Monday, October 31, 2016

Film review: Gimme Danger

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Review by Allan Tong

Punk pioneers, The Stooges, receive the deluxe rock doc treatment in the entertaining, funny and illuminating Gimme Danger. Makes sense that indie king, Jim Jarmusch, tells the story of the iconoclastic band that hailed from working class Michigan during the flower power era then roared across stages and recorded three seminal albums before drugs poisoned the band.

Stooges' front man, Iggy Pop, dominates the storytelling and it's clear he's the driving force throughout the band's frenetic history. Iggy's reminisces are detailed and warm. It's jarring to see him (as young James Osterberg) in old photos wearing suits and posing with his early bands behind drum kits (he started as a drummer). Blues freak Osterberg then travels to Mecca (aka Chicago) and gradually finds his voice by banding with the Asheton brothers, Ron and Scott, and a bassist, and mentoring under rock revolutionaries, the MC5.

Friday, October 28, 2016

145 documentary features submitted for 2016 Oscar race


One hundred forty-five features have been submitted for consideration in the Documentary Feature category for the 89th Academy Awards®.

Several of the films have not yet had their required Los Angeles and New York qualifying releases. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and comply with all of the category’s other qualifying rules in order to advance in the voting process. A shortlist of 15 films will be announced in December.

Films submitted in the Documentary Feature category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

10 documentary shorts named to Oscar's 2016 shortlist


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that the field of Documentary Short Subject contenders for the 89th Academy Awards has been narrowed to 10 films, of which 5 will earn Oscar nominations.

Voters from the Academy’s Documentary Branch viewed this year’s 61 eligible entries and submitted their ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers for tabulation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

85 countries in competition for 2016 Foreign Language Film Oscar

Eighty-five countries have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 89th Academy Awards. Yemen is a first-time entrant.

The competitive Foreign Language Film category was introduced in 1956 for the 29th Academy Awards. In celebration of its 60th anniversary, the Academy has created a complete playlist of acceptance speeches and a poster gallery of all the Foreign Language Film Oscar winners.

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Toronto International Film Festival Announces 2016 Award Winners


The Toronto International Film Festival® announced its award winners at a ceremony at TIFF Bell Lightbox today, hosted by Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. To watch the presentation, visit tiff.net/ceremony. The 41st Festival wraps up this evening.

The short film awards below were selected by a jury comprised of American filmmaker Abteen Bagheri (That B.E.A.T.), French filmmaker Eva Husson (Bang Gang), and Canadian filmmaker Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls).

SHORT CUTS AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM
The Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film goes to Alexandre Dostie’s Mutants. The jury remarked, “Mutants takes a summer in Quebec and infuses it with a ribald lyricism. Awkward moments of sexual awakening paired with self cannibalism and self immolation rise it above standard nostalgia. It was a film that took chances with both its subject matter and humour, and framing it through the eyes of children. Congratulations.” The award offers a $10,000 cash prize.

TIFF and the art of self-promotion

BaBa Zula rocks TIFF
Story & photos by Allan Tong

Each September, the world's second-largest film festival (after Cannes) attracts armies of filmgoers, showbiz heavies and journos. A while back (I don't know when), some marketing folks began to open drop-in lounges to promote everything from eyeliner to self-published mafia memoirs. Meanwhile, state film commissions throw lavish parties to promote their nation's filmmaking industry while film producers orchestrate death-defying stunts. On King Street, which was closed to traffic during the first half of the fest, tea, chocolate and other vendors were giving away samples to long lines. They all aim to generate Tweets and blog space for themselves and their clients. Hey, there's a huge market at TIFF. Let's hang our shingle here. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How to schmooze at TIFF

Story & photos by Allan Tong

It's day 8 at TIFF, the Americans have left and, while the galas and screenings continue strong, the parties are over. That's left me to reflect on schmoozing. 

