Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars' Speech: acceptances from the 83rd Academy Awards


It's finally over with. The 83rd Academy Awards ceremony last night was actually shorter than usual, yet had everyone complaining that it felt long. James Franco is back to school and people are wondering why he seemed so lifeless and detached. Kirk Douglas was either delightful or dreadful, as was Melissa Leo who managed to slip in the Academy Awards' first "fuck" on camera. Christian Bale either forgot his wife's name or was overcome by emotion.

Overall, there weren't too many surprises, though the wins by Tom Hooper and Wally Pfister caught some off guard. The King's Speech won the big prizes for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Original Screenplay but didn't get quite as many as I expected, thanks to some undeserved wins by Alice In Wonderland and the score for The Social Network. (As a musician, that one bugged me. I love Nine Inch Nails, but those guys admitted that they just wrote a bunch of assorted cues for the film and just let the editors spot them, and were surprised how the music was used).

To add insult to injury, Alice in Wonderland Costume Designer Colleen Atwood read in a monotone a long list of people to thank. But not all of the speeches were a bore. Some were quite memorable.

Aaron Sorkin was articulate as always though sure enough he got very wordy and was played off by the orchestra. David Seidler was concise and quite funny. Just as winning producer Scott Rudin did three years ago when he won for No Country For Old Men, producer Iain Canning gave a shout out to his boyfriend when accepting the Best Picture Award at the end of the night.

Call for submissions: 36th Toronto International Film Festival


The Toronto International Film Festival is now open for submissions for its 36th annual festival.

The festival affectionately known as TIFF is considered by many to be one of the very top film festivals in the world and is the largest public festival. It is also considered by many to be a launch pad for the Academy Awards. Audience Award winners that have gone on to great success at the Oscars include American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire and the 2010 winner The King's Speech which triumphed last night at the Oscars

TIFF is a great opportunity to launch any project. But it is highly competitive as they receive thousands of submissions each year. Last year, they received 3,526 submissions (2,677 International, 849 Canadian), but screened only 339 films (258 features, 81 shorts).

If you get in, you'll want to spend as much time at the festival as possible as it offers many great opportunities -- not just watching films, but learning, networking, parties and many industry events. You may want to have a look back at my recap of the 2010 festival.

5th Annual South African Film and Television Awards - winners


Lost in the hubbub around the 83rd Academy Awards, last night the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa held their ceremony at Madame Zingara's in Johannesburg for the 5th Annual South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs).

Oliver Schmitz's Life Above All captured seven awards including Best Feature Film. He himself received personal awards for Director and Writer (though the credited screenwriter is Canadian Dennis Foon). The film is based on Chanda’s Secrets by Canadian author by Allan Stratton.

The cast of Life Above All collectively won Best Ensemble but competed against each other in the individual categories. Khomotso Manyaka defeated her co-star Lerato Mvelase for Best Lead Actress, while Harriet Manamela bested co-star Keaobaka Makanyane for Best Supporting Actress.

The evening's other multiple winner was Hopeville. Themba Ndaba won for Best Lead Actor and Karel Flint won for Production Design.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

83rd Annual Academy Awards - winners


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held their 83rd Academy Awards ceremony tonight in Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted the event and they were decent but somewhat awkward and uninspired.

The big winner of the night was The King's Speech, which won Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth) and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler). Colin Firth was nominated last year for A Single Man. The King's Speech had received 12 nominations to lead the field and was considered the favourite.

But Inception also won four awards. It won for Cinematography (Wally Pfister), Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects. The victory for Pfister was something of an upset, as Roger Deakins (True Grit) has been nominated nine times by the Academy and has yet to win.

True Grit had been second with nominations with ten, but went home empty-handed. Other Best Picture nominees which didn't win end up winning anything were The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours and Winter's Bone.

The Social Network
won for Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin), Best Editing and Best Original Score.

29th Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois prize-winners


The 29th Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois came to a close today with an awards presentation. The  Prix Gilles-Carles went to Jo pour Jonathan by Maxime Giroux.

The Prix Pierre et Yolande-Perreault for Best Documentary went to Pablo Alvarez-Mesa's Jelena's Song. An Honourable Mention was given to La tête contre le mur by Halima Elkhatabi.

Deborah Chow continued her winning streak by capturing the Prix Super-Écran for her debut feature The High Cost of Living. She also won the Best Canadian First Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The winner of the Prix du public (Audience Award) was Godin by Simon Beaulieu.

My Oscar predictions: the 2011 Academy Awards


I've given my preferred ranking for the 10 Best Picture nominees, but I'm getting my prediction for the Oscars themselves in under the wire. I predict that The King's Speech will win 6-8 awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Screenplay (David Seidler) and yes, even Best Director (Tom Hooper). That will be a close race of course.

Many people believe that David Fincher's win at the BAFTA Awards meant that the momentum had swung his way. I don't believe that at all. There was no momentum swing. Rather, it's a very close race that was a coin-toss and still is. But I think that Tom Hooper's accomplishment is greater and the Academy will recognize that. It's hypocritical for critics to complain that the Academy doesn't always reward the best, yet they feel that Fincher is "owed" an Oscar for something even he doesn't consider to be his greatest work.

I see Inception taking three technical categories, and The Social Network taking Adapted Screenplay and Editing.

True Grit may get shut out entirely, but it should capture at least Cinematography and maybe Best Supporting Actress.

The rise of The King’s Speech and defriending of The Social Network


It’s been a month since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards at the end of January. In that time we’ve seen some interesting developments, the usual dirty campaign tricks, some shoddy journalism and just plain silliness.

