Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Call for Submissions: 32nd Rhubarb Festival

Toronto's Annual Convergence of Contemporary Performance
Feb 16-27, 2011
Festival Director Laura Nanni

Produced by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre for over 30 years, the Rhubarb Festival has offered artists a critic-free environment to experiment with new explorations in performance. Rhubarb continuously reconsiders the possibilities for performance - how we create it, how we present it and how we experience it. It is an invitation for artists to take risks, investigate new directions and challenge conventions. It is an opportunity for adventurous audiences to journey off predictable paths. Rhubarb provides artists with a rare opportunity to present work to a large and enthusiastic audience. Many Rhubarb shows have gone on to be further developed and presented in Toronto, across Canada and internationally.

The 2010 Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival, June 30 – July 11

The 22nd Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival kicks off today, June 30 and runs until July 11. You will have an opportunity to choose from 150 plays in 27 venues, with 1,200 artists. The venues include traditional theatres as well as some unusual and interesting locations. 

This year, the Fringe Club is located at Honest Ed’s parking lot (at Bathurst and Bloor). This is the central gathering place for participants and festival-goers to relax and have a drink. They will be hosting various events such as Fringe Club Workshops covering topics such as Bellydancing to Stage Combat to Improv 101, and Tent Talks on topics such as “Professional Producing: Taking a Theatre Company to the Next Level”, “Producing New Musicals: A Panel Discussion”, and “Crosswalks/Crosstalks: the intersection where dance meets theatre”. They will also hold a 24-hour playwrighting competition, and they have a stage called Art Wank for anyone who want to take the stage for 30 minutes.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Re-opening of Toronto's Carlton Cinema: free screenings June 30-July 1

It was sad for Toronto cinephiles when the Carlton Cinema was closed by Cineplex Odeon back in December 2009. It was a modest theatre that often showed films that weren't the usual blockbuster fare, but more interesting and thoughtful work such as documentary, foreign, Canadian and independent films. Showing them at the Carlton allowed them to show for longer runs than they would otherwise have at the repertory cinemas.

But now there's good news for film lovers. In addition to the recent opening of the Toronto Underground Cinema and the coming September 12 opening of the Toronto International Film Festival's Bell Lightbox, the Carlton Cinema is reopening on June 30,  this time as a Magic Lantern theatre. They've spent $1.5 million on renovations, including new screens and sound systems, and more spacious and comfortable seating. It will have 9 auditoriums with 80-120 seats, and tickets will be $6-9 with $5 tickets on Tuesdays.

To promote its relaunch, the Carlton is offering free screenings of recent award-winning films on June 30 and July 1 before beginning its regular schedule and ticketing on July 2. Tickets are available an hour before screening on a first-come, first-served basis. Although admission is free, they will be accepting donations for The Toronto Star’s Fresh Air Fund to help send underprivileged kids to summer camp.

The schedule for the free screenings on Wednesday and Thursday is as follows:

The 2010 Dora Mavor Moore Awards

Having announced the nominees for the 2010 Dora Mavor Moore Awards (or Doras) earlier this month, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) held its awards ceremony Monday, June 28 at the St. Lawrence Centre’s Bluma Appel Theatre. Hosted by CBC Radio's Jian Ghomeshi, the Doras recognize over 200 theatre, dance and opera productions annually, in the categories of General Theatre, Independent Theatre, Dance, Opera and Theatre for Young Audiences.

The three-hour ceremony began with a medley of relevant musical numbers, including The Princess and the Handmaiden, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and The Legend of the Toxic Avenger. Soulpepper, Luminato, Tarragon and Theatrefront each came away with four awards. Theatrefront won all of its awards for The Mill, which took Outstanding Production and three design awards in the Independent Production division, where The Turn of the Screw won the acting and directing categories. Robert Lepage's work won two prizes, for Canadian Opera Company's The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, and for the nine-hour Luminato production of Lipsynch. Soulpepper's Parfumerie won three awards in the General Theatre diviion including Outstanding Production and Outstanding Direction, while Soulpepper co-founder Diego Matamoros won for his performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? .

complete list of 2010 Dora winners

Monday, June 28, 2010

The 2010 BET Awards winners

A three-and-a-half hour show took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday night for the 2010 BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards. Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire was named Best Movie, while Mo'Nique won Best Actress. British star Idris Elba was named winner for the Best Actor award.