What's schmoozing? That's the art of making small talk to impress someone at a festival party without overtly pitching them or blowing smoke up their ass. Newbies fail miserably at this, and one must learn the nuances through painful trial-and-error. However, to get a head start here are 10 tips:

1) Dress the part. I love the Jays, but I sure as hell wouldn't wear a Jose Bautista jersey to a TIFF party (the exceptions being Kevin Smith and Spike Lee who can wear any damn sports jerseys they want). Who want to look like a schlub or homeless? 

Men, wear a dress jacket at the very least. Tie optional. Jeans are okay as long they are clean and ironed. Dress shoes preferred, but you can get away with running shoes because it's considered anti-authoritarian.

The gathering of the Canadian film tribe: the CFC BBQ

Story and photos by Allan Tong

"You going to the barbecue?"

If you're a Canadian at TIFF, you inevitably hear that question, followed by, "Did you get an invite?"

Held in the first Sunday afternoon of the festival, "the barbecue" is a gathering of the Canadian film tribe as well as a fundraiser for the Canadian Film Centre. It takes place on the manicured lawns of the CFC far north of the Lightbox but near the millionaire mansions of the Bridal Path. Given its distance and isolation, the barbecue is hard to crash and coveted.

If you're lucky enough to get in, you nibble on burgers, hot dogs and pizza and sip wine and beer that sponsors generously donate. But the real point is to show your face, shake hands and catch up with other Canadian filmmakers from various disciplines. Exchanging business cards is an essential ritual.

Each year, CFC founder Norman Jewison delivers a speech and this year under a sweltering sky, the venerable film director, wearing his "NJ" baseball cap, asked for a moment of silence on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Telefilm and Birks salute women at TIFF

Story and photos by Allan Tong
Sandra Oh

Last night at the posh Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto, Telefilm Canada and jewelerer Birks feted a dozen women in Canadian film at the Birks Diamond Tribute. They included actresses Amanda Crew (Silicon Valley),Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal) Christine Horne (Hyena Road),Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy, Window Horses) and Jennifer Podemski (Fire Song); directors Tracey Deer (Mohawk Girls),Ann Marie Fleming (Window Horses), April Mullen (Below Her Mouth, 88), Léa Pool (Set Me Free) and Ann Shin (My Enemy, My Brother); and, for the first time, screenwriters Emma Donoghue (Room) and Marie Vien (La passion d'Augustine).

What distinguishes this list of honourees this year from last is racial diversity. In 2015, the honoured women were all white, a point not lost on some attendees. Perhaps to rectify this imbalance (particularly in the year of #OscarsSoWhite), Telefilm has included Asians (Oh, Shin and Fleming) and First Nations (Podemski, Deer) in a profound way. 

Documentarian Shin feels she she has been "lucky" in getting her films made about Asian and black issues, but is about to make her first fictional film. "I hear it's tougher," she says. In particular, she feels it's hard to get Asian males on screen. "There's a bias."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Isabelle Huppert and the French shine at UniFrance, TIFF

Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne (directors, The Unknown Girl)
Story and photos by Allan Tong

Over the weekend, UniFrance celebrated France's directors, screenwriters and stars attending TIFF this year with their films. These include Paul Verhoeven's controversial Elle starring the legendary Isabelle Huppert, the Dardenne brothers' The Unknown Girl and renowned director, Agnes Varda who was in Toronto to receive an award named after the late, great film critic Roger Ebert.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Jackie Chan, Anne V. Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman to receive Academy’s 2016 Governors Awards

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Tuesday night (August 30) to present Honorary Awards to actor Jackie Chan, film editor Anne V. Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. The four Oscar statuettes will be presented at the Academy’s 8th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 12, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center.

“The Honorary Award was created for artists like Jackie Chan, Anne Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman – true pioneers and legends in their crafts,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “The Board is proud to honor their extraordinary achievements, and we look forward to celebrating with them at the Governors Awards in November.”