The story of the 2011 Oscars goes back even further to the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival when The King's Speech won the Audience Award and immediately became the Oscar frontrunner.

But then The Social Network was released to rave reviews. Then it started winning all the critics' awards starting with the National Board of Review. That was soon followed with victories with the critics in Washington, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Toronto, Chicago, and on it went all the way up to the Golden Globe Awards. Critics everywhere were virtually unanimous in their coronation of The Social Network as the best film of 2010.

Around the same time that this avalanche started, Scott Feinberg reported on December 5, 2010 that an anonymous "Academy member" emailed him and told him that many presumably Jewish AMPAS members wouldn’t vote for The King’s Speech because its subject King George VI had Nazi sympathies and was anti-Semitic - not true, as screenwriter David Seidler (whose grandparents were killed in the Holocaust) pointed out. This seemed like the kind of dirty negative campaigning for which Harvey Weinstein usually gets all the blame. But The King's Speech was his film, so it most certainly was not from his camp.

31st Annual Razzie Awards - "winners"


The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation hosted their ceremony for the 31st Annual Razzie Awards at Hollywood’s Barnsdall Gallery Theatre on Saturday night. As expected, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender won the main award for Worst Picture.

It also claimed four others -- Worst Supporting Actor for Jackson Rathbone, Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3-D, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. The latter two were for Shyamalan himself. It had led the nominees along with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse with nine nominations total. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse had to content itself with sharing the Worst Supporting Actor award for Jackson Rathbone.

Sex and the City 2 was the other big Razzie winner. It was named Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel and its entire cast took the awards for Worst Actress and Worst Screen Couple/Worst Screen Ensemble.

Ashton Kutcher received the award for Worst Actor for both Killers and Valentine’s Day. Jessica Alba was named Worst Supporting Actress for all four of her appearances in The Killer Inside Me, Little Fockers, Machete, and Valentine’s Day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

26th Film Independent Spirit Awards - winners


Three months after announcing their nominees, Film Independent held their ceremony for the 26th Spirit Awards on the beach in Santa Monica. Black Swan dominated the evening by winning Best Feature, Best Director (Darren Aronofsky), Best Female Lead (Natalie Portman), and Best Cimenatography (Matthew Libatique). It won all four categories for which it was nominated.

Winter's Bone had led with seven nominations. It came away with two supporting acting awards for Dale Dickey and John Hawkes.

Oscars co-host James Franco won the award for Best Male Lead. He said, "Independent film is important to me, so this means a lot." He thanked Aaron Ralston for his "big big gift" and said "the crew, director and writer became my costars. It was a crazy crazy experience that I don't think I'll ever repeat."

Oscar front-runner The King's Speech won for Best Foreign Film. It was the only category for which it was eligible.

Nuit blanche à Montréal, tonight!


As part of the 12th Festival Montréal en lumière (Montreal Festival of Lights), tonight is the 8th Nuit blanche à Montréal. From 6pm to 6am, there will be nearly 200 event to enjoy. Most of them are free.

To help navigate the events, the city has grouped the activities into three quartiers and one pôle: Old Montréal and the Quays of the Old Port, Centre-ville (Downtown) and Quartier des spectacles, Plateau-Mont-Royal and Mile-End and the Pôle Maisonneuve.

"Nuit blanche" is a French term that literally means "white night" but is an idiom that means an all-nighter or "sleepless night." They were all-night cultural attractions that started in Europe, before Montreal and then Toronto also began hosting them. While Toronto's is always in the fall, Montreal's Nuit blanche always takes place in late February as the climactic event of the Festival Montréal en lumière.

14th Montreal International Children’s Film Festival (FIFEM), Feb 26-Mar 6


The Festival international du film pour enfants de Montréal (Montreal International Children’s Film Festival) or FIFEM holds its 14th edition from February 26th to March 6th, 2011 at Cinéma Beaubien.

FIFEM presents more than 60 films from twenty countries with 12 films in competition. The festival promotes films from around the world to a 2 to 12 year-old audience and their family members. The last edition brought together 15 000 parents, grandparents and children who enjoyed Award-winning films from the Netherlands, Norway, Israel, Sweden, Ireland, Indonesia, etc.

Today's opening night film is Vorstadtkrokodile 2 - Die coolste Bande is zuruck (The Crocodiles Strike Back), or en français Les Crocodiles sont de retour.

9th annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto - winners


The Toronto branch of ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) has announced their winners for the 9th Annual ACTRA Awards at a gala ceremony at the Carlu. They honoured two late great actors with posthumous awards.

The late Maury Chaykin was declared winner of the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance – Male, for his role as the series lead as Sam Blecher on Less than Kind. He passed award in July on his 61st birthday after a lengthy struggle with kidney disease. His wife Susannah Hoffmann accepted the award on his behalf.

The late Tracy Wright the award for ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance – Female with her co-star Molly Parker for their work on the Bruce McDonald film Trigger. It was her last film role before passing from pancreatic cancer at the age of 50. Her husband, writer/director/actor Don McKellar accepted the award on her behalf. 

Sean Cullen won the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance – Voice for his work in the animated childrens' show Jimmy Two-Shoes as the evil Lucius.

Friday, February 25, 2011

2011 Africa Movie Academy Awards - nominations


The African Film Academy has announced the nominees for their 2011 Africa Movie Academy Awards. Congo's Viva Riva leads the pack with twelve nominations, including Best Film, Best Director (Djo Tunda Wa Munga), and the four main acting categories.

Next with nine nominations was Ghana's Sinking Sands. It recently won four awards at the inaugural Ghana Movie Awards, including Best Picture. Its nominations includ Best Film, Best Director (Leila Djansi), Best Actor (Jimmy Jean-Louis) and Best Actress (Amake Abebrese).

The other Best Film nominees were Hopeville (eight nominations), Aramotu (seven nominations), A Small Town Called Descent (six nominations) and Soul Boy (five nominations).

36th annual César du cinéma (César Awards) - winners


France's Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma held its ceremony for the 36th annual César du cinéma (César Awards) tonight at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris. The big winner of the night was Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men) by Xavier Beauvois, which took Best Film. It also captured Best Supporting Actor for Michael Lonsdale, and Best Cinematography. Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men) had led with eleven nominations.

But the French co-production The Ghost Writer took more awards with a total of four. It won Best Director for Roman Polanski, Best Adapted Screenplay (Polanski and Robert Harris), Best Original Score and Best Editing. Polanski was on hand to accept his awards and said, "I'm not used to making speeches but since this film was finished, I would like to thank all those without whom it could not happen, everyone who supported me, my wife and my daughter, my associates and all my other friends."

Joann Sfar's Gainsbourg (vie héroïque) won for Best Actor (Eric Elmosnino), Best Sound and Best First Feature. Le Nom des gens (The Names of Love) was also a multiple winner with Best Actress (Sarah Forestier) and Best Original Screenplay (Michel Leclerc, Baya Kasmi).

Hungarian Film Week February 25 - March 3


Starting today in Montreal, the Cinéma du Parc will host a week of screenings of Hungarian films. The opening and closing night film will be Szabolcs Hajdu's Bibliotheque Pascal, which was Hungary's submission to the Academy Awards for consideration for Best Foreign Language Film.

The films will be in English or in Hungarian with English subtitles. 

Many of the films are award-winners. The program includes films made by Canadian-Hungarian directors and there will also be an exhibition of photography by Gabor Szilasi, Kamera Hungarica.

The Cinéma du Parc is located at 3575 av. du Parc, 514 281-1900.

2011 International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) Awards - winners


The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) has announced the winners of its 2011 IFMCA Awards. John Powell's score for How to Train Your Dragon captured the top prize for Film Score of the Year. It also won  Best Original Score for an Animated Feature.

Composer Alexandre Desplat had led with 7 nominations for both The King's Speech and The Ghost Writer. He won three awards for Film Composer of the Year, Best Original Score for a Drama Film (The King's Speech) and Best Original Score for an Action/Adventure/Thriller Film (The Ghost Writer).

Desplat's score for The King's Speech came under criticism by some for utilizing work by Beethoven and Mozart. This criticism was uninformed, as it didn't appreciate that it was intentional, smart and how well it was integrated into the film. Ironically, most of this criticism came from fans of The Social Network (whose score was not nominated) and they gave that film a pass for using work by Edvard Grieg, among others.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2011 Jameson Empire Awards - nominations


The comic adaptation Kick-Ass leads the field with six nominations over Oscar front-runner The King’s Speech in nominations for the 2011 Jameson Empire Awards. Kick-Ass was nominated for Best Film, Best British Film, Best Sci-Fi Fantasy, Best Actor (Aaron Johnson), Best Director (Matthew Vaughan) and Best Newcomer (Chloe Moretz).

The King's Speech was next with five nominations, for Best Film, British Film, Director (Tom Hooper) and Acting nominations for Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter. Next was Inception with four nominations, and The Social Network and 127 Hours with three each.

Inception and The Social Network were nominees for Best Film with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. The other three nominees for Best British Film with the two leaders were 127 Hours, Four Lions and Monsters.

Empire is Britain's best-selling film magazine, and their awards are voted for entirely by the British filmgoing public. Last year's big winner was Avatar, which took three awards including Best Film.

37th Annual Saturn Awards for genre films - nominations


The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films has announced their nominations for the 37th Annual Saturn Awards. Christopher Nolan‘s Inception led with nine nominations, including Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and both Best Writer and Director (Christopher Nolan).

Let Me In and Tron: Legacy were next with seven nominations each. Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter received six nominations. Alice in Wonderland, Black Swan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Never Let Me Go and Shutter Island each took five nominations.

The Saturn Awards are given annually to genre films. They have four separate Best Film categories: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Fantasy Film, Best Horror/Thriller Film, and Best Action/Adventure Film.

In the television section, The Walking Dead led with 6 nominations, while Breaking Bad, Fringe, and Lost followed closely with 5 each.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reel Artists Film Festival 2011, Feb 23-27


The Canadian Art Foundation kicks off the 8th edition of the Reel Artists Film Festival tonight in Toronto with its selection of 17 documentaries on top contemporary art and artists. Tonight's gala screening is the world premiere of KOOP, Katherine Knight's portrait of Wanda Koop.

It takes place at Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory. The director and artist will be present and will participate in a Q&A after the screening with Jane Perdue, critic and urban planner. The evening also includes a pre-screening reception and an opening night celebration.

The rest of the screenings will take place at the festival's new home, the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Reitman Square, 350 King Street West. Two other films will be having their world premieres -- Nam June Paik: Open Your Eyes and Picture Start.

Many of the filmmakers and featured artists will be in attendance, including for the films Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings, Aakideh: The Art & Legacy of Carl Beam, Ghost Noise and Picture Start.

