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VIFF Announces Juries

By Staff

;Vancouver Film Festival Announces Juries;
(September 16, 2014 – Vancouver, BC) Organizers of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) have announced the members of the various juries that will be responsible for deciding who gets the bling when the festival, which begins on September 25, wraps on October 10. There are four juried programmes in the festival including Canadian Images, BC Spotlight, Best New Director Award and the VIFF Impact Award.

This year’s Canadian Images jury is made up of:

John Cassini, an award-winning actor and producer of four feature films who has also written and developed television projects for various networks. A personal acting coach for over 20 years, Cassini is a lifetime member of the prestigious Actors Studio in New York and Los Angeles and is the co-Artistic Director of Vancouver`s Railtown Actors Studio.

Peter Machen, manager of the Durban International Film Festival. Machen is one of South Africa`s leading arts and film writers and is currently the Sunday Tribune`s resident film columnist and is the author of two books on Durban.

Gaylene Preston, an award-winning storyteller whose films have a distinctive flavour that entertain while presenting serious subjects with humour and warmth. Preston has made some of the most enduring popular classics of New Zealand Cinema and is also the inaugural NZ Arts Foundation filmmaker Laureate and an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for her services to filmmaking. Her latest project, Hope and Wire, screens at VIFF this year.

This jury will award $8,000 cash for Best Canadian Film and is sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada.

This year’s BC Spotlight jurors include:

Joel Bakan, professor of law at the University of British Columbia, who wrote the award-winning book and film (co-created with Mark Achbar) The Corporation, as well as numerous scholarly works. Bakan is also a jazz guitarist who performs with his wife, actress and singer Rebecca Jenkins.

Kathy Chilco has produced, directed and written a wide range of television programming, including award-winning music and comedy specials, series, documentaries and new productions of Sesame Street. She is currently based in Vancouver.

Bruce Sweeney received a B.A. in visual art and communication from Simon Fraser University and a M.F.A. in film from the University of British Columbia. Sweeney won Best Canadian Film at TIFF 95 for Live Bait. His latest film, The Dick Knost Show, won Best BC Film at VIFF 13.

BC Spotlight Awards include Best BC Film, a $10,000 development bursary provided by the Harold Greenberg Fund (The Fund) and a $15,000 credit for post-production services provided by Deluxe and the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award, $7,500 cash award sponsored by the Union of BC Performers/ACTRA and ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society, and a $10,000 equipment credit supplied by William F. White.

The jury for Best New Director Award:

Ben Gibson, Director, Degree Programs at AFTRS, Australia`s national film school. Gibson was previously Director of the London Film School and worked as Head of Production at the British Film Institute. He has been a theatre director, repertory film programmer and film critic and journalist.

Kim Linekin, a film critic since 1999, Linekin is currently CBC Radio`s national pop culture columnist and chair of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. She`s covered film and TV extensively for MSN and sporadically for The Georgia Straight, Montage and POV magazines and other outlets.

Roland Smith, declared “the godfather of repertory cinema” by The Montreal Gazette, Smith invented the name (“repertory cinema”) in 1963 and has spent his life operating cinemas showing international films, Canadian films and classics from Hollywood. He is now a distributor of films for cinemas, video and television.

Best New Director Award (International) is an award that will go to a first or second-time director for a creative and innovative film which has not yet won significant international recognition. This competition flows directly from the 20-year history of the “Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema” to continue to help launch the careers of some of the world’s most deserving and promising young filmmakers.

The jury for the VIFF Impact Award:

Lynne Fernie, a documentary filmmaker and the Senior Canadian programmer for the Hot Docs International Festival of Documentary Film. Fernie wrote and co-directed the Genie and multi-award-winning documentaries Forbidden Love: the Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives and Fiction and Other Truths: A film about Jane Rule and Apples and Oranges.

Julia Ivanova, a documentary filmmaker and freelance journalist who was born in Moscow, Russia and immigrated to Canada in 1995. Ivanova graduate with honours from the renowned Film Institute (VGIK) in Moscow, her films Love Translated, Family Portrait in Black and White and High Five: An Adoption Saga have all screened at VIFF.

David Rummel has produced for Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes, he ran an investigative unit at ABC News, served as a senior producer at NBC News, produced for PBS Frontline and helped build the online video unit at The New York Times. Rummel has won every award in television news and documentary and currently teaches International Reporting and Advanced Video Reporting at UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism.

The VIFF Impact Award will recognize excellence by a filmmaker with a social-issues documentary. The award will be a combination of cash and in-kind strategic consulting services, and is designed to amplify the future reach of the selected film. It`s about boosting what happens after the festival screening… Audience development, outreach, social marketing, evaluation metrics, web extensions, educational materials, community tours ? these components are key to transforming a movie into a movement! For 2014, Agentic Digital Media has sponsored the $5,000 cash component as well as an additional $2,500 worth of marking support that will be added to Story Money Impact’s inkind strategic services at a value of $2,500.

This year`s 16-day festival includes 353 films from over 65 countries, including 223 features and 130 shorts. The line-up includes 32 World Premieres, 38 International Premieres, 22 North American Premieres, and 47 Canadian Premieres. Click here for a link to the Vancouver International Film Festival and other September 2014 film festivals.

VIFF opens with Wild

By Staff

;Wild is opening gala at 2014 VIFF;

(September 12, 2014 – Vancouver, BC) The 33rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) has announced its lineup for 2014. Wet coast film fans will have a chance to see 353 films from over 65 countries, including 223 features and 130 shorts. This year`s schedule includes 32 World Premieres, 38 International Premieres, 22 North American Premieres, and 47 Canadian Premieres.We take a quick look at the Galas.

Screening in Toronto at TIFF, programmers in Vancouver have announced that their Opening Gala film will be the much-anticipated feature Wild, by Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée, of Dallas Buyers Club fame. Nick Hornby`s adaptation of Cheryl Strayed`s best-selling memoir, stars Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, and portrays a self-destructive woman who attempts to leave behind her years of drug abuse and recklessness with a solo, 1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. The film is scheduled to open in general release December, but why wait?

The Special Presentation Gala film (formerly Dragons and Tigers Gala) will offer the World Premiere of the Japan film, The Vancouver Asahi. In Vancouver`s old Japantown, a group of Canadian-born kids launched their own baseball team, the Asahi. Yuya Ishiis (Mitsuko Delivers) lavish-scale entertainment chronicles their battles against failure, racism and prejudice—and the brief moment of triumph they enjoyed before Pearl Harbor changed everything. Director Yuya Ishii and actors Satoshi Tsumabuki, and Kazuya Kamenashi will be in attendance.

The Canadian Images Gala film is October Gale, written and directed by Ruba Nadda and stars Patricia Clarkson, Scott Speedman (pictured) and Tim Roth. ;October Gale, production still;The film tells the story of a doctor who takes in a mysterious man with a gunshot wound who washes ashore at her remote cottage. October Gale is being presented in partnership with Telefilm Canada. “For many years, the Vancouver International Film Festival has enjoyed the distinct pleasure of showcasing the largest selection of Canadian films in the world,” said VIFF Executive Director Jacqueline Dupuis. “As partners we demonstrate our collective commitment to ensuring the celebration of Canadian cinema is at the forefront of local, national and international audiences alike. We look forward to working together in the coming years to building this signature event to be the Canadian “scene-to-be-seen” during the festival.”

VIFF`s Closing Night Gala film is the American film and Sundance Grand Jury and Audience Award winner, Whiplash. Fierce rhythms and ferocious humour drive Damien Chazelles riveting film about an ambitious jazz drummer (Miles Teller) pushed beyond his breaking point by an instructor (J.K. Simmons) who takes tough-love to extremes.

Click here for a link to the Vancouver International Film Festival and other September 2014 film festivals.

Julia Kwan Returns to VIFF with Everything Will Be

By Staff

;Everything Will Be; production still;
Photos by Michael David Hawley © 2014 NFB. Used with Permission

(September 5, 2014 – Vancouver, BC) Director Julia Kwan’s feature documentary Everything Will Be, which focuses on Vancouver’s Chinatown will have its British Columbia premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). Everything Will Be is the first documentary film by Kwan, a Sundance award-winner for her 2005 debut feature Eve & the Fire Horse.

Written and directed by Julia Kwan, Everything Will Be opens as dawn breaks and the long-time merchants of Vancouver’s Chinatown are hard at work preparing for what they hope will be a busy day. But this once-thriving;Everything Will Be © 2014 NFB; neighbourhood is in flux as new condo developments and non-Chinese businesses gradually move into the declining hub of the Chinese community. Everything Will Be captures this transformation through the intimate perspectives of the neighbourhood’s residents, merchants and new entrepreneurs, who offer their poignant reflections on change, memory and legacy.

Kwan studied film and psychology at Toronto`s Ryerson Polytechnic Univeristy. From there she studied at the Canadian Film Centre and completed her short film Three Sisters on Moon Lake. Her script for Eve and the Fire Horse was given the Charles Israel Screenwriting Prize for best screenplay at the 2001 Writer`s Guild of Canada awards. The film Eve & the Fire Horse went on to win both a Special Jury Prize for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival as well as the Claude Jutra Award for best first feature film.

Everything Will Be was produced and executive produced for the NFB by David Christensen. The film had its world premiere earlier this year at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto.

In addition to Everything Will Be, the NFB has three animated shorts screening during VIFF. They are:

Jutra. Directed by Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre, this 14 minute film is an innovative portrait of the late Quebec filmmaker Claude Jutra, whose credits included the NFB classic Mon oncle Antoine. In Jutra, the filmmaker is seen in dialogue with himself at various stages of his life, becoming the narrator of his own biography.

The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer is a visually haunting animated 9 minute short from Toronto director Randall Okita. It follows two brothers who share the scars, though not the memories, of an untold history that has driven them to existential extremes.

3e page après le soleil (Third Page from the Sun) runs just 5 minutes but director Theadore Ushev provides an abstract exploration of a number of big issues, from the ephemerality of the digital age to the practice of recycling. Ushev has directed a dozen works for the NFB, including the 2010 animated documentary Lipsett Diaries, winner of the Genie Award for Best Animated Short.

Click here for a link to the Vancouver Interrnational Film Festival and other September 2014 film festivals.

Film Festival Season Has BegunBy Ralph Lucas, Publisher

Film Festival Season Has Begun
By Ralph Lucas, Publisher

;Christine Horne,  Lauren Holly and Zoie Palmer;
(September 4, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) It`s a safe bet that over the next eight weeks more Canadians will see a film that will never go into general distribution in Canada than at any other time of the year. It`s Film Festival Season and what makes a great festival is all of those films from all of those places that we would never be able to see without festival distribution. It`s a wonderful time and true cinephiles hit the road to cities near or far to join the long lineups in good weather or bad to spend a couple of hours in the dark sharing the experience of seeing something different, no matter if it turns out to be great or a dud.

There is no official season, but in Canada the opening of the Montreal World Film Festival in late August signals the start of an incredible run of great movie festivals from coast to coast. This month alone will see major festivals in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Next month, more major festivals in St. John`s, Montreal, Toronto, Barrie, Banff and Victoria. There are more, and they all serve their communities well and we try to report on as many as we can, but for this article, we’ll look at some of the biggies, which we define as those that run longer than a day, or a weekend, or perhaps just a few days.

The biggest of the big, thanks mainly to its location, is The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It all started as a small idea, The Festival of Festivals, designed to screen the films that had already played in other festivals for an eager Toronto audience. It has grown over the years to become one of the most important film events in the international festival circuit thanks, to a very large degree, on the enthusiasm of Toronto audiences for great film, and thanks in part to its place in the calendar. Over the past several years, TIFF programmers have had the uncanny ability to select films that often go on to be Oscar® winners or nominated films. But with its growth there have been complaints. There was a long standing tradition, but not a hard and fast rule, that TIFF would open with a Canadian film, That went by the wayside a few years ago.

The shift to big name, big title films has allowed some critics to occasionally refer to TIFF as the Hollywood Film Festival North. This year single ticket prices are causing a lot of negative buzz too. Once nicknamed “the people`s festival,” a single ticket to TIFF is $24.00. That`s about twice what theatre goers would pay during a normal run and, thanks to programming a lot of hit films, many of this year`s films will open in regular theatres within a few days or a few weeks of TIFF`s closing gala.

Speaking of Galas, TIFF opens tonight with the US film, The Judge, costarring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. Downey plays a big-city lawyer who returns to his home town when his estranged ;The Judge, movie production still;father, Duvall, is accused of murder.

Along with a huge raft of shorts, TIFF will screen 285 feature films from around the world over the next 10 days, and one of the reasons people who can afford it are willing to pay the big bucks is to see the star or stars and/or director on stage to introduce their film and answer questions after the screening. Is it worth it? Probably not but there are certain bragging rights when you get to see a film before everyone else. It`s the price of entry, if you will. The extra cost of being first in line.

Last year Toronto`s unpopular mayor Rob Ford voted against TIFF`s municipal subsidy of $950,000, which according to reports at the time, represented 2% of the festival`s operating budget. Unless our math is wrong, that means TIFF needs about 45 million dollars a year to stay in business. Although they operate 365 days a year and are involved in many facets of the film festival industry in Canada, with some of the negativity coming out of this year`s festival, and today is just the first day, some might begin to think what else could be accomplished if that money was spread around a little more. One other minor ;Maps to the Stars, 2014 movie poster;complaint we’ve heard, you’d think with that kind of money they might consider producing a festival poster again each year.

Overlapping with TIFF, which closes on the 14th, is the Atlantic Film Festival which kicks off on the 11th. This 8-day festival will open and close with Canadian films and will screen some 180 films during its run. The opening film is Elephant Song, which will have its World Premiere at TIFF, costarring Xavier Dolan and Bruce Greenwood. The closing gala is David Cronenberg`s Maps to the Stars.

Often overlooked is Cinéfest in Sudbury, Ontario. It opens this year with Rubba Nadda`s new film, Gale on Saturday, September 13th.

Considered the most important festival for animators from around the world, the Ottawa International Animation Festival runs from September 17th to the 21st. Presented with the support of Celebrate Ontario and Walt Disney Animation Studios, this year the Ottawa International Animation Festival will celebrate the world’s most beloved, successful and pioneering animation studio with a series of screenings, talks, exhibitions and legendary Disney animators. “It’s only natural,” according to OIAF Artistic Director, Chris Robinson, “that we debut our new Pioneers of Animation series with a tribute to the most successful, innovative and influential animation studio in the world. Founded in 1923, the 91-year old studio has had a profound and widespread impact on animation and global culture.”

A film titled The Young and Prodigious T.S.Spivet will open the Calgary International Film Festival on September 18. The festival runs until the 21st and gives Albertans a moment to catch their breath before the Edmonton International Film Festival opens on the 25th. ;Wild, 2014 movie poster;Running a tad late, for us anyway, the Edmonton festival won’t post its schedule until September 15th, just 10 days before its opening. That said, the opening gala is the US film, Cut Bank and because it`s a gala, tickets are $25.00. Regular screenings at the festival are a far more reasonable (compared to Toronto) $13.00.

The 33rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival runs for 16 days beginning on September 25th and continuing into October. It will screen 353 films from over 65 countries, including 223 features and 130 shorts. The stellar line-up includes 32 World Premieres, 38 International Premieres, 22 North American Premieres, and 47 Canadian Premieres. VIFF`s Opening Night Gala film is the much-anticipated feature Wild, by Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée, of Dallas Buyers Club fame. The film is Nick Hornby`s adaptation of Cheryl Strayed`s best-selling memoir and stars Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, and portrays a self-destructive woman who attempts to leave behind her years of drug abuse and recklessness with a solo, 1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

As mentioned there are many other film festivals this month. Click here to see more.

How to Plan an Orgy Reveals More

By Staff

;Christine Horne,  Lauren Holly and Zoie Palmer;
(September 2, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Writer-director Jeremy Lalonde has announced some new additions to the cast of his latest feature, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town. Joining previously announced actors Jewel Staite (The Killing), Lauren Lee Smith (If I Stay), Katharine Isabelle (Being Human), Ennis Esmer (The Listener), Tommie-Amber Pirie (What If / The F Word), and Jonas Chernick (My Awkward Sexual Adventure) are Christine Horne (The Captive, Stories We Tell), Lauren Holly (Motive, NCIS) and Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl, Sex After Kids).

LaLonde’s award-winning sophomore feature, Sex After Kids, premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and is nominated for seven Canadian Comedy Awards. LaLonde’s other credits include The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard; the short films Bastards and the award-winning Out (Official TIFF 2013 selection). Bastards is in development as a TV series with the NSI: Totally Television program.
;How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, poster;
How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town is a comedy about a group of friends who live in the picturesque town of Beaver’s Ridge whose orderly lives get interrupted with the homecoming of big city sex writer Cassie Cranston (Staite). When her former friends want to spice up their sex lives, she`s sees her chance for revenge… and to make some money in the form of a book she owes to her publisher. Jordan Walker (The Privileged) and Chris Bennett (Solo) are producing, while Jeremy LaLonde, Avi Federgreen (One Week) and Ryan Goldhar (I Put a Hit on You) are executive producing.

The film is financed with the participation of Telefilm Canada’s Canada Feature Film Fund. In addition, LaLonde is mid-way through a crowd funding initiative to raise $100K through an Indiegogo campaign. According to the website the film has attracted over $75,000 to date with the online fund-raising campaign set to expire on Saturday, September 13.