But the night was dominated by musical performances, starting with Kanye West's first televised performance since dissing Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Awards. There were numerous medleys and tributes, including one for Lifetime Achievement award-winner Prince by female vocalists Janelle Monae, Esperanza Spalding, Alicia Keys, and Patti LaBelle. But the most talked about performance was Chris Brown's tribute to Michael Jackson, which began with impressive dancing. Then when he took a microphone to sing Man in the Mirror, he either broke down in tears and couldn't go on, or he faked a breakdown for sympathy. You can decide for yourself by watching the video below, but I found it very theatrical and over-the-top. If it wasn't fake, it was at the very least planned, since Man in the Mirror isn't a great choice to end an MJ tribute and his "contrition" would be the only reason to end with that song.

Winners of the 2010 BET Awards

Saturday, June 26, 2010

135 new invitees to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) invited 135 people on Friday to join its membership and be eligible to vote for the Academy Awards. At the time of the Academy Awards in March, the Academy membership numbered 5,777. The Academy potentially could have invited as many as 180 this year, but some branches did not invite as many as they could have.

Some of the invitees include nominees and winners from the recent Oscar race, such as actors Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Mo'Nique, Gabourey Sidibe, Peter Sarsgaard, Jeremy Renner, and Christoph Waltz. Some others were not nominated, but are recognizable names like James Gandolfini, Ryna Reynolds and Zoe Saldana. But some were relative unknowns like Shaun Toub and George Wyner.

The invitees are nominated by members of their branches in the Academy.  The Actors' branch is the largest. The Directors' branch invited a diverse international group including Best Foreign Film nominees Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) and Juan Jose Campanella (The Secret in Their Eyes). The Music branch invited Bono and The Edge from the group U2, as well as the undistinguished Brian Tyler whose undistinguished credits include Fast & Furious and Aliens vs. Predator Requiem.

An invitation-only reception takes place in September for new members at the Academy's Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study in Beverly Hills.

full list of 2010 AMPAS invitees:

Friday, June 25, 2010

The 2010 Saturn Awards - 10 wins for Avatar

On Thursday night, June 23rd, 2010, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films hosted the 36th edition of their Saturn Awards. The Saturn Awards are given to genre productions in film, television and theatre. They have four Best Picture awards for the categories of science-fiction, fantasy, horror and action/adventure/thriller. They also have Best International Film and Best Animation Film categories that may include each of the four genres.

To no one's surprise, Avatar came away as the night's big winner, taking 10 awards including Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director and Writer (James Cameron) and each of the main acting awards. James Cameron was also the recipient of the Academy's special Visionary Award. Avatar could just as easily have won the Best Picture awards in the Fantasy, Action/Adventure/Thriller and Animated categories had it been considered for them, but it doesn't appear that the Academy allows for that kind of overlap. The other Best Picture winners were Watchmen (Best Fantasy Film), Drag Me To Hell (Best Horror Film), Monsters Vs. Aliens (Best Animation), District 9 (Best International Film) and Inglourious Basterds (Best Action/Adventure/Thriller).

In recognition of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, director Irvin Kershner was honoured with the Academy's Life Career Award. "Lando Calrissian" actor Billy Dee Williams read a letter from George Lucas, before presenting the award to Kershner’s son, who accepted on his father’s behalf.

Complete list of winners for the 36th Annual Saturn Awards

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2010 North by Northeast Music & Film Festival and Conference (NXNE), June 14-20

2010 marks the 16th year of the North by Northeast Music & Film Festival and Conference (NXNE), which is the Canadian version of the Austin, Texas festival South By Southwest (SXSW). This year the festival expands to a full week-long event, and will feature around 650 bands performing in over 50 venues. They host a conference for musicians and emerging talent to get to the next level. They will also be introducing a series of presentations called NXNE Interactive, with industry professionals expounding on the latest online methods and tools for available for folks in the music business.

NXNE runs a parallel film festival, featuring films about music. This year's 40 music-themed features, docs, shorts, include gala presentations of Bruce McDonald's This Movie is Broken featuring Broken Social Scene and Rob Stefaniuk's wacky rock-n-roll Vampire comedy Suck. Screenings take place at at various locations, with gala presentations at the Royal Cinema and the Bloor Cinema.

