Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 Toronto International Film Festival Reveals First Round of Galas, Special Presentations

Featuring World Premieres from filmmakers including Michael Moore, Ridley Scott, Deepa Mehta, Meghna Gulzar, Stephen Frears, Rebecca Miller 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 Galas and Special Presentations programmes of the 40th Toronto International Film Festival®.

Of the 15 Galas and 34 Special Presentations announced, this initial lineup includes films from such acclaimed directors as Ridley Scott, Michael Moore, Deepa Mehta, Lenny Abrahamson, Brian Helgeland, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, Jason Bateman, Cary Fukunaga, Catherine Corsini, Stephen Frears, Tom Hooper, Hany Abu-Assad, Meghna Gulzar, Terence Davies, Jonás Cuarón, Julie Delpy, Rebecca Miller and Johnnie To.

“We are celebrating our 40th anniversary in 2015 and this first round of films offers a taste of the incredible lineup at this year’s Festival,” said Handling. “Made by both established and emerging filmmakers from around the world, these films offer a global snapshot of our times.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015 MTV Video Music Awards – nominations

The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards nominations are here — so get voting!

The list for the show, airing Sunday, August 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT — and hosted by Miley Cyrus — is led by Taylor Swift, who is up for nine Moonmen. Following Taylor, pal Ed Sheeran has six noms and is competing against her for the coveted Video of the Year category. We doubt there will be any bad blood, though.

The nominations were announced on Apple’s Beats 1 radio show today. Check out the full list below and start voting now.

The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards will air live from L.A.’s Microsoft Theater at 9 p.m. ET, on Sunday, August 30.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Polaris Music Prize announces 2015 short list

The 2015 Polaris Music Prize Short List was revealed this morning at The Carlu in Toronto.

Caribou (2008, 2010, 2015) and Drake (2012, 2014, 2015) now join Metric (2006, 2009, 2013), Shad (2008, 2010, 2014) and Owen Pallett (2006, 2010, 2014) as the only acts to be nominated for the Short List on three separate occasions. This is second time Braids (2011, 2015) and The New Pornographers (2006, 2015) have made the Short List. Alvvays, BADBADNOTGOOD, Jennifer Castle, Tobias Jesso Jr., Buffy Sainte-Marie and Viet Cong are all first-time nominees.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Call for submissions: Doc Circuit Montreal One-on-One Pitches for Emerging Filmmakers

Doc Circuit Montreal is proud to announce the fifth edition of the One-on-One Pitches for Emerging Filmmakers on Wednesday, October 7, 2015. Ten up-and-coming filmmakers will have the opportunity to meet ten established producers during a full-day event dedicated to documentary pitches. Doc Circuit Montreal is committed to offering a new generation of directors the opportunity to enhance their pitching skills and directly present their projects to film and television producers.

A networking and proposal activity, One-on-One Pitches for Emerging Filmmakers is designed to encourage the formation of new business partnerships and spark intergenerational discussions about the challenges, issues and changes facing the documentary industry. Filmmakers interested in participating have until September 15, 2015 to submit a project.

The Toronto International Film Festival Names Its Inaugural Platform Jury

The Toronto International Film Festival today announced the inaugural jury for Platform, the new programme to champion directors’ cinema from around the world. This year, the three-person international jury is composed of acclaimed filmmakers Jia Zhang-ke, Claire Denis and Agnieszka Holland. Together, they will award a prize of $25,000 to the best film in the programme, to be announced at the Awards Ceremony on September 20, 2015.

“We have a long history with Zhang-ke, Claire and Agnieszka. They are master filmmakers with unique voices that we have championed throughout the years, both at the Festival and in our year-round programming,” said Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFF. “We are honoured to welcome them back to Toronto on our 40th anniversary as we celebrate our renewed commitment to artistically ambitious filmmaking with Platform.”

