his dark debut novel, Consumed. At PEN Canada’s Benefit, which takes place on Thursday, October 23, the opening night of the International Festival of Authors, philosopher Mark Kingwell will discuss how these themes relate to Cronenberg’s decades-long engagement with writers like J.G. Ballard, William S. Burroughs and Vladimir Nabokov.

PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right, at home and abroad. The organization promotes literature, fights censorship, helps free persecuted writers from prison, and assists writers living in exile in Canada. In short, they deserve your support. And with this special appearance by one of Canada`s renowned filmmakers, the price of admission, $100, is great value.

Tickets can be purchased online. The PEN Canada benefit will be held at the IFOA Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 207 Queens Quay West.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid, movie, image,

Toronto After Dark Festival opens October 16
by Editorial Staff

(October 9, 2014 – Toronto, ON) What is it about sitting in the dark being surrounded by complete strangers that makes people want to be scared out of their wits. We know who people who scream at scary movies when they’re watching them from the comfort of their own, secure home. Perhaps there`s that nagging feeling that there`s a kitchen full of sharp things and the backdoor is unlocked. Whatever it is, people in and around Toronto who are looking for a great fright night or two or nine can rely on the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, which launches October 16.

Here’s just a quick look at just a small handful of films on this year`s schedule:

The Canadian film Hellmouth will have its World Premiere. From the twisted mind of writer Tony Burgess (Pontypool) comes a stunning, spectacular ode to classic horror and fantasy. Hellmouth tells the tale of gravekeeper Charlie Baker, (Stephen McHattie) assigned to tend to a mysterious cemetery. Charlie’s routine journey to his new place of employment turns out to be a dark and fantastic voyage through a Gothic landscape, filled with demonic forces, and a life-altering encounter with a beautiful woman he must try to rescue from the bowels of hell.
;Hellmouth, 2014 movie poster;
The Babadook is an Australian film and screens in its Toronto Premiere. In the scary new horror hit from Australia, single mother Amelia must battle with her son Samuel’s fear of a monster lurking in their house. After a creepy pop-up book called Mister Babadook is found on the doorstep, Samuel begins to sense a sinister presence, and strange things begin to happen around the house. Amelia is at first dismissive, but then begins to question whether The Babadook is a figment of Samuel’s troubled imagination or whether there might be something genuinely evil lurking in their midst.

Staying in Australia, the film Predestination will also enjoy its Toronto Premiere. Based on a story by acclaimed sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein (STARSHIP TROOPERS), the Spierig Brothers (DAYBREAKERS, UNDEAD) direct Ethan Hawke (GATTACA, TRAINING DAY) in this riveting sci-fi thriller in the mold of LOOPER and MINORITY REPORT about a Temporal Agent, tasked with traveling through time to stop crimes before they’re committed. On his final assignment, the agent must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time, the elusive Fizzle Bomber, determined to unleash mass destruction upon New York City, and who somehow always seems to be one step ahead of the Temporal Agency.

Dead Snow 2: Dead vs Red from Norway (Toronto Premiere): The gruesome army of awakened Nazi Zombies from fan favourite DEAD SNOW once again return to terrorize the Norwegian countryside! In this crowd-pleasing zombie action comedy follow-up, Martin, the sole survivor of the first movie, must join forces with an American zombie hunter (cult favourite FREAKS AND GEEKS’ Martin Starr) and a reanimated squad of dead Russians if he is to try to defeat the undead Nazi horde and their evil commander!

Wolves is a USA/Canada co-pro and a North American Premiere. In this coming of age werewolf action movie from David Hayter (writer of X-MEN, X-MEN 2), Lucas Till (XMEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST) plays Cayden Richards, a high school senior who awakens one day to find his parents brutally murdered and his body transforming into a wild, savage wolf. In search of the truth behind his animalistic tendencies, Cayden heads to the small town of Lupine Ridge, only to find himself caught between an ongoing war between two opposing werewolf clans, led by Jason Momoa (GAME OF THRONES) and Stephen McHattie (WATCHMEN). As the past begins to reveal itself, so does Cayden’s power to put an end to the savage violence around him and within him.

;Wolves, 2014 movie poster;Open Windows is a Spain/USA co-production. (Toronto Premiere): In the vein of Alfred Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW comes this gripping cyber-thriller from acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (TIMECRIMES) that exposes a terrifying dark side to internet voyeurism. When an unwitting celebrity fan-site operator (LORD OF THE RINGS’ Elijah Wood) is persuaded by a mysterious caller to hack into the personal webcam of a movie actress he idolizes (Sasha Grey), he finds himself not only uncovering a dark and sinister plot, but also trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a psychopath.

Zombeavers is an American film having its Toronto Premiere at Toronto After Dark: From the producers of CABIN FEVER, THE HANGOVER, and AMERICAN PIE comes Zombeavers, a crowd-pleasing zombie comedy co-starring Cortney Palm (SUSHI GIRL) that delivers exactly what you’d want from its title and more! A group of college kids’ weekend of sex and debauchery at a riverside cabin turns gruesome when they find themselves menaced by a swarm of deadly zombie beavers. Riding the line between scary, sexy, and funny, the kids are soon fighting for their lives in a desperate attempt to fend off the blood-thirsty undead beaver horde!

ABCs of Death 2 is a USA/New Zealand/Canada/Israel/Japan coproduction which will have its Canadian Premiere. Get ready to gasp, laugh, shriek and cheer at this latest anthology of 26 short tales, each punctuated by a different shocking, wickedly entertaining death. Completely one-upping its predecessor, ABCs of Death 2 is packed with outstanding thrills, chills and kills, brought to you by some of the acclaimed film-making talents behind fan favourites CUBE (Vincenzo Natali), AMERICAN MARY (The Soska Twins), BIG BAD WOLVES (Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado), MANBORG (Steven Kostanski), ROOM 237 (Rodney Ascher), INSIDE (Alexandre Bustillo) and JUAN OF THE DEAD (Alejandro Brugues), just to name but a few!

Click here for a link to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival and more October film festivals.

State of Incarceration Tonight on CBC

;Violence wins two at VIFF;
(October 8, 2014 – Toronto, ON) When it comes right down to it, it`s really a case of how the government is spending, or perhaps misspending your money. Canada’s crime rate is at its lowest point in more than forty years which begs the question, Why are we spending billions of dollars to get tough on crime now? More prisons cells, tougher laws for parole, more mandatory minimum sentences: they are all now part of Canada’s high-cost justice system – and they are all ideas that failed in the United States. The CBC`s Doz Zone explores the subject tonight in a new documentary, State of Incarceration.

Our criminal justice system is currently undergoing a radical rethink. Where will it lead? Will the crime rate continue to fall as our prison population increases? What is being done to prepare prisoners for life after jail? These are some of the issues under consideration in an incisive new documentary that looks at where our criminal justice system is headed.

As Canada builds 2700 new federal prison cells — and strengthens laws that will keep those new cells full – is our government making us safer? Or is this simply a political move—one that ignores research and statistics?

“Based on what we hear from the government, it sounds like crime is the most dire issue facing Canadians,” explains State of Incarceration filmmaker Andrew Gregg. “It’s striking to realize that the crime rate is as low as it is, yet we’re undergoing the largest prison expansion since the 1930s. I wanted to find out why.”

Gregg travelled to Texas, one of the most relentless “tough on crime” states in the US, to discover that they are actually closing prisons and investing heavily in programs to get convicts released. The crew then went to California, to see how their “three strikes” mandatory minimum sentence law virtually bankrupted the state and paralyzed the prison system by increasing prison capacity to a shocking 200%. “It made sense to us to go and look at what happened in the US because we are implementing ideas here that they have already tried there. Canadians essentially live just north of the world’s largest incarceration experiment. We wanted to see if we’ve learned anything from their experience.”

The film also tells the story of Lifeline, a federally funded program based in Windsor, Ontario, designed to help long-term convicts prepare for life on the outside. Lifeline won awards and was studied and copied by justice officials in other countries. It was even hailed as a success on The Department of Justice Canada’s own website, before its ;Justice Minister Peter MacKay;budget was abruptly cut. Lifeline is an example of what gets funded and what doesn’t in this time of flux for Canadian criminal justice.

The film features an exclusive interview with Justice Minister Peter Mackay “It’s a very complex subject with new studies being released constantly. I was surprised to learn that adding more prisons doesn’t affect the crime rate,” says Gregg. “I wanted to make sure we had a large cross-section of voices on these issues so viewers hear from criminologists, wardens, community activists, academics, and government appointees like Kevin Page, the former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Howard Sapers the Correctional Investigator of Canada and Justice Minister Peter Mackay.

“We also talk to ex-cons and current prisoners, including a convicted multiple murderer who has spent 37 years in both US and Canadian prisons and has a lot to say about the view from inside.”

State of Incarceration, directed by Andrew Gregg for 90th Parallel Productions in association with CBC, is a searing, thought-provoking look at a highly contentious issue as our criminal justice system undergoes a major refit that may not be either effective or affordable, and might even be taking us backwards. It airs tonight, Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 9 PM Eastern on CBC-TV.

Violent Takes Two at VIFF Canadian Awards

;Violence wins two at VIFF;
(October 6, 2014 – Vancouver, BC) The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), honoured Canadian filmmakers when they announced the winners of the 2014 VIFF Canadian Images Awards, BC Spotlight Awards, and VIFF Impact Award at the BC Spotlight Awards Gala on Saturday night at The Playhouse Theatre in this city. The big winner was first time feature director, Andrew Huculiak, known previously for his work as a drummer in the west coast band We Are The City. His film, Violent, which premiered at Cannes earlier this year, won both the Best BC Film and Best Canadian Film awards.

Originally planned as a companion piece to an album of the same name, Violent evolved into a stand-alone project. After a five-month writing session that included Huculiak’s bandmate Cayne McKenzie, along with his Amazing Factory production company partners Joseph Schweers and Josh Huculiak, everybody headed over to Bergen, Norway for the self-financed shoot.

The Canadian Images Awards jury had this to say about the film: “Marked by strong performances, this ground-breaking and emotionally mature film has audacious ambitions and more than delivers. The story inhabits a very unusual space for contemporary cinema. A film about loneliness in an ordinary life, it had the jury rapt for the duration as its profound storytelling resonated throughout the film and long after.”

The Canadian Images jurors included John Cassini (Co-Artistic Director, Railtown Actors Studio), Peter Machen (Manager, Dublin International Film Festival, Film Columnist, Sunday Tribune), and Gaylene Preston (Director, Hope and Wire). The awards brought writer-director Andrew Huculiak a $10,000 development bursary and a $15,000 credit towards post production with Encore Vancouver. Click here to watch a trailer for Violent.

This year’s BC Spotlight Gala film and winner of theAudience Must See Awardwas Grant Baldwin’s documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Attempting to live waste-free, filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer subsist on discarded food for six months. The BC Spotlight Awards jury commented, “Canadians should be very proud, this year’s line-up of BC filmmakers was outstanding. From docs and narratives to emerging and established filmmakers, BC is a hot bed of talent in the Canadian film industry.”

BC Spotlight jurors included Joel Bakan (Co-creator, The Corporation), Cathy Chilco (Producer/Director, Sesame Street), and Bruce Sweeney (Director, Live Bait and The Dick Knost Show).

Other awards included the Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film, which was given to Geneviève Dulude-Decelles for her short, The Cut. The BC Emerging Filmmaker Award went to Ana Valine for Sitting on the Edge of Marlene.

The Vancouver International Film Festival continues until October 10. Click here for a link to VIFF and other October film festivals.

Two John Kastner Films at Hot Docs

(October 6, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) In case you didn’t know, this is Mental Illness Awareness Week, an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. To mark the week and to provide badly need insight, two John Kastner groundbreaking feature documentaries about people declared not criminally responsible (or “NCR”) for offences due to mental illness will be featured at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto on October 8 and 9, starting at 6:30 p.m.

NCR: Not Criminally Responsible and Out of Mind, Out of Sight were filmed by Kastner over an intensive 18-month period, and included unprecedented access inside the Brockville Mental Health Centre. These two acclaimed works have had an enormous impact on the debate over how Canada should deal with people declared not criminally responsible for violent crimes, and both have received glowing praise from mental health and law professionals, as well as critics.

Screening Wednesday, October 8, NCR: Not Criminally Responsible documents Ontario man Sean Clifton’s release back into society after eight years of treatment, following a psychotic episode in which he violently attacked a woman in a crowded shopping mall. The production and launch of NCR was a vital part of the healing experience for Clifton’s victim, who went public with her story for the first time prior to the Hot Docs premiere of NCR, and has forgiven her attacker. Clifton will be in attendance at the screening to answer questions, alongside four-time Emmy Award winner John Kastner and Dr. Sandy Simpson, Chief of Forensic Psychiatry at CAMH and the University of Toronto.

The following night, on October 9, Out of Mind, Out of Sight focuses on two men and two women struggling to gain control over their lives so they can return to society. Filmed inside the Brockville Mental Health Centre, the film’s subjects include Michael Stewart, who killed a much-loved family member while in a psychotic state and is tormented by a guilt so great it is almost crippling. In attendance to answer questions will be Michael’s brother John, director Kastner and Dr. Simpson.

Both evenings will be moderated by Silva Basmajian, co-producer and executive producer of the film.

Released in 2012, NCR has been hailed as “a breakthrough film — stunning” by Martin Knelman of the Toronto Star, while John Doyle of the Globe and Mail wrote that “the importance and greatness of NCR: Not Criminally Responsible cannot be overstated.” The 2013 release Out of Mind, Out of Sight was named best Canadian feature documentary at Hot Docs.

Click here for more information about screenings at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.

The imagineNATIVE Festival Hits 15

;FNC Launches 43rd Season in Montréal;
(October 3, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) The truly unique imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival previewed its complete 15th Anniversary season this week when Executive DirectorJason Ryle was introduced by CameronBailey at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Ryle, in turn, invited Manager Daniel Northway-Frank to the stage and as they took turns detailing this year`s offerings they became giddy and slightly overwhelmed by the embarrasment of riches this year`s festival offers.

The15thAnnual imagineNATIVEopens on October 22 and runs until the 26th. By the numbers it looks like this: 130 films and videos; nine Radio Works; seven multi-platform New Media works; four art exhibitions featuring 19 media artists; 11 industry panels and public workshops; and 17 commissions.What all this means is 175 artists representing over 70 distinct Indigenous nations from 12 countries.

Rylealso announced the premiere ofStoryteller Screenings, a cinema-meets-storytelling experience, on Saturday, October 25 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.Storyteller Screeningswill combine a new screen-based video work and a live reading. This yearJoseph Boyden, one of Canada’s true literary stars, will present a new work with master of animation, Terril Calder.Following next, legendary author, artist and activistMaria Campbellwill share a new short story created in collaboration withShane Belcourt, a leading filmmaker in Canadian Indigenous cinema. Together these artists–each from a Métis or mixed culture–combine craft, transcend media and explore new territory to tell a story unlike any other.

AsimagineNATIVEcelebrates 15 years, they will also honour the 10th anniversary ofWapikoniwith a special program curated byCaroline Monnet, presented entirely in French on Thursday, October 23.Wapikoniis the world’s largest producer of short films made by francophone Indigenous artists, many of whom are young and up and coming artists. imagineNATIVEhas a long history withWapikoniwho has contributed a vital and significant body of work to international Indigenous cinema.

The National Film Board is well represented again this year. Legendary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin and rising digital artist Jordan Bennett will be at the Festival with new documentary and interactive works from the NFB.

A member of the Abenaki nation and one of Canada’s most distinguished artists, Alanis Obomsawin will be on hand to screen her latest film, Trick or Treaty?, documenting the current-day discussions around a controversial 1905 land rights agreement, set against the backdrop of the Idle No More movement. Trick or Treaty? screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Saturday, October 25 at 5:30 p.m. Prior to the screening, Ms. Obomsawin will participate in a panel ;TRick or Treaty?;discussion entitled “The Future of Indigenous Social Justice Docs,” taking place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Founder’s Lounge from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

Recently named the BMO Artist of the Year by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, artist Jordan Bennett debuts his immersive installation Ice Fishing, in which virtual ice fishing holes turn the gallery floor into a rich fishing ground for stories and time-honoured customs. Bennett, of Mi’kmaq heritage, explores Qualipu Mi’kmaq culture at a time when this Indigenous nation is re-examining itself under its recently acquired official status, with the Qualipu First Nation legally recognized in 2011. Ice Fishing’s main exhibition opens to the public on October 22 at Trinity Square Video, and is also featured during imagineNATIVE’s Art Crawl on October 24, with Bennett speaking at 6:30 p.m. There are also satellite elements of Ice Fishing in the lobbies of TIFF Bell Lightbox

FNC Launches 43rd Season in Montréal

;FNC Launches 43rd Season in Montréal;
Photos Copyright © 2014 by Maurie Alioff

(October 3, 2014 – Montréal, Québec) One of the coolest film festivals in Canada has to be the FNC. That`s the Festival du nouveau cinéma. This year`s edition is set to open on October 8th and was launched last week when festival founder and programming director, Claude Chamberlan (pictured with festival Director General, Nicholas Girard Deltruc) was surrounded by various members of the festival team (pictured below), to help launch FNC`s incredible 43rd season.

