(July 20, 2015 – Vancouver, BC) Frankly we like the logo. It`s the front end of a jet engine held within a frame of film. It says everything about having a captive audience at 35,000 feet enjoying a series of great Canadian shorts selected by a jury that inlcuded a number of Canada`s best filmmakers. It`s the 2015 enRoute Film Festival and it kicks off on July 23rd when this year`s lineup of films will be announced at the Vancity Theatre.
Hosted by eTalk’s Liz Trinnear, all 20 selected shorts will be announced at a free public screening and cocktail at Vancity Theatre on Thursday of this week at 6:30 p.m. PT. The jury for this year`s selection was led by recently Emmy-nominated actor Tatiana Maslany and included, Albert Shin, Catherine O’Hara, François Girard, John Galway (President of Bell Media’s The Harold Greenberg Fund) Julie Roy (Executive Producer at the NFB’s French Animation Studio) Ron Mann, Ruba Nadda, Sophie Desmarais and the director and winner of Best Short Film at the 2014 Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, Yassmina Karajah.
“We love giving young, talented filmmakers a platform to show their short films to millions of Air Canada passengers,” said Éric Lauzon, Manager, Multimedia Entertainment at Air Canada. “The Air Canada enRoute Film Festival not only offers the opportunity for filmmakers to screen their work but also to get it in front of top Canadian talent.”
The jury will select the winners, who will each receive an all-inclusive trip for two to the Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, courtesy of Air Canada. The winner of Best Short Film will also receive $5,000 courtesy of presenting sponsor, Cineplex. All of the films will compete to win prizes for Best Short Film, Achievement in Direction, Achievement in Cinematography, Achievement in Animation, and Achievement in Documentary
Air Canada passengers will be able to view the selected short films on their personal seatback in-flight entertainment system as well as online at enRoutefilm.com. The festival will showcase the films on Air Canada flights around the world from August 1 to December 31, 2015.
Free public screenings will be held in Montreal on Monday November 2, 2015 and in Toronto on Wednesday, November 4. Following the Toronto screening, prizes will be presented at an invitation-only awards celebration.
(July 1, 2015 – Toronto, Ontario) Two weeks ago, the 13th annual Female Eye Film Festival kicked off in Toronto when founder Leslie Ann Coles took her place behind the podium to welcome a nearly sold-out audience to the opening night Gala. In addition to a short film and the screening of a new feature, one of the highlights of the evening was an on-stage interview with this year’s Honourary Director, Léa Pool conducted by President and CEO of Creative Woman Workshops Association, Carol Whiteman. But before that, Pool accepted her award in a short, moving speech about the role of women in filmmaking today. Northernstars.ca requested a copy of that speech and although we’ve had it for the past two weeks, we decided to hold it for publication until today, Canada Day. Pool began her remarks by saying’ “Good evening! Thank you….”
“I first began making films in the eighties and as a young woman, all I wanted was to express my own vision, my own language and my own emotions. I was looking for my own voice and the opportunities to define it. I remember being apprehensive to present my films at ‘Women Film Festivals’ with fear to be labeled as a ‘feminist filmmaker’ or as a ‘gay filmmaker.’
I was afraid to be marginalized.
Tonight I am more than proud to be here with you.
Tonight I speak as a woman filmmaker.
Tonight I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to work and create.
Tonight I’m also still concerned by the ongoing inequalities of our industry where few women’s voices are heard. It is impossible to avoid the statistics, that proves year after year, that women in films are under-represented in all departments and that their voices are often and sadly still marginalized.
Fortunately and as usual, women are standing strong. In different parts of the world recently, a new wind is blowing:
In Québec for instance, Les Réalisatrices Équitables is working very hard to give a strong voice to women filmmakers hoping to reach equity for women directors.
In Hollywood, Patricia Arquette used her Oscar speech to call for equal pay for women. The Meryl Streep Funds promotes the Lab for Women Screenwriters Over 40. The Swedish Film Institute achieved 50-50 Funding Distribution for Male and Female Directors.
So, I believe it’s important to get involved, to teach, to support and inspire women filmmakers. Inspire them to persist fighting for equality between women and men in our business. I believe it is our duty.
Tonight, It is a great honour and a privilege to accept this award at the Female Eye Film Festival, where so many talented filmmaker before me, were also honoured.
Tonight it is wonderful to see so many of you celebrating Woman’s Cinema.
(July 1, 2015 – Toronto, ON) Canada Day, 2015. The date not only marks our country`s 148 birthday, but it also marks the apex of the year. We are halfway there and, as some might say, it`s all downhill from here. Not for Toronto`s Gina Dineen. Founder of the Cabbagetown Short Film and Video Festival, work on this year`s festival is about to ramp up as the deadline for submissions approaches and plans to move the festival to a new, larger venue occupy much of Dineen`s free time. We asked if she could find a few minutes in her busy schedule to sit down for a brief interview with Northernstars.ca`s founder and publisher, Ralph Lucas.
Ralph Lucas: Of all the things you could have done… why start a film festival?
Gina Dineen: It all started with the Cabbagetown Cultural Festival. That`s what it used to be called. A weekend of street closures and yard sales and activities in the Fall celebrating the neighbourhood. I had volunteered for a couple of years doing kid`s event on the street because I have four kids, they were small at that time, and it was fun to participate as a neighbourhood volunteer in that way. Before having kids I had graduated from York University with a film degree and so my husband, Paul, who was then Chairman of the BIA, which organizes the festival said ‘Why don’t you do a film thing.’ Well, it was like BINGO!!! A light went on. So while I was at York in the early 80s, we had seen some films by Clay Boris, who has gone on to do a lot of episodic television directing. He had just released his big feature, Alligator Shoes, and before that he had done a couple of shorts, one of them was titled Parliament Street (Editor`s note: Parliament is the main street through Toronto`s Cabbagetown neighbourhood), black and white, 16mm, about some leather jacket type thugs chasing a kid all through Cabbagetown and then beating him up down at the base of Riverdale Hill. Then he did another short called Paper Boy, about a kid delivering papers pretty much in St. James Town. He also done something called Rose`s House about his mom`s rooming house. So I thought this was fantastic. Here was someone who grew up in the neighbourhood, who did some short films that are easily digestible and so, it was 1992, and I decided that would be the program.
I looked Clay Boris up in the phone book and he very graciously lent me some VHS tapes. I then got the upstairs room, it was called the Laurentian Room, at what once was the Winchester Hotel. Then I had to rent all kinds of stuff, like a front screen projector, monitors, and I sold tickets and people came. The program was far too long, but the audience was generous and the people loved it.
The next year I started inviting local filmmakers. At that time HandyCams were just starting to come out, that`s 1993, and I thought there would be a lot of local stories that would emerge. Not the case. Filmmakers are filmmakers. It`s a special skill, it`s talent, it`s a craft. Just because you put a camera in someone`s hands doesn’t mean that they want to or are able to make films. But Cabbagetown is a pretty artsy neighbourhood and we did get some excellent films. For example we had a film by John L’Ecuyer. It was shot in the Winchester Hotel and it was called Low Life. It was about a heroin addict. He`s a very successful television director and he`s a sweet guy. So, things like that started popping up.
Gradually I didn’t have to look for films. They started coming to me. And, all the entries come to me and I watch everything. Then I put together a short list, a sort of ‘best of’ selection that`s longer than the final program and those films are screened by me and a jury so that it`s not just my opinion. The jury picks the winners and decides what films don’t really fit.
RL: You mentioned Clay Borris and John L’Ecuyer, but there are many other names our readers would recognize.
GD: Yes. In fact I made a list, but just a couple of names. Vincenzo Natali, we showed his very early… a student film really, called Playground, which foreshadowed his later work. That was so exciting. Lori Lansens, she`s an author now, but we had her film Tessa. Then we had Kenny and Spenny. In 1995 they submitted a black and white documentary — can you believe it!! — and it wasn’t pranks or anything like that. It was called It Doesn’t Cost Anything to Say Good Morning. It was one of the most moving documentaries. It was about a homeless guy who panhandled around Summerhill and he passed away. Anyway, I didn’t know them from Adam and later they had their prank show that was so completely different. John Fawcett, who did Ginger Snaps and all that. We had his student film from the Canadian Film Centre called Scratch Ticket. It was so well directed you could tell this guy was talented. Then we also had Su Rynard who is a documentarian who just had Messenger at this year`s Hot Docs. She was a Grand Prize Winner in 1995 with a film called Signal. Stephanie Morgenstern from Flashpoint and Company X. She submitted Curtains in 1996. It`s like a Who`s Who. Michael Dowse had a film called Room 237 about this crazy room where a hamster is loose. Sarah Polley, her very first short film which was shot at the Spruce Court Co-op and Riverdale Park and was called The Best Day of My Life and it was a lovely coming-of-age story. She came to the screening in 1999, when she lived in the neighbourhood. We also had Bruce McDonald`s Elimination Dance.
RL: This year the venue for Cabbagetown Short Film and Video Festival changes.
GD: That`s right. We started in the down and dirty Winchester Hotel. We then moved on to the very comfortable seating arrangement at the Winchester Dance Theatre, in an historic building. But we would be selling out every year and we always ended up with a disgruntled 50 or so extra people who wanted to attend but couldn’t. And it really wasn’t wheelchair accessible. We even had one filmmaker in a wheelchair who came all the way from Edmonton and we had to carry him up the stairs. So, Regent Park has been redeveloped and one of the new buildings is the Daniel`s Spectrum and it has a 300-seat state of the art theatre, all the bells and whistles, great projector, great sound. We’ll still have our refreshment area there so people can have a drink and mingle with the filmmakers. It is more accessible, it has more seating and I think that`s good change.
RL: The date, or the day of the festival has also changed.
GD: It`s now the day before TIFF opens instead on the day it opens. In the past, a number of Cabbagetown people who wanted to be at our festival had conflicts because of needing to be at TIFF, so I was losing some of my audience. It`s still going to be the same great price of $15 for two hours of outstanding short films.
RL: But the deadline for submissions remains the same.
GD: Yes. As it is every year, the deadline is July 31st and all the information and details are online.
(May 19, 2015 – Winnipeg, MA) Celebrated author Francesca Lia Block has teamed up with award-winning filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy. Together, they are adapting Block’s short story Bones from her L.A. Times bestseller The Rose and the Beast. Inspired by the fable of Bluebeard, the short film will be called The Singing Bones and tells the story of a young woman who attends the party of a famous rock producer named Derrick Blue. Over the course of one evening, through seduction, confession and battle, both their worlds are changed forever. The Singing Bones is a modern fairy tale carefully revised to empower and give its young female protagonist a voice.
To get the film made, producers Red Czarina Entertainment have launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the production. ““Our goals are modest,” said producer Bianca Beyrouti. “We need $12,000 to pay for locations, actors, costumes, hair/makeup and set decoration.” The volunteer crew will be members of the San Francisco film cooperative Scary Cow.
“I’ve been a fan of Francesca’s writing for many years,” said director Danishka Esterhazy (pictured). “I love the worlds that she creates in her stories. They are so vibrant and lush – filled with unforgettable heart-break and hard learned lessons.”
““What I love about Danishka’s work,” said Block, who writes fiction, short stories, screenplays and poetry, “is that her films are very dreamy and romantic but at the same time they have a dark and thrilling quality. Her characters are complex and empowered women.”
“When I heard that Francesca and Danishka were talking about collaborating, about making a film together, I thought — this is a match made in heaven,” said producer Rebecca Gibson. Producer Ashley Hirt added, “Both Francesca and Danishka are known for their female-driven stories and their lush imagery. Their work just naturally fits. That is why we are so excited to help bring these two artists together.”
The Singing Bones will star actors Suzanne Pringle (Guy Maddin’s Keyhole, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil) and Stefano DiMatteo (Beauty and the Beast, Lost Girl, Rookie Blue, Flashpoint, The Listener).
The crowdfunding campaign runs until June 12, 2015
(April 22, 2015 – Toronto, ON) Meet Eva Markvoort, a vivacious and charismatic 23 year old woman. She is also faced with an unknown fate and is the subject of this documentary directed by Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji who also produced along with John Ritchie of Force Four Entertainment, Vancouver, in association with CBC News Network.