“Platform is our new home for original, personal filmmaking and this is our dream jury," said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “We are thankful to these visionary filmmakers for making the time to join us this September. We can’t wait for the conversations they’ll have about the Platform films.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Saluting Vittorio De Sica

The films of neo-realist pioneer, Vittorio De Sica, are being celebrated this summer at an exhibition taking place at Toronto's Italian Cultural Institute.  Last night marked the North American premiere of Tutti De Sica, presented in collaboration with TIFF Cinematheque and curated by Italian-Canadian artist Mimmo Baronello.

The 59 photographs, two video stations, a projection of De Sica's signature film, The Bicycle Thief, and the bicycle used in that film amount to a scaled-down version of an exhibit presented in Rome at Ara Pacis in 2013. (Actually, the bicycle was missing during last night's opening, courtesy of Canada Customs which has held it up. It will be in the exhibit as of today.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

TIFF Celebrates its 40th Anniversary with Slate of Free Programming

TIFF thanks audiences for 40 years of support with 40 free films including a screening of Vertigo with a live score co-presented with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, crowd-sourced screenings and a free exhibition celebrating film fans

Piers Handling, Director & CEO of TIFF, tonight announced special programming taking place during the 2015 summer and fall seasons in celebration of the organization’s 40th anniversary. The announcements were made at a free community party held in David Pecaut Square in downtown Toronto, prior to this season’s first TIFF in the Park event, a screening of the 1992 Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award–winner Strictly Ballroom.

“The free programming we’re offering will revisit and commemorate TIFF’s history, and allow us to thank our audiences for their dedication and support over the last four decades,” said Handling. “This is a milestone year for the organization. Not only are we looking back and celebrating 40 years of bringing the world to Toronto, but we’re looking ahead to the next 40 years, with a focus on taking our programming to cultural centres around the world.”

Monday, June 29, 2015

RIDM announces lineup for 2015 en plein air summer screenings

Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM) or Montreal International Documentary Festival is pleased to announce its line-up of free outdoor screenings for the summer of 2015. Working with several organizations, the RIDM will present a series of excellent documentaries in Montreal parks and other uncommon venues. It’s a great way to enjoy the summer while discovering the best that documentary has to offer.

Quebec’s only film festival dedicated to documentaries, the Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal presents the best reality-based films, including the works of established directors and new talents.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences welcomes 322 new members

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 322 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2015.

“It’s gratifying to acknowledge the extraordinary range of talent in our industry,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “This year, our branches have recognized a more diverse and inclusive list of filmmakers and artists than ever before, and we look forward to adding their creativity, ideas and experience to our organization.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

26th Anniversary SOCAN Awards – winners

A who's who of the Canadian music industry gathered last night in Toronto to honour Canada's most talented "Born to Be" songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers at the 26th SOCAN Awards.

Sponsored by Gowlings, KPMG, RBC and HMV, and hosted by CMT Canada's Paul McGuire, the SOCAN Awards recognize the lifetime and more recent achievements of Canada's music creators, honoured in a host of categories, including Pop/Rock, Dance, Urban, Country, Jazz, Folk/Roots, Classical, and Film & Television.

Recipients of SOCAN's major achievement awards this year were the legendary Randy Bachman (Lifetime Achievement), Dallas Green (National Achievement), MAGIC! (International Achievement), music industry pioneer Bernie Finkelstein (Special Achievement), and "Born to be Wild" songwriter Mars Bonfire, who accepted SOCAN's first-ever Cultural Impact Award. All accepted their honours in person, as did R&B chart-toppers The Weeknd and Belly, rising country stars Brett Kissel and Tim Hicks, and film and TV composers Keith Power and Andrew Lockington, among many others.

36th Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards – winners

Canadian Opera Company Leads the Field with 8 Wins: 5 for Falstaff including Outstanding Production and 3 for Die Walküre including Outstanding Direction to Atom Egoyan

The 36th Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards for the 2014/2015 season were handed out in a star-studded ceremony in Toronto on the evening of Monday, June 22 at Harbourfront Centre’s WestJet Stage, hosted by the hilarious Gavin Crawford, whose eight seasons on CBC-TV's This Hour Has 22 Minutes earned him numerous accolades and who recently won an ACTRA Award for his leading role in the film Two 4 One.

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards are produced and presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) and celebrate excellence in Toronto theatre, dance and opera. For the 2014-2015 season, 117 producing companies registered 212 eligible productions. A total of 48 Dora Awards plus the Silver Ticket Award and the Audience Choice Award were given out.

Monday, June 22, 2015

NIFF round-up: Chardonnay, movies & awards in Niagara

The Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery before the screening of How To Change The World
Story and photos by Allan Tong

Away from the hurly-burly of Toronto last weekend was the second Niagara Integrated Film Festival which paired movies, Niagara vintages and gourmet food at wineries across the peninsula. From June 18-21, NIFF held wine tastings, five-course dinners and outdoor screenings as well as an Industry Day of film workshops headquartered at the posh White Oaks Resort and Spa in nearby St. Catharines.

The weather has been fickle this spring. On Saturday night, you needed to wear a blanket to watch a movie, but on Sunday you needed a fan. At least the wine and food, made by the wineries Peller Estates, Southbrook and Redstone, were superb across the board.

ICFF wrap-up: Edoardo Leo, awards and mocap

Story & photos by Allan Tong

The fourth Italian Contemporary Film Festival wrapped on Friday evening with a lavish red-carpet gala party at the Ritz-Carlton. Italian comedy star Edoardo Leo picked up The People’s Choice Award for his film, Noi e la Giulia, that he both directed and starred in. Leo also appeared at ICFF in the comedy, I Can Quit Whenever I Want.

Mischa Barton (Hope Lost) received an Award of Honour from the festival. Sergio Navaretta, an Italian-Canadian director, captured the Castlepoint Numa Award for his romantic-comedy, The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship, at the gala. (Full review here.)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

2015 Much Music Video Awards – winners

The 2015 Much Music Video Awards were handed out tonight in Toronto at the Much headquarters on Queen Street West. The host of the event was nominee and winner Ed Sheeran in his fourth appearance at the show. On receiving the prize foe Best International Artist, his first of two awards, he said "This is my fourth year and I've never won one — I feel like it's just because I'm presenting. So thank you very much for this."

The biggest winner of the night, however, was the hometown boy The Weeknd (a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye) who picked up four awards on the night, including video of the year. He tied the record for most MMVA wins in one night set by Swollen Members, k-os, and Hedley. He had led all nominees with six mentions. His acceptances were pithy, "I want to thank the fans of course — XO, wouldn't be here without you guys." His performance was medley of "Mood Music" and "Earned It"

Montreal's P Reign picked up the award for Best Hip Hop Video and he received a surprise visit from an unannounced guest. Toronto rapper and co-director of the winning video "DnF," Drake (a.k.a. Aubrey Graham) joined him onstage and received a roaring welcome from the audience. "My brother Drizzy Drake is in the building. That's my brother for life," said P Reign.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Films at NXNE: from Toronto to Texas

by Allan Tong

This year's NXNE has scaled back its film program to a handful of intriguing choices. Last year, the film program expanded (or lost) its focus to include films that strayed from music, which I think was mistake, because Toronto already hosts 80+ film festivals covering any niche you can think of.

Amy, an excellent biodoc that I reviewed earlier this week, is the centerpiece, but a local indie film that Brendan Canning co-produced deserves a look, too. Diamond Tongues is about Edith (Leah Goldstein), an aspiring Toronto actress struggling to crack a very tough business as she wrestles with a messy personal life.

The first 15 minutes feel like a documentary of the lives of my own friends: actors, writers, film directors along Queen West raising Kickstarter funds for their next audition, praying for a callback or landing a writing gig on a (lame) TV series. No doubt that writer/directors Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson drew material from their own lives and their circle of friends.