Monday, June 29, 2015
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
“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
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.
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
|The Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery before the screening of How To Change The World|
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.
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
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
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.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Story & photos by Allan Tong
NXNE, Toronto's annual showcase of rock, opened last night with acts performing at club large and small across downtown, including New York trio, Blonde Redhead, who charmed the audience at the Opera House. The band's set skewed towards more recent material in a strong set that lasted over an hour.
Pictured are Kazu Makino on vocals, keyboards and guitar, Simone Pace on drums and Amedeo Pace on vocals and guitar. NXNE continues through Sunday.
The Awards will be presented at the annual Gala on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at The Carlu in Toronto. Hosted by Arisa Cox and Seán Cullen with special guests soon to be announced, the 14th edition of the DGC Awards promises to be a big one. The evening will feature a special Nominees’ reception prior to the Gala.
“I am proud of the nominees and how their collective body of work speaks to Canadians and the world about Canada, about our outstanding Canadian screen creators and professionals," stated Tim Southam, National President, DGC. “It is a privilege for the Guild to have an opportunity to celebrate such outstanding talent every year through the DGC Awards, and this year looks more exciting than ever.”
In all my years of reviewing films, I've never come across one movie that played back-to-back festivals in the same region. The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship is previewing tonight at the Italian Contemporary Film Festival then screening tomorrow night at the Nigara Integrated Film Festival.
CFMR features an Italian-Canadian cast, and takes place in Niagara wine country, which justifies its appearance at these two very different fests. [Disclosure: I know Sergio and he once recommended actress Lina Giornofelice for own of my films. Ms. Giornofelice appears in CFMR.]
CFMR is technically a romantic-comedy, but it's more like an Eric Rohmer film, an exploration of relationships and modern manners driven by dialogue with a touch of comedy. The story revolves around dull middle-aged wine writer, Freddy (Remedy's Enrico Colantoni), who takes his long-time lover Cat (Krista Bridges) on a weekend trip to a Niagara winery to revive their tired romance. Because he's on assignment, Freddy's self-absorbed boss, Richard (David Cubitt), and his young girlfriend, Amy (Brooke Palsson) join them. Problem is, Freddy and Amy have no idea that Cat has been sleeping with Richard.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
It's June in Toronto which means that NXNE is here. The five-day music festival (Northby for you hipsters) showcases rock acts from across the world to fill clubs, large and small, across downtown Toronto. There are also record and comic book fairs, live comedy and film screenings including the Canadian premiere of the outstanding biodoc Amy (review here).
The $49 pass gets you into all the small clubs while the $60 pass gets you into virtually everything. (Read the fine print here). Meanwhile, The New Pornographers (above), Shad and legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins (top) are throwing free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square, but go early because it will be packed (see below for more Northby tips).
Also free is a wonderful display of gig concerts at the NXNE festival hub at 120 Spadina Avenue just north of Queen Street West and within spitting distance of the Horseshoe Tavern and Cameron House.
by Allan Tong
The second half of the Italian Contemporary Film Festival offers some gems, with screenings in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Vaughan through Friday.
Directed by Sydney Sibilia, I Can Quit Whenever I Want is a lively comedy bout a university science researcher (Italian star Edoardo Leo, center above) who loses his job and turns to making a potent synthetic drug to get by. He hires his academic buddies, all of them underemployed now washing dishes or pumping gas but were once chemists and economists, to form his gang to sell his "non-illegal" drug to clubbers.
The comedy obviously tips its cap to Breaking Bad and Weeds, but fortunately steers clear of corniness and cuteness that plagues so many Italian comedies. Instead, the movie is a deadpan and surprisingly tongue-and-cheek critique of modern Italian society where even the most educated can't land a job. I Can Quit Whenever I Want, however, ends abruptly and the story could've used one last turn, but it's still a fun, entertaining romp.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The 40 Long List albums were unveiled earlier today at The Carleton in Halifax, NS in association with Halifax Pop Explosion, with the assistance of the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, the City of Halifax, and the Downtown Halifax Business Commission.
In total 197 titles made the first ballots of the 196 member jury.
This year’s Long List features 18 returning and 22 new nominees, although four of those new Polaris people have been nominated for previous projects: Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld for his solo albums and her work with Arcade Fire respectively, Young Guv’s Ben Cook was previously nominated with Fucked Up, members of Viet Cong were previously nominated as Women, and Siskiyou used to play with Great Lake Swimmers.
From live bands to comedy, NXNE offers a wide array of things of hear and see from June 17-21, but one highlight is the Canadian premiere of Amy.
Directed by Asif Kapadia, Amy, is a powerful documentary covering the life and demise of Amy Winehouse, the London soul and jazz singer who died of alcoholism after a brief, but stunning career. There have been several TV documentaries that have sensationalized Winehouse's well-known battles with booze and heroin, but Kapadia's actually cuts deep and presents the whole story.
The film is largely told by Winehouse on screen using candid home movies and audio interviews, and through childhood friends and associates such as her bodyguard, drug counsellor and ex-lovers. Mitch Winehouse, her father, comes off as exploitive, as does her last manager, but the true villain is Amy herself who self-destructed in a slow suicide.