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The Young Messiah

The Young Messiah, movie poster
Poster for The Young Messiah courtesy of Entertainment One.

The Little Prince

The Little Prince, movie poster
Poster for The Little Prince courtesy of Entertainment One.

106 minutes – Family, animation
Release date: February 12 (Montreal)
Canadian distributor: Entertainment One

Based on the classic French novel Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, in this first-ever animated feature film adaptation of the classic novel a little girl (Mackenzie Foy) lives in a very grown-up world with her mother (Rachel McAdams), who tries to make sure she is prepared for it. Her eccentric, kind‐hearted neighbor, The Aviator (Jeff Bridges), introduces the girl to an extraordinary world that he discovered long ago, where anything is possible. The world of The Little Prince (Riley Osborne). In the universe of The Little Prince, the little girl goes on a magical journey into her own imagination, where she rediscovers her childhood and learns that what matters most are human connections and the things that can only be seen with the heart.

Voices include Rachel McAdams, Mackenzie Foy, Jeff Bridges, Riley Osborne, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Benicio Del Toro, Paul Giamatti, Ricky Gervais, Albert Brooks, Bud Cort


Who Has Seen the Wind – Review

Who Has Seen the Wind

With the release in 1977 of Why Shoot the Teacher and Who Has Seen the Wind, our Canadian West was well represented last year and this not only with reasonably distinguished films but with reasonably interesting questions as well. Both films, both set in the Prairies in the Thirties, depict stages in the process of youth growing up: in Teacher, an adolescent maturing into manhood; in Who Has Seen the Wind, a young boy struggling towards consciousness. In order to achieve his end, Brian O’Connal (Brian Painchaud), the emerging consciousness of Who must engage in reconciling the world of absolute sensation with his first hazy glimmerings of conscious thought. Who Has Seen the Wind’s interrogative title is reflected throughout the structure of the film as Brian’s development follows a progression of action-question-reflection. Brian develops by confronting death, first of a kitten, then of a gopher, finally of his father (Gordon Pinsent). Death, he learns, is part of the cycle of life, and nature is the ultimate arbiter of all. You can’t have life without death, his father tells Brian at one point. The fact of death enforces on Brian an awareness of the value, the mystery, the sacredness of life. There is a religious aspect to the film—religious in the secular sense of the striving of the human spirit for communion with a force outside of and greater than itself—as there is in the novel, but W.O. Mitchell’s novel, upon which the film is based, is considerably more successful than the film in this respect.

Until the release of the film I had never troubled to read Mitchell’s book. When a cover blurb describes its contents as the “ageless story of childhood told with tenderness and humour and without sentimentality,” it is usually a fairly safe bet to assume that those selfsame contents will ooze enough sentimentality to scare off all but the most hardened Pollyannas. This cover, however, despite its deathless blurbese, turned out to be surprisingly accurate. Who Has Seen the Wind is one of those books that seems to have obtained virtually a supra-literary dimension; such books are read by one and all, aged and young alike, revered by their devotees, and respected by their critics, generation upon generation, until they assume almost the stature of Holy Writ for a particular audience. Given the quality of tbe novel, as well as its wide and devoted readership, it comes as rather a disappointment to see how indifferently the movie has treated its source material. The movie has ignored all that is best in the novel, and without having added any improvements as compensation.

Perhaps the greatest loss in transcribing the book onto film was the loss of wonder, Brian’s perpetual wonder, the open reverence with which he greets all things of man and nature. Still, when all is said, the film does manage to gather in isolated episodes an impressive power, a feeling for Life—one wants to capitalize the word as an abstraction–even while inadequately dramatizing actual details of living, so that one tends to look charitably on its manifold failings. Manifold the failings are, however, and should not be ignored entirely. They range from the comparatively minor: for example, the Young Ben (Doug Junor) is made to walk with a bent head, cast·down eyes, beleaguered slouch, indicative of surrender to the forces that cage him. He is beleaguered, but he is aIso independent, defiant, and proud, and his walk should show these characteristics. All hunched over the Young Ben looks like a schlep, which should hardly be the appearance of one of the movie’s positive moral poles. Mitchell probably thought this detail was important, too. One of the fIrst facts he provides about the Young Ben is that “his walk was smooth.”

To the major: the intended patterns of the film are clear enough, but are infrequently realized. The forces of the Prairie are arrayed against the forces of the town, with the extremes of each being embodied in the persons of the Ben crose Perrer) and Saint Sammy of the Prairie, and Reverend Powelly and Mrs. Abercrombie of the town; wild and natural forces versus cruel and vindictive, though civilized, forces, respectively. Nearer the centre lie the Young Ben, the true child of nature, and Jim Digby, who is kindly and righteous, accepting of the mysterious and unknown but striving to know and understand in any case. At the still centre is Brian, reconciling the oppositions represented at their best by the Young Ben and Digby. The pattern has a few more complications, but it is basically that, crude though it may be and without a soupçon of subtlety.

The trouble is, when the extremes are vanquished as effortlessly as they are, one wonders what all the fuss has been about. Any conflict that has arisen was evidently due not to the strength of the opposing forces but to the weakness of everyone else. And weak characters seldom provide the worthiest role models for a developing consciousness. In accordance with its questioning nature, the film forces the viewer to keep asking himself questions long after he has left the theatre. Unfortunately, the questions the viewer is left with are not the loftiest sort, and answering them is only an attempt to tie up annoying loose ends. We have examples:

Who Has Seen the Wind is a tale about a young boy’s education. Yet from the start of the film to the end, Brian’s school class continues to read the same trite story about an acorn. How much of the school term has in fact elapsed? Is this a typical Prairie education?

What fInally happens between Miss Thompson and Mr. Digby?

Was Saint Sammy going to set his Clydes free following the wind storm?

Why do we always see Mrs. Abercrombie with Reverend Powelly? Where is Mr. Abercrombie? Are the Mrs. and the Rev. having an affair? Is religion to be construed in this instance as sublimated sex?

Why is Ab so upset about Brian’s cursing?

Who has seen the wind?

Also see: The cast and crew of Who Has Seen the Wind.

Northernstars logo imageThis review by Gary J. McCallum, a Toronto freelance writer, was originally published in Take One magazine. Northernstars.ca acquired the digital archives of Take One in 2007.

Hot Docs Announces 2016 CrossCurrents Funding

(February 10, 2016 – Toronto, ON) Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the R & M Lang Foundation have announced that When the Dust Settles, a new film to be directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, has been chosen to receive a $10,000 production grant from the CrossCurrents Doc Fund in its third round of disbursements. Established in November of 2013, this international production fund aims to support short and mid-length documentaries from emerging filmmakers working within communities whose perspectives have been historically underrepresented or marginalized.

“We are honoured to celebrate and award Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, an incredibly talented female filmmaker whose work embodies the spirit of the CrossCurrents Doc Fund,” said Hot Docs industry programs director Elizabeth Radshaw.

“We’re delighted to support Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ film When the Dust Settles,” said Robert Lang, Toronto-based documentary filmmaker and chair of the R & M Lang Foundation. “The film’s inside perspective, exploring how a First Nations community tries to move on from trauma and

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers
addiction through traditional healing will, we hope, be inspiring and enlightening.”

The film is about something that’s been in the news far too often lately, particularly the death count. It’s about Fentanyl, an opiate fifty times stronger than heroin, claimed 20 lives on the Blood Reserve in 2014, leading tribal authorities to declare a state of emergency. When the Dust Settles is the story of one community’s response to crisis and the long road forward.

The CrossCurrents Doc Fund was generously established by the R & M Lang Foundation and is administered by Hot Docs. Each year, the Fund provides one successful applicant with a grant of $10,000. In addition to the production grant, When the Dust Settles director Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers will receive a Hot Docs Fellowship, which includes travel, accommodation, and accreditation to the annual Hot Docs Festival and enrollment in the Doc Accelerator program and mentorship initiatives.

Eligible projects were considered by the CrossCurrents Doc Fund Selection Committee, which included: Robert Lang, president and executive producer, Kensington Communications; Anjali Nayar, filmmaker, Ink & Pepper Productions; Elizabeth Radshaw, industry programs director, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival; and Heidi Tao Yang, industry programmer: funds and Deal Maker, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

Hot Docs is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market. It will present its 23rd annual edition from April 28 – May 8, 2016.

O’Hara, Levy Get Legacy Awards

(February 9, 2016 – Toronto, ON) Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara have been named recipients of the prestigious Academy Legacy Award, given for unflagging dedication in bringing international acclaim to Canadian talent in film, television or digital media, it was announced by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

“With decades of brilliant work behind them and many more to come, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara stand among the world’s finest comic actors,” said Academy Chair Martin Katz. “Though they are not an official duo, they have played together so often and so well, that we thought it only fitting to honour them together.”

The Academy Legacy Award, a Canadian Screen Award, will be presented at An Evening with Canada’s Stars, the annual red carpet event during awards season in Los Angeles to celebrate excellence in Canadian film, television & digital media. Co-hosted by the Academy, Telefilm Canada and the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles, the 2016 An Evening with Canada’s Stars will be at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on February 25.

Catherine O’Hara is a prolific, multi-award winning actress, writer, and comedian whose film credits include lead and supporting roles in Beetlejuice, Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, After Hours, Heartburn, The Life Before This, Penelope, Away We Go, Where the Wild Things Are, A.C.O.D., The Right Kind of Wrong, and many more. She has collaborated with Christopher Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy four times on the critically acclaimed mockumentary films Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. Her performance in the latter won her the 2007 National Board of Review Award for Supporting Actress. O’Hara has just finished wrapping season two of the hit CBC series Schitt’s Creek alongside Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, and Chris Elliott.

Eugene Levy has appeared in more than 60 motion pictures to date, seven of which having topped the $100M mark. His box-office success in films like Bringing Down the House, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and Father of the Bride Part II have established him as one of Hollywood’s most popular comedic actors. But it was the role of Jim’s Dad in the American Pie franchise that cemented his reputation as America’s favourite dad. His next major film role is the voice of Dory’s Dad in the Disney Pixar feature Finding Dory with Ellen DeGeneres.

In 2013, Levy formed Not A Real Company Productions (with his son Daniel Levy and principals Andrew Barnsley and Fred Levy) to produce Schitt’s Creek, a television series for CBC/ITV he co-created, co-executive produces, and co-stars in with Daniel Levy. The single-camera, character-driven comedy also stars Catherine O’Hara and Chris Elliott.

Level 16 This Summer

(February 9, 2016 – Toronto, ON) Markham Street Films has announced that rising stars Devery Jacobs (Rhymes for Young Ghouls) and Imogen Waterhouse (Nocturnal Animals), are on board to star in Level 16, a new Young Adult thriller from the Toronto-based production company. Devery and Imogen will join Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries, War for the Planet of the Apes), who will play the role of Ms. Brixil, the head of The Vestalis Academy, the boarding school at the centre of the film. Level 16 will start production this summer with screenplay and direction by Danishka Esterhazy.

“Devery and Imogen are my dream cast for Level 16”, said Esterhazy, pictured above. “They are intelligent and deeply talented young actors. Passionate and professional. Each has her own unique style and I can’t wait to see them work together as they bring to life our lead characters Vivien and Sophia. ”

In Level 16, Devery Jacobs plays 16 year old Vivien, trapped in The Vestalis Academy, a prison like boarding school, keeping to herself and sticking her head out for no one. Until she is reunited with Sophia, played by Imogen Waterhouse, the former friend who betrayed her. Together the jacobs_kawennahere-deverygirls embark on a dangerous search to uncover the horrifying truth behind their imprisonment. Soon running for their lives, the girls must save themselves or die trying.

British-born Imogen Waterhouse has quickly become a familiar face in the UK as a result of her impressive modelling career, having already graced the cover of Tatler and given interviews to Vogue. She studied at the Oxford School of Drama and has been creating a buzz among casting agents on both sides of the ocean. Listed as a “Rising Star of British Cinema” by the Daily Mail, her career is about to explode. She will soon be seen in the new Tom Ford feature Nocturnal Animals.

Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs exploded onto the Canadian film scene with her riveting lead performance in the award-winning feature film Rhymes for Young Ghouls – which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and earned Jacobs a nomination for Best Actress at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. She has also appeared in the films Exploding Sun, alongside Julia Ormond and South of the Moon. Devery’s upcoming projects include a leading role in the feature film, The Sun at Midnight and the supporting role of Andrea in The Land of Rock and Gold.

Launched in February of 2002 by Judy Holm and Michael McNamara, the award-winning Markham Street Films makes film and video projects for all media.

Who’s Attending TAAFI?

(February 8, 2016 – Toronto, ON) If you love animation, or work or study animation, TAAFI is the place to be in early 2016. TAAFI is the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International. This year the festival runs from April 22 to the 24 at the Waterfront Campus of George Brown College and the list of guests keeps getting better and better.

There will be more announcements in the near future, but this is what we know now:

Eric Goldberg is best-known for his work with Walt Disney Animation Studios: Supervising Animator of the Genie in Aladdin, Phil in Hercules, and Louis, the trumpet-playing alligator in The Princess and the Frog. Eric also co-directed Pocahontas, and directed Rhapsody in Blue and Carnival of the Animals (FANTASIA/2000). He was recently Head of 2-D Animation on the Oscar-nominated Mickey short, Get a Horse.

Marv Newland made the 90 second long Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969). He continues making animated shorts with his company, International Rocketship Limited and the NFB. Titles include: ANIJAM (1984), Black Hula (1988), Pink Komkommer (1991), Postalolio (2008), CMYK (2011). In 1995 he won the Annecy Animation Festival grand prix for the 30 minute long Gary Larson’s Tales From The Far Side. He has designed and directed tv commercials and tv series.

Audu Paden has, over a thirty year career, produced and directed over 200 hours of television programming and fifteen CGI features. He has received the Peabody Award, the Media Access Award, a Gemini Award and two Daytime Emmys. Credits include TAAFI2016-psoterAnimaniacs and Monster High. Raised in West Africa and the United States, he encourages the rumour that he was raised by apes. He went on to study theater at Northwestern University and film at UCLA.

Michael Rianda is best known as creative director on Gravity Falls on Disney TV. He is currently developing a feature at Sony Animation. He got his start at age 11 when he faced a hard truth: he was a loser that wore sweatpants everyday. To escape the mockery of his classmates, he exploited his only two marginal skills; making bad jokes and drawing. This led him to a job in animation. He loves cartoons more than any grown man should.

Stevie Vallance is a voice-over artist. She has extensive experience as an Actor and is an Emmy Award-winning Voice-Director. For 25 yrs Stevie Vallance infused life and personality into characters on thousands of animated productions. Her acting, casting and directing credits include Madeline, Reboot, The Ropers, Care Bears, Ghost Busters, Donkey Kong and ZoobileeZoo. Vallance is currently the Voice Director on Mysticons for CORUS.

Michel Gagné continues to add to his body of work which includes animation and VFX on over 20 feature films (including Iron Giant and Ratatouille). He has won a BAFTA, an Annie, and has received numerous prizes and nominations from the animation, video game and comics industries. He has also authored several books, including two graphic novels with Image Comics (The Saga of Rex, ZED: A Cosmic Tale) and one Eisner Nominated book for Fantagraphics.

Of special interest to fans of Hanna-Barbera cartoons will be the appearance of “The Three Tooners” as TAAFI is calling them. While all three men worked at Hanna-Barbera it’s their much broader careers that should be of interest, including work on some of the most iconic Disney animation titles.

Willie Ito is an American writer, animator and illustrator known for his work with Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros, Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng. His career started at Disney working on the iconic spaghetti kissing scene on Lady and the Tramp. He then worked at Hanna-Barbera on The Flintstones and Yogi Bear. Later he worked at Warner Bros on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show. Willie career as an animator/cartoonist spans nearly 60 years.

Tony Benedict is an American film producer, director, writer and storyboard artist known for his work with Walt Disney Productions, Hanna-Barbera, Friz Frelong, Warner Bros and Marvel Films Animation. For the duration of Tony’s career he has worked on many projects such as Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmations, Mister Magoo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, A Yellowstone Christmas, Santa and the Three Bears, Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

Jerry Eisenberg is an American television producer, show creator, animator, storyboard artist and character designer known for his work with Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears Productions, Chuck Jones, Warner Bros, Marvel Films and Jim Henson Co. Throughout Jerry’s career he has worked on many projects including Fangface, The Plastic Man and Friends Show, Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, Muppet Babies, Dilbert, Tom and Jerry Kids and Johnny Bravo.

There’s much more information on the TAAFI website including a background piece on how the 2016 TAAFI poster was created. Passes to attend the April festival go on sale on February 22.


119 minutes – Drama
Language: French
Release date: April 17, 2015
DVD release date: July 28, 2015
Canadian Distributor: Christal Films

Set in the city of Montreal in the spring of 1966, 16-year-old Jean Corbo is torn between two loyalties. Born to a Canadian mother and an Italian immigrant father, he lives in the suburb of the Town of Mount Royal. When his brother gets involved with a separatist political party, Jean starts to grow aware of the realities of life for Quebec’s francophones. After making friends with Julie and François, he meets members of an underground violent revolutionary group, the FLQ, the Front de libération du Québec.. On July 14, the group assigns him a task: planting a bomb in the Dominion Textile factory. Corbo, inspired by a true story, is a gripping chronicle of the origins of the FLQ in the decade preceding the 1970 October Crisis.

Production still and poster courtesy of Christal Films.

Corbo, 2015 movie poster.



Félize Frappier

Executive Producer:

Roger Frappier

Associate Producer:

Sylvie Lacoste


Mathieu Denis


Mathieu Denis


Steve Asselin


Nicolas Roy


Olivier Alary

Production Designer:

Eric Barbeau

Art Director:

Eric Barbeau

Costume Designer:

Judy Jonker

Cast: Roles:

Anthony Therrien
Antoine L’Écuyer
Karelle Tremblay
Tony Nardi
Marie Brassard
Jean-François Pronovost
Dino Tavarone
Simon Pigeon
Laurent-Christophe de Ruelle
Francis Ducharme
Maxime Mailloux
Jean François Poulin
Stéphane Demers
Franco Montesano
Stéphanie Arav Clocchiatti

Jean Corbo
Nicola Corbo
Mignonne Corbo
Jean’s Brother
Achille Corbo
Professeur Lacasse

Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr

80 minutes – Documentary
Canadian release date: February 19, 2016 (Toronto)
Canadian distributor: White Pine Pictures

This documentary takes a look at Omar Khadr, a Canadian with extremist parents who was 15 when he was accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan. He was caught and subsequently detained at Guantanamo Bay for the next 10 years. He was then sentenced to an additional eight years after being transferred to the United States, but was released on bail in May 2015 under strict conditions. This documentary gives Omar the opportunity to tell his story, in his own words.



Peter Raymont
Patrick Reed
Michelle Shephard


Patrick Reed
Michelle Shephard

Jamie M. Dagg Gets Jutra Award for River

(February 4, 2016 – Toronto, ON) Writer-director Jamie M. Dagg has won the Academy’s Claude Jutra Award, sponsored by Telefilm Canada, for his feature film, River, it was announced today by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. It will be presented at the Canadian Screen Awards on March 13, 2016.

“Jamie M. Dagg’s command of the complex moral story and landscape in River surpasses what we normally see from debutant directors,” said Academy Chair Martin Katz. “He is well-deserving of the Claude Jutra Award.”

Jamie M. Dagg’s first film, Waiting, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005 and was selected for TIFF’s 2006 Short Film Showcase. His second short, Sunday, premiered at the festival in 2008.

In River, Rossif Sutherland plays a volunteer doctor in Laos who becomes a fugitive after he intervenes in the sexual assault of a young woman. When the assailant’s body is pulled from the Mekong River, things quickly spiral out of control.

Rossif Sutherland received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for his lead performance in River with a gripping performance that carries the audience across Laos and into the chaos that shows how an attempt to do the right thing can destroy a man’s life.

River will be released in select theatres by Elevation Pictures on March 4.

Established in 1993 in honour of the late Quebec filmmaker Claude Jutra who directed the landmark Canadian classic Mon Oncle Antoine, his namesake award celebrates the outstanding debut of a first-time filmmaker. The Academy’s Claude Jutra Award winner is selected by a jury of Canadian filmmakers. The award is sponsored by Telefilm Canada. Images courtesy of Elevation Pictures.

Jamie M. Dagg


Jamie M. Dagg’s first film, Waiting, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005 and was selected for TIFF’s 2006 Short Film Showcase. His second short, Sunday, premiered at the festival in 2008. Both films went on to screen at festivals worldwide. Dagg has directed a number of music videos for artists such as Broken Social Scene, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Bedouin Soundclash. In 2010 he was selected to participate in TIFF’s Talent Lab. He was also a recipient of TIFF’s Irving Avrich Fund in 2006 and 2007. Dagg’s first feature film, River, premiered TIFF in 2015. It won the Borsos Awards for Best Canadian Feature, Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Whistler Film Festival. In February of 2016 it was announced that he would receive the Jutra Award for Best First Feature at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards.

