Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TIFF announces complete 2010 lineup of films

The Toronto International Film Festival announced the remainder of the lineup for its 2010 edition. Previously, TIFF had announced the Opening Night gala on July 14, Galas and Special Presentations on July 27, documentaries and Wavelengths programmes on August 4, Canadian films on August 10, and last week on August 17 they announced Midnight Madness films, Future Projections, City to City, Sprockets Family Zone, TIFF For Free as well as a few more Galas and Special Presentations. Today they released the titles of all the remaining films in the categories of Contemporary World Cinema, Discovery, Masters, Mavericks, Visions and Vanguard.

Some of the titles are highly anticipated including Cannes Film Festival winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Thai auteur Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul. Weerasethakul will also be a guest speaker in the Mavericks programme in a discussion of his work.

Here is the full list of films in the remaining categories.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TIFF announces Midnight Madness, City to City, free screenings and more

The Toronto International Film Festival continued revealing its film lineup for the its 2010 edition of its festival, also its 35th anniversary. Announced films included the remaining Midnight Madness films (Fubar 2 was announced as the opening night Midnight Madness selection) Future Projections, City to City, Sprockets Family Zone, TIFF For Free and some additional Galas and Special Presentations.They also released details of their Industry programmes.

Last year's selection of Tel Aviv for the City to City programme proved highly controversial. This year's choice of Istanbul, Turkey should not cause any problems.


The Midnight Madness selection includes films from John Carpenter, James Wan, James Gunn, Brad Anderson and Dante Lam and feature on-screen performances by Demi Moore, Ellen Page, Josh Hartnett, Liv Tyler, Hayden Christensen, Kevin Bacon, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, Rainn Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Rose Byrne.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Action scene from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Writer: Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright; based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Director: Edgar Wright
Producer: Marc Platt, Eric Gitter, Nira Park, Edgar Wright
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Ellen Wong, and Jason Schwartzman
Stylish Romantic-Comedy
1 hour 48 minutes

Right from the opening 8-bit version of the Universal Pictures title sequence, we know that director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) is going to have fun with this adaptation and be true to it's comic book and video game-themed origins. The original graphic novel, which just had its final volume released, tells the very Toronto-specific story of a 22-year-old slacker and bassist Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) who falls in love with Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) but must defeat her seven evil exes in order to be her boyfriend.

Wright's filmmaking style pulses with energy, flair and wit. He gets almost everything right. He completely captures a sense of Toronto's geography and the locations from the novel. The writing and acting are very good, particularly Michael Cera. Some may complain that he does this lovable nerd role too often, but it's not as easy as everyone thinks and I can't imagine anyone doing it better in this. The music too is very good, and includes Toronto bands such as Metric and Broken Social Scene.

2010 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, August 13-20

A scene from the TADFF opener The Last Lovecraft
Tonight marks the opening night for the 2010 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Toronto's film festival for cult movies. How appropriate that It is also Friday the 13th. The opening night screening is the international premiere of the sci-fi comedy The Last Lovecraft. It is preceded by the Canadian short film The Necronomicon.

TADFF comes on the heels of Montreal's Fantasia International Film Festival and in advance of TIFF's Midnight Madness selections. The selections draw from the genre categories such as horror, fantasy, Asian action, animation, and science-fiction and include highly anticipated films such as The Last Exorcism, Alien vs. Ninja, The Human Centipede, and the remake of I Spit On Your Grave. Each of the 16 feature films is preceded by a Canadian short film, and a screening of international short films takes place on Saturday, August 14.

Many of the screenings will be held with the filmmaker(s) and/or cast in attendance. They usually introduce the film and do a Q&A after the screening. Confirmed attendees include directors Henry Saine (The Last Lovecraft), Joshua Grannell (All About Evil) and Steven R. Monroe (I Spit On Your Grave) as well as producer Eli Roth (The Last Exorcism).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Film Review: Get Low

Robert Duvall, Lucas Black and Bill Murray in Get Low
Writer: Chris Provenzano, C. Gaby Mitchell; based on a story by Chris Provenzano and Scott Seeke
Director: Aaron Schneider
Producer: Dean Zanuck and David Gundlach
Cast: Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Gerald McRaney, Bill Cobbs, Scott Cooper
Period-piece fable, 1 hour 42 minutes

Director Aaron Schneider's journey to making his first feature film has been a long one. Having begun as a cinematographer, he directed the short film Two Soldiers in 2003 that was based on a short story by William Faulkner. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film. But it actually didn't get played very much because its 40-minute running time made it difficult for festivals to program, and he hadn't secured all the rights to the music in advance. It wasn't until last year at the Toronto International Film Festival that he premiered his debut feature Get Low. Now it gets its theatrical release.

Apparently based on a true story, it tells of a much-despised hermit Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) who wishes to stage his own "living funeral" so that he can learn what terrible stories the townspeople have to tell about him. An unscrupulous funeral home director Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) is only too happy to oblige. For some reason, a widow named Maddie Darrow (Sissy Spacek) seems to think kindly of him, but an Illinois preacher Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs) refuses to help Felix Bush in any way.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Call for entries: 2010 Planet in Focus Green Pitch Competition

The Planet in Focus International Environmental Film & Video Festival is one of Toronto's many excellent niche film festivals. Now in its eleventh year, it specializes in the wide range of issues facing us regarding the environment. 

A regular event that the film festival holds is their Green Pitch Competition. Filmmakers are given an opportunity to pitch their movie idea to a jury in the hopes of winning a prize of $5,000.00 in development funding and valuable in-kind services. It is a fascinating event to observe, and the filmmakers all receive helpful feedback from the jurors.

The deadline for the applications is 5pm on September 10, 2010 and you can submit electronically by email to submissions@planetinfocus.org. The competition will take place during the festival, which runs October 13-17.

Call for Entries: The Green Pitch Competition at the 11th Annual Planet in Focus International Environmental Film & Video Festival

2010 Festival des Films du Monde (World Film Festival), Aug 26-Sept 6

Louis Bélanger's Route 132
The 2010 Festival des Films du Monde (FFM), also known as the Montreal World Film Festival, takes place annually in advance of the Toronto International Film Festival. This year, the festival runs from August 26 to September 6. Although less of an industry draw, FFM is a strong public festival and in some ways it is the larger film festival - this year it screens 430 films from 80 countries (277 of them are features), whereas TIFF will screen less than 300 films from around 60 countries.  

The latest film by Montreal filmmaker Louis Bélanger, Route 132, will open the festival, while Bertrand Tavernier's La Princesse de Montpensier (The Princess of Montpensier) will be the festival closing gala. In between, the festival will also screen retrospective tributes of French actress Nathalie Baye, Italian actress Stefania Sandrelli and Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, the president of last year's jury. This year's jury president Danish filmmaker Bille August heads a group of cineastes from five continents: Irene Bignardi, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Marwan Hamed, Igor Minaev, Édouard Molinaro and Lijung Tang. The renowned French actor Gerard Depardieu will conduct a master class on cinema. As always, they will have free outdoor screenings at the Place des Festivals.

The World Competition lineup for the 2010 Festival des Films du Monde:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TIFF 2010 Canadian Films press conference

Here are some pictures from the press conference which took place today for the remaining Canadian films playing at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. The event took place at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto. Click on the photos to enlarge.

MODRA director Ingrid Veninger (right), with her daughter
and star of the film Hallie Switzer
The press conference begins

Canadian Films announced for 2010 Toronto International Film Festival

Jill Hennessy and Stephen Eric McIntyre in Small Town Murder Songs
At a press conference this afternoon at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto, programmers for the Toronto International Film Festival announced the remaining lineup of Canadian films playing at their 2010 festival. Previously, they had announced Score: A Hockey Musical as their opening night gala film. They announced a few more Canadian films at their Galas and Special Presentations announcement, and some in last week's announcement of documentary and experimental films (experimental only - Canadian docs were announced today). There will be more films announced next week on Tuesday, August 17 before the complete lineup is announced on August 24.

Only one Midnight Madness title was announced today, its opening night film Fubar II, which I had correctly surmised from programmer Colin Geddes Twitter clues. It is the sequel to Michael Dowse's 2002 mockumentary. The remaining Midnight Madness films should be announced next week.

Here is the information on all Canadian films announced today.


The Toronto International Film Festival announces a wealth of Canadian features including highly anticipated new works by acclaimed Canadian filmmakers Denis Villeneuve, Bruce McDonald, Xavier Dolan, Jacob Tierney, Louis Bélanger and William D. MacGillivray, Sturla Gunnarsson, Ingrid Veninger, and Carl Bessai and on screen appearances by Molly Parker, Jay Baruchel, Don McKellar, Scott Speedman, Jill Hennessy, David Suzuki, Martha Plimpton, Peter Stormare, Jennifer Beals, Emily Hampshire, Jean Lapointe, Guylaine Tremblay, Harvey Keitel, Jason Jones, Scott Caan, Tricia Helfer and the late Tracy Wright.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vampires dominate the 2010 Teen Choice Awards

Yesterday on Sunday, August 9, the 2010 Teen Choice Awards took place at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. The show turned into a vampire love-in as the two sequels from the Twilight franchise (The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) cleaned up in the film categories with twelve awards, while The Vampire Diaries was the big winner in the television categories with seven. Robert Pattison, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber each came away with four awards. Neither Swift nor Bieber were able to attend.

Much like the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards, the winners are usually dubious but popular choices. 105 winners were announced in several categories: film, television, music, sports and fashion. Winners were chosen by online voting, with over 85 million voters participating.

The award ceremony will be telecast on Monday night at 8pm.

Complete list of 2010 Teen Choice Award winners:

Free screening in Toronto of Going the Distance, August 19

The Cinema Studies Student Union (CINSSU) at the University of Toronto regularly screens free films at Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Avenue), especially on Friday nights during the school year as part of their Free Friday Films series. But every once in a while they partner with distributors to present advance screenings of films before their official release date. On August 19 at 7pm, they will host an advance screening of the romantic comedy Going the Distance, starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long (the "Hello, I'm a Mac" guy).

You can take your chances with the rush line on the 19th, but if the theatre reaches capacity, not everyone from the rush line will get in. You're better off to drop by the CINSSU offices to pick up a pass for the screening. Whenever they have an advance screening, they have two lineups - one for passholders and the other for those without passes, ie. the rush line. Naturally, the passholders are admitted first.

They begin giving out the passes today, August 9, and usually run out after a few days. You can pick up your passes anytime between 12-4pm. The CINSSU office is located at  Rm. 107, right next to the Cafe.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Call for submissions: Pitch competition at 2010 Reel Asian Film Festival

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival has announced a call for submissions for the 5th edition of their popular pitch competition entitled So You Think You Can Pitch? Finalists in two categories, emerging and established, are given an opportunity get up in front of an audience and several judges to sell them on your short movie idea. Winners receive a prize from Charles Street Video which will help get your film made.

I myself have participated in this pitch contest in the past and it is a lot of fun. You don't need to have a full script to apply, but it helps. It also helps to have a thorough application with a solid budget, and a good idea for presentation. Contestants can pitch in groups of two or three if they wish. They can also use audio-visual aids as part of their pitch.

Here is the the call for submissions from Reel Asian.

Free screening in Toronto of Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work

E1 Films will hold a free advanced screening of the popular Sundance and Hot Docs hit Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work. The screening will take play at Toronto's AMC Theatre at Yonge & Dundas on Monday August 9 at 9pm. The film has been critically well-received and is a frank portrayal of the sometimes controversial 77-year-old comedienne.

To RSVP, email the address given below.

Here is the information from E1's Facebook posting (but make sure you RSVP and not just respond via Facebook).

Back by popular demand!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Director Edgar Wright returns to Toronto with The Wright Stuff, August 6-8

Last year, director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) spent many months in Toronto filming Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (based on the graphic novel that recently released its sixth and final volume). While he was here, he hosted a number of film screenings at the Bloor Cinema of some of his favourite films in a program entitled The Wright Stuff. He returns now in anticipation of the imminent release of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on August 13, and in another show of generosity to his host city he is presenting another round of The Wright Stuff. This time it will screen at the recently opened Toronto Underground Cinema, at 186 Spadina Avenue.

He presents his two aforementioned earlier films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, on a double bill tonight, Friday August 6. Tomorrow he presents a comic book adaptation double bill of Flash Gordon and Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. Sunday, he presents a teen comedy double bill with Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Rushmore.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Documentary and avant-garde films announced for TIFF 2010

The Toronto International Film Festival announced more films from its 2010 lineup. They revealed the titles of a number of their documentaries and avant-garde films from the Wavelengths program. Additional Canadian titles from those programs will be announced at the press conference for Canadian films next week on August 10.

Thom Zimny's The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town will be presented as a gala selection. It takes an in-depth look at Bruce Springsteen's creative process in recording his fourth album from 1976 to 1978. Other documentary filmmakers bringing new work to the festival include Errol Morris(Tabloid ), Kim Longinotto(Pink Saris), Alex Gibney (Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer), Frederick Wiseman (Boxing Gym) and Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams). Herzog's film is an intriguing-sounding 3-D documentary about primitive cave paintings in France. Charles Ferguson's Inside Job has its North American premiere after being one of the favourites at the Cannes Film Festival.