2011 Gracie Awards for women in media - winners


The Alliance for Women in Media has announced the winners of the 36th Annual Grace Awards, given each year to outstanding women in the broadcast industry. The awards are named in honour of radio and television star Gracie Allen, of the famed comedy act Burns and Allen with her husband George Burns.

Winners include actress Claire Danes for her role in Temple Grandin, as well as Betty White for Hot in Cleveland, Piper Perabo for Covert Affairs, and Rosie Perez for In Plain Sight.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) won a number of prizes. CBC Radio One won for Outstanding Talk Show-News with the program The Current: Egg Freezing/Older Parents. CBC Television won for Outstanding Documentary (Africa on the Move: A Woman's World), Outstanding Investigative Program or Feature (The Fifth Estate: Behind the Wall), Outstanding Talk Show - Entertainment/Information (The Mean Girl), and Outstanding Host-News/Non-Fiction (Alison Smith).

13th Annual Costume Designers Guild (CDG) Awards - winners


The Costume Designers Guild held their ceremony for the 13th annual CDG Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night. The King's Speech (Jenny Beavan), Black Swan (Amy Westcott) and Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood) were the winners for film.

It was perhaps a bittersweet victory for Black Swan designer Amy Westcott as she is not nominated for Costume Design at the Academy Awards. Most of the publicity for the film's costumes had centred on the Mulleavy sisters' label Rodarte. The sisters are personal friends of Natalie Portman and they themselves happily took credit for the costumes and claimed that they were jilted out of a screen credit because of their naïveté. Amy Westcott was asked to keep quiet to avoid bad press and only spoke out after the Oscar nominations were announced and her work went unrecognized.

It is clear that Westcott was indeed the true Costume Designer, and that Rodarte were sub-contracted to do certain items to her specifications as is commonly the case. For them to claim anything more is outrageous - like a composer for an end-credit song claiming to be the film score composer. The Mulleavy sisters should not have been allowed to create that false impression.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts - winners


This morning at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts announced the eight winners of the 2011 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. The awards each come with a cash prize of $25,000 and a medallion. The awards are given in recognition of career achievement and outstanding contributions in the visual and media arts by Canadian artists.

The recipients are photographer Geneviève Cadieux, visual artist Robert Fones, performance and visual artist Michael Morris, filmmakers David Rimmer and Barbara Sternberg and painter Shirley Wiitasalo for distinguished artistic achievement; metalsmith Kye-Yeon Son received the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in fine crafts; and Nancy Tousley received the Outstanding Contribution Award for her 30-year career as an art critic and journalist.

This is the 12th year for the Governor General's Awards. The Governor General of Canada David Johnston will present the 2011 Awards at a ceremony at Rideau Hall (1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa) on Wednesday, March 23 at 6 p.m.

2011 Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) Screenwriting Awards - finalists


The Writers Guild of Canada released the names of the finalists for their 15th Annual WGC Screenwriting Awards today -- officially, at least (there had been a good deal of Facebook and Twitter congratulations going around last week as many finalists received prior notice). The finalists for feature film screenwriting were Michael Konyves for Barney’s Version, Adriana Maggs for Grown Up Movie Star and Dennis Foon Life, Above All.

The Documentary nominees were Jon Cooksey for How to Boil a Frog, Jefferson Lewis for Outbreak: Anatomy of a Plague and Christine Nielsen for The Pig Farm.

For television, a number of shows received multiple nominations. The double-nominees were the animated show League of Super Evil, Children & Youth show Wingin’ It, and police dramas Rookie Blue and Flashpoint. The comedy Less Than Kind II received three nominations.

Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Feb 22-Mar 4


The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival is a touring festival of films by Human Rights Watch, an organization dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. The festival highlights human rights issues and struggles, and includes both dramas and documentaries. It started in New York in 1994 before expanding to London in 1996. They now tour various cities in Canada and the United States.

The 8th annual Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival starts tonight at TIFF Bell Lightbox. The festival continues until March 4.

Tonight's opening film is Ali Samadi’s The Green Wave, a documentary about the disturbing Iranian presidential elections in 2009. The special guest Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal and co-founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, will attend the gala screening.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Premiile Gopo - 5th Annual Gopo Awards for Romanian film - nominations


The Asociaţia Pentru Promovarea Filmului Românesc (Association for Romanian Film Promotion) announced the nominees today for their 5th Annual Premiile Gopo (Gopo Awards) for Romanian cinema. Florin Şerban's Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle) received a record thirteen nominations including Best Film, Director, Actor (George Piştereanu), Actress (Ada Condeescu) and Screenplay (Cătălin Mitulescu, Florin Şerban).

Marian Crişan's Morgen was next with eleven nominations, including Best Film, Director and Screenplay for Crişan, and two Actor nominations (András Hatházi, Yilmaz Yalcin). Radu Muntean's Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas) followed with ten nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay (Alexandru Baciu Radu Muntean Răzvan Rădulescu), Actor (Mimi Brănescu), and two nominations for Best Actress (Maria Popistașu, Mirela Oprişor).

Medalia de onoare (Medal of Honour), Felicia, înainte de toate (First of All, Felicia), and Caravana cinematografică (Kino Caravan) were next with seven nominations each. Medalia de onoare (Medal of Honour) was also a nominee for Best Film along with the Documentary Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceauşescu (The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu).