We list his credits as a Director first.

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

Waiting (2005, short)
Sunday (2008, short)

River (2015)
Sweet Virginia (2017)

TV Series:
Punisher (2019)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Waiting (2005, short)
Sunday (2008, short)

River (2015)

Credits as a Producer:
Waiting (2005, short)
Sunday (2008, short)

River (2015)

Poster for River courtesy of Elevation Pictures.
Poster for River courtesy of Elevation Pictures.


88 minutes – Thriller
Language: English
Canadian release date: March 4, 2016
Canadian distributor: Elevation Pictures

John Lake (Rossif Sutherland) is an American doctor working as a volunteer medic for an NGO in a village in southern Laos. He comes across a woman being sexually assaulted as he makes his way home one evening. He intervenes and kills the perpetrator. When the man’s body is pulled from the river the next day, John realizes the evidence points to him and not wanting to find out what prison is like in Laos, he goes on the run, hoping to get to the U.S. Embassy before he’s caught by the local authorities.
It was announced in early February 2016 that writer-director Jamie M. Dagg would receive the coveted Jutra Award for Best First Feature at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards.

River, movie poster.



Mattie Do (Laos)
Nick Sorbara

Executive Producer:

Todd Brown
Jai Khanna
Chris Lowenstein
David Miller
Naveen Prasad
Anousone Sirisackda (Laos)
Nick Sorbara
Sanzhar Sultanov


Jamie M. Dagg
Douangmany Soliphanh (Laos)
Marc Swenker

Line Producer:

Georg Peter Mueller (Thailand)


Jamie M. Dagg


Jamie M. Dagg


Adam Marsden


Duff Smith

Production Designer:

Courtney Stockstad

Costume Designer:

Jessica Albano

Cast: Roles:

Rossif Sutherland
Douangmany Soliphanh
Sara Botsford
Ted Atherton
David Soncin
Aidan Gillett
Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy
Karen Glave
Vithaya Pansringarm
Amphaiphun Phommapunya
Naliphone Siviengxay

John Lake
Dr. Stephanie Novella
Patrick Reardon
Lao Police Captain
Beverly Hartwick
Bungalow Proprietor

Brooklyn Tops Canadian Box Office

Brooklyn, movie, still,
Brooklyn movie still. Courtesy of Mongrel Media. Photo by Kerry Brown.

(February 4, 2016 – Toronto, ON) This may get a little confusing given the fact that just two days ago we reported that the animated feature Snowtime! would receive the Golden Screen Award as the Canadian film that had the biggest box in 2015. Today comes the news that the Ireland-Canada co-pro Brooklyn has laid claim to being the highest grossing film with a take of $4 million at the Canadian box office, so far. Snowtime! earned $3,359,425 nationwide in 2015. So what gives?

It all depends on how you look at the calendar. The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which runs the Canadian Screen Awards, measures box office returns within the confines of a strict calendar year. From January 1st to December 31st and within those rules Snowtime! is the winner. Brooklyn’s returns are being measured from the day it opened until the most recent information, beginning with its initial release on November 20th in just two theatres, one in Toronto and one in Vancouver.

Brooklyn poster courtesy of Mongrel Media
Brooklyn poster courtesy of Mongrel Media
Today Brooklyn is on 122 screens across the country and has earned three Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan) and Best Adapted Screenplay for Nick Hornby.

“We are thrilled to see a Canadian film achieve such remarkable success. Canadian audiences have fallen madly in love with Saoirse Ronan’s character because she represents so many of us who have immigrated to Canada. The film lovingly captures the pull of the home left behind and the prospects of a bright future in a new country,” said Hussain Amarshi, President of Canadian distributor Mongrel Media.

In fact audiences are still flocking to see this film about a young Irish woman (Saoirse Ronan) who is torn between two countries and two men (Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson) when she moves from a small town in Ireland to Brooklyn in the 1950s. The film was partially shot in Montreal, standing in for Brooklyn.

“The tremendous work of the Montreal crew paid off and we are excited that Canadian audiences have embraced the film. It’s a privilege to be part of such a great film,” added Pierre Even and Marie-Claude Poulin from Canadian co-producer, Item 7.

The film was also partially shot in Enniscorthy, Ireland (close to where Ronan grew up). The film is directed by Ireland’s John Crowley (Boy A) and adapted by Nick Hornby (An Education) from Colin Tóibín’s bestseller. Also starring are Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters and a small handful of Canadian actors including Jessica Paré. The film was produced by Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, and co-produced by Montreal’s Even and Poulin.

Brooklyn had its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where it was picked up by Fox Searchlight for U.S. distribution. Mongrel Media had previously acquired the film at the script stage.