David James Ellliott joins American Hangman

By Staff

David James Elliott;
(August 29, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Toronto-born actor David James Elliott, best known for his role as Lt.Cdr. Harmon Rabb Jr. on 227 episodes of the hit TV series, JAG, has joined the cast of the US-Canadian-Irish coproduction, American Hangman. Elliott grew up wanting to be a musician and singer and it wasn’t until he read a bit of King Lear in a theatre history class that he got turned on to acting. His screen career began in 1986.

It was also announced that Marina Cordoni will join the indie feature as Executive Producer. American Hangman centres on a kidnap plot that explores the dark side of social media. The film will be available for pre-sale at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival.

American Hangman is a remarkable script with a stellar cast,” said Cordoni. “It’s easy to see why there has been so much buzz. It’s also going to be a terrific example of US, Canadian and UK teams working together to bring a compelling story to the big screen. TIFF is the perfect platform to look for partners that will help us enter the marketplace more efficiently in advance of production.”

The announcement that David James Elliott would be joining American Hangman came directly on the heels of his being cast to play American star John Wayne in Jay Roach’s upcoming production, Trumbo. At Cannes, Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Fargo) and Brian Cox (The Escapist, Bourne Supremacy) were announced as leads in American Hangman. Wilson Coneybeare, founder of Canoe Lake Films (CFL) in 2011, will direct the film from his own script. Canoe Lake is a privately owned production house focused on niche theatrical features and limited dramatic series. Based on international financing, CLF’s current slate includes two follow-up features to American Hangman forming a trilogy of political films entitled The American Series, as well as a TV series in development titled, Liberty, California.

American Hangman is set to shoot in Canada and Northern Ireland starting this November.

Rod Mann’s Altman to screen at Venice Film Fest

By Staff

;Rod Mann`s Altman to screen at Venice Film Fest;
Image Courtesy of Sandcastle 5

(August 28, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Toronto filmmaker Ron Mann`s latest documentary, a loving visual tribute to the late, great iconic American director Robert Altman has been selected to screen at this year`s Venice International Film Festival, which opened yesterday and runs until September 7. Altman is the only Canadian film at Venice this year.

Altman is an in-depth look at the life and times of a filmmaker that gave us such films as M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player, Gosford Park, and many more. While refusing to bow down to Hollywood`s conventions, or its executives, Altman`s unique style of filmmaking won him friends and enemies, earned him worldwide praise, and occasionally scathing criticism, and proved that it is possible to make truly independent films.

;Altman, 2014 poster; This is Ron Mann’s ninth feature documentary (and first ever at Venice) and it has already generated terrific critical praise. Variety Chief Film Critic Scott Foundas wrote, “Ron Mann takes the maverick Robert Altman on his own terms – and in his own words – in a stirring, comprehensive tribute.”

Altman features a long list of guest appearances including by: Julianne Moore, Lily Tomlin, James Caan, Elliott Gould, Sally Kellerman, Keith Carradine, Bruce Willis, Philip Baker Hall, Lyle Lovett, Paul Thomas Anderson and the late Robin Williams. They all contribute something and there is so much to say about the famed director who passed away in Hollywood in November of 2006.

The very term “Altmanesque” has come to denote a cinematic style characterized by dark humor, chaotic choreography, overlapping and sometimes murky dialogue, multi-layered storylines, iconoclastic characters, omniscient cinematography, and a seat-of-the-pants ensemble approach to imagining and crafting a film. With the late director himself acting as guide, Altman takes the audience on an expansive and revelatory road trip through the highs and lows of this uncompromising visionary?s life and career.

Altman will have its premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Monday, September 1. It will open in Toronto (after the Toronto International Film Festival is over) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 19. Click for more Canadian movies Now Playing and Coming Soon.

Ed Gass-Donnelly Tapped for Pivot

Ed Gass-Donnelly Tapped for Pivot
By Staff

(August 28, 2014 – Los Angeles, California) Lotus Entertainment has announced that Canadian director Ed Gass-Donnelly will write and direct a new sci-fi thriller titled Pivot. The essential story, which may change as work actually begins on its development, explores the story of a scientist who, following the death of his wife, invents a device to pivot between parallel universes to save her life. However, to be able to be with her, he’ll have to kill the parallel version of himself. Lotus Entertainment`s Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson will produce the film, with D.J. Gugenheim and Ara Keshishian, also of Lotus, Executive producing alongside Ed Gass-Donnelly.

Donnelly is known for his hands-on method of filmmaking. He often serves as director, producer, writer, and editor. He made his feature debut with This Beautiful City at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007, and was nominated for four Canadian Academy Awards. His sophomore debut, Small Town Murder Songs, premiered at the ;Small Town Murder Songs, poster;2010 Toronto International Film Festival, which also landed him a spot on Variety’s coveted “10 Directors to Watch” list in 2011.

“A high-quality concept like Pivot is exactly the type of project we were looking for,” said Lotus Entertainment’s Bill Johnson and Jim Seibel. “Ed has the perfect approach to bring Pivot to life and we are eager to embark on our journey.”

Lotus Entertainment is an international sales, production and financing company. Their current slate includes: Tom Tykwer’s A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING starring Tom Hanks; KIDNAP starring Academy Award® winner Halle Berry; Scott Hicks’ FALLEN based on the best-selling novel, YAl; Henry Hobson’s MAGGIE with Arnold Schwarzenegger; Craig Zobel’s Z FOR ZACHARIAH with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine; Stephen Gaghan’s CANDY STORE; and SONG ONE starring Anne Hathaway.

ICM and Jennifer Levine at Untitled represent Ed Gass-Donnelly and brokered the deal. No start date for Pivot has been announced.

Sound of Tears gets Montreal Premiere

By Staff

;Vancouver Film Fest Celebrates Mongrel`s 20th;
(August 28, 2014 – Montréal, Québec) The Montreal World Film Festival is in full swing and holds its place of honour kicking of the annual fall film festival season. One of the shorts screening this weekend is worth paying attention to. Titled Sound of Tears, the short marks the directorial debut of award-winning actress Dorothy Atabong. Born and raised in Cameroon, West Africa, Atabong was educated in the USA and Canada. She obtained a BSc. in Biochemistry from Michigan before moving on to graduate from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York with a degree in Dramatic arts. At 19 she published her novel The Princess of Kaya which she later adapted into a screenplay.

In addition to writing and directing the film, Dorothy Atabong plays the lead, Amina, a woman who finds herself at a crossroads and now must choose between a husband in a forced marriage and her lover. She must choose. There is no in between.
;Sound of Tears, poster;
Amina and her family have fled Vancouver to Toronto to escape her estranged lover Josh (played by Canadian actor Edsson Morales) and the stamp of shame from their patriarchal community, but Josh tracks them down and drunk, crashes an engagement party with all eyes watching. Amina’s father, Mr. Saleh (Eugene Paul) invites yet another suitor, a village chief, Omar for dinner, in an attempt to get his wayward daughter off his hands. Omar accepts the proposition. Amina sends Josh a message to meet in secret to say goodbye; but Josh wouldn’t let her go easily, not when she is carrying their unborn child.

That`s a lot of story for a 15-minute film with a cast of 16 players. Executive Produced by Phyllis Brown, Sound of Tears was shot by Toronto-based cinematographer Joel Kim.

It screens the Saturday and this Sunday at the Montreal World Film Festival.

Vancouver Film Fest Celebrates Mongrel’s 20th

By Staff

;Vancouver Film Fest Celebrates Mongrel`s 20th;
(August 22, 2014 – Vancouver, BC) Since it`s founding in 1994 by Hussain Amarshi, the Canadian film distribution company Mongrel Media has carved out an ever more important niche for speciality, art-house and independent film. The director of programming at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) Alan Franey recently stated, “What strikes me as I survey Mongrel`s extraordinary catalogue is how much we have come to rely on them for supplying to Canada many of the world`s best films every year.”

In addition to that remarkable record, Mongrel Media is also the go-to distributor for many Canadian filmmakers and production companies. For example, far from Vancouver, Mongrel Media has a long list of films screening at this year`s Toronto International Film Festival including two Canadian films.

In Vancouver, organizers of this special tribute have selected ten films that illustrate the diversity and quality of Mongrel`s collection over four consecutive Sundays running up to the 2014 festival itself. These movies run the gamut from the Vancouver-made documentary, The Corporation (pictured above), to Pedro Almodovars Academy Award-winning (and very strange) romance Talk to Her, thrillers like A Prophet and The Lives of Others, both of which will screening on 35mm film.

Following is the complete list of 10 films screening during this special tribute to Mongrel Media:

A Seperation. Screening on Sunday, August 31 at 5:00pm. Even art-house aficionados were unprepared for the dramatic sophistication and depth on display in this blistering domestic drama from Iran’s Asghar Farhadi (About Elly; The Past). It was as if Ingmar Bergman had been reborn in Tehran, to dissect the dissolution of a middle class marriage. Dense, riveting and complex, this is masterly filmmaking that repays repeat viewing.

The Corporation. Also screening on Sunday, August 31 but at 7:30 pm. Why does the law bestow on private corporations the rights of individual citizens, but few of the responsibilites? Since its supremely successful release in 2003 The Corporation has only (and sadly) grown more timely. Screening here in a newly revised 2 hour cut specifically aimed at educational distribution networks.

The Lives of Others. Screening on Sunday, September 7 at 4:00pm. Directed by Florian Henkel von Donnesmarck, it is set in East Berlin in 1984. An agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

Also screening on Sunday, September 7 but at 7:00pm, Director Jacques Audiard`s A Profit. More than one critic compared Jacques Audiard’s forceful, rich prison drama to The Godfather. Audiard uses the prison as a microcosm in this allegory for how to get ahead in the twenty-first century.
;Searching for Sugarman;
The delightful documentary Searching for Sugarman will screen on September 8 at 8:20 pm. One of the most acclaimed — and revelatory — music documentaries in the last few years, this Academy Award-winning film investigates, the life, work and mysterious disappearance of the 70s singer-songwriter Rodriguez. Screening in tribute to director Malik Bendjelloul, who committed suicide earlier this year.

The Secret in Their Eyes screens on Sunday, September 14 at 5:00pm. This 2009 Argentine film was directed by Juan José Campanella. It`s a multi-layered and poignant thriller that interweaves the personal lives of a state prosecution investigator (Ricardo Darin) and a judge, with a manhunt spanning twenty-five years.

At 7:30pm also on Sunday, September 14, the remarkable Spanish film Talk to Her from director Pedro Almodova will screen at the Vancity Theatre. One of Almodovar’s very best, this strange and lustrous love story involves two men and two comatose women (one of them a bullfighter). It sounds weird because it is weird — yet by the end it also feels very true, very natural, and totally heartfelt. The New York Times wrote, “Talk to Her is totally in love with passion, and with love.”
;Neil Young: Journeys;
Screening on Monday, September 15 at 8:20pm is the Jonathan Demme documentary, Neil Young: Journeys. Released in 2011, Jonathan Demme returned to one of his favourite subjects, Neil Young, for their third collaboration in six years. This is an intimate and intense account of Young returning to his homeland and performing a couple of blistering shows at Massey Hall in the spring of 2011.

The last two films in this special 10-film tribute will screen on Sunday, September 21.

Of Gods and Men, was directed by Xavier Beauvois and made in Franace in 2010. It`s just over two-hours long and was loosely based on a real incident involving a Cistercian order of monks kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists in Algeria. Beauvois’s film is an austere but gripping meditation on faith and fraternity. Of Gods and Men will screen at 6:00pm.

At 8:15 pm, the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son by director Kore-eda Hirokuzo will wrap the series. Released in 2013, it’s a nightmare scenario for any family: the unthinkable revelation that a maternity ward mix-up paired off mother with someone else’s child. A terrible mistake at any time, but for the truth to emerge some six years later … What to do with such information? Although his style is impeccably understated, director Kore-eda mines this rich dramatic seam for the emotional anguish you might expect, along with biting shards of class satire and — as always — a profound compassion for the children at the center of it all.

Click here for more information online.

Seven Films Receive Shaw Media – Hot Docs Funding

Seven Films Receive Shaw Media – Hot Docs Funding
By Staff

;Hot Docs and Shaw Media Announce Funding;
(August 22, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Hot Docs and Shaw Media have announced that seven projects have been chosen to receive a total of $180,000 in grants and no-interest loans from the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Funds in its thirteenth round of disbursements. With these seven projects, a total of 127 projects have received funding via the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Funds to date, with funding totalling $2,909,000 in completion grants and no-interest loans.

Eligible projects were considered by the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Completion Fund Selection Committee, which included: Sarah Jane Flynn, Senior Director, Original Factual Content – Shaw Media; Elizabeth Radshaw, Director of Industry Programs, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival; and Steven Silver, Blue Ice Group.

Two completion grants totalling $120,000 were awarded to the following projects:

AMINA – A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS Production Company: Esperamos (E2F FILM 1 INC) Director: Sophie Deraspe Producers: Isabelle Couture, Jean-Philippe Massicotte Executive Producers: Michel St-Cyr, Hugo Latulippe, Guy Villeneuve A love story between a Canadian and a Syrian-American during the Arab revolution turns into a socio-political thriller that examines media excesses and the thin line between truth and falsehood on the Internet.

BEAUTY AND RUIN Production Company: Subject Chaser Films Inc. Director: Marc de Guerre Producers: Jeannette Loakman, Marc de Guerre Creditors are eyeing the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection as a solution to the city’s debt, but is the cost of losing access to masterpieces worth it?

Round 13: Shaw Media-Hot Docs Development Fund Eligible projects were considered by the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Development Fund Selection Committee, which included: Nick Crowe, Director, Original Factual Content – Shaw Media; Elizabeth Radshaw, Director of Industry Programs, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival; and Amit Breuer, Founder and President, Amythos Media Inc. Five no-interest loans totalling $60,000 were awarded to the following projects:

FORGOTTEN: THE FREEDOM PROJECT Production Company: Sienna Films Director: Michelle Latimer Producers: Jennifer Kawaja, Julia Sereny Canada’s only female dangerous offender fights to reconcile the loss of her daughter while struggling to retain her humanity within the solitary confinement of prison.

SUMMERS IN THE BELT Production Company: Moir Movies Entertainment Incorporated Director: Andrew Moir Producer: Diana Warmé SUMMERS IN THE BELT is a coming of age story about a teenage boy who must decide if he will inherit his father’s tobacco farm or leave the farming life behind.

TEMPEST STORM Production Company: Shot Glass Productions Director: Nimisha Mukerji Producers: Kaitlyn Regehr, Nimisha Mukerji Executive Producers: Chuck Braverman, Danielle Colby Girlfriend to Elvis, mistress to JFK, friend to Bettie Page, TEMPEST STORM follows the controversial story of America’s greatest living sex icon as she continues her search for unconditional love.

BLOOD & HONEY Production Company: Zapruder Films Inc. Director: Jared Raab Producers: Matthew Miller, Victoria Lean BLOOD & HONEY follows the whiskey-soaked journey of Canadian band July Talk, from relative obscurity to the edge of stardom. Relationships reach a boiling point in this potent mix of fame, ego and attraction.

THE CANADIANS Production Company: Reed Media Directors: Patrick Reed, Michelle Shephard Producers: Michelle Shephard, Patrick Reed Russian spies who were deported from Canada in the 1990s struggle to return to Canada and reconcile their past with their present.

The image used above is from the documentary Out of Mind, Out of Sight, which was made thanks in part to the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Fund.

OIAF Selects 17 from NFB

By Staff

;NFB at TIFF 2014;
(August 20, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario) Organizers and programmers for this year`s Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), the largest event of its kind in North America, have selected 17 films from the NFB. The selection contains two World Premieres. The festival will also present special screenings of two films created to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary film innovator Norman McLaren, founder of the NFB’s Oscar-winning Animation Studio: Donald McWilliams’ 27-minute documentary Norman McLaren: Animated Musician, as well as Flocons, an independently produced short by Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre, creator of the Jutra Award-winning McLaren’s Negatives.

Premiering in the Official Competition – Animated Feature section is the animation-documentary hybrid Seth’s Dominion, which is Luc Chamberland’s film about the life of acclaimed Ontario-born cartoonist Seth. Also making its world premiere is Monsieur Pug, a new short by Academy Award nominee Janet Perlman (The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin), screening in the Canadian Showcase.

Soif by Michèle Cournoyer is in Official Competition in the Experimental/Abstract Animation category, while the NFB has three titles in Official Competition in the Narrative Short Animation slot: Me and My Moulton by Torill Kove, ;OIAF 2014 poster;whose film The Danish Poet won an Academy Award in 2006, along with Rainy Days by Vladimir Leschiov and Pilots on the Way Home by Olga and Priit Pärn.

In addition to Perlman’s Monsieur Pug, which runs 10 minutes, three one-minute NFB shorts will be featured in the out-of-competition Canadian Showcase: Dominic Etienne Simard’s Éloïse’s Fir Tree, as well as two shorts from the NFB’s Hothouse program for emerging animators, Su-An Ng’s Itch and Brendan Matkin’s Observer.

Six more NFB animated shorts have been selected for special screening programs: Patrick Doyon’s Sunday, Dominic Etienne Simard’s Paula (10 minutes), Claire Blanchet’s The End of Pinky (8 minutes) and Philip Eddolls’ Git Gob (1 minute) will be featured as part of “Hot Freaks: The New Generation of Canadian Animation,” while Koji Yamamura’s 13 minute film, Muybridge’s Strings will be shown in the “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey: Time and Animation” program, with Brandon Blommaert’s Batmilk (1 minute) screening in a program entitled “New Ghosts in the Ol’ Haunt: Regrets, Residues and Crossing Over.”

The NFB will also be offering iPad animation workshops for children using its acclaimed McLaren’s Workshop and NFB StopMo Studio apps, at the National Arts Centre, as part of Animation Celebration.

The Ottawa International Animation festival runs from from September 17 to 21. The festival received a total of 2033 entries from 70 different countries. Of those, 101 short films and 5 feature films were chosen for competition. In addition, 71 showcase films were chosen to represent the efforts of the Canadian, International, and Student communities. Click here for a link to OIAF and other September 2014 film festivals.

Montreal World Film Festival Opens August 21st

Montreal World Film FestivalOpens August 21st
By Staff

(August 13, 2014 – Montréal, Québec) Once again this year the financial health of one of the best film festivals in the country is crowding out headlines about the festival itself. Taking a cue from festival founder Serge Losique, who would like the media to concentrate on the films, we’ve decided to do just that. So, when the festival launches its 38th season in just over a week, the opening film will be Salaud, on t’aime (I Love You, You Bastard) by renowned French filmmaker Claude Lelouch. The film stars the venerable Johnny Halliday playing the role of Jacques, an aging photographer and womanizer. The Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF) will close with Aimer, boire, chanter (Life of Riley) which will be presented as a posthumous tribute to another great French filmmaker, Alain Resnais.

In all the MWFF will screen a total of 350 movies. Slightly more than half, 160, are feature films selected from entries from 74 countries. The rest, 190 films, are shorts. As with most, if not all large festivals, the movies will screen in the various sections including: World Competition, First Films Competition, Out of Competition, Focus on World Cinema, Documentaries of the World, Tributes, and the Student Film Festival.
;Montreal World Film Festival, 2014 poster;
The Student Film Festival expands this year and offers entrants and festival goers films from two categories: Canadian and International.

In the major categories, 19 feature films have been selected to screen in the World Competition. They include:
The Last Wish directed by Namik Ajazi (Albania-Italy)
The Last Dance by Houchang Allahyari (Austria)
Lucky Stiff by Christopher Ashley (U.S.A.)
Un ragazzo d’oro by Pupi Avati (Italy)
Melody by Bernard Bellefroid (Belgium-France-Luxembourg)
The Summer House by Curtis Burz (Germany)
Guard Dog by Bacha Caravedo and Chinon Higashionna (Peru)
Un homme d’état by Pierre Courrège (France)
Maintenant ou jamais by Serge Frydman (France)
The Chambermaid Lynn by Ingo Haeb (Germany)
Lost in Karastan by Ben Hopkins (U.K.- Georgia)
Travelator by Susan Milic (Serbia-Montenegro-U.S.A.)
Cape Nostalgia by Izuro Narushima (Japan), and
The Light Shines Only There by Mipo O (Japan)

Other titles in competition are Zhang Wei’s Factory Boss (China); Luiz Urquiza Mondragon’s Perfect Obedience (Mexico) and from Canada, Dan Zukovic’s Scammerhead.

One of the positive bits of news out of the festival is the confirmation that Hollywood star Sharon Stone, who appears in the film Un Ragazzo d’Oro, in which she plays an alluring publisher interested in the life story of an ad copywriter’s deceased father, will be in attendance at this year`s festival.

The MWFF runs from August 21 to September 1 at the Imperial Theatre (1430 de Bleury St.) and Cinema Quartier Latin (350 Emery St.) Click here for a link to the Montreal World Film Festival and other August film festivals.

Cameras Roll on Hunter’s Moon

By Staff

;Matt Campagna;
(August 12, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Production is set to begin tomorrow, August 13 on a new film from writer-director Matt Campagna, pictured above. Hunter’s Moon is about an eccentric billionaire who spirals out of control when during an extravagant launch party for his new werewolf mobile game, a body turns up. Turns out it`s just the first body. And so begins a heart-pounding race for survival of the fittest.

Matt Campagna, best known as an indie filmmaker who after a few films made his mark in 2008 with the micro-budget feature, Six Reasons Why, starring Colm Feore. Campagna has written and directed films for eOne, the SyFy Network and Sony Home Video. Hunter’s Moon costars Holly Deveaux (Spun Out, Hemlock Grove), Steven Morana ;Six Reasons Why, movie poster;(Gemini Award Winner), Katie Boland (Reign), Art Hindle (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and Ari Millen (Orphan Black).

Rounding out the creative team is Director of Photography David Stuart (Centuries of Torment) and Producer Nic Izzi (Gallop Meets The Earth). On the technical side, Hunter’s Moon will be the first production in Canada to be shot on the new Sony A7S Camera.

The production company behind the feature is Men of Characters, which was established when Steven Morana and Nic Izzi combined their experience, talents and resources to produce top talent, high quality films. In an effort to bring new productions to the city of Toronto, Men of Characters produces highly creative films, without high risk. Hunter`s Moon will be the company`s first feature and is slated for release in the fall of this year.

TIFF Announces Canadian Content

By Staff

;Tiff Bell Lightbox;
(August 7, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Organizers of the 2014 Toronto Internatinal Film Festival (TIFF) announced their lineup of Canadian films yesterday. Something old, something new, something bold, more or less wraps up a quick take of this year`s offerings. The old are films that have been previously released in Québec but have yet to screen in TROC (The Rest of Canada) including the long anticipated Denys Arcand film An Eye for Beauty, which received tepid reviews when it opened in Québec in general release. In addition to Arcand the lineup of talent is impressive and includes new works by such acclaimed Canadian filmmakers as Xavier Dolan, Sturla Gunnarsson, Ruba Nadda and Jacob Tierney as well as an impressive number of first-time feature filmmakers. Jam-packed with compelling works ranging from thrillers and comedies to romances and musicals, this year’s Canadian offerings will, hopefully, entertain, inspire and move audiences.

“These are filmmakers at the top of their craft, bringing fresh perspectives to traditional genres like comedies and less traditionally Canadian genres, such as musicals,” said Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF. “This year’s slate truly showcases the diversity of talent in our country, featuring films from coast to coast.”

“We are inspired by the number of exceptional debut features from Canadian directors, reflecting the depth of talent in this country,” said Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo, Canadian Features Programmer, TIFF. “Extremely exciting is also the fact that female-driven narratives play a significant part in this year’s programming, highlighting the strong, rich tapestry of our storytelling.”

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS:

An Eye for Beauty (Le r

Avan Jogia Becomes Tut

By Staff

;Avan Jogia;
(August 6, 2014 – Montréal, Québec) Muse Entertainment has announced the signing of Canadian actor Avan Jogia to play the title role in its new 6-hour event series, Tut, which will begin production this fall.

“Vancouver born actor Avan Jogia will be an outstanding addition to the cast of Tut,” said Michael Prupas, CEO of Muse Entertainment. “Jogia is a hot young talent with a loyal following who has already made a name for himself in film and television.” Jogia is probably best known for his work as Danny Desai on the ABC Family’s hit series Twisted.

“We are thrilled to work with such an incredibly gifted young actor who is perfectly suited to take on the immensely complex character of King Tutankhamun,” said Sharon Levy, Executive Vice President, Original Series, Spike TV.

Avan Jogia, one of Hollywood’s emerging young actors, will next be seen in Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s Ten Thousand Saints with Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch, Asa Butterfield, Ethan Hawke, and Emily Mortimer. Also coming;King Tut; soon will be Eddie O’Keefe’s Shangri-La Suite with Emily Browning, Ashley Greene, and Luke Grimes. He is currently shooting one of the leads of Outskirts opposite Ashley Rickards, Eden Sher, and Victoria Justice. Jogia continues to be represented by ICM Partners and LINK.

Last month, Muse Entertainment announced that legendary actor Ben Kingsley will star in Tut in the key role of Ay, the Grand Vizier to King Tutankhamun who wields tremendous power and influence as the top advisor to the young Egyptian ruler.

Tut will be shot entirely on location in Morocco and Canada this fall and will debut on Spike TV in 2015. This will be Spike TV’s first scripted event series in eight years and is another step in the network’s move to reaching a more gender-balanced audience. Muse Distribution International is selling the 6-hour television event globally.

Known for its work on series and mini-series like The Kennedys, Being Human, The Pillars of the Earth and Bomb Girls, Tut will see Joel S. Rice and Michael Prupas as Executive Producers from Muse. The project is also executive produced by Greg Gugliotta, Michael Vickerman, Elice Island Entertainment’s Jeremy Elice, Angela Mancuso and Director/Executive Producer David Von Ancken. The series is written by Michael Vickerman, Peter Paige & Bradley Bredeweg. Sharon Levy, Executive Vice President, Original Series, Spike TV will also serve as an Executive Producer. Producers are Irene Litinsky, Guy Louthan and Gilles Perreault and Vlad Wolynetz is Co-Executive Producer.

Since its founding in 1998, Muse Entertainment has won over 100 awards and garnered over 300 award nominations including 10 Emmy Award nominations, winning four, plus a DGA award for best director for the mini-series The Kennedys. The Pillars of the Earth also won an Emmy and many other awards. Muse Entertainment President is Executive Producer Michael Prupas. Muse U.S.A. President is Executive Producer Joel S. Rice. Spike TV is available in 98.7 million homes and is a division of Viacom Media Networks.

Jewel Staite to Star in How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town

Jewel Staite

Jewel Staite to Star in
How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town
By Staff

(August 5, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Writer-director Jeremy LaLonde has announced that Jewel Staite (Firefly, The Killing, Stargate: Atlantis) will star as the lead in his comedy feature film How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town about a sex columnist who returns to her hometown and gets a chance at revenge on her former friends.

Also joining the cast are principals Lauren Lee Smith (If I Stay, The Listener), Katharine Isabelle (Torment, Being Human), Ennis Esmer (The Listener, Sex After Kids), Tommie-Amber Pirie (What If/The F Word, The Trotsky), and Jonas Chernick (My Awkward Sexual Adventure, The Best Laid Plans).

“Jewel is a powerhouse, which is exactly what you want in a leading lady. The character of Cassie is jaded and sarcastic, but beneath it all there`s a deep hurt and a real vulnerability; Jewel is the perfect actor to bring that out in;How to Plan an Orgy, movie poster; a way that`s honest, real, heart-breaking, and funny,” said LaLonde. He added, “Our cast involves a nice ensemble of incredibly talented actors I’ve worked with before and others I’ve long admired, so I’m really excited to throw this group together and make something unique with them.”

Jewel Staite’s is currently costarring in the 4th season of the taut, edgy police drama The Killing, with all of the commercial-free episodes available on Netflix. Other recent credits include State of Syn, L.A. Complex, and Serenity and the upcoming She Who Must Burn.

How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town is a comedy about a group of friends who live in the picturesque town of Beaver’s Ridge – the epitome of wholesomeness and strong family values – whose orderly lives get interrupted with the homecoming of big city sex writer Cassie Cranston. In her youth Cassie suffered a public humiliation that got her labeled as the town slut, and now that her former friends are looking to spice up their sex lives she gets her chance for revenge… and to make some money in the form of a book she owes to her publisher.

How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town goes to camera this October, and is a Neophyte Productions Inc. production. The project is being produced by Jordan Walker (The Privileged) and Chris Bennett (Solo), while Avi Federgreen (One Week) and Ryan Goldhar (I Put a Hit on You) are executive producing.

The film is financed in part through the participation of Telefilm Canada’s Canada Feature Film Fund, but to top up financing, LaLonde and the producers launched a crowd funding initiative yesterday to raise $70K through an Indiegogo campaign, which has already raised more than 25% of its goal. LaLonde has a proven track record with crowd-sourced funding having successfully raised $61K toward the budget of his edgy sophomore comedy Sex After Kids.

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