The opening gala will be Philippe Faladeau`s US-made feature The Good Lie. It has echoes of Philippe Falardeau’s last film, Monsieur Lazhar, but this story, inspired by real events, is the Québécois director’s first work with American studios, which led to the casting of the energetic and endearing Reese Whiterspoon. It’s a feel-good movie that doesn’t hit any false notes, and doesn’t stray from what’s important: approaching the drama with sensitivity and honesty that go straight to the heart. Whitherspoon`s costars include Sudanese actors Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal and Arnold Oceng.

;FNC Founder and crtew; The closing gala is Le sel de la terre. Co-directed by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders, the film was shot in French, English and Portuguese. According to Wenders, a photographer is someone who creates and recreates the world through shadow and light. This intriguing definition is particularly apt for Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian photographer who has captured the breathtaking beauty of nature in remote regions of northeastern Brazil, the Sahel in Africa, and other untouched corners of the planet (as in his latest project, Genesis). Salgado walked away from a promising career as an economist to devote himself to his art. For four decades now, he has combined a sumptuous aesthetic approach with a keen, sensitive understanding of the world around us and the people who inhabit it. Wenders pays tribute to this passionate artist in a film that’s as sublime as the photographs it spotlights. The Salt of the Earth (as it is titled in English) also gives voice to Salgado’s son Juliano, who offers a candid and poetic take on the exceptional life his father has led. As in his previous documentary on dancer Pina Bausch, this beguiling biography, which won two prizes in Un Certain Regard this year, delves into the notion that art isn’t just ornamental and is in fact a truly fundamental part of the world we live in.

New this year, the Festival du nouveau cinéma will entrust the prize-awarding process to juries made up of well-known figures from the world of local and international cinema and interactive media. In total, 15 awards will be handed out in the various sections of the 43rd edition of the Festival, including two new ones, the Audience Award presented by Canal + Canada in the International Competition and the Innovation Award presented by Urbania in the newly-added New Storytelling section. Following is a list of the prizes available this year:

International Competition:
The Louve d’Or presented by Québecor, along with a $15,000 cash prize, goes to the best feature film in the International Competition. The International Competition jury will be made up of: Anais Barbeau-Lavalette, director (Le ring, Inch’allah); Mira Burt-Wintonick, radio producer and filmmaker; Jean-Claude Lord, director; Patrick Roy distributor and chairman of the board of Québec Cinéma; André Turpin, director (Un crabe dans la tête) and director of photography (Mommy,Incendies).

The jury will also hand out a Special Jury Award as well as the Daniel Langlois Innovation Award, which will go to a work in the International Competition that stands out for its daring aesthetics, creative use of new technologies or groundbreaking treatment of a sensitive subject matter.

New this year, all films in the International Competition will also be eligible for the Audience Award presented by Canal + Canada, which includes a $5,000 grant. Festivalgoers will have a chance to vote for their favourite film at entrances and exits of screening rooms and on canalplus.ca. A $5,000 cash prize will be awarded to the winner by Canal+ Canada.

The AQCC Award (Association québécoise des critiques de cinéma) will also be awarded to the best film in the International Competition as decided by a jury made up of critics: Frédéric Bouchard, Robert Daudelin and Marie Claude Mirandette.

In addition, the Loup Argenté will recognize the best film in the International Competition – Short Films. The jury members are critics Marcel Jean, Guy Ménard and Curtis Woloschuk.

The Focus Grand Prize presented by Air France, which includes $5,000 in cash and two return airline tickets to Europe, will recognize the section’s best feature film from Quebec or Canada. The jury is made up of Sylvain Auzou (artistic director of the Venice Film Festival), Christine Boisson (actress) and Rajendra Roy (head curator of the cinema department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York). The will also hand out a Special Jury Award.

The Focus Grand Prize – Short Film presented by Post-Moderne, including $5,000 in cash and $10,000 in post-production services, will be awarded to the best short film from Quebec or Canada in the Focus section. The jury is made up of: Lydia Beilby (visual artist and curator), Alessandro Marcionni (director of the short and medium-length section at the Locarno Festival) and Carlos Ramos (programmer of the short-film and music sections of the indieLisboa festival).

The Creativity Award presented by MAtv, including $1,000 in cash, will recognize the most original work. New! The Focus Short Film Award will also be handed out to the best short film in the Focus Quebec/Canada section. The award also includes the purchase and distribution of the winning film during a short-film screening at the Studio des Ursulines in Paris and the creation of a DCP copy. The jury will be made up of Fanny Barrot (writer and cinema commissioner), Katia Bayer (editor-in-chief of Format Court magazine), Agathe Demanneville (writer and programmer), Nadia Le Bihen-Demmou(assistant in the short-film department of the Centre national du cinéma de l’image animée in Paris) and Mathieu Lericq (screenwriter and director).

Temps Ø
Like every year, audiences will be asked to participate by voting for the best feature in the section, which will receive the Temps Ø Audience Award presented by TFO, including $5,000 in cash.

The FNC Lab Feature Film Award and the FNC Lab Short Film Award will be handed out by the FNC Lab jury, made up of Marina Ko

CBC Wins International Emmy

;CBC wins International Emmy Award;
(October 1, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) The CBC News program, the fifth estate has won a 2014 International Emmy® Award for their investigation into the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. Titled Made in Bangladesh, the fifth estate’s Mark Kelley (pictured above) went to Bangladesh after the disaster and tracked down the garment workers who said they were still forced to make clothes in dangerous conditions for Canadian companies. The documentary first aired just over a year ago on Oct. 11, 2013, and drew praise for its investigation into the people behind a global industry of cheap clothes, big money, and huge risks.

“Everyone at the show is so proud of this story,” said Jim Williamson, executive producer of the fifth estate. “It is in the classic fifth estate tradition of strong investigative journalism mixed with compelling storytelling. What happened to the garment workers in Dhaka is unimaginably sad. Our challenge was to make this a story that no one could or should ever forget. The awarding of the Emmy suggests our team succeeded in doing that.”

“the fifth estate continues to push boundaries with its provocative and groundbreaking investigations, and we’re so proud of the team for the important and brave work they do,” said Jennifer McGuire, general manager and editor in chief, CBC News and Centres. “This award is a testament to the priority CBC News places on investigative journalism that makes a difference in Canada and that challenges injustice. The Canadian connection to the Bangladeshi garment industry was an important story, and Mark Kelley and the fifth estate team took big risks making this documentary.”

The International Emmy® Award in the Current Affairs and News category was announced in New York at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Other nominees in the Current Affairs field were from Romania, Argentina, and Hong Kong. International winners were recognized alongside their American news and documentary peers.

For four decades, the fifth estate has been Canada`s premier investigative documentary program, acquainting viewers with a dazzling parade of political leaders, shady characters and ordinary people whose lives were touched by triumph or tragedy. The tradition of provocative and courageous journalism, which began with Adrienne Clarkson, Warner Troyer and Peter Reilly on Sept. 16, 1975, continues unabated with the current team of Bob McKeown, Gillian Findlay and Mark Kelley.

Sea of Trees Wraps for Van Sant

;The Sea of Trees Wraps in Japan;
(October 1, 2014 – Toyko, Japan) Two-time Oscar nominated director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) has wrapped principal photography on The Sea of Trees, which was shot on location in Japan and Massachusetts. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, who picked up an Academy Award® earlier this year for his work in Jean Marc Vallée`s Dallas Buyers Club. Costars include Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (Inception, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Samurai) and two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (The Impossible, 21 Grams, King Kong, Mulholland Drive). The cast also included actors Katie Aselton (star of FX’s The League) and Canadian actor Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black).

The plot focuses on Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) who treks into Aokigahara, known as the The Sea of Trees, a mysterious dense forest at the base of Japan’s Mount Fuji where people go to contemplate life and death. Having found the perfect place to die, Arthur encounters Takumi Nakamura (Watanabe), a Japanese man who has also lost his way. The two men begin a journey of reflection and survival, which affirms Arthur’s will to live and reconnects him to his love with his wife (Watts).

The producers of The Sea of Trees are Gil Netter, nominated for Oscars for Life of Pi, based on the Canadian novel, and The Blind Side, Ken Kao (The Nice Guys, Silence, Rampart, Knight of Cups), Kevin Halloran (Million Dollar Arm, Parental Guidance, Water For Elephants). Also producing are F. Gary Gray, Brian Dobbins, Allen Fischer and Chris Sparling, based on the original screenplay written by Chris Sparling (Buried).

Alex Walton and Ken Kao’s international sales, production and financing company, Bloom, launched and introduced The Sea of Trees to buyers in Cannes, and by the end of the festival had virtually sold out the world. Postproduction work is now underway in Los Angeles.

The Sea of Trees was filmed on location in the Kanto region of Japan, including Tokyo, Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures as well as within Aokigahara (aka The Sea of Trees) located at the foothills of Mt. Fuji in Japan’s Yamanashi prefecture.

Principal photography commenced in Massachusetts in late July on location in the aptly named Purgatory Chasm as well as in Ashland State Park, Blackstone State Park, Douglas State Park, F. Gilbert Hills State Park and the Worcester area. Additional locations included Clark University, Worcester Municipal Airport and One Exchange Place, where the film’s production office was also based. The City of Worcester’s Cultural Development Office, Worcester Police Department, Department of public works and Business Assistance provided local location support for the production.

Gus Van Sant’s creative team on The Sea of Trees includes editor Pietro Scalia who garnered Oscars for JFK and Black Hawk Down and was nominated for Good Will Hunting and Gladiator; director of photography Kasper Tuxen (Beginners); Emmy nominated production designer Alex DiGerlando (Beasts of the Southern Wild, HBO’s True Detective); Oscar nominated costume designer Danny Glicker (Milk, Up In The Air) and makeup department head Felicity Bowring (The Bourne Legacy, The Social Network). The music supervisor for The Sea of Trees is KCRW’s twice Grammy nominated Chris Douridas known in the motion picture industry for his work on Grosse Point Blank, American Beauty, As Good As It Gets, Heat, One Hour Photo, Down With Love, The Girl Next Door, The Chumscrubber, Northern Exposure, Shrek 2, the Austin Powers series and upcoming, Ride.

No release date has been set for The Sea of Trees.

VIFF Impact Awards Coming Oct 4

By Staff

;Mack Furlong;
(September 28, 2014 – Vancouver BC) Vancouver-based Agentic Digital Media, a web development agency, along with Story Money Impact, sponsors of the inaugural VIFF Impact Award, have announced the titles of the first films to compete for this new award. The award will be presented to a Canadian documentary focusing on social issues. This prestigious award consists of a $5,000 cash prize from Agentic, and $5,000 in marketing and strategic in-kind services supplied by Agentic and Story Money Impact.