La Grande Séduction – 2003

108 minutes – Comedy
Language: French
Release date: July 11, 2003
Canadian distributor: Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm

Also released in English as Seducing Doctor Lewis, this film tells the story of a resident of the tiny port village of Sainte-Marie-La-Mauderne, Germain, who tries to convince a multinational corporation to set up a factory on the outskirts of town. Once a fishing port, Sainte-Marie-La-Mauderne has fallen on hard times and most of its residents are now unemployed. In order to meet the multinational’s insurance requirements, Germain must persuade a doctor to set up practice in the village. Led by Germain, the 150 villagers do everything in their power to convince a young doctor to settle in the community. As they come closer and closer to their goal, and acknowledging that, in their relationship with the doctor, they have walked a fine line between persuasion and lying, Germain and the other villagers find themselves having to choose between their factory and their integrity as a community.

La grande seduction, movie, poster,



Roger Frappier
Luc Vandal


Jean-François Pouliot


Ken Scott


Allen Smith


Dominique Fortin


Jean-Marie Benoît

Cast: Roles:

Raymond Bouchard
David Boutin
Bruno Blanchet
Pierre Collin
Benoît Brière
Lucie Laurier
Rita Lafontaine
Gilles Pelletier
Donald Pilon
Clémence DesRochers
Réal Bossé
Denis Houle
Guy-Daniel Tremblay
Caroline Néron
Roc LaFortune

Germain Lesage
Christopher Lewis
Steve Laurin
Yvon Brunet
Henri Giroux
Eve Beauchemin
Helene Lesage
Alphonse Pinsonneault
Monsieur Dupre
Clothilde Brunet
Denis Lacoste
Rolland Lesage
Voice of Brigitte
Charles Campeau

Snowtime gets Golden Screen Award

Snowtime, movie,

(February 2, 2016 – Toronto, ON) The 2015 Cineplex Golden Screen Award for Feature Film will be presented to the Quebec animated 3D family film Snowtime! (La Guerre des tuques). The award is given to the Canadian film that had the biggest box office return in the previous year. The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television has announced that Snowtime! earned $3,359,425 nationwide in 2015.

“Snowtime! revives a hit story that’s been engaging audiences for over 30 years,” said Academy Chair Martin Katz. “This Cineplex Golden Screen Award proves stories that entertain the whole family can also be box office gold.”

In Snowtime!, to amuse themselves during the winter school break, the kids in a small village decide to have a massive

Snowtime, movie poster
This poster for Snowtime courtesy of Entertainment One.
snowball fight. Luke and Sophie, both 11 years old, become the leaders of the opposing sides. Sophie and her cohort defend an elaborate snow fort against the assault of Luke’s horde. Whichever side occupies the fort at the end of the winter break, wins. But what starts out as pure youthful fun and enthusiasm deteriorates into a more serious conflict. Joy is restored when all the children decide to attack the fort rather than each other and happily destroy every last bit of the snow fort.

Directed by Jean-François Pouliot and François Brisson, this retelling of André Melançon’s 1984-released winter classic is a spectacular animated film for youth. Theatrically released in Quebec last November, the adaptation of this undisputed hit introduced a new generation to a touching story to which audiences have grown attached.

Snowtime! was produced by Marie-Claude Beauchamp (CarpeDiem) and distributed by Les Films Séville/Entertainment One. The film goes into wide distribution across Canada on Friday, February 12.

Previously called The Cineplex Golden Reel Award, the Academy has presented this award since 1976. The Academy will be presenting the Cineplex Golden Screen Award for Feature Film at the Canadian Screen Awards Gala on March 13.

Pierre Greco

B: in Québec

Pierre Greco is a Canadian screenwriter and director. He studied film at the University of Montreal. He first made promotional, advertising, documentary and short films, then made his debut feature film Un petit vent de panique (A Small Wind of Panic) in 2000. He turned to animation and had immediate success with the series W. He wrote and directed more than 150 episodes of W and the series has been broadcast in over 40 countries. His 2014 animated feature, Le Coq de St-Victor was given the Audience Award at the Festival International du Film pour Enfants de Montreal. Greco teaches film at l’École des métiers du cinéma. His new film, Mission Katmandu is being produced by Nancy Florence Savard, who was Executive Producer behind the Québec animated feature, The Legend of Sarila.

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

Un petit vent de panique (2000)

Le Coq de St-Victor (aka Rooster Doodle-doo, 2014)
Mission Katmandu: The Adventures of Nelly & Simon (2017)

TV Series – at least 1 episode of:
W (animated, 2007-2009)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Un petit vent de panique (2000)

Le Coq de St-Victor (aka Rooster Doodle-doo, 2014)
Mission Katmandu: The Adventures of Nelly & Simon (2017)

TV Series – at least 1 episode of:
W (animated, 2007-2009)

Mission Katmandu
Poster for Mission Katmandu.

Spotlight Cast Gets SAG Award

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Turner
Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Turner.

(January 31, 2016 – Los Angeles, CA) Actors Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, winners of the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award for Spotlight, pose backstage last night at The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.

This isn’t the first awards recognition for Rachel McAdams. She performed with the Original Kids Theatre when she was still a teenager and was involved in her high school’s drama program, winning an acting award in 1995. Despite this she never seriously considered acting as a possible career path. Intending to study cultural studies, it wasn’t until a drama teacher encouraged her to pursue drama that she changed her mind. Upon completion of high school she attended York University in Toronto, eventually graduating with an Honours degree in theatre.

Unlike many actors who struggle to get their careers started, her career took off immediately after her graduation. Her very first major role came in 2001 when she appeared on an episode of Disney’s The Famous Jett Jackson as the bulimic older sister of one of the main characters. She was also cast in a lead role of an MTV series entitled Shotgun Love Dolls about an ordinary teenager who suddenly finds herself in a fantasy world where she’s the leader of a fantastical crime-fighting unit. The pilot for Shotgun Love Dolls never aired.