Yeşilçam Ödülleri’nin - 4th annual Yeşilçam Awards for Turkish film - nominations


The Turkish Foundation of Cinema and Audiovisual Culture (TÜRSAK) has announced the nominees for the 4th Annual Yeşilçam Ödülleri’nin (Yeşilçam Awards). Çoğunluk (The Majority) led with eleven nominations, including Best Film and Best Director. It also received a nomination for editor Mary Stephen, who is a Hong Kong-born, France-based Canadian who studied at Concordia in Montreal (she was an editor on Montreal filmmaker Lixin Fan's Last Train Home). Çoğunluk screened at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival as part of their City to City programme which featured Istanbul.

Av Mevsimi (Hunting Season) followed with nine nominations. It too was nominated for both Best Film and Best Director.

The other nominees for Best Film were Eyyvah Eyvah, Kavşak (The Crossing), Kosmos and Yahşi Batı (The Ottoman Cowboys). With the exception of the comedy Eyyvah Eyvah, each also received a nomination for Best Director.

The Yeşilçam Ödülleri’nin are named in honour of Yeşilçam Street in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul which housed many film studios in the 1950s-1970s. Winners receive cash prizes from a pool of 250.000 TL, including 50,000 TL for the Best Film winner.

MPSE's 58th Golden Reel Awards for film sound - winners


The Motion Picture Sound Editors held their awards ceremony last night at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in Los Angeles for their 58th Annual Golden Reel Awards. The main winner of the night for film was Inception, which won for Best Sound Editing for Feature Film Music and for Sound Effects & Foley. Inception and Black Swan had led the nominations with three each, but Black Swan came away empty-handed.

The Documentary winner was Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage which profiles the Canadian prog-rock band. The winner for Animation was How To Train Your Dragon. The Foreign Language film winners was Micmacs. Country Strong won for Music in a Musical, while The Social Network won for Dialogue and ADR (Automated dialogue replacement).

The Academy Award nominees for Sound Editing are Inception, Toy Story 3, Tron: Legacy, True Grit and Unstoppable. Inception becomes the clear front-runner in this category at the Oscars.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The preferential ballot - Rank the Oscar Best Picture nominees


Now that the Academy Awards are one week away, it's a good time to prepare yourself for the big night. It helps to see as many of the films in advance as you can, but it isn't essential. If you want to know more about how it all works, take a look back at the article I wrote previously on the Academy and their awards process. Don't believe everything you read though, since many insiders and even some voters themselves don't understand how it really works.

In a nutshell, Academy is like a private club of accomplished industry professionals. The nominations for the Academy are done by the specific branches, ie. the writers nominate the writing categories, the actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors, editors nominate editors, etc. Everyone can nominate Best Picture.

The nominations were done with a preferential ballot, something not everyone realizes -- not even all the voters. It means they aren't nominating five people. A preferential ballot only counts one vote at any given time. Think of it as something like a political leadership convention - you can only support one candidate at a time. As candidates get eliminated, their supporters move to their second choice, then their third, and so one. The Academy's accountants only go down the list on the ballot as people are eliminated from contention.

8th Annual International Cinephile Society Awards - winners


The International Cinephile Society announced the winners of their 8th Annual ICS Awards this weekend. Their number one film of the year was Jacques Audiard's Un Prophète (A Prophet). It was also named the number one Film Not in the English Language and Audiard was named the top director. Niels Arestrup won for Best Supporting Actor, while Tahar Rahim was runner-up for Best Actor.

Another French crime thriller Carlos was number two on both top ten lists. Its star Édgar Ramírez was the one who edged Tahar Rahim for the Acting prize. But the film was runner-up in the directing category (Olivier Assayas) and for editing.

Lesley Manville (Another Year) tied with Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Vincere) for Best Actress. The Supporting Actress honour went to Olivia Williams for The Ghost Writer.

19th annual MovieGuide Faith & Values Awards - winners


The 19th annual MovieGuide Faith & Values Awards Gala was held on Friday night. MovieGuide is a publication by Ted Baehr, who is also the Chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission. Unlike the recent list of top films by Arts & Faith, this list is not so much about artistic merit as it is about advocating for a conservative Christian perspective.

Their top prize for film went to Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. It is the third film in the series of films based on the books by C.S. Lewis. The number one film on their top ten list of films for families was Toy Story 3. For mature audiences, their number one film was Secretariat.

Their Faith and Freedom Awards for Promoting Positive American Values award for film went to Mao's Last Dancer, about Chinese dancer Li Cunxin's defection to the United States.

Wedge Curatorial Projects presents, Witness As Desired: A Celebration of African Canadian Film


This afternoon, TIFF Bell Lightbox hosts a free screening of short films by African-Canadian filmmakers as part of the free Family Day weekend events. The screening program is entitled Witness As Desired: A Celebration of African Canadian Film. It starts at 3:30pm in Cinema 4.

Featured filmmakers include Dawn Wilkinson, Powys Dewhurst, Alison Duke and Sharon Lewis. Many of the filmmakers will be in attendance at the screening. TIFF Co-director Cameron Bailey will also be in attendance.


There will be a reception and panel discussion with Cameron Bailey and the contemporary filmmakers involved following the screening.

47th annual Cinema Audio Society (CAS) Awards - winners


The Cinema Audio Society held their ceremony on Saturday night for the 47th annual CAS Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for 2010 at the Crystal Ballroom of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. The mixing team for True Grit won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Picture. The team consisted of production mixer
 Peter F. Kurland, CAS
 re-recording mixers Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey and Greg Orloff.