The six nominated films are The Boy From Geita, Everything Will Be, Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (pictured above) Monsoon, The Price We Pay and The Pristine Coast. These films are screening at VIFF between September 25 ;The Boy from Geita, movie poster;and October 4, 2014, and the winner will be announced at the BC Spotlight Gala on Saturday, October 4 at 6:30pm at the Vancouver Playhouse.

A distinguished jury consisting of Hot Docs programmer and filmmaker Lynne Fernie, documentarian Julia Ivanova (Family Portrait in Black and White) and television news producer David Rummel, will award the prize to the documentary that has the highest potential to stimulate positive social change. A website for the award features exclusive interviews with filmmakers and information about the nominees.

Agentic recognizes the power of storytelling as a tool to generate positive change in the community. “Together,” said Phillip Djwa, president of Agentic, “we are helping the next wave of filmmakers change the world.” Through the sponsorship of the VIFF Impact Award, Agentic aims to support and promote Canadian ‘impact production’: documentary storytelling that is connected to a positive outcome.

“There is otherwise so little support in Canada for this stage of a documentary`s life. Outreach, marketing and audience development are crucial,” said Tracey Friesen, founder of Story Money Impact and initiator of the award. Agentic and Story Money Impact are delighted to have partnered with VIFF, “an organization which believes strongly that cinema has the ability to create conversation and encourage change,” according to Canadian Images Programmer, Terry McEvoy.

Click here for a link to the VIFF website and to other festivals in September 2014.

Palestine Stereo opens TPFF

By Staff

;Mack Furlong;
(September 27, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) The 2014 edition of the Toronto Palestine Film Festival opens today with a screening of the feature Palestine Stereo. This is the follow up film from Palestinian director Rashid Mashawari who was widely acclaimed for his dark comedy Laila’s Birthday. With the news lately seemingly dominated with headlines from the Middle East, the timing seems perfect for this compelling and ironic drama about two brothers on the West Bank who, rendered homeless by an Israeli air strike, hustle odd jobs to raise enough money to emigrate to Canada

After their apartment building in the West Bank is destroyed by an Israeli air strike, brothers Samy (played by Salah Hannoun) and Milad (played by Mahmoud Abou Jazi) — nicknamed “Stereo” — become homeless. They find shelter by living in a tent set up in a nearby yard.
;Palestine Stereo movie poster;
Stereo had been a wedding singer who once held promise. He lost his wife in the shelling. Brother Samy is an electrician who has lost the ability to hear and speak thanks to the impact of the blast. Coming to realize that their future here is bleak, the two men decide their future promises nothing but hopelessness and so they decide to immigrate to Canada, where they imagine and hope they can pursue their dreams.

But nothing is as easy as it seems, and if you have read the news stories lately about the difficulties a Canadian woman married to a Syrian is having trying to return to Canada — she has been told the wait could be as long as two years — the story that unfolds in this fictional film rings true. Samy and “Stereo” discover the application procedure is expensive, far more than they can afford given their circumstances. And so they decide to move to Ramallah, where their sister lives and where there is the opportunity for them to eventually earn enough money to emigrate.

When this film screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, programmer Rasha Salto wrote that “Palestine Stereo is a searing meditation on the significance of homeland and homemaking. Is home the place where one is born and feels bonds of belonging, or is it where one pursues the opportunity to make a life with dignity?

The 2014 Toronto Palestine Film Festival runs until October 3. Click here for a link to the TPFF website and to other festivals in October 2014.

Mack Furlong to Receive John Draine Award

By Staff

;Mack Furlong;
(September 25, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) has announced that Newfoundland actor Mack Furlong will be the recipient of the association`s prestigious John Drainie Award. The award will be presented at a reception in St. John`s on October 15. “It gives me great pleasure to present this honour to Mack Furlong. Like John Drainie, he is an actor and broadcast journalist par excellence,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President.

Downey went on to say, “Mack’s complex radio characters deliver a conscious comedy – they provoke us to laugh and think at the same time. Mack is a rare gem and deserves this national recognition.”

John Drainie was one of Canada’s most well-known and distinguished actors and was described by Orson Welles as one of the greatest radio actors in the world. In Drainie’s fine tradition, Mack Furlong is an acclaimed and passionate performer. Billed as Newfoundland`s “cultural magazine”, Mack starred on the CBC Radio comedy The Great Eastern from 1994 to 1999. Edward Riche, one of the writers on the show, said, “Mack is one the true masters of the radio medium. He’s precisely what the Drainie Award celebrates. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient.”

;Rare Birds, 2001 movie poster;Mack Furlong played Paul Moth on The Great Eastern – the fictional broadcaster whose hearty introductions and stories were performed in a cinéma vérité style within an audio format. Mack is an actor, writer and musician with credits including Rare Birds and Crackie. His beloved character Moth resurfaced for the radio show Sunny Days and Nights in 2004.

Mack lives in St. John`s and is a regular on the CBC Radio talk show, Crosstalk. He claims that his lifelong ability to remember all manner of useless information is just the qualification necessary for a trivia panelist. Mack hosted and produced the CBC Radio program Weekend Arts Magazine off and on since the early ’90s.

Mack’s awards include a CBC Radio Award for Programming Excellence and a Writers Guild of Canada Award for The Great Eastern. He served on the board of directors of the Resource Centre for the Arts, on ACTRA’s National Council and on the board of governors for the Actra Fraternal Benefit Society. He currently sits on the Branch Council of ACTRA Newfoundland and Labrador and is the co-artistic director of Sound Symposium, a bi-annual international celebration of all aspects of sound.