At 2005’s MTV Movie Awards McAdams’ status as Hollywood’s newest It Girl was cemented when she received a record five nominations, for Mean Girls and The Notebook combined. She went on to win three of the five including the award for “Breakthrough Female.” The 2004 and 2005 Teen Choice Awards were similarly charmed by Rachel, nominating her ten times and awarding her four.

Winter Hymns Wins at Slamdance

Production still from Winter Hymns courtesy of Inflo Films

(Januaty 29, 2016 – Toronto, ON) – Winter Hymns, a Canadian produced short film, has won the Jury Award for Narrative Short at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival. This win means the film now qualifies for the Annual Academy Awards®. The people behind the film include Toronto-based writer/director/producer Dusty Mancinelli (former assistant to filmmaker Deepa Mehta) and producer Harry Cherniak of Inflo films.

Winter Hymns is a drama that explores the question of whether damaged relationships can be repaired, and if so, at what cost. Ten-year-old Joshua’s (Sam Ashe Arnold) dull afternoon is turned upside-down when his volatile older brother Cain (Kyle Peacock) shepherds him through the countryside in search of adventure. Striving to win his affection, Joshua breaks into a cottage to look for alcohol. But when things go horribly wrong, Cain is left to pick up the pieces.

During filming, the crew not only had to manage shooting outdoors with children in -30 degrees Celsius weather, but also had to contend with losing
power for an entire night at the farm (Cherniak’s grandmother’s) where they were staying. Nothing like huddling in front of a fire for a night to bond a crew.

Winter Hymns premiered at VIFF 2015, won the Golden Egg at the 2015 Reykjavik International Film Festival and will screen as part of Telefilm Canada’s “Canada: Not Short on Talent” program during the 2016 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.

In handing out the award, the jury called the film “A story where innocence, mischief and brazen confidence abruptly meet at a tragic crossroads. There is beauty and sadness here, and the director handles both with natural, unpretentious skill.” Cherniak was on hand to accept the award at the awards ceremony last night in Park City, Utah.

AFF Call for Submissions

(January 28, 2016 – Halifax, NS) Organizers of the Atlantic Film Festival (AFF) have announced their Call for Submissions for the eight-day celebration of film, media and music from around the world that will take place from September 15 to the 22nd this year. The AFF turns Halifax into an international Mecca for the arts, abuzz with filmgoers, filmmakers and industry professionals.

The festival offers a first-look at the best international films of the festival season yet remains a champion of local filmmakers. Since its founding in St. John’s Newfoundland in 1981 the festival has been a showcase for homegrown talent. It moved to Halifax in 1982 where it has continued to flourish and has for decades been able to attract some of the biggest players in biz from home and from around the world. Today’s AFF has become a year-round celebration, growing beyond the eight-day cornerstone festival in September to include industry and community programs such as Strategic Partners, ViewFinders: Atlantic Film Festival for Youth and the AFF Outdoor Film Experience.

There is more information online at the submission portals FilmFreeway and Withoutabox, but here is some basic submission guidelines:

Submissions may be fiction, documentary, animation or experimental of any length. Only films completed no more than 18 months prior to the 36th Atlantic Film Festival will be considered for admission. Preference will be given to submissions that have not been distributed theatrically or broadcast on television in the Atlantic region prior to the 2016 Festival. The Atlantic Film Festival program is generally grouped into six Atlantic Film Festivalprogramming streams beginning with our regional and geographic groupings: Atlantic Canada: Shorts, Broadcast and Features (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland), Canada and the World: Shorts, Documentaries and Features. In addition, the Festival’s annual niche programs include – Cinema en Francais s.v.p. (French films) ViewFinders: Films for Youth, and Special Programs (retrospectives).

FEES AND ENTRY DEADLINES: ATLANTIC CANADA: For Atlantic Canadian films there is a $25 entry fee until May 13, 2016, after that the fee increases to $30 until the regular deadline of June 3, 2016. Late entries are accepted until June 17th, 2016, with an Extended Deadline of June 30, 2016. This category is open to Atlantic Canadian filmmakers only.

FEES AND ENTRY DEADLINES: CANADA AND THE WORLD: For Canadian and International films there is a $35 entry fee until May 13, 2016, after that the fee increases to $40 until the regular deadline of June 3, 2016. Late entries are accepted until June 17th, 2016, with an Extended Deadline of June 30, 2016.

Click here for more information about the Atlantic Film Festival.

Heart of the Sea in Montréal

Heart of the Sea in Montréal

(January 28, 2016 – Montréal, Québec) It’s Ron Howard’s latest blockbuster. Set in the early 1800s. In The Heart of The Sea follows one Own Chase who is offered a spot as First Mate on the New England whaling ship Essex. The problem is, Chase, wonderfully portrayed by Chris Hemsworth, was promised a position as Captain on the voyage, but George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), the less-experienced son of a wealthy sailing family, has been given that post instead. Chase almost turns it down, but when he gets a promise in writing that he won’t be overlooked next time, he agrees to sign on. Under Pollard’s inexperienced direction, the sailors endure hardship and although they harpoon and kill one whale for its oil, they don’t want to go back home until they’ve found more. They sail south where they hear there have been whale sightings. As they’re about to harpoon more whales, the vessel is attacked by a whale of mammoth size and will. The real-life maritime disaster went on to inspire Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby-Dick.

The first thing that should be obvious is this isn’t the early 1800s, and to bring this film to life with all the realism the story requires is going to take some highly talented visual effects artists. Enter this city’s Rodeo FX and visual effects supervisor François Dumoilin. Charged with creating a 19th-century Nantucket whaling village, the work would require concept art, seamlessly interwoven set extensions, and evocative matte

François Dumoulin
François Dumoulin
painting for a total of over 260 visual effects shots. Rodeo’s work demonstrates the power and impact of visual effects, not only for bringing period films to life, but also expanding the storytelling pallet by conveying drama and atmosphere in support of the unfolding narrative. In the Heart of the Sea has been nominated for a VES Award in the Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects category.

“It was a detailed set and provided an excellent starting point for constructing the rest of the town,” said Dumoulin. “Our task was to expand the physical set, filling the space with hundreds of realistic houses and industrial buildings that lead down to the ships on the wharves, with all the pollution of the whaling industry, and finally out to sea. It’s a visual journey that gives the audience a sense of time and place.”

Rodeo FX modeled about 20 different buildings, basing their construction on common 19th-century architecture, including period windows, doors, roofs, and chimneys, and refining these based on feedback from Mark Tildesley, the production designer on the film.

“We ensured realism by referencing old maps and pictures of Nantucket as well as photos from the Leavesden set,” said Dumoulin. “Then we worked Ron’s feedback into our concepts to accent and augment the historical representation of the town to support his vision for the storytelling. An entity, such as a town, is like a character in a story so the qualitative details, such as scale, perspective, mood, all contribute to that character, and thus the story itself.”
Adding to the complexity of the task, Rodeo FX arrayed their virtual Nantucket over a rolling landscape taken from images of an unpopulated island in the Canary Islands. To accomplish this, the team combined plates of the practical set with its CG set extensions, then crafted matte paintings to recreate the feel of a village bustling with the industry of whale oil production.

In the Heart of the Sea covers three distinct periods from 1819 to 1850, during which Nantucket grew rapidly. For each era, Rodeo FX had to adjust the look of the city by altering its CG asset and digital matte paintings.

“We reused most of the model for each iteration as Nantucket went from being a village to a city,” said Olivier Martin, VFX art director and concept artist at Rodeo FX. “For the city of 1850, we redid neighborhoods, replacing houses with industrial buildings in some areas, adding more ships, piers, and whaling boats.

“Ron and Mark [Tildesley] wanted to show the contrast between the beautiful untouched coast of Maine and the pollution created by the whaling industry in the city itself,” Martin explained. “To support this theme in the film’s narrative, we designed our Nantucket to be dirty, from the chimney smoke and the extraction of whale oil on the beaches.”

To create concept art for Nantucket, Martin looked at 19th-century artists such as Turner, Sargent, and John Atkinson Grimshaw for inspiration. “Studying these painters gave us ideas of how to depict the era,” he said. “The mood, the light, and the composition of their paintings helped bringing new visual ideas to our work.”

The art department built a full-scale replica of the actual Essex, floating it within the tank at Leavesden. The ship rested on a gimbal rig that allowed it to be moved to mimic a ship’s rolling on the waves. Scenes of the Essex sailing on open water were shot in the tank as well as at sea. Rodeo FX had to ensure continuity between the two types of shots, for which they used a combination of practical footage from the production, together with their CG water assets, creating waves and the look of wind on water.

“We had to extend the water all the way to the horizon,” said Mikaël Damant-Sirois, CG Supervisor at Rodeo FX. “We made lots of CG water so we could match the different types of water. We made the tank water darker and more dramatic to simulate the roiling sea.”

One shot that highlights the combination of practical assets with CG set extensions and matte painting occurs as the Essex leaves port for the open sea. The camera hovers above the ship and swoops around, doing a 360-degree reveal of the sea and the bay of Nantucket. Rodeo FX replicated this intricate camera move in CG, then extended the sequence to reveal more of the city. Once the client was happy with the shot composition, Rodeo FX added lighting to the 3D model, adjusted details such as matching the sky to that on the plates, and then completed a CG render.

“With huge camera movement like this, we have to keep the parallax to maintain the depth of the image,” said Damant-Sirois. “We divided the render into multiple layers, created a matte painting on each layer, and then re-projected the layers and handed them off to our compositing team.”

Chimney smoke, mist, seagulls, and city movement including sailors walking on the streets were added as practical or CG elements.

“We enjoyed bringing to life Ron Howard’s vision of this amazing and touching true story,” said Sébastien Moreau, president of Rodeo FX. “We take great pride in supporting powerful stories by recreating past eras and real environments with invisible visual effects. It is very gratifying when beautiful imagery marries itself seamlessly to a great film.”

Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, In the Heart of the Sea was directed by Ron Howard and stars Chris Hemsworth, Ben Whishaw, and Cillian Murphy. The film had its theatrical release on Dec. 11 and is still playing in Canada and elsewhere.

Founded in 2006 by Sébastien Moreau, Rodeo FX has grown to over 320 accomplished artists and professionals with studios in Montreal, Los Angeles, and Quebec City.