Uncensored, uninhibited, and with an unbreakable spirit, 65_RedRoses explores Eva`s lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis — a fatal genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system — has reached a crisis point. She needs a double lung transplant as soon as possible or she will die.
Redefining the traditional scope of documentary film in an electronic age, 65_RedRoses leaves viewers with a new appreciation of life and the digital world. This personal and touching journey takes an unflinching look into the lives of Eva and her two online friends who are all battling cystic fibrosis (CF).
Unable to meet in person because of the spread of infections and super bugs, the girls have become each other’s lifelines through the Internet, providing unconditional love, support and understanding long after visiting hours are over. Now at a critical turning point in their lives, the film travels the distance the friends cannot go themselves, capturing the compelling and often heartbreaking realities they face, just trying to take each breath.
The film is filled with extraordinary moments of human drama. Eva’s father uneasily confesses that he has hoped for a traffic accident that would result in new lungs for his daughter. Eva’s rebellious friend Meg admits to smoking pot despite the weakness of her lungs. And the camera is rolling at the exact moment when Eva’s pager goes off – and it keeps rolling for over 24 hours straight as Eva rushes to Vancouver General Hospital.
65_RedRoses was the winner of the Banff Rocky Award for Best Canadian Program; winner of the Most Popular Canadian Film and Most Popular Canadian Documentary at the Vancouver International Film Festival; Audience Favourite at Hot Docs 2009.
National Organ and Tissue Awareness Week continues until April 25, and May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. This documentary is also a tribute to the Eva, her online friends Kina and Meg, and the ongoing 65 Red Roses campaign to raise awareness about organ donations and cystic fibrosis.
65_RedRoses will be broadcast this Sunday, April 26 at 8:00PM Eastern on CBC News Network. It will repeat on Saturday May 2nd at 10PM.
(April 22, 2015 – Toronto, ON) There seems to be more film festival in Toronto in any given year than there are across the entire country in that same time frame. An exaggeration of course, but Toronto boasts all kinds of film festivals in all sorts of languages, including silent, and in all sorts of sizes ranging from International to local and from lengthy to over in a day or two. One of the shorter film festivals is the Lakeshorts, now in its 5th year.
Co-founded by actress Michelle Nolden (Saving Hope, Nikita, Republic of Doyle) and film and television producer Chris Szarka (Rent-A-Goalie, The Rawside of…), on Friday, May 1st Lakeshorts will present the Scotiabank Loved and Local screening, featuring emerging and local filmmakers as well as selected award winners chosen by a distinguished jury, which has programmed two evenings of screenings to include short films from around the world.
Hosted by film critic Richard Crouse, the Gala Performance on Saturday will feature a dynamic program of films by filmmakers from Canada and around the world, including the festival award winners. Lakeshorts acknowledges outstanding achievement through awards donated by local sponsors, including Agency 71, The Assembly Hall, City of Toronto, Deluxe, William F. White, Scotiabank and Steam Whistle Brewery.
One of those winners is Serpent`s Lullaby, which has won the Scotiabank Prize for Most Original Film at the fifth annual Lakeshorts International Film Festival. Written by Charles Hall, the 22-minute film is directed by Patricia Chica.
Click here for a link to the Lakeshorts Film Festival and other film festivals in Toronto and Canada and elsewhere happening in May.
(April 22, 2015 – Toronto, ON) With the 2015 Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival ready to launch tomorrow night, there`s some last minute and some overlooked news to help bring you up to date on this year`s festival. From the organizers of the festival we’ve received a list of special guests, which is in addition to an earlier announcement. Some of those luminaries include Tig Notaro, the Grammy-nominated comedian, actress, and writer and the subject of the opening night film, Tig. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will be on hand to introduce Barry Avrich`s 2005 film, The Last Mogul, which is screening just once, on April 26, as a special presentation this year.
In addition to guest subjects, there will be 190 directors in attendance at the Festival to introduce their films and participate in post-screening audience Q&As. Just some of the recently announced guests who will be present at one or more screenings include:
– Will Durst and Johnny Steele from 3 STILL STANDING (D: Robert Campos, Donna LoCicero | USA | 2014 | 90 min)
– Ted Patrick from DEPROGRAMMED (D: Mia Donovan | Canada | 2015 | 90 min)
– Renowned photographers Massoud Hossaini and Farzana Wahidy from FRAME BY FRAME (D: Mo Scarpelli, Alexandria Bombach | USA | 2015 | 84 min)
– Steven Plotnicki from FOODIES (D: Henrik Stockare, Thomas Jackson, Charlotte Landelius | Sweden | 2014 | 94 min)
– Nick Koenig aka Hot Sugar from HOT SUGAR’S COLD WORLD (D: Adam Lough | USA | 2015 | 85 min)
– Zack Little and Cason Troutman from JESUS TOWN USA (D: Julian Pinder, Billie Mintz | Canada, USA | 2014 | 80)
– Nancy Prebilich from ON HER OWN (D: Morgan Schmidt-Feng | USA | 2015 | 80 min)
– William “Dub” Lawrence from PEACE OFFICER (D: Scott Christopherson, Brad Barber | USA | 2015 | 109 min)
– Amy and Ryan Green from THANK YOU FOR PLAYING (D: Malika Zouhali-Worrall, David Osit | USA | 2015 | 77 min) – Ben Masters, Ben Thamer, Thomas Glover, Jonny Fitzsimmons and Val Geissler from UNBRANDED (D: Phillip Baribeau | USA | 2015 | 105 min)
– Erich Hahn Jr. from A WOMAN LIKE ME (D: Alex Sichel, Elizabeth Giamatti | USA | 2015 | 84 min) – Husband of director and subject Alex Sichel.
And for fans of anything with the NFB brand attached to it, the National Film Board has eight films in this year`s Hot Docs. This includes the world premiere of Sasha Snow’s feature documentary Hadwin’s Judgement, a spellbinding account of environmentalism, obsession and myth produced by True West Films and Passion Planet in association with the NFB, screening in the World Showcase program.
The festival is also hosting five Ontario premieres. Screening in the Canadian Spectrum program are Sophie Deraspe’s esperamos/NFB co-produced feature documentary The Amina Profile, which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, and Serge Giguère’s Productions du Rapide-Blanc/NFB co-production Finding Macpherson, a captivating 10-year look at an artist at work, which was named Best Feature-Length Documentary at Quebec’s Jutra Awards on March 15.
Justin Simms and William D. MacGillivray’s Danny is one of just five titles chosen for Hot Docs’ Big Ideas program. The film is about the charismatic and outspoken ninth Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams (pictured) who will also be in attendance at the festival.
Mike Maryniuk’s eclectic multi-media film Home Cooked Music and Martin Bureau’s impressionisticHell Runs on Gasoline! are featured in the Short Documentary program.
Winner of the Grand Prize for Best Animated Feature-length Film at the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival, Luc Chamberland’s animated documentary Seth’s Dominion, about Canadian cartoonist Seth, is featured in the Next program, which explores creativity, pop culture and the arts.
And as Hot Docs inaugurates its DocX program for innovative interactive documentaries, the festival will host a sneak preview of HIGHRISE: Universe Within with the one-night-only participatory live performance Universe Within, Live. Launching online later this year, HIGHRISE: Universe Within delves into the hidden digital lives of high-rise residents around the world and is the final iteration in the NFB’s many media, multi-year digital documentary projectHIGHRISE, directed by Katerina Cizek, which has to date garnered a number of prestigious international honours: two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, a World Press Photo Prize, two Canadian Screen Awards, and the first-ever IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling.
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets online.
(April 20, 2015 – Toronto, ON) The still on the left sort of says it all. It`s from the light documentary Being Canadian and shows Canadian-born comedy writer turned documentary director Robert Cohen with composer-musician Paul Shaffer, one of many stars who were born in Canada and now live in Hollywood or other tony neighbourhoods around Los Angeles. It`s one of several Special Presentations at this year`s Hot Docs and like the festival itself that plays out at scattered theatres in the city`s downtown core, the Canadian films are sprinkled here and there like special treats across the entire schedule and are in addition to the dedicated Canadian Spectrum program.
Sticking with Being Canadian for a moment longer, while traveling from ocean-to-ocean, Cohen uses his trip across the country to serve as the red thread upon which he hangs a series of terrific celebrity interviews. Mike Myers, William Shatner, Caroline Rhea, Seth Rogen, the list literally goes on and on and each seems to have an insightful explanation as to why so many Canadians have made it big in La-La Land. We’ve been celebrating that for over 15 years here at Northernstars and at one point in the film I thought to myself, “this should have been a Northernstars production.” But it isn’t. What it is is 89 minutes of fun that just might remind you that being Canadian is okay, primarily because we have a terrific national sense of humour and never take ourselves too seriously.
Another, lighter documentary is the Canada-US co-production titled Mavis. That`s Mavis as in Mavis Staples and the once legendary Staple Singers. If you think of documentaries as being heavy think pieces or exposés this is anything but that. In fact the feeling of joy and happiness throughout this doc will having you tapping your feet. Some excellent clips of an early Bob Dylan just one of several highlights in a film and story that deserves your attention.
The Canadian Spectrum contains 18 feature documentaries, most of them screening with a short. Within the group there`s a wide range of films. Two films running under 60-minutes are touching and unnerving. No Place to Hide: The Rehtaeh Parsons Story revisits the circumstances around the suicide of the young girl after she was raped, then bullied by her classmates after they had seen photos of her that were emailed around by her attackers. It shows a system not prepared to cope with the new, ugly, dark realties of this digital age and how one very lonely girl was virtually abandoned by all but her family in her fight to regain a life and an innocence stolen from her.
The other, Mom and Me, is a closeup look at a life destroyed by drugs. What makes this film compelling is that the director, Toronto`s Lena Macdonald, has turned the camera on herself and on her mother, a once-successful TV producer, as she tracks her mother`s descent into some unspeakable Hell. I personally found this film hard to watch not only because I recognized so many of the Toronto locations, but I also recognized the subject of the film and remember seeing her on the streets.
The Messenger is a “canary in the coal mine” environmental story from director Su Rynard. We previously covered this film in an online news story.
The Amina Profile is an NFB film directed by Sophie Deraspe. The film centres on Montrealer Sandra Bagaria, who is having an erotic and intellectual online romance with Amina Arraf, a Syrian-American woman living in Damascus. As the Syrian uprising was being violently repressed, Arraf launched the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus, which quickly became a source for respected news media reports of on-the-ground stories of resistance. But when Arraf is abducted and Bagaria starts a campaign to free her, no one—not even the US State Department—can find a trace of her.
Our final entry, although there many more online, is the Jutra Award-winning film Finding MacPherson. The original French title is Le mystère MacPherson and we have more detail in this recent news item.
As mentioned above, there are Canadian films scattered throughout the Hot Docs schedule, which you can download as a pdf from their website. And here`s a link to their Canadian Spectrum films.
Hot Docs kicks off its 2015 edition on April 23 with the International Premiere of the film Tig. What is it about? In October 2012, comedian Tig Notaro took to the stage and opened her act by saying “Good evening, I have cancer.” Directors Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York follow the comedian for a year, from the legendary show to her preparing for its follow-up anniversary performance. Experiencing every monumental traumatic experience with Notaro’s deadpan humour and phenomenally defiant spirit, Tig is equal parts hilarious, inspiring and touching.
(April 17, 2015 – Toronto, ON) Saying it`s “his best film,” director Denis Villeneuve was thrilled to learn that his large, US film, Sicario, will compete at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival next month. The Oscar-nominated Villeneuve will vie for the Palme d’Or, one of the most prestigious awards in the world of film, against 16 other films. Festival director Thierry Fremaux announced all 17 films in the running yesterday.
Canada has always done well at Cannes with directors David Cronenberg and Xavier Dolan recently being our national flag bearers. This time, using the strict financing rules that govern the nationality of films, it`s a Canadian director and an American film. And the competition is strong.
Following, in alphabetical order, is the full list of 17 films in competition as announced yesterday:
The Assassin, Hou Hsiao-hsienCarol, Todd HaynesErran, Jaques Audiard
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos
Our Little Sister, Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Umimachi Diary
Louder Than Bombs, Joachim Trier
Macbeth, Justin Kurzel
Marguerite and Julien, Valerie Donzelli
Mountains May Depart, Jia Zhang-Ke, Shan He Gu Ren
(April 15, 2015 – Toronto, ON) The 23rd annual Toronto Jewish Film Festival gets underway on the last day of April with Toronto Premiere of the Israel-France-Germany coproduction, Dancing Arabs. The film is celebrated director Eran Riklis’ (The Syrian Bride, Lemon Tree) adaptation of Sayed Kashua’s acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel. We meet the young Eyad who tries to navigate the complexities of being an Arab-Israeli citizen attending an Israeli preparatory school. He experiences an intense romance with an Israeli girl, and develops a friendship with Jonathan, a boy suffering from muscular dystrophy.
Struggling to retain a sense of identity while making his way through the rungs of Israeli society, Eyad learns a profound and unexpected lesson. Co-starring Yaël Abecassis, Marlene Bajali, Tawfeek Barhum and Razi Gabareen, Variety said this was… “Riklis’ strongest film in several years.” Of special interest is the attendance of the director for this screening.
Two special presentations at the film festival had their roots on the smaller screen. On May 2nd in a free screening, organizers offer up a chance to revisit three episodes of the series that made Al Waxman into a Canadian icon. Considered a milestone in Canadian television, King of Kensington was the first TV comedy that honoured the country’s ethnic diversity. The heart of the show was Waxman`s portrayal of the affable everyman, Larry King, a working class Jewish convenience store owner who lives with his mother in the multi-ethnic community of Toronto’s Kensington Market. Over the course of five years, the show went through various casting changes while it introduced a memorable series of regulars including Helene Winstone, Fiona Reid, Peter Boretski, Rosemary Radcliffe and Jayne Eastwood. In addition to these television episodes there will also be screenings of three films that starred Al Waxman. They are, The Dowry, Sun In My Eyes and The Winnings Of Frankie Walls.
Another tribute to The Box, is a look at the career of one of the medium`s most popular and most influential creators, Rod Serling. Serling`s iconic image is strongly associated with the legendary TV anthology show, The Twilight Zone. As a writer, he was committed to using television as a forum for social protest, bringing stories dealing with racism, war, conformity and even the Holocaust to mainstream American audiences. Frustrated by the networks diluting many of his most politically-engaged scripts, Serling created The Twilight Zone as a way to confront the problems he observed in America—by setting them in other-worldly realms in order to evade censorship. Programmers at TJFF have selected some of his most rarely-screened works, which will be introduced by Rod Serling`s daughter, the writer Anne Serling, who will also offer a more personal portrait of the celebrated writer. Screenings include, In The Presence Of Mine Enemies, The Loner: The Homecoming of Lemuel Stove, The Man in the Funny Suit, Requiem For A Heavyweight which was directed by Ralph Nelson from a script by Serling, A Storm in Summer and an episode from the series, Twilight Zone: Walking Distance. On Sunday, May 2nd Anne Serling will give a free talk at the ROM Theatre titled Rod Serling: The Boy, The Man, The Writer, The Father.For more information about the full TJFF schedule and tickets, click here for a link to the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and other festivals in late April and all of May.esence Of Mine Enemies, The Loner: The Homecoming of Lemuel Stove, The Man in the Funny Suit, Requiem For A Heavyweight which was directed by Ralph Nelson from a script by Serling, A Storm in Summer and an episode from the series, Twilight Zone: Walking Distance. On Sunday, May 2nd Anne Serling will give a free talk at the ROM Theatre titled Rod Serling: The Boy, The Man, The Writer, The Father.
For more information about the full TJFF schedule and tickets, click here for a link to the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and other festivals in late April and all of May.
(April 13, 2015 – Toronto, ON) It`s been 53 years since the publication of Rachel Carson`s book, Silent Spring. It was supposed to be a wake up call to the world about how our footprint was causing severe damage to the environment due largely to the chemical industry and more specifically the use and over-use of pesticides. Now there is a new call and this time it`s a documentary and it is titled, The Messenger. It gets its title from that oft used metaphor about the canary in a coal mine and in Su Rynard’s film we are asked to contemplate our deep-seated connection to birds while it warns us that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own. The Messenger will have it`s World Premiere at Hot Docs.
The Messenger, which screens three times at this year`s Hot Docs, brings us face-to-face with the beauty of Thrushes, Warblers, Orioles, Tanagers, Grosbeaks and many other airborne music-makers – and with the existential threats they face from sharing the planet with us. These include hunting, light pollution, high-rise impacts, pipelines, pesticides and loss of migratory habitats.
On one level, The Messenger is eco-alert as art – a skillfully told character first-person p.o.v. about the mass depletion of songbirds on multiple continents, and about the compassionate people who are working to turn the tide. According to international expert Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, who is featured in the documentary, we may have lost almost half the songbirds that filled the skies fifty years ago.
On another level, The Messenger is an engaging, three-act emotional journey, one that mixes its elegiac message with hopeful notes and unique glances into the influence of songbirds on our own expressions of the soul. For example, a German composer, DJ and bird-watching enthusiast, Dominik Eulberg, incorporates bird-sounds seamlessly into techno music and introduces us to the use of birdsongs in Wagnerian opera.
The Messenger also extends our “birds’ eye view,” with a fresh glimpse into their migratory life – courtesy of new technology that tracks individuals and species over thousands of miles, offering up intimate information about the hazards they encounter on their journeys.
We meet passionate and motivated people like Michael Mesure, the founder of the Fatal Light Awareness Program, who has spearheaded the treating of skyscraper glass with markers, resulting in a 70% decline of bird deaths. As he says of the movement to switch off lights in empty buildings, “How often can you say, you flick a switch and a problem disappears?”