Created in 1968, two years after Drainie’s death, the award has been bestowed to an illustrious list of past recipients including Barbara Budd, Pierre Berton, Barbara Frum, Vicki Gabereau, Peter Gzowski, Wendy Mesley, Mavor Moore, Knowlton Nash, Len Peterson, Gordon Pinsent, Shelagh Rogers, Lister Sinclair, David Suzuki, Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster. ACTRA is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 22,000 members across Canada..

Toronto Theatres Book Review

Book Review by Ralph Lucas, Publisher

(September 22, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) The trouble with being fascinated about any subject is the amount of detail involved in anything of real interest. Take Canadian movies, for example. Among the items in our ever-growing Northernstars Collection is an incomplete set of yearbooks compiled from information in the publication Film Weekly. In the 1952-53 edition, for example, contents range from a multi-page article about the Ouimet theatres in Québec, to full-page ads for Famous Players or Simplex Projectors to industry listings for production companies like Frontier Film on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal or Capital Film Productions on the Queensway in Toronto, which in a full page ad lists Johnny Wayne and Frank Shutter as Vice-Presidents of the company. Each yearbook also lists, with address, every cinema in Canada by province and city. In the 1952-53 edition, there were 126 theatres in Toronto, Ontario. Which brings me to Doug Taylor`s marvelous book.

Toronto Theatres and The Golden Age of the Silver Screen, published by The History Press, is a must have addition to your library no matter if your interest in film ranges from casual filmgoer to seasoned filmmaker. The book, in its 160 pages, chronicles the rise of the film industry from its very first venue to the most recent developments ;Toronto Theatres book cover;including the change of operators from AMC to Complex at Yonge Dundas Square to the opening of the city`s newest theatres, those located within the TIFF Bell Light box.

Back in 1890 there was a wonderful spot in downtown Toronto known as Robertson`s Muse at the corner of Yon ge and Adelaide Street East. It offered a wide variety of exhibits including caged wild animals on its rooftop. Six years later, on the precise date of August 31, 1896, the Muse began showing “moving pictures,” and the movie exhibition business in Toronto was born. Using Edison`s Vita graph projector, chances are one of the films shown at the Muse was a clip of Canadian-born actress May Irwin, which was shot by an Edison crew in New York. Movie theatres as we would recognize them didn’t begin to appear until the 1910s.

Taylor`s book is wonderfully arranged. In addition to the chronological order of the book, no Toronto neighbourhood is forgotten. Filled with photos including some wonderful interior shots of movie palaces like Shea`s Hippodrome or the Tivoli or The Pantages, Toronto Theatres captures that Golden Age of luxury and glamour.

One of the most glamorous of the movie palaces was the Loews’ Uptown. It contained 2800 seats when it opened and Marcus Lowe himself came to Toronto in 1920 to attend the opening. While a Vice-President at Toronto`s CFRB radio, I came across the original program for a gala live performance that would be broadcast from the stage of the Lowe`s Uptown as the station signed-on for the very first time in 1927. When the station was celebrating its 60th anniversary in 1987, I wanted to restage that opening event complete with live performances from so many of the musical artists CFRB had helped along the way. But I was voted down. We ended up doing a simple broadcast from the station`s first studios, now a restaurant on Jarvis Street. No glamour or gala there.

This is Doug Taylor`s seventh book about Toronto. He has researched, studied and taught the history of Toronto for several decades. Now retired, Toronto Theatres and The Golden Age of the Silver Screen shows the care that has gone into pulling this excellent resource together. The information is not so detailed as to be overpowering, yet there is enough to make the book both a wonderful journey down memory lane and an easy read. Filled with names most people would recognize, from Mary Pickford to Sonja Henie to Garth Drabinsky, Toronto Theatres and The Golden Age of the Silver Screen can be purchased online from a number of sources. We first noticed the book on the Toronto Star`s online store. With the holidays and gift-giving season just beginning, this would make a wonderful gift for cinephiles or history buffs no matter where they may live.

Mommy Delivers Solid Numbers

;Mommy enjots great opening weekend;
(September 23, 2014 – Montréal, Québec) Xavier Dolan`s new film, Mommy, delivered what can only be called spectacular box office figures for its opening weekend in Quebec. Perhaps it was helped by the announcement that the film is Canada`s official entry for a Best Foreign Language Oscar® as announced by Telefilm Canada. Perhaps it was boosted by great word of mouth following a preview screening which ended with a standing ovation for the film at this city`s Place des arts. No matter the driving force, the film on its own is clearly a hit.

It helps to take a look at Dolan`s previous box office record to get a real idea of how significant Mommy’s opening take really is.
;Mommy, 2014 movie poster;
No Dolan film has made more than a million dollars during its entire theatrical run. In fact, following his debut feature, J’ai tué ma mere, box office receipts for his three subsequent feature films all showed declining returns. Here`s a quick breakdown:

J’ai tué ma mere: $995,196.00
Les amours imaginaires: $507,955
Laurence Anyways: $428,922
Tom à la ferme: $338,965

By comparison, Mommy raked in a quite remarkable $466,766 for its box office debut.

This could be the film that saves the Québec box office, even if admittedly, that`s a bit of an exaggeration. The market share for Quebec films this summer has reached 5.8%, which is one of the worst results of the last 10 years. That said, it is a small improvement compared to 2012 (5.2 %) and 2013 ( 5.6%). Beyond market share there`s cold hard numbers. Some of Québec`s best films made a mere pittance at the box office when their entire take is compared to Mommy.

For example, the last film to be selected as Canada`s official entry at the Academy Awards® was Gabrielle. It`s entire box office take was a slim $171,698. The last film in the Les Boys series, Il était une fois les Boys returned $254,454. The underworld film Omertà produced a number that approaches Mommy with its take of $464,245. But that was for its entire run. Mommy did better than that over just a few days.

Also see: Mommy Gets Oscar® Push

Mommy Gets Oscar® Push

By Staff

(September 19, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) As reported by Northernstars.ca, when Xavier Dolan`s new film Mommy had a preview screening at Montréal`s Place des Arts a week before its official opening in Québec, there was a standing ovation when the film ended. That sort of response has been seen at numerous screenings including a lengthy standing ovation when it premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May and went on to share a jury prize. Yesterday, Telefilm Canada, which chairs the pan-Canadian Oscar® selection committee, announced that Mommy had been selected to represent Canada for consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 87th Academy Awards, to be held in Hollywood on February 22, 2015.

“For the last several years, Canadian cinema has made waves at the Oscars with strong and audacious films,” said Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada. “The 2015 Academy Awards is just as promising because the Oscar selection committee has chosen Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, which has had a brilliant career since its release. Canada has had five films in nomination for the Best Foreign Language Oscar in five years, which bodes well for Mommy, a work that has profoundly moved Canadian and international audiences. There’s no question that members of the Academy will be moved by the film as well.”
;MOmmy, 2014 movie poster;
Nancy Grant, the film’s producer at Metafilms, added: “We are honoured and proud to represent Canada in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race. We have high expectations for Mommy and we hope that it goes all the way.”

Mommy has been a favourite of audiences and critics and has already been sold for distribution to more than 50 countries as it continues to pursue its career on the festival circuit. The film was hailed at a number of international festivals, including Karlovy Vary, Melbourne, Sydney, Angoulême and Telluride, before its Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. Mommy is also screening at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, which opens yesterday, along with more than 15 festivals in the next two months.

Mommy is a game-changer for a career that has been marked by passion, daring and creativity since its debut. From I Killed My Mother (J’ai tué ma mère) in 2009, which was submitted to the Academy by Canada for the Oscars in 2010, Heartbeats (Les Amours imaginaires) in 2010, Laurence Anyways in 2012 and Tom at the Farm (Tom à la ferme) in 2013, and now to Mommy, Xavier Dolan’s work has spoken with a singular and compelling voice. At the young age of 25, Dolan’s unique talent has been recognized by over 45 Canadian and international awards.

Telefilm coordinates and chairs the pan-Canadian Oscar selection committee, which comprises 23 voting members from Canada’s film industry who represent major Canadian government agencies and national film industry associations. In 2013, a record 76 countries submitted a film for consideration as a possible nominee in the Best Foreign Language Film category to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Only one film per country is accepted, and the selected film must have been produced outside the United States, be primarily in a language other than English, and have been shown in a movie theatre for at least seven consecutive days in its country of origin between October 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014. A shortlist of nine films will be announced early January 2015, and on January 15, 2015, the Academy will subsequently announce the five films to be nominated in the category.

Click here to read more about Canadians and the Oscar. Click on the poster to watch a QuickTime movie trailer for Mommy, which is now playing in Québec.

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines…

By Staff

(September 18, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) While the film festival season rages on, the calendar for the entire film industry seems to pick up at this time of year. Within a few weeks we’ll morph from festivals to award shows and so the calls for entries have begun. Producers, production companies, indies and distributors are all busy figuring out their submission budgets and timetables and one small delay can mean nothing but disappointment.

Two of the biggies in the industry are vying for attention at this time, both for events that happen in 2015. First, time is rapidly running out to enter your film for consideration for the Canadian Screen Awards. The deadline is 11:59PM on October 10. Of course that`s a Friday and you would think that a weekend shouldn’t make a difference but it does. Counting today you have 23 days to submit your film.
;Canadian Screen Award;
THis deadline applies to Dramatic Feature Films and Theatrical Shorts & Documentaries that were released and screened in the 2014 calendar year. That is, between January 1st and December 31st, 2014. Early in January 2015 the various nominating committees will gather and the Academy expects to announce the list of nominees on January 13. Online voting will begin on January 20 and run until February 8. The 3rd annual Canadian Screen Awards kicks off on February 23rd and culminates with the Broadcast Gala on March 1st.

All the information is available online, including technical details and the cost for submitting your film. It may be a bit early, but “break a leg” as they say from all of us at Northernstars. We look forward to covering the event again next year.

If the Canadian Screen Awards are the highlight of the Canadian entertainment industry, Hot Docs has carved out its special niche to become the most important documentary festival in North America if not the world. Next year`s festival opens on April 23 and submissions to the festival are open now. To encourage early entry Hot Docs offers filmmakers a sliding scale that sees the fee for entering a short (up to 29 minutes) go from $25 if the submission arrives by November 19, which is the Early Bird date, to twice that, $50, if you wait until the late deadline of January 7. Feature and mid-length documentaries have an Early Bird submission fee of $50 which rises to $100 for the official deadline of December 10 and rises again to $150 for the Late Deadline.

The following rules apply to all submissions:

It must have been completed after January 1, 2014;
It must qualify to be at least a Toronto premiere (i.e. cannot have been screened publicly in Toronto prior to the 2015 Festival, including broadcast versions of any length);
It must be in English, subtitled in English or English versioned (non-English language films may be submitted with an English transcript; however, if selected for Hot Docs, it must be subtitled or dubbed into English at the applicant’s expense);
It may not have submitted to the Festival previously in any stage of completion (i.e. films that were submitted as rough cuts will not be reconsidered

There is more information online if you’re thinking about submitting to the 2015 Hot Docs festival.