After making his motion picture debut at the age of eight, Chan brought his childhood training with the Peking Opera to a distinctive international career. He starred in – and sometimes wrote, directed and produced – more than 30 martial arts features in his native Hong Kong, charming audiences with his dazzling athleticism, inventive stunt work and boundless charisma. Since Rumble in the Bronx in 1996, he has gone on to enormous worldwide success with the Rush Hour movies, Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights, Around the World in 80 Days, The Karate Kid and the Kung Fu Panda series of animated films.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Academy reveals 2016 Student Academy Award winners

The Academy has voted 17 students as winners of the 43rd Student Academy Awards® competition. The Academy received a record number of entries this year – 1,749 films from 286 domestic and 95 international colleges and universities – which were voted by a record number of Academy members. The 2016 winners join the ranks of such past Student Academy Award winners as Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Trey Parker and Robert Zemeckis.

First-time honors go to Maharishi University of Management, DePaul University, Michigan State University, The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz.

All Student Academy Award-winning films are eligible to compete for 2016 Oscars in the Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short Film or Live Action Short Film category. Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 49 Oscar nominations and have won or shared eight awards in several categories, including Writing, Directing, Documentary Feature and Animated Feature Film.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Toronto International Film Festival announces Canadian selections, Talent Lab, Pitch This!, Rising Stars


POLITICS AND BOLD STORYTELLING HEADLINE CANADIAN LINEUP AT THETORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The Toronto International Film Festival® announced an exciting lineup of Canadian features, packed with World Premieres from acclaimed filmmakers Deepa Mehta, Alanis Obomsawin, Bruce McDonald, and Brigitte Berman to promising new work from Kevan Funk, Anne Émond, Chloé Robichaud, Jamie Kastner, and Vincent Biron. North American Premieres include the latest from Xavier Dolan, Nathan Morlando, Kim Nguyen, Ann Marie Fleming, and Johnny Ma.

“We are thrilled to present a robust selection of projects from some of Canada’s best filmmakers,” said Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF. “From thought provoking documentaries and affecting dramas, to unconventional biographies and thrillers, to animated features, this year’s selections highlight the diversity and high-calibre work produced in Canada.”

“We are proud to shine a spotlight on both veteran filmmakers and emerging talent in this year’s slate,” said Magali Simard, Film Programmes Manager, TIFF. “Canadians continue to forge their own path on a global scale with their own distinct perspectives and methods of storytelling.”

Monday, August 1, 2016

Call for submissions: EURODOC Pitch, and One‐on‐One for Emerging Filmmakers


CALL FOR PROJECTS:
EURODOC PITCH and ONE‐ON‐ONE FOR EMERGING FILMMAKERS

Montreal, August 1, 2016 – Doc Circuit Montréal (DCM) is delighted to announce two exciting calls for projects: the EURODOC Pitch and the One‐on‐One for Emerging Filmmakers. Established québecois producers and emerging filmmakers are invited to submit their documentary projects by September 15th as part of these two pitching events.

EURODOC Pitch

We are now accepting submissions to the prized EURODOC Pitch! Five Quebec-based documentary producers will be selected for the opportunity to pitch live in the hopes of receiving a $4,000 grant and securing a much coveted slot for one of Europe’s leading training programs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Toronto International Film Festival announces first films for 41st edition


2016 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL UNVEILS ITS FIRST SLATE OF GALAS AND SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS
Featuring World Premieres from filmmakers including Oliver Stone, Mira Nair, Ewan McGregor, Konkona Sensharma, Lone Scherfig, Raja Amari, Jonathan Demme, Baltasar Kormákur, Amma Asante, Christopher Guest, Feng Xiaogang, Rob Reiner, J.A. Bayona, Arnaud des Pallières, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and many more

Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, announced the first round of titles premiering in the Gala and Special Presentations programmes of the 41st Toronto International Film Festival.

Of the 19 Galas and 49 Special Presentations announced, this initial lineup includes films from such celebrated directors as Werner Herzog, Denis Villeneuve, Jim Jarmusch, Mia Hansen-Løve, Rebecca Zlotowski, Tom Ford, François Ozon, Andrea Arnold, Maren Ade, Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee woon, Kenneth Lonergan, Antoine Fuqua, Damien Chazelle, Pablo Larraín, and Paul Verhoeven.