We see culture clashes, as in France, where activists run up against hunters of the Ortolan Bunting, an endangered bird that is considered a culinary delicacy. And in the vast prairie lands of Saskatchewan, Dr. Christy Morrissey unravels the mystery behind the sharp drop in the numbers of insect eating birds. She discovers that the smoking gun is likely the same pesticide that is killing honeybees and states, “We are changing the environment faster than birds can cope with.”
But there is an ultimate wild card for songbirds. A Turkish ecologist brings us to a crucial songbird site where the distant Mount Ararat looms large as a sentinel for climate change, where its disappearing glacier could spell tragedy for the wetlands at its base. There`s a glimpse of hope for a sustainable future, as Costa Rican coffee farmers learn from ornithologist Alejandra Martinez-Salinas about the benefits of pesticide-free shade-grown coffee. The diversity of shade trees provide a natural habitat for migratory songbirds and the birds’ appetite for the destructive coffee berry borer, provides an alternative to agro-chemicals.
Ultimately, The Messenger is about what the birds have to tell us about the state of our planet and of ourselves. In the words of Peter Marra, of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington, D.C., “When the bird population starts to decline it’s a cold, it’s a flu that the Earth has. Birds provide an estimate of the integrity of the environment itself. We are part of that environment. We depend on it for our own lives.”
Co-written and directed by Su Rynard, The Messenger will have its World Premiere at Hot Docs on April 28 at Toronto`s Scotiabank Theatre. It will play again there on May 1 and on May 3 at the Innis Town Hall Theatre.
(April 13, 2015 – Toronto, ON) Calling a decision by the Nova Scotia government to change their film and television production tax credit “short sighted,” ACTRA`s National President Ferne Downey, didn’t pull any punches following the release of the province`s budget last Thursday, April 8. “It’s been proven time and again,” said Downey, “that Canada’s creative industries are critical drivers of economic growth and jobs. Yet this budget removes the tools Nova Scotia’s media production sector needs in a highly competitive global marketplace.”Over the last twenty years Nova Scotia’s film and television production sector has exploded, from $6 million in economic activity in 1995 to more than $140 million in 2014. In 2013 the sector was also responsible for generating over 2,000 jobs. This success is bolstered, in part, by the Nova Scotia Film Industry Tax Credit which helps offset the labour costs in the province and is an effective instrument in attracting international production to the region as well as local production and storytelling.
Despite this demonstrable growth, the Nova Scotia government`s 2015 budget drastically altered the makeup of their film and television production tax credit and, adding more pain, was the decision to close the province’s film commission, Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia.”The government’s handling of this file has been a failure from the start,” added Downey. “They failed the production sector, they failed the people who will lose their jobs as a result of these changes and, by implementing all this on July 1st, they’ve failed to understand even the very basics of how our industry works. Applying these changes during the height of production season will chase potential projects, looking for a location right now, out of the province in search of a stable tax credit regime that meets their needs. The government needs to fix the mess they’ve created before the damage to the sector is irreversible.”It`s a bit complicated but the new changes to the tax credit system in Nova Scotia means that what is now a refundable tax credit, which pays a production for any local labour they hire, will become a blend of refundable and non-refundable tax credits. A non-refundable tax only offsets the taxes still owed by a production and is considered an inadequate tool in helping productions acquire meaningful startup financing. The focus on a non-refundable tax credit ignores the reality in which films and television shows are made today. Particularly damaging is the government’s decision to implement the change to the tax credit on July 1st of this year, which is the high point of production season in Nova Scotia.What`s shot in Nova Scotia? decent productions include parts of the mini-series, The Book of Negroes, series like Haven and Mr. D, features like Your Money or Your Wife, which wrapped in late February, a mini-series titled Studio Black which wrapped last month, and the made-for-TV movie Lost in Paradise that is scheduled to go before the cameras in early May. If you’ve ever sat through the credits at the end of a movie or TV show, you know there are far more people behind the scenes compared to the cast. All of the work and all of the jobs that go with film and television production are in jeopardy as a result of this decision.Film & Creative Nova Scotia posted a short message on Twitter on April 10th, two days after the budget announcement, “Thank you to all for your support and hard work over the years. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye. Wishing you the best of luck.”ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. It represents the interests of 22,000 members across Canada.
(April 9, 2015 – Los Angeles, CA) Here`s a first look at the production of Bernard Rose`s Frankenstein. This modern day adaptation costars Xavier Samuel (Twilight, Adore, Fury), Vancouver-born Carrie-Ann Moss (The Matrix Trilogy) and Danny Huston (American Horror Story, Big Eyes), and will enjoy its world premiere at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival this Sunday, April 12th.
Set in present day Los Angeles and told entirely from the perspective of the Monster, this version has its own unique twists on the original story. After being artificially created, the Monster, named Adam, is then left for dead by a husband-and-wife team of eccentric scientists. Confronted with nothing but aggression and violence from the world around him, this perfect creation-turned disfigured monster must come to grips with the horrific nature of humanity.
Bernard Rose directed this production from his original script, which was based on Mary Shelley’s classic novel.Xavier Samuel stars as the Monster, with Carrie-Ann Moss as Elizabeth Frankenstein and Danny Huston as Victor Frankenstein, and Tony Todd as Eddie, who last worked with Rose when he was cast in Candyman. Special Effects Make-up was designed by six-time Emmy nominee Randy Westgate (X-Men Origins: Wolverine).Now making the rounds of various film festivals, distributor 20th Century Fox has set October 2 of this year as its official release date.
(April 8, 2015 – Montréal, QC) With the awards season all but over, there are still a few events worth noting. One of them is the local, Montreal branch of Canada`s largest performer`s union, ACTRA, which will hand out their 2015 awards on May 9th. As with all awards shows the event kicks off with the announcement of the nominees.Nominees for Outstanding Performance – Voice:Liz MacRae Bounty HuntersWyatt Bowen – MiaMarcel Jeannin – GonRachelle Lefebvre – The Legend of SarilaAngela Galuppo – MiaNominees for Outstanding Performance – Stunt:Stephane Lefevre- Brick MansionsFrank Gauthier-PompeiiT yler Hall – X-men: Days of Future PastFrancis Limoges –Brick MansionsHéléna Laliberté & Naomi Frenette – PompeiiNominees for Outstanding Performance – Female:Mylène Dinh-Robic – 19-2Caroline Dhavernas – HannibalSarah Booth -The ScarehouseLaurence Leboeuf – 19-2Meaghan Rath -Being HumanNominees for Outstanding Performance – Male:Gianpaolo Venuta – Time of DeathMark Camacho – X-men: Days of Future PastJonathan Silver – LARPs: the SeriesNicolas Wright – White House DownJesse Camacho – Less Than KindNominees for Outstanding Performance – Videogame:Teale Bishopric – ContrastCatherine Bérubé – Assassin’s Creed: UnityAlex Ivanovici – OutlastTristan D. Lalla – Assassin’s Creed: Freedom CryDan Jeannotte – Assassin’s Creed: UnityEllen David will be honoured with the 2015 ACTRA Montreal Award of Excellence, celebrating her distinguished career, and the Community Builder Award will presented posthumously to Geraldine Doucet, in recognition of her generous support of the Montreal community. “The ACTRA Awards recognize outstanding performances by our members and celebrate the excellence of our industry here in Montreal,” said Don Jordan, President of ACTRA Montreal. “Be it film, television, videogames or animation, I can think of no one more deserving of applause for their esteemed work in every aspect of our business than Ellen David.”The 2015 ACTRA Awards in Montreal, to be held Saturday, May 9th at the Rialto Theatre (pictured above) and will be hosted by comedian David Acer.
(April 8, 2015 – Vancouver, BC) Film is a puzzling cultural artifact. With YouTube, it seems as if any and all images & content are easy to pull up on our iPhone. But many films are like some old 78 records; a single or rare copy of a local or non-commercial production may languish unseen & unknown for years. Thanks to the collector`s muse of the late Bert Bush, the VIFF Vancity Theatre will be able to screen some of these local gems.
Born in Toronto, Stanley Bertram Bush became known as Bert and became a fixture in Vancouver`s film and video scene. He had a love of film from an early age and learned the art of photography with the use of an early camera. Later, while in Los Angeles, he jumped at the chance to work on a radio show running the sound. Another opportunity led to a career in the film industry as an editor.He supervised printing for Trans Canada Films before opening his own post-production firm, Bush Edit House, in 1971.He cut film & video, rented equipment and mentored young filmmakers until his death in 2006. He left a business crammed to the rafters with all sorts of editing & film/video production equipment. Among the many objects needing a new home after the building was sold were stacks of rusting, poorly labeled cans of film. A few film archivists leapt into the fray. They snaffled the cans, cleaned, catalogued and re-canned almost a 100 film items. The materials included silent takes of local productions and compilations of TV ads. They found educational and sports television shows as well as prints of locally-produced instructional & ‘industrial’ productions.Curated by Christine Hagemoen, Lost & Found: Bert Bush`s Accidental Archive showcases some of these 16mm film finds. Dating from 1958 to 1975, the archive is a time-frame before Vancouver started to think of itself as Hollywood North. Edited together, the 120-minute Lost & Found: Bert Bush`s Accidental Archive is a mixture of black & white and colour titles mixing BC tourism (A Date with BC, A Place To Be) with cautionary tales of alcohol abuse (Voices) and heart disease (Heartbeat), a ‘how-to’ film about placing a long-distance call without operator assistance (DDD – Direct Distance Dialing) and rare examples of locally-produced 1950s and 1960s TV ads.Lost & Found: Bert Bush`s Accidental Archive screens at the VIFF Vancity Theatre on Sunday, April 19 at 3:00PM.
(April 6, 2015 – Toronto, ON) Hot Docs and Shaw Media are pleased to announce that eight emerging Canadian filmmakers of diverse backgrounds have been awarded spots in the inaugural Shaw Media Diverse Voices Program. Taking place during the 2015 Hot Docs Festival, from April 23 to May 3, the eight participants will be provided with All-Access passes, round-trip travel to Toronto and accommodation during the Festival.More importantly, all eight recipients will participate in an intensive training module and seminar series, career management workshops, and networking events with industry professionals. This program focuses on documentary and factual television production and show running, including proposal preparation, the production cycle, financing, co-production, and accessing broadcasters.
“We are very excited to begin this new training program with Hot Docs and to foster a new generation of diverse Canadian documentary and factual filmmakers,” said Christine Shipton, Senior Vice President of Content at Shaw Media. “On behalf of Shaw Media, congratulations to all selected participants, we are looking forward to celebrating your success.”
“With Shaw Media’s generous support, Hot Docs is proud to welcome eight up-and-coming Canadian documentary filmmakers of diverse backgrounds to this year’s Festival,” said Stephanie McArthur, Hot Docs’ industry programs manager. “The Shaw Media Diverse Voices Program will provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to be competitive in today’s industry.”
The 2015 Shaw Media Diverse Voices Program participants are:Chris Beaver (Toronto, ON)Joella Cabalu (Vancouver, BC)Kadon Douglas (Toronto, ON)Ashley Duong (Outremont, QC)JP Larocque (Toronto, ON)Jenna Neepin (Winnipeg, MB)Mariam Zaidi (Toronto, ON)Eui Yong Zong (Etobicoke, ON).
The 2015 Shaw Media Diverse Voices jury was made of: Sarah Jane Flynn, Senior Director, Factual Content, Shaw Media; Sharon Lewis, Director, Producer, Show Runner; Daphne Vaz, Consultant, Media Enhanced; and Stephanie McArthur, Industry Programs Manager, Hot Docs.
A reminder: The 2015 Hot Docs Festival runs from April 23 to May 3. Tickets are available online at the Htc Docs website. Click here for a link to Hot Docs and other April film festivals.
(April 6, 2015 – Toronto, ON) It is often been said that what sets British and Hollywood actors apart is the long tradition of theatre in the United Kingdom. The same, perhaps to a lessor extent, can also be said of many of Canada`s finest actors. Christopher Plummer, William Shatner, Martha Henry and so many more can trace their foundations to the renowned Stratford Festival Theatre in Ontario. And so it is with the latest high-definition Stratford cinema event, the release of King John on April 9th costarring Tom McCamus as King John and Seana McKenna as Constance.
The plot is entirely cinematic, yet the production is pure theatre. When the rule of a hedonistic and mercurial king is questioned, rebellion, assassination and excommunication ensue, culminating in a chilling attempt to commit an atrocity against a child, whose mother’s anguished grief cannot atone for her blinkered ambitions for her son.With commanding performances by Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Graham Abbey and Patricia Collins, King John was directed by Tim Carroll, whose recent Shakespeare productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night were the toast of Broadway.
Filmed in spectacular high definition under the direction of Barry Avrich (pictured below), King John will be in cinemas across Canada this Thursday, April 9. There will be an encore screening in Canada on April 12. The production will launch on screens south of the border one day earlier than here, April 8, but U.S. encore dates will vary.
King John was captured live on stage with a full audience at the Stratford Festival’s Tom Patterson Theatre on September 26, 2014, using 10 high definition cameras and 128 tracks of audio to create a lush, surround-sound experience. Additional pick-up shots of key performance elements were captured on stage immediately following the performance.This production is part of a massive initiative by the Stratford Festival, North America’s leading classical theatre company, to capture all of Shakespeare’s plays over the next 10 years. The series began with the Stratford Festival’s critically acclaimed production of King Lear in February. Antony and Cleopatra will première in May of 2015, rounding out the first instalment of the Stratford Festival HD series that will ultimately bring the complete works of William Shakespeare to audiences around the world.
Stratford Festival HD is sponsored by Sun Life Financial as part of their Making the Arts More Accessible® program, with generous support from Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, the Jenkins Family Foundation, Ophelia & Mike Lazaridis, Sandra & Jim Pitblado and Robert & Jacqueline Sperandio.Canadian distribution is through Cineplex Entertainment’s Front Row Centre Events, which specializes in bringing world-class events and performances to the big screen. The cinema screening series will be followed by a broadcast schedule on CBC-TV. Digital and on-demand release will follow. Tickets are available for screenings across Canada and in the United States by following the links on the Stratford Festival`s website.
(March 28, 2015 – Toronto, ON) One of the highlights of the busy Toronto film festival calendar is the arrival of Cinéfranco. Now in its 18th season, this annual celebration of French cinema could easily be renamed the International French Film Festival as its list of features is a mirror of the French speaking world. It is English Canada’s largest celebration of international Francophone cinema and this year it finds a new home at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Cinéfranco will run from Friday, April 10, 2015 to Sunday, April 19.
Once again Cinéfranco will explore the diverse films of the Francophone diaspora, the riches of Francophone cultures and showcase the talents of established as well as rising Francophone filmmakers and artists. With 22 feature films and 7 shorts, including many award-winning and highly acclaimed films from festivals around the world, there is something for all lovers of cinema, from comedy fans to thriller aficionados. Films from Belgium, Canada, France, Tunisia, The United Arab Emirates and Morocco will grace the big screen, including 7 North American Premieres, 9 English Canadian Premieres, 1 Canadian Premiere and 1 Ontario Premiere.
Based on Belgian writer Amélie Nothomb’s European bestseller, the opening night of Cinéfranco gets underway with romantic comedy, Tokyo Fiancée, a charming and tender tale of cultural discovery and young love. In this 100-minute feature we find 20 year Amélie (Pauline Étienne) returning to her native country, Japan. Working as a French tutor, she meets her match in Rinri (Taichi Inoue). He’s a chivalrous and pensive Japanese student obsessed with all things French — which soon includes Amélie, even though she’s Belgian. Director Stefan Liberski`s dynamic pace energizes the Amélie’s exciting quest for her dreams. And it’s a great way to kick off this international celebration of French film.
Women are at the forefront of this year’s festival, standing out both behind and in front of the camera. Female filmmakers shine as they tell their stories with undeniable dramatic intensity. A powerful presence in Quebec cinema for decades, Micheline Lanctôt’sAutrui goes straight to the heart of homelessness. Although homelessness is the foundation for the film, it`s also a touching story of relationships between very different people. One is a young woman who seems to be drifting through life without much purpose and the other is a man of the streets with no small amount of rage boiling up inside him.
Then there’s Kaouther Ben Hania daring mockumentary The Slasher of Tunis/ Le Challat de Tunis which denounces the machismo of Tunisian society with skill and humour. Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar with Once In A Lifetime /Les Héritiers takes us to a multicultural and multi-ethnic grade 10 class of unruly pupils, who connect with Jewish teenagers of the Holocaust generation, in a film full of surprises and optimism.
Another film high on our list is the remarkable Party Girl, which is based on a true story and features Angélique Litzenburger, who plays herself, as the aging nightclub hostess who has to face the prospects of leaving behind her friends and the only life she’s known. Angélique’s real life son, Samuel Theis, one of the three co-directors and writers of the film, has also cast his siblings Mario, Severine and Cynthia in the film which opened Un Certain Regard at Cannes.
Marcelle Lean, Founder-Artistic Director of Cinéfranco (pictured above) says of this year’s line-up, “I love this year’s film selection as it features strong characters mostly inspired by true stories or acclaimed novels. The directing and acting are amazing!”
(March 26, 2015 – Montreal, QC) The 7th edition of the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival will unspool in late September, and they’re looking for your productions now. This labour intensive way to create animation should be celebrated. Not sure what stop motion is or how popular it`s become? Go see The Boxtrolls, which is one example of stop motion filmmaking. Every frame was first an actual construction, every movement created by someone carefully moving some part of the set, or some part of the character and usually more than one element is moved in every frame.
Here are some of the details:
There are no fees associated with submitting a film. Entry is free. Submissions must be received at the festival’s office no later than June 28th, 2015 at 11:59PM EST. Films completed after the first of January 2013 are eligible to participate. Only films under 30 minutes, using Stop Motion animation and pixilation will be considered.
The Call for Entries is now open and this year, the MSMFF will broaden its horizons by accepting film submissions with Object Animation and Pixilation. The Call for Entries will end on June 28th, 2015, at 11:59 EST.
MSMFF organizers are aiming to bring stop motion animation fans another exceptional program of films and more exceptional special guests. The festival will return on the 25th, 26th and 27th of September 2015.