Althought the sound in True Grit is not flashy, it is widely admired for its subtlety and naturalness which is often harder to create. It won out over fellow nominees Black Swan, Inception, Shutter Island and The Social Network.

Television winners included Temple Grandin, Boardwalk Empire and Deadliest Catch.

The CAS awarded two honourary awards. The Career Achievement Honoree was Jeffrey S. Wexler.  The CAS Filmmaker Award Honoree was DGA president Taylor Hackford. Technical Achievement Awards were given to the microphone Schoeps Super CMIT 2U and the audio repair software program Izotope Izotope RX-2
.

61st annual ACE Eddie Awards (editing) - winners


The American Cinema Editors (ACE) held its awards ceremony Saturday night for the 61st annual ACE Eddie Awards in film, television and documentaries (not to be confused with the Edda Awards). The winners for Best Edited Feature in the Dramatic category was The Social Network, while the Comedy winner was Alice in Wonderland.

The nominees in the Dramatic category had included the strong contenders Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception and The King's Speech. The competition in the comedy category consisted of Easy A, The Kids Are All Right, Made in Dagenham and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

The Animation award went to Toy Story 3. The winner in the Documentary category was Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop.

The ACE Eddie Awards are generally thought to be a strong indicator of how the Oscars will vote for editing. The winner of the Oscar for editing has matched with the ACE Eddies for the last nine years in a row.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Edduverðlaunin 2011 - Edda Awards for Icelandic film - winners


The Íslenska kvikmynda- og sjónvarpsakademían (Icelandic Film and Television Academy) held their ceremony tonight at the Icelandic Opera House for their Edduverðlaunin 2011 (Edda Awards) for film and television. Árni Ólafur Ásgeirsson's drama Brim (Undercurrent) led with six wins. It had led with twelve nominations, and captured the prizes for Best Film, Actress (Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir), Sound, Film Score, Cinematography and Editing.

Dagur Kári's The Good Heart was not far behind with five awards. Kári won for Director and Screenplay, and the film also captured the prizes for Costume, Makeup and Production Design.

Rokland (Stormland) received two acting awards, for Lead Actor (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and Supporting Actress (Elma Lísa Gunnarsdóttir).  The other acting award for Supporting Actor went to Thorsteinn Bachmann for Órói (Jitters). It was the only award for Órói, which like The Good Heart received ten nominations.

The Documentary winner was Fiðruð fíkn (Feathered Cocaine).

61st Berlin International Film Festival - award winners


The 61st Berlin International Film Festival is drawing to a close and they have presented their awards including the main jury awards. The Golden Bear for Best Film went to Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader And Simin, A Separation) by Asghar Farhadi. It also won the Silver Bear prizes for Best Actor and Best Actress for the ensemble cast.

While the Berlin Festival openly condemned Iranian government's conviction of director Jafar Panahi, this won't be necessarily seen as a political and unearned decision by the jury, which was led by Isabella Rossellini. The film was very well-reviewed and doesn't have any blatant political content. Nonetheless, director Asghar Farhadi dedicated his wins to Panahi, saying "This goes out to you. I hope next time you will be standing here."

A torinói ló (The Turin Horse) by Hungarian director Béla Tarr claimed the Silver Bear Jury Grand Prix. The Silver Bear for Best Director was awarded to Ulrich Köhler for Schlafkrankheit (Sleeping Sickness).

Free events at TIFF Lightbox this holiday weekend


In recognition of the Family Day holiday in Ontario on Monday (and Presidents' Day in the United States), the Toronto International Film Festival will be hosting two full days of free events this weekend. From Sunday, February 20 to Monday, February 21, you'll have a chance to explore the wide range of offerings and activities at the Bell Lightbox completely free of charge.

They'll have a number of film screenings in their five theatres, including several by Tim Burton. They'll offer their ongoing exhibitions on Tim Burton and Mary Pickford. Additionally, they'll have some special events, music and workshops just for the occasion.

Lightbox is a very impressive facility that offers a variety of new ways to experience cinema. They also have terrific year-round programming, visiting filmmakers and artists, and an educational component. Roger Ebert praised the new building with writings and tweets such as "TIFF's wonderful new Bell Lightbox is one swell place to see a movie."

Festival international Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques: 5th edition (2011)


The 5th edition of the Festival international Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques (2011) returns to showcase the avant-garde music scene. The theme this year is “Music in Motion.” The festival also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Semaine internationale de musique actuelle — the founding event in 1961 for Quebec’s new music scene organized by Pierre Mercure.

Many of the concerts feature a fusion between artistic disciplines. Nine of the concerts feature dance. Others draw on video art and performance. Jean-François Laporte mounts an audio-visual installation called Khrônos. In addition, there will be after hours events, a music lounge, conference and roundtable discussion.

One of the more interesting-sounding performances will be a composition by the festival's director Walter Boudreau. His piece Apportez Votre Cellulaire is an audience participation piece for organ, harpsichord, wind quintet, electronics and cellphones from the audience. The audience will be divided into twelve sections, each with its own conductor. There will be a twenty minute rehearsal before it is performed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

25th Teddy Awards for LGBT/queer cinema - winners


As the 61st Berlin International Film Festival draws to a close, a number of juries gave out awards. The Teddy Awards presented their 25th edition of prizes for the best in LGBT cinema at a “jubilee gala” at Tempelhof airport.

The prize for Best Feature went to the Argentinian film Ausente (Absent) by Marco Berger about a student taking advantage of a teacher's position. The Documentary award went to Marie Losier's exploration of a pansexual couple The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye. Céline Sciamma's Tomboy which tells of ten-year-old girl passing herself off as a male won the Teddy Jury award.

Special Teddy Awards were given to the Sout-African entertainer and HIV/AIDS activist Pieter-Dirk Uys for his commitment especially in the educational advertising about HIV/AIDS in South-African schools, and to New German Cinema director and screenwriter Werner Schroeter.

The Teddy jury at the Berlinale 2011 consisted of Marcus Hu (jury president), Beth Sá Freire, Jin Park, Kriengsak Silakong, Andrejs Visockis, Istvan Szebesi, Jason Barker, Mara Fortes and Sarah Neal.

34th Japan Academy Prize - winners led by Confessions


The Nippon Academy-shō Association for Excellence in Japanese Film held its 34th Japan Academy Prize ceremony today at New Takanawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo. The big prizes of the night went to Kokuhaku (Confessions), which captured the awards for Picture, Director, Screenplay and Editing.

Sang-il Lee’s Akunin (Villain) had led with 15 nominations and actually emerged with the most wins, winning five awards. It won all four acting categories as well as the award for Music.

Takashi Miike's Jûsan-nin no Shikaku (13 Assassins) also captured four awards. It won for Cinematography, Lighting, Art Direction and Sound Recording.

The Foreign Film prize went to Avatar, which beat out The Hurt Locker, Inception, Toy Story 3 and Invictus.

15th Annual Prism Awards - nominations


The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) announced the nominees for their 15th Annual Prism Awards. They are awarded "for outstanding accomplishments in the accurate depiction of substance abuse and mental health disorders: prevention, treatment and recovery, in film, television, interactive, comic book, music, and DVD entertainment."

For the issue of substance abuse, the film nominees were The Fighter, Holy Rollers, Iron Man 2, White Irish Drinkers and Winter's Bone. Regarding mental health, nominations went to All Good Things, Black Swan, Frankie and Alice, Lbs. and Mother and Child.

Christian Bale, Halle Berry, Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman received nominations for their film performances.

Television shows receiving nominations included The Big C, Desperate Housewives, Drop Dead Diva, Entourage, The United States of Tara, Blue Bloods, The Closer, The Good Wife, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Mad Men.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

12th Festival Montréal en lumière (Montreal Festival of Lights), Feb. 17-27


The 12th edition of the Festival Montréal en lumière (Montreal Festival of Lights) kicks off tonight and continues until February 27. This is an all-encompassing festival that brings a touch of excitement and culture to the dreary days of February. It celebrates music, food, performing arts and outdoor activities. It all culminates with the Nuit blanche à Montréal on February 26-27, with 175 activites that are mostly free.

This year's festival has a focus on women. Honourary co-president of the festival actress Carole Bouquet will read excerpts from Lettres à Génica, folies d’amour by Antonin Artaud. The other co-president is soprano Marie-Josée Lord, who will perform a solo recital at Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, accompanied by the Orchestre Métropolitain.

Other performers you can look forward to include Vanessa Paradis, Omara Portuondo, Lizz Wright, Emilie Simon, Béatrice Bonifassi, Ladies of the Canyon, NEeMA and Emilie-Claire Barlow.

56 of the world's top women chefs will be guest chefs at local restaurants including Honourary president Anne-Sophie Pic, the only woman chef to rate three Michelin stars. She will be at Toque!, while others include Elizabeth Falkner at DNA, Melissa Craig at Chez L'Epicier, Nathalie Beauvais at La Porte, Roberta Sudbrack at Cafe Ferreira, and Cristina Bowerman at Graziella.

The Arts & Faith Top 100 films (2011)


Arts & Faith, an online forum run by Image Journal released their 2011 list of The Arts & Faith Top 100 Films. This is something they've done every year since 1999, and this is the second release since Image Journal assumed responsibility of the forum. They cover the arts from a Christian or spiritual basis.

Surprisingly, the list is an excellent and representative assortment of ourstanding films, regardless of one's religious inclinations. It doesn't skew to recent years as many lists do, but includes older classics such as the silent film La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) by Carl Theodor Dreyer, which was chosen as the number one film. Many are foreign films -- in fact, they boast of an increase since last year's list which had fewer than one-quarter of the selections in English. They've included documentaries such as Born into Brothels and animated films such as Miyazaki's Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Spirited Away).

But there are also many titles that one might think were completely unsuited for the faithful. It included the Romanian abortion story 4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days). Some seem to have no discernible spiritual themes, while others are have an outright anti-religious tone such as There Will Be Blood.

TIFF announces new programmer for Africa and Middle East


The Toronto International Film Festival has announced the appointment of a new programmer for films from Africa and the Middle East. 

Rasha Salti has programmed previously for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival and CinemaEast Film Festival. She joins a strong, highly-regarded team of programmers at TIFF, one of the world's top festivals and the world's largest public film festival.

Be sure to catch some of TIFF's ongoing events at the Bell Lightbox in honour of Black History Month. This weekend on Sunday February 20 at 3:30pm, there will be a free screening of short films by African-Canadian filmmakers in Lightbox's Cinema 4. Many of the filmmakers will be in attendance and a reception follows.

This free screening is part of a series of free events taking place at Lightbox on Sunday and Monday, February 20-21.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

32nd Rhubarb Festival, February 16-27


Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto presents the 32nd edition of its Rhubarb Festival, which starts tonight and runs until February 27. They bill the festival as "Canada's premiere experimental performance festival" and it features contemporary theatre, dance, performance art, music and hybrid forms by Ravi Jain, Alex Napier, Claire Calnan, emergency exit, Mark Shyzer and others.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is a professional Canadian theatre company dedicated to the development and presentation of queer theatre, and is committed to work that challenges the boundaries of theatrical and social convention.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is located at 12 Alexander Street, two blocks north of Carlton and Yonge or two blocks south of Wellesley and Yonge on the east side.

29th Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois, February 16-27


The 29th Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois begins tonight with a sold-out Canadian premiere of En terrains connus (Familiar Grounds). The festival, which highlights Quebec films, continues for the next twelve days to showcase the best of what was a very strong year for Quebec cinema. They will screen 293 films over this period, 80 of which are premieres.They will also have a number of industry events, parties, special events and awards.

En terrains connus (Familiar Grounds) held its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last week. It opens in Quebec theatres on Friday, February 18.

A short film that I co-directed with Katarina Soukup of Catbird Productions plays next week at the festival. Notes from the Kuerti Keyboard plays on Friday, February 25 at 9:45pm at the Cinémathèque québécoise (335, boul. De Maisonneuve Est), Salle Claude-Jutra.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Brit Awards 2011 - winners include Arcade Fire and Justin Bieber


A couple of nights after their surprise triumph at the 2011 Grammy Awards by winning of the top award Album of the Year, Arcade Fire continued their hot streak by winning two more prizes at the 2011 Brit Awards in London. They took Best International Group and Best International Album for their release The Suburbs. Their competition included acts such as the Black Eyed Peas, Kings of Leon, and Vampire Weekend.

Fellow Canadian Justin Bieber bounced back from being shut out at the Grammys to capture the award for International Breakthrough Act.

British rapper Tinie Tempah (Patrick Okogwu) also won two awards. He claimed the Best Single for Pass Out and was also named British Breakthrough Act. Having reunited seventeen years after breaking up, the boy-band Take That won the honour for Best British Group.

The other international award winners were Rihanna (Best International Female) and Cee Lo Green (Best International Male).

Nominations announced for the Inaugural Comedy Awards


The American broadcasters Comedy Central and MTV (both Viacom) announced the nominations for its Inaugural Comedy Awards. Easy A, Cyrus and Kick-Ass led the film nominations with four each. Their nominations included Best Comedy Film, where they were joined by Get Him to the Greek and The Other Guys.
 

30 Rock led in the television section with seven nominations. The Office and Modern Family followed with four each. The three are nominated for Comedy series alongside cult favourites It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Eastbound & Down.

Nominees were selected by the prestigious "The Comedy Awards" Board of Directors, which include: James Burrows, Stephen Colbert, Billy Crystal, James Dixon, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Grey Caroline Hirsch, Martin Lesak, Seth MacFarlane, Adam McKay, Jimmy Miller, Conan O'Brien, Peter Principato, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Jay Roach, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Rory Rosegarten, Phil Rosenthal, Michael Rotenberg, George Schlatter, Sharon Sheinwold Jackson, Mitzi Shore, Jon Stewart, Lily Tomlin and Sandy Wernick.

The winners of each category will be chosen by an invitation-only voting body comprised of nearly 1000 members from the comedy community – including writers, producers, performers and directors. The public can vote online for the Best Original Viral category at http://www.thecomedyawards.com/.

Call for submissions: National Screen Institute (NSI) New Voices program


The National Screen Institute has put out a call for submission for its NSI New Voices program, designed to jump-start the careers of Canadian Aboriginal artists in the film and television industry. Nine Aboriginal adults aged 18-35 will be selected for this skills development program that includes six weeks of training and an eight week work placement in an industry setting.

The National Screen Institute is a leading national training school for film, television and digital media. Although based in Winnipeg, programs are open to all Canadian residents. Non-residents of Winnipeg are responsible for their accommodation and travel expenses. There is no cost for the program, however; in fact, you will be paid during your participation.

The deadline for applications is Thursday, March 31, 2011, 4:30 p.m. Central Time. The program begins in late April.

For more information, go to the National Screen Institute website:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Call for submissions: 15th Annual Reel Asian Film Festival


The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival has put out their call for submissions for their 2011 festival, their 15th edition. They are Canada's largest Asian film festival dedicated to films and videos by East and Southeast Asian artists in Canada, the U.S., Asia and all over the world.

Their deadline is June 1, 2011. But if you submit by the earlybird deadline of April 1, there is no submission fee. 

From my observations and experience as a filmmaker and regular participant in their festival, they treat their guest filmmakers very well, and they have excellent volunteers, staff and audiences. Participating filmmakers receive an honourarium and are eligible to win a number of awards which come with substantial prizes in cash or goods & services.

The 2011 Reel Asian Festival takes place November 8-13 in Toronto and 18-19 in Richmond Hill.

TIFF Lightbox presents free seminar: Making Your First Feature


The Toronto International Film Festival's Bell Lightbox facility continues its innovative and diverse programming with educational offerings. They've partnered with York University's Department of Film to present a series of industry panels called York Film Downtown.

The program was launched in November and last month they presented a panel on documentaries. This Thursday, they host a panel on making your first feature film. Moderated by Amnon Buchbinder, Chair of York University's Department of Film, the panel features three of Canada's hottest emerging filmmakers and the distributor Robin Smith of KinoSmith.

The panel is free. It's also open to the public, not just York University students.

It takes place this Thursday, Feb 17, at 7 pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Learning Studios. TIFF Bell Lightbox is located at Reitman Square, 350 King Street West in Toronto.