The following is the schedule for the NXNE Film Festival:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2010 Indian International Film Academy awards

A three-day weekend ceremony took place June 3-5 at Sugathadasa Stadium in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo for the 11th annual Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) awards, also known as Bollywood's Oscars. The IIFA awards takes place in a different city outside India every year. But this year's choice proved controversial since Sri Lanka is slowly recovering from a 26-year civil war. Many from the country's Tamil minority called for a boycott due to allegations that many Tamil civilians were killed by Sri Lankan forces as the war came to an end. Southern Indian film distributors threatened to boycott any star who attended. As a result, many big Bollywood stars did choose to stay away, including the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, who had not missed any of the previous ten awards ceremonies.

The hit college-comedy 3 Idiots was the big winner, taking 16 of a possible 31 awards including Best Picture and Best Director. The Best Actress award was shared by 3 Idiots' Kareena Kapoor and Vidya Balan for Paa. Amitabh Bachchan was Balan's co-star and won Best Actor for portraying a man with the aging-disease progeria (his character's father was played by his real-life son Abhishek Bachchan).

Previous IIFA Awards ceremonives have taken place in cities such as London, Dubai, Bangkok, Amsterdam, and last year's Macau. Next year, Toronto will be the first North American city to host the IIFA awards.

complete list of 2010 International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Award winners:

Monday, June 7, 2010

2010 MTV Movie Awards

The 2010 MTV Movie Awards took place on Sunday, June 6 at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Studios in Universal City, California. As with last year's sweep by Twilight, its sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon was the big winner of the night with five awards. One of its stars Anna Kendrick won, but for her role in a different movie, Up in the Air. As with last year, co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson won for Best Kiss and teased the audience with the hopes of a kiss that barely materialized.

One kiss that did occur was a lip-lock between Sandra Bullock and Scarlett Johansson, wife of Bullock's The Proposal co-star Ryan Reynolds. Bullock previously gave an impassioned smooch to her Oscar rival Meryl Streep at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards. Other highlights of the night included the rather funny dance routine by Jennifer Lopez and Tom Cruise in his Tropic Thunder persona Les Grossman.

The MTV Movie Awards have a reputation for being more hip than the Oscars, Golden Globes and the guild awards, but aren't taken seriously since the categories are silly and the winners are most often insubstantial hits. Winners are selected by viewers online or by text messaging.

complete list of 2010 MTV Movie Award winners:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Awards News: 2010 Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations

On June 2 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in downtown Toronto, nominations were announced for the 31st Dora Mavor Moore Awards, also known as the Doras. The awards recognizing excellence in Toronto's theatre, opera and dance productions are given by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). Distinguished actor R.H. Thomson was named as the recipient of the Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award for excellence and performing arts advocacy in Canada. Another special award was announced for Natasha Parsons, who received the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for administrative theatre employees.

Necessary Angel's controversial production of Hamlet, presented at the Harbourfront Centre's World Stage, led with six nominations, including for outstanding production. The musical The Toxic Avenger received five nominations. Former artistic director of fu-GEN Theatre Company Nina Aquino was nominated for Outstanding Direction for The Making of St. Jerome (eastBOUNDtheatre), and its lead actor Byron Abalos received a  nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role. k'Now Theatre's production of Pu-Erh took nominations for Outstanding New Play or New Musical (Norman Lup-Man Yeung), Outstanding Direction (Keira Loughran) and Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role (John Ng).

The 2010 Dora Awards ceremony takes place on June 28 at the Bluma Appel Theatre of the St. Lawrence Centre.

For more information visit

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Toronto Irish Film Festival - Fundraiser Gala Screening + Party, June 11

Toronto has 90+ film festivals of varying size and importance. But in a city so large, diverse and supportive of film and the arts, it doesn't seem to be a problem. There's a little something for everyone.

So on June 11, we'll see the kickoff of the new Toronto Irish Film Festival, which will open with a gala fundraiser and a party. So that there's no confusion with the Toronto International Film Festival, the Irish festival will use the acronym TIRFF. The screening will be at 7pm at Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Avenue) in the University of Toronto, and the party takes place at the nearby Molly Blooms Pub, 191 College Street, at 9pm. For more info visit or

Here is their press release:

The Toronto Irish Film Festival
Presents the Canadian Premiere of
“The Yellow Bittern: The Life & Times of Liam Clancy”

• Friday, June 11th at 7:00 pm at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto.