Thursday, September 30, 2010

11th Filmi South Asian Film Festival, Sept. 30th - Oct. 3rd

This weekend marks the 2010 edition of the Filmi South Asian Film Festival. Held annually in Toronto, Filmi shows a selection of South Asian films from Canada and around the world. It opens with the world premiere of Ashes, the directorial debut by actor Ajay Naidu. Naidu will be in attendance, in addition to actor Samrat Chakrabati and producer Nina Spensley. 

The closing night screening is also a world premiere of The Spirit of South Asia. Filmmakers Richie Mehta and Cyrus Sundar Singh  will be in attendance. In addition to screenings, FILMI will celebrate its 11th year with industry workshops and events, including a party on Friday night to be held at Foundation Room, 19 Church Street.

29th Vancouver International Film Festival: Sept. 30 – Oct.15, 2010

Tonight, the 29th Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) kicks off with their Opening Night Gala screening of Barney’s Version, the Canadian/Italian film based on Mordecai Richler’s comedic novel. It plays at 7pm at the Visa Screening Room, Empire Granville 7 Cinemas. Both stars Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffmann are very funny in this. The festival also holds a Canadian Images gala on Oct. 1 for Carl Bessai's Fathers & Sons, a Dragons & Tigers Gala on Oct. 7 for Aftershock by Feng Ziaogang, and an anniversary gala screening of Score: A Hockey Musical by Michael McGowan on October 9. Their closing night gala on October 15 is Sylvain Chomet L’illusioniste (The Illusionist).

VIFF is one of the largest film festivals in North America. This year it screens 359 films from 80 countries (230 feature-length films). It is especially strong in its selections of Canadian, East Asian and documentary films. They state that, "we screen the largest selection of East Asian films outside of that region, we are one of the biggest showcases of Canadian film in the world and we have a large and important nonfiction program (42 percent of feature films last year were docs)."

Hot Docs 2011 call for submissions

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival has put out a call for submissions for its 2011 festival. The Early Bird deadline is December 3,  2010 while the final deadline is January 14, 2011. The next festival takes place from April 28 to May 8, 2011.

Hot Docs is the largest documentary festival in North America and a must-attend event for documentary lovers and filmmakers. Founded in 1993, they present an annual selection of  the latest documentaries from Canada and around the world. The 2010 festival screened over 170 films and had an attendance of an estimated 136,000 people. In addition to the festival, they host a conference and market, and provide many essential networking opportunities for filmmakers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A fond last look back at TIFF 2010

Okay, I've taken a while to get to this, but here's a recap of the recently completed 35th annual Toronto International Film Festival. Most who attended agreed that this was a great year for them, some observers going as far as to call it the finest TIFF yet. Personally, as someone who has attended the festival regularly for over two decades, I'd have to agree. There were many things to like about TIFF 2010.

The program slate of 339 films (258 features, 81 shorts) from 59 countries was very strong and impressive. 112 of the features were world premieres, while 24 were international premieres and 98 were North American premieres. Among the world premieres were some very highly regarded films such as Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, Matt Reeves' Let Me In, Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go, Richard Ayoade's Submarine, and People's Choice Award runner-up The First Grader by Justin Chadwick, as well as almost all the Midnight Madness films. The festival's lineup was unveiled over the summer with the complete programme listings available by August 24.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Programming announced for 39th Festival du nouveau cinéma, Oct. 13-24

At a press conference this morning, the Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC) announced the programming for its 39th edition which takes place October 12-24, 2010. The oldest film festival in Montreal, they will be screening 295 films from 51 countries including 33 world premieres and 64 North American premieres.

One of the world premieres includes a short film that I co-directed with Katarina Soukup of Catbird Productions. Notes from the Kuerti Keyboard with have its premiere on October 21 with maestro Anton Kuerti in attendance, and a second screening will take place on October 23.

The opening night film will be 10½ by Daniel Grou-Podz, while the festival closes with Denis Cote’s Curling. Other directors whose work will be featured over the 12 days include Mike Leigh, Catherine Breillat, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Olivier Assayas, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, Coline Serreau, Manoel de Oliveira, Stephen Frears, Mathieu Amalric, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Monday, September 27, 2010

TIFF 2010 in pictures

Here are some of my pictures from the 2010 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. As always, click on the picture to enlarge.

All pictures by David Eng.

Pre-festival - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The new industry room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The festival hadn't started yet so the lineups weren't long.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2010 Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) Awards - the winners

On Saturday, September 25, the Directors Guild of Canada presented their 2010 awards at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto. The evening began with a cocktail reception and was followed by the awards ceremony. The host for the evening was Canadian comedian Dave Foley.

The nominees were previously announced on July 7. The Best Feature Film award went to the highly-regarded Cairo Time by Ruba Nadda. The winner of Best Direction in a Feature Film was surprise winner Reginald Harkema for Leslie, My Name is Evil.

Winner of  the Allan King Award for documentary film was The Experimental Eskimos.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My top ten films of TIFF 2010 [updated]

It's taken me some time to digest all of the 48 screenings I saw from the recent edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (41 features, 7 compilations from Wavelengths or Short Cuts Canada). This was a mere fraction of the 339 films shown, 258 of them features. Seeing so many films at once in quick succession doesn't really do justice to each of them. Fortunately, I was able to catch a fair number of them at press screenings before the festival actually began. So the overload wasn't as much as it might otherwise have been.

This year, I didn't see too much of the heavyweight Hollywood fare since they're sure to come out soon anyhow. I took the time to catch more foreign films (especially from Asia), documentaries, and indie films (including Canadian films, which are de facto indie films). So no doubt I missed a lot of great movies such as Black Swan and 127 Hours, films which I'm pretty sure I'll like a lot. But I saw so much other interesting stuff that I didn't regret my choices.

Here is a list of the top 10 films I saw, starting with my favourite and the remaining nine in alphabetical order:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Planet in Focus Film Festival 2010 announces programming

At a press conference this morning at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Planet in Focus International Environmental Film & Video Festival announced its full schedule for the festival next month, from October 13th to 17th. The opening night screening will be Ron Mann's In the Wake of the Flood, which will screen at the newly opened Bell Lightbox. The main subject of In the Wake of the Flood, author Margaret Atwood, will attend and will be co-recipient of the festival's Canadian Eco Hero Award. 

The closing night film will be Climate of Change by director Brian Hill and features narration by actress Tilda Swinton. In addition to many other features and short films, the festival will have free children's programming and an industry series that includes the Green Pitch Competition.

2010 Toronto Urban Film Festival awards

Running concurrently with the Toronto International Film Festival, the Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF) presented a number of silent one-minute films on the display screens in Toronto's TTC subway system. The festival took submissions from around the world in the seven themes of Urban Encounters and Other Stories; Our Environment and Urban Growth; The Medium is the Message; Urban Ideas and Politics; Urban Journeys; The City is a Poem; and After Night Falls.

Awards were chosen by a guest jury, while the top three awards were chosen by a guest judge. This year's judge was director Deepa Mehta (Water). First prize was awarded to Ahmet Serif Yildirim from Yenibaglar, Turkey for Recycyle, second prize went to Toronto's Patrick Jenkins for Tara's Dream, and Philadelphia's Sally Larson took third place for Axiom

The jury this year consisted of Jorge Lozano (Founder and Curator of aluCine Toronto Latin Media Festival); Kathleen Mullen (Director of Programming for Planet in Focus: International Environmental Film & Video Festival); Sarah Robayo Sheridan (Curator and Director of Exhibitions and Publications at Mercer Union); Haema Sivanesan (Curator and Executive Director of SAVAC); Min Sook (Award-winning Documentary Filmmaker); and Michael Zryd (Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at York University).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

TIFF 2010 Awards; The Kings Speech wins Audience Award

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech
At a luncheon at the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Toronto, some awards were presented for the 2010 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. The top prize, the Cadillac People's Choice Award went to the Tom Hooper‟s The King’s Speech (United Kingdom/Australia). The King's Speech tells the story of King George VI (Colin Firth), who assumed the throne after his brother abdicated but had to deal with a dreadful stuttering problem. The Audience Award winner for Midnight Madness was Stake Land, while in the documentary category, the Audience Award went to Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie.

In Canadian film, Quebec continues to do very well. The Best Canadian Short film prize went to Vincent Biron's Les Fleurs de l'âge, the Best First Canadian Feature winner was Deborah Chow's The High Cost of Living, and the Best Canadian Feature award went to Denis Villeneuve for Incendies. All three are Quebec-based filmmakers.

The Audience Award winner screens for free on the festival's closing night. This year, it moves to the Ryerson Theatre. It begins at 6:00 pm and tickets are given out on a first-com, first-served basis. This will be followed at 9:00 pm with a free screening of the opening night film Score: A Hockey Musical with the director and cast in attendance.

Free screenings on last day of TIFF 2010

scene from Score: A Hockey Musical
Today is the last day of TIFF 2010 and there are still many films worth catching. A number of today's screenings are free to the public. In addition to their TIFF For Free series and the traditional free screening of the Audience Award winner, Mongrel Media and the Toronto International Film Festival have announced that they will host a free screening of the Opening Night gala film, Score: A Hockey Musical. as there way of saying thank you to Toronto. The screening will take place at 9:00 pm, at the Ryerson Theatre.  The director Michael McGowan and some of the cast will be in attendance.

The final two films tonight in the TIFF For Free series are The Big Chill (7:00 pm) and The Princess Bride (10:00 pm) and take place at the new Bell Lightbox. The winner of the Audience Award will be announced later today. [UPDATE: The Audience Award winner for 2010 is The King's Speech. It will screen at the Ryerson Theatre for free at 6:00 pm, not at the Elgin Theatre as in previous years]

All free screenings are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 TIFF survival guide

It’s that time of year again.  Starting on the first Thursday after Labour Day, Toronto plays host to the largest public film festival in the world, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Some people would even rank it as the top film festival in the world, above the revered Cannes festival.  Cannes isn’t a public festival and has things working against it such as its earlier, pre-summer timing.  Sundance, Venice and Berlin may be more famous, but are smaller and have less influence in the industry.  Toronto does many things well and keeps trying to improve even further.

Some have complained that TIFF has grown too large or elitist.  These complaints take place every year and while some have a degree of validity, the usual gripes about festival’s size and programming are getting tired. No matter what they do, some will object.  The fact is that the festival has always been large, but has maintained an excellent balance of artful Hollywood movies with small independent, foreign, Canadian, experimental, documentary, genre films, and other categories.  The Hollywood movies benefit all the others by drawing attention to them.

With a schedule of 339 films (258 features, 81 shorts), the festival is going to be an entirely different experience for everyone.  Some people will primarily see galas, whereas others choose films based on region, filmmaker or subject matter (e.g. romance, period pieces, gay films, horror, etc.).  Some prefer to see films that they know do not have distribution and they might never otherwise get a chance to see.  Others, such as myself, like to throw caution to the wind and prefer to not know too much about the films ahead of time.  We simply trust the festival’s outstanding programmers; even if a film isn’t to our taste, it will be interesting and worth watching and discussing.  I would strongly recommend seeing at least a few films that you might not ordinarily choose, since the best way to try something new is with the savvy, sold-out audiences of TIFF.

Here are some other tips to make your TIFF experience a pleasurable one.

2010 Festival des films du monde closing awards

François Papineau of Route 132 wins Best Actor at the 34th FFM
The 2010 Festival des Films du Monde (FFM), or the Montreal World Film Festival as we say in English, drew to a close on September 6. Prior to the closing night screening of Bertrand Tavernier's period film La Princesse de Montpensier (The Princess of Montpensier), awards were presented at the Theatre Maisonneuve in Place des Arts. Leading the way was the Belgian-Dutch film Oxygène (Oxygen) by Hans Van Nuffel, which tells of a man dealing with cystic fibrosis. It took the main prize, the Grand prix des Amériques. It also won the Prix du jury œcuménique (Ecumenical Jury Award).

Other multiple award-winners included De la Infancia (From Childhood) which won Best Screenplay and Best Latin American Film, Tromper le silence (Silence Lies) which won the Innovation Award and Canadian Audience favourite, and Das Lied in Mir (The Day I was not Born) which won the FIPRESCI prize, a special mention for the Ecumenical Jury prize and shared the general Audience Award with Parajos de papel. François Papineau took the Best Actor prize for his work in Louis Bélanger's Route 132, while Eri Fukatsu won Best Actress for the Japanese film Akunin / Villain by Lee Sang-Il.
Complete list of Award Winners for the 34th Festival des films du monde

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Free block party at TIFF 2010 on Sunday September 12

The Toronto International Film Festival has provided details on a block party it has planned to mark the official opening of its new headquarters, the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The party will take place on Sunday September 12 from 11am to 4pm. In addition to some free screenings, music and food, you'll be given free admission to the building and get a chance to have a look at their brand new state-of-the-art facility.

The official ribbon cutting will take place at noon, with officials and dignitaries in attendance. They will provide a number of child-friendly events such as face-painting, balloons and crafts. There will also be a surprise musical performance by a special guest whose identity will only be revealed on Saturday, September 11. It promises to be a fun and exciting launch for the festival's new facility.


Toronto – This summer’s coolest party requires no ticket. Piers Handling, Director & CEO, TIFF and Noah Cowan, Artistic Director, TIFF Bell Lightbox, invite everyone to a free block party to celebrate the opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 12, 2010. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., TIFF offers an exciting array of programming for all ages in the heart of the entertainment district, right on King Street (between John and Peter streets). A fantastic concert line-up includes some of the biggest names in indie rock, pop and hip-hop, plus a very special surprise guest to be announced on September 11. In addition there will be fun family activities, delicious food from local King Street restaurants, free cupcakes supplied by Madeleines, Cherry Pie and Ice Cream, and a movie star look-alike contest.

Worldwide Short Film Festival call for submissions

The Worldwide Short Film Festival, the largest short film festival in North America, has opened their submission process for the 2011 edition. The festival is run by the Canadian Film Centre and is an accredited festival of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), meaning that award-winning films are eligible for the Academy Awards. They are also accredited by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television (Gemini and Genie Awards), and is a recognized qualifying event for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) short film awards.

In a city with so very many film festivals, this is one of the most enjoyable for both filmmakers and audience alike. Filmmakers who are accepted are treated very well. Those who do not get accepted will still get their films included in the library which is scoured by industry representatives from around the world.

The 2011 Worldwide Short Film Festival takes place from May 31 to June 5.

Submissions for the 2011 Worldwide Short Film Festival are now OPEN!
To submit online through Without a Box, click here: