Saturday, April 30, 2011

27th annual Festival international de cinéma Vues d’Afrique, April 29-May 8

The Festival International de cinéma Vues d’Afrique is a Montréal film festival that presents over 100 recent works. Exclusive film screenings, world premieres, screen talks, filmmakers and special events will make you discover Africa and Creole nations in a new light.

It is the largest festival of African cinema outside of Africa. It was originally based in Paris but moved to Montreal last year. The opening film is Kinshasa Symphony while the closing night film is a Haitian horror film Zombi Damou. Other titles include Africa United, Viva Riva! and Notre étrangere (The Place in Between).

The 27th annual Festival international de cinéma Vues d’Afrique runs through Sunday, May 8 at Salle Gesù, 1200 Bleury St.

Call for submissions: Giving Voice documentary masters apprenticeship program

CBC’s digital channel documentary and the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) have announced their second deadline for their documentary masters apprenticeship program known as Giving Voice: Filmmakers Working with Filmmakers.

The program is an opportunity for documentary professionals from across Canada to apprentice under a master documentary filmmaker on a specific project. It is designed to support documentary professionals in the early stages of their careers to further their filmmaking expertise and authorial voice with the guidance of a mentor of their choosing. The duration of the Apprenticeship will be a minimum of 4 months during which time the Apprentice will be paid an honorarium.

Giving Voice: Filmmakers Working with Filmmakers is designed as an exchange where both Master and Apprentice benefit from each other’s experience. The Master benefits by working with a passionate and creative resource, while the Apprentice gets unprecedented access to the Master’s creative process and expertise.

The deadline for applications is June 10th, 2011.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Guide to the Hot Docs Film Festival

From April 28 to May 8, 2011, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival takes a hold of Toronto. The largest documentary festival in North America, it presents 199 films from 43 countries over the course of eleven days. It's Toronto's largest film festival after the Toronto International Film Festival, and like its big brother TIFF, it sells out almost every screening.

Here's some advice for those who are thinking of checking out some screenings or industry events, especially if you've never done it before.

Hot Docs is a very affordable film festival. Like all festivals, the best deals are if you buy packages before the festival begins. Still, there are deals to be had. A single ticket goes for $14, but the late night screenings (after 11 p.m.) are $5 each or $10 for an All-You-Can-Eat Late Night Pass (one ticket to each screening).  For seniors (60+) and students with valid photo I.D., tickets are free for screenings before 6 p.m. (subject to availability).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

16th Annual Maximum Exposure Festival, April 28-May 1

The School of Image Arts at Ryerson University in Toronto hosts its 16th Annual Maximum Exposure Festival for graduate and end-of-year works.

The School of Image Arts includes photography, new media, installations and film. Photography work will be presented in partnership with the CONTACT Photography Festival, which officially runs throughout the entire month of May.

Maximum Exposure hosts their own film festival which takes place this year at the Toronto Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Avenue. Additionally, some short films and video works will play at the Camera Bar, 1026 Queen Street West.

The festival runs from April 28 to May 1, 2011. The film festival portion takes place on April 29-30.

Film Review: The High Cost of Living

Writer/Director: Deborah Chow
Producer: Kimberley Berlin and Susan Schneir
Cast: Zach Braff, Isabelle Blais, Patrick Labbé, Aimee Lee, Julian Lo, Sean Lu
Redemption Drama
English, French and Chinese with English subtitles
1 hour, 32 minutes

Montreal filmmaker Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) sparked a controversy last year when he pointed out that Quebec cinema was too white-bread and ignored Anglos and immigrants. People got upset but he was right on the money. In an impressive debut feature film by Deborah Chow, however, we finally get a rounded depiction of the true multicultural, multilingual nature of urban Canada.

Set in downtown Montreal, The High Cost of Living brings together Nathalie Beauchamp (Isabelle Blais), pregnant and caught in a loveless marriage to Michel (Patrick Labbé), and an American drug dealer Henry Welles (Zach Braff) living in Chinatown. One night, when Henry goes the wrong way down the street while hurrying to get to a deal, he strikes Nathalie and flees in panic. But he is guilt-ridden and asks his landlords' son Johnny (Julian Lo) to check in on her and slowly gets drawn into her world.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

13th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, April 27 - May 1

Today is the opening of the 13e Festival littéraire international de Montréal Metropolis bleu (13th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival). It brings together writers and artists from around the world and includes readings, workshops and talks. The program features over 170 activities and more than 200 writers and artists.

As part of the festival, they are holding their 4e Festival des enfants Metropolis bleu  (4th Blue Metropolis Children's Festival) at the same time. The program for the children's section can be viewed online here.

This year the festival takes place at the Holiday Inn Select Montreal Downtown Hotel, located at 99 Viger Avenue West, H2Z 1E9 (corner of St. Urbain) 514 878-9888. It runs until May 1.

Call for submissions: 13th Annual Parkdale Film + Video Showcase

The Parkdale Beauty Pageant Society has put out a call for submissions for their 13th Annual Parkdale Film + Video Showcase. It was formerly known as the REHAB: Parkdale Film + Video Showcase and are a working-class and artist community in the southwest portion of central Toronto.

The festival is primarily meant to focus on people who live or work in the neighbourhood. This year, however, they are opening up submissions to artists and activists everywhere for a special program to mark the one-year anniversary of the G20 summit that took place in Toronto and caused much damage, devastation and trauma to residents by the authorities more so than the protesters.

The deadline for submissions is May 20, 2011. There is no submission fee. Filmmakers selected will be paid an artist fee.

The 13th Annual Parkdale Film + Video Showcase runs from June 24 to 26.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christopher Doyle in person at INDEXG and TIFF Lightbox

Legendary cinematographer and director Christopher Doyle is in Toronto and will be appearing live today at two different events. One is an artist reception at INDEXG in the late afternoon, and the other is an appearance at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for In Conversation With...Christopher Doyle on Chungking Express to discuss his work on Wong Kar-wai's masterpiece.

And check out this article 5 Questions with Chris Doyle by my good friend Allan Tong on FILMbutton.



An exhibition of photographs by Christopher Doyle. Plus, new video work and artifacts from his new book in progress

Exhibition starts from April 20, through May 15, 2011

Artist Reception:
Saturday, April 23, (3-5 pm)
Meet Christopher Doyle

Friday, April 22, 2011

5th Annual Indonesian Movie Awards - nominations [UPDATED]

The nominations for the 5th Annual Indonesian Movie Awards have been announced. The awards are divided into two sections. The Terbaik (Best) awards are chosen by a jury of industry professionals while the Terfavorit (Favourite) awards are chosen by the public via SMS.

The jury for the awards selection is chaired by actor/lecturer Didi Petet, and he is joined by actress Ratna Riantiarno, producer Teddy Soeriaatmadja, entertainer Leila S. Chudori and writer/director Salman Aristo.

Robby Ertanto Soediskam's 7 Hati 7 Cinta 7 Wanita (7 Hearts, 7 Loves, 7 Women) led with a record 16 nominations including Favourite Film. It was followed by the eleven nominations each for Minggu Pagi di Victoria Park (Sunday Morning in Victoria Park) by Lola Amaria, 3 hati 2 Dunia 1 Cinta (3 hearts, Two Worlds, One Love) by Benni Setiawan and Alangkah Lucunya (Negeri Ini) [How Funny (This Country Is)] by Deddy Mizwar. The other nominees for Favourite Film were Sang Pencerah (The Enlightenment) by Hanung Bramantyo and Tanah Air Beta by Ari Sihasale.

The awards ceremony for the 5th Annual Indonesian Movie Awards will take place on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at the Hotel Sultan in Jakarta. The hosts for the evening will be Okky Lukman and Choky Sitohang.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Interview with Deborah Chow, writer/director of The High Cost of Living

Deborah Chow is a Toronto-born filmmaker who directed her first film while studying at McGill University in Montreal. After finishing her M.F.A. in film at Columbia University, she was selected as a participant in the 2005 Berlinale Talent Campus, and the Talent Lab at the Toronto International Film Festival.

She now lives in Montreal, where she completed her debut feature The High Cost of Living, which won the SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. It was also chosen by TIFF as one of Canada's Top 10 films this past year, and also won both the Super Écran award for Best Screenplay for 1st or 2nd feature at the Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois 2011 and Best Canadian Film at Female Eye Film Festival 2011.

As a fellow Asian filmmaker who is also Toronto-born but transplanted to Montreal, I was interested to learn more about her filmmaking process and her artistic journey. Here is my interview with her.

How did you get started with this movie? How and when did it begin?

THR’s Summer Movies Writers Roundtable Video

The Hollywood Reporter regularly holds terrific roundtable interviews with groups of leading industry professionals.

Their latest is a discussion with summer blockbuster screenwriters. They sat down with Jonathan Aibel (Kung Fu Panda 2); Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern); Ehren Kruger (Transformers: Dark of the Moon); Christopher Markus (Captain America: The First Avenger); Ashley Edward Miller (Thor) and Roberto Orci (Cowboys & Aliens). Although some of these writers work with partners, the films were asked to only send one to make the discussion more manageable.

The interview runs almost an hour, but is quite interesting and often very funny. It's well worth watching in its entirety.

Who knows? Some of these films might even turn out to be decent.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Film review: Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies)

Writer: Guillaume Canet
Director: Guillaume Canet
Producer: Alain Attal
Cast: Francois Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoit Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte, Velerie Bonneton, Pascale Arbillot
Comedic Ensemble Drama
French with English subtitles
2 hours, 34 minutes

When Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies) had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September, the gala screening almost didn't take place. Director Guillaume Canet explained at the press conference that he arrived the morning of the premiere only to be told that there was a conflict with the subtitling format and so they couldn't screen it with the subtitles. Canet felt terrible, that is until Danny Boyle stepped in and offered to delay his screening of 127 Hours so that Canet could use his theatre which could play that particular format. They played it at the Roy Thomson Hall anyhow for those who understood French and didn't need subtitles. Everyone else marched over to the Scotiabank Theatre where Canet said they shared a wonderful experience and he went from being totally depressed to elated.

The film itself is a rollercoaster of sorts like that as well.The title of Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies) literally translates as "little hankies" or "little tissues" and there are a few moments where you'll want to have some handy. But for the most part, it's a very light and charming homage to The Big Chill and other ensemble reunion movies (Return of the Secaucus Seven, Peter's Friends, Festen).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Critics Are All Wrong, pt. 2: critics vs. audiences vs. filmmakers

Today, the Best Picture Academy Award winner The King's Speech comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. It was a very deserving winner of course, but looking back at the outrage two months ago you wouldn't have known it. Many critics and bloggers strongly preferred The Social Network and it won an overwhelming number of Critics' Awards including the Golden Globe Awards. Then The King's Speech started winning the industry awards which culminated in their victory at the Oscars.

As a critic/blogger myself, but one who much preferred The King's Speech to The Social Network, I watched the awards season unfold with bemused astonishment. I chronicled the unfolding events in the articles The rise of The King’s Speech and defriending of The Social Network and The Critics Are All Wrong: Oscar, The Social Network & The King's Speech. Many critics simply went out of their skulls with the results and smeared the Oscars as outdated and irrelevant. They said that history would judge their decision harshly and that The Social Network would prove to be the greater movie.

But how can they be sure? Do critics really have greater insight than people who make films themselves?

It's usually the general public that is on the outside looking in. The public doesn't generally see as many movies and so they tend to look for easy entertainment. Casual viewers often consider critics and filmmakers themselves to be too highbrow or fussy with their thinking and have no problem going to a big, dumb blockbuster no matter how badly reviewed. Critics and filmmakers are usually united in preferring weightier films to dumb blockbusters.

64th annual Festival de Cannes jurors announced [UPDATE]

Robert De Niro had been announced some time ago as the President of the Feature Films Jury for the 64th Festival de Cannes. Today, they announced the remaning jurors. The complete Feature Films Jury is listed below.

The remaining juries have yet to be announced. However, all of the jury presidents have been named. The President of the Camera d’Or Jury will be South Korean director Bong Joon-ho who previously attended Cannes with his films The Host, Mother and the anthology film Tokyo!. Two-time Palme d'Or winner Emir Kusturica (for When Father Was Away on Business and Underground) will head the Un Certain Regard section. French director Michel Gondry will preside over the short film and Cinéfondation jury.

The 64th annual Festival de Cannes takes place on May 11-22 in Cannes France.

2011 Cannes Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors' Fortnight) and Short Film programs

After the announcements of the Festival de Cannes official selections and the sidebar Semaine Internationale de la Critique (International Critics' Week), the programming for the other main sidebar Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors' Fortnight) was announced today by their Artistic Director Frederic Boyer in Paris.

The 43rd Quinzaine des Réalisateurs selected 21 feature films, all of which will be world premieres, plus four other features listed as Special Screenings. In addition, fourteen short films will screen in this section. The opening night feature will be the Belgium-France co-production La Fée (The Fairy), a burlesque comedy by the team of Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy. The closing night film is another co-production (Belgium, France, Luxembourg), Les Géants (The Giants) by Bouli Lanners.

Not many North American films have been chosen for Cannes thus far, but finally a Canadian feature showed up in the programming. The Canadian belly-dancing documentary La Nuit elles dansent (At Night, They Dance) by Isabelle Lavigne and Stéphane Thibault was included in the Special Screenings.

The Short Films in competition at Festival de Cannes were also announced today. Nine films were selected to compete for the Short Film Palme d'Or including the 14 minute piece Ce N'est Rien (This is Nothing) by Canadian filmmaker Nicolas Roy. The jury for the short film competition will be headed by French director Michel Gondry.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Call for submissions: 12th imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival has put out a call for submissions for their 12th annual festival.

imagineNATIVE is an international festival for works by Indigenous peoples in the fields of film, video, radio, and new media. The festival takes place each fall in Toronto. In addition to screenings, the festival hosts parties, panel discussions, and cultural events. 

To submit to the festival, there are no fees required. However, each submission must have had major contribution by an Indigenous person as director, writer or producer.

The 12th Annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival runs from October 19-23, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.

Free CFC Workshops on Comedy & Drama TV Writing

As part of its upcoming information sessions for their television program, the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is including two free workshops with CFC alumnus Denis McGrath. The workshops take place on May 3 and May 5 from 6pm to 10pm in Toronto.

Denis McGrath is an experienced writer who has worked on some of Canada's most successful shows including Less Than Kind, The Border and now InSecurity. He is very knowledgeable about the world of television, both in Canada and abroad. If you have any questions, he's the one to ask.

The Canadian Film Centre's CBC Prime Time Television Program is one of the CFC's professional development programs. The info session on the program will provide all the necessary tips and info to apply for those interested in becoming television writers/producers.

The deadline to apply for the CBC Prime Time Television Program is May 20, 2011.

Cannes Semaine de la Critique (Critics' Week) program

The sidebar program to the 64th annual Festival de Cannes known as La Semaine Internationale de la Critique (International Critics' Week) announced its programming today. It's the 50th year for the parallel festival within the festival which celebrates 1st and 2nd-time filmmakers who often go on to great success. Filmmakers who got their Cannes launch during the Semaine de la Critique include Bernardo Bertolucci, Ken Loach, Wong Kar-wai, Jacques Audiard, Arnaud Desplechin, Gaspar Noé and François Ozon.

The program opens with Valerie Donzelli’s La Guerre est Declaree (Declaration of War) on May 12th. The closing film will be Pourquoi tu pleures? (Why Are You Crying?) by Katia Lewcowicz.

To mark the 50th year of La Semaine de la Critique, there will be a special screening on May 16th at the Palais of My Little Princess by French director Eva Ionesco and starring Isabelle Huppert and Denis Lavant. This is Huppert's third film in this section in the last four years, having appeared in last year's Copacabana and Home in 2008. 

The Semaine Internationale de la Critique runs from May 12-20, while the Festival de Cannes proper runs from May 11-22.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

30th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards - winners

Today at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the ceremony for the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards took place. It rained heavily on the red carpet, soaking the stars as they arrived. The ceremony was hosted by Teresa Mo, Vincent Kuk and Lawrence Cheng.

The surprise winner for Best Film was 打擂台 (Gallants), directed by Derek Kwok Tsz Kin and Clement Cheng. It won out over 狄仁傑之通天帝國 (Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame), 葉問2 (Ip Man 2), 劍雨 (Reign Of Assassins), and 綫人 (The Stool Pigeon). Teddy Robin picked up both a Supporting Actor and Original Film Score award for Gallants, while Susan Shaw won for Supporting Actress.

Tsui Hark’s 狄仁傑之通天帝國 (Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame) led with 13 nominations and came away with the most awards. Hark won for Director and Carina Lau won Best Actress. It also won for Art Direction, Costume & Makeup Design, Sound Design and Visual Effects.

Nicholas Tse took the Best Actor Award for 綫人 (The Stool Pigeon). Hanjin Tan was a surprise Best New Actor winner for his work in 李小龍 (Bruce Lee, My Brother), beating Dennis To Yue Hong who was nominated for both 葉問2 (Ip Man 2) and 葉問前傳 (The Legend Is Born-Ip Man).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 Good For Her Feminist Porn Awards - winners

On Friday, the Toronto women's sex shop Good For Her held their 6th Annual Feminist Porn Awards. It was the culmination of festivities that began with a Launch party on Wednesday night at the Gladstone Hotel which included screenings and performances by porn star Sophia St. James and DJ Sasha Van Bon Bon. On Thursday they screened works by nominated directors at the Bloor Cinema and had a Q&A sessions with filmmakers in attendance.

Friday's awards ceremony took place at the Berkeley Heritage Events Venue and was hosted by Jane Luk and Ryan G. Hinds with performances by Boylesque T.O. and CoCo La Creme.

The Movie of the Year was
Erika Lust's Life Love Lust. The Sexiest Straight Movie was Ilana Rothman's An Open Invitation: A Real Swingers Party in San Francisco while the Hottest Lesbian Feature Film was awarded to Lost by Kathryn Annelle. Maybe He’s Gifted by N. Maxwell Lander and Beau Charlie won the Golden Beaver Award for Canadian Content.

Film review: Hævnen (In a Better World)

Writer: Anders Thomas Jensen, based on a story by Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen
Director: Susanne Bier
Producer: Sisse Graum Jorgensen
Cast: Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, Markus Rygaard, William Johnk Nielsen, Bodil Jorgensen, Elsebeth Steentoft, Martin Buch, Anette Stovlebaek and Kim Bodnia.
Morality tale, Drama
1 hour, 53 minutes
Danish, Swedish and English, with English subtitles

After making well-received films Elsker dig for evigt (Open Hearts), Brødre (remade as Brothers by Jim Sheridan in 2009) and the Oscar-nominated Efter brylluppet (After the Wedding), Susanne Bier had mixed results with her Hollywood debut Things We Lost in the Fire. she returned to Denmark and her frequent writing collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen for her latest film Hævnen (In a Better World).

"Hævnen" translates literally as "revenge" yet the given English title works well too. The film weaves together several threads of wounded souls dealing with their hidden anguish. Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) is a gentle doctor who works occasionally in an African refugee camp. He still gets along well with his estranged wife Marianne (Trine Dyrholm) and does what he can to raise his 10-year-old Elias (Markus Rygaard).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Everyday Heroes Festival 2011, April 15-24

The 2nd Annual Everyday Heroes Festival begins today in Toronto and across the country. After putting out a call for submissions in November for silent one-minute short films about the environment, they've selected the top fourteen projects and are playing them on Onestop screens in Toronto's TTC subway stations and in malls across Canada. You can also view all fourteen short films on their website.

The jury consists of Kathleen Mullen (Director of Programming, Planet in Focus); Brenda Longfellow (award winning filmmaker and Associate Professor: Film Studies & Production at York University); Jed Goldberg (President, Earth Day Canada); Sharon Switzer (video artist and Director, Toronto Urban Film Festival). They will select the winners in each of the categories of Activism; Education; Conservation; Great Ideas. The public selects the Viewer's Choice Award through online voting at their website.

The festival is meant to coincide with Earth Day, which takes place every year on April 22 and is intended to inspire awareness and education about our natural environment.

The festival runs for the next 10 days until April 24.

Enrico Mandirola - LIFT Screening and Artist Talk

The Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) is hosting a screening and artist talk tonight. Artist in Residence Enrico Mandirola will screen several of his recent 16mm works and discuss his career and work.

Mandirola is an Italian filmmaker based in Bogota and is coming to the end of his Spring 2011 residency at LIFT.

LIFT is an artist-run production and educational media arts organization and provides independent filmmakers and artists affordable access to equipment, development, training, and other services. It was founded in 1981 by a small collective and has grown to become one of the foremost organizations of its kind globally.

The screening and talk begins at 8pm at CineCycle,129 Spadina Avenue (down the lane).

Call for submissions: Quebec Writing Competition 2011

CBC Radio One and the Quebec Writers' Federation have put out a call for submissions for the 2011 Quebec Writing Competition. It is the 12th edition of the competition for short stories or creative non-fiction in English by Quebec writers.

Three winners will receive a $1000 prize, broadcast on CBC Radio's Cinq à Six, and publication in an anthology by Véhicule Press. The Grand Prize winner will be published in Maisonneuve Magazine, while the other two prize winners will be made available on the Maisonneuve Magazine website. In addition, the competition will choose 10 honourable mentions.

They do not accept free verse, poetry, screenwriting or playwriting. Submissions must be original and unpublished work of 1,200 words or less and it should fall into one of the following categories: Travel Writing; Life Stories; Short Fiction; Family Narratives; Humour; or Personal Essays.

Last year's winner was Taqralik Partridge for her short story "Igloolik." The Second Prize Winners were Michele Ann Jenkins for "Mothers' Little Helper" and Joshua Levy for "Speed Dating."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Music review: L'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Frühbeck & Kuerti

Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Conductor: Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Piano: Anton Kuerti

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor"
Debussy: La Mer
Stravinski: L'Oiseau de feu (suite, 1919)
Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, Place des Arts

As the era of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal at the Salle Wilfrid Pelletier draws to a close (they move to a new hall next season), one of their previous conductors made a welcome return. Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos had a brief stint as the OSM's Music Director prior to Charles Dutoit. Joining him at the piano for a rendition of the mighty "Emperor" Concerto by Beethoven was one of the world's finest living pianists, Anton Kuerti. Though both are in their 70s, they managed to make the music very fresh and invigorating.

I recall in my University years being fortunate to hear a masterclass with Kuerti after which he offered to practice this concerto for those in attendance and to explain what he was doing as he played. I remember being fascinated with his attention to detail and his profound musicianship. Many years later, his precision and detail is still there.

64th annual Festival de Cannes - official selections [UPDATED]

The Festival de Cannes has announced their official selections for their 64th edition of the annual festival.

Films selected for competition include Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, Lars von Trier's Melancholia, the Dardenne Brothers' The Kid With a Bike, Pedro Almodovar The Skin That I Inhabit, Nanni Moretti's We Have a Pope, and Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin. Films in the Un Certain Regard section include Kim Ki-duk's Arirang, Hong Sang-soo's The Day He Arrives, Gus Van Sant's Restless, and Hors Satan by Bruno Dumont. Among the Out of Competition titles are Rob Marshall's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and the controversial film The Beaver by Jodie Foster which stars Mel Gibson.

As announced in February, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris opens the festival on May 11. The film's all-star cast of Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Gad Elmaleh, Léa Seydoux and Adrien Brody are expected to attend the Croisette to launch the festival. The film is being screened out of competition.

Although the juries have not yet been finalized, the Presidents for the juries have previously been announced. Robert De Niro will head the Feature Films jury, Michel Gondry will preside over the Short Film and Cinéfondation juries, Emir Kusturica will lead the Un Certain Regard jury and Bong Joon-ho heads the Camera d'Or jury.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Call for submissions: 2011 Regent Park Film Festival

The Regent Park Film Festival is seeking submissions for its 9th edition of the festival.

Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF) is Toronto's only free-of-charge community film festival dedicated to showcasing local and international independent works relevant to residents of the largest and oldest public housing in Canada. It accepts works of all lengths and genres. They especially seek works made by filmmakers from multi-cultural background and/or celebrate differences and solidarity, immigrant experiences, urbanization, inner city issues, cultural identity and multicultural relationships.

Regent Park is the neighbourhood located in the southeast part of downtown Toronto, largely populated by new immigrants and Aboriginal Peoples.

The 9th annual Regent Park Film Festival takes place from November 3-6, 2011. The deadline for submitting work is on Friday, May 6.

Free screening of A Drummer's Dream

The National Film Board in Toronto is hosting a free screening of John Walker's A Drummer's Dream on Thursday, April 14.

A Drummer's Dream played at Hot Docs last year and was the runner-up for the Audience Award, placing number 2 on the list of top ten audience favourites. It won the FIPA d’or Grand Prize at the 24th Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels. Director John Walker was a recent winner of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) Award earlier this month for his work on Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr.

The screening takes place at 7pm at the National Film Board theatre on the second floor, 150 John Street. Signed DVDs by the director will be available on site.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

15th Annual Webby Awards - nominees

The International Academy of the Digital Arts and Sciences has announced the list of nominees for the 15th annual Webby Awards in over one hundred categories. The Webby Awards are given to honour excellence on the internet. They are grouped in four categories: Websites, Online Film & Video, Interactive Advertising, and Mobile & Apps.

Nominees include Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Isabella Rossellini, Meryl Streep, Lisa Kudrow, and Canadian musicians Arcade Fire and Justin Bieber.

The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences was founded in 1998 and consists of "leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities, and Associate Members who are former Webby Award Winners and Nominees and other Internet professionals." Its goals are:
  • To recognize and acknowledge excellence in interactive content across emerging technologies.
  • To connect a diverse group of luminaries to facilitate growth and development in the digital arts and sciences.
  • To educate industry professionals and the public-at-large about what is relevant, making technology accessible and integrating it into the general culture.

Monday, April 11, 2011

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

The Writers Guild of Canada held their 15th Annual WGC Screenwriting Awards today at Maro in Toronto. The show was hosted by Laurie Elliott and written by Terry McGurrin with Laurie. The winner for film was Barney’s Version, written by Michael Konyves based on the popular Mordecai Richler novel. It had been up against fellow nominees Grown Up Movie Star by Adriana Maggs and Life, Above All by Dennis Foon,

The winner for documentary was The Pig Farm written by Christine Nielsen. The film examined the British Columbia serial killer Robert Pickton, who ran a pig farm.

In television, the comedy category had been dominated by three nominations for Less Than Kind II with “Coming Home” written by Chris Sheasgreen winning the award. Flashpoint was a multiple nominee in TV drama, and “Jumping at Shadows” by Mark Ellis & Stephanie Morgenstern claimed victory.

Writer Tassie Cameron (Flashpoint, Rookie Blue) was awarded the 5th WGC Showrunner Award, lawyer Peter Grant was presented with the WGC Writers Block Award for supporting Canadian film, and Denise Blinn received the Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize (which recognizes a new talent's unproduced screenplay) for her script 1936.

Film review: Hanna

Writer: David Farr, Seth Lochhead; story by Seth Lochhead
Director: Joe Wright
Producer: Leslie Holleran, Marty Adelstein, Scott Nemes
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden, Michelle Dockery
Coming-of-age Action/Adventure Fable
1 hour, 51 minutes

After cutting his teeth with the period films Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, Joe Wright ventured into contemporary drama with The Soloist. That turned out to be a misstep. But rather than returning to his comfort zone, he's pushed ahead in a different direction yet again with Hanna.

This is a sort of young girl's action movie, a Bourne Identity with a female teenager as the protagonist. It was conceived by British Columbia-born Seth Lochhead as his final project while at Vancouver Film School and it ended up making the top ten on Franklin Leonard's much-vaunted Black List of the best unmade screenplays a while back.

The story begins with a young Hanna who is raised in the wilds of Arctic Finland by her father. She is trained in martial arts and weapons, as well as multiple languages. This seems implausible, but the story requires a good dose of suspension of disbelief. If you're willing to grant that, it's makes for a fun ride.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Film review: Karkwa: Les Cendres de verre

Writer/Director: Nathanaël Le Scouarnec
Producer: Sandy Boutin
Music documentary, 51 minutes

Karkwa: Les Cendres de verre (Ashes of Glass) is a portrait of the Polaris Prize-winning Montreal-based band Karkwa filmed in the weeks before the release of their fourth album Chemins de verre (Road of Glass). Not so much a documentary as it is an episodic music video/concert film with some behind-the-scenes moments, it nonetheless paints an interesting picture of the band.

Often described as a Quebec Radiohead, their music is perhaps better. I've not been terribly fond of Radiohead's recent electronica, and Karkwa's performances lean towards the acoustic and singing in harmony. Their compositions are well-shaped and have form and direction which are too often missing in the repetitiveness of contemporary pop songs.

They exude a great deal of charisma and the audiences clearly enjoy themselves -- singing along with the choruses, dancing, and even marching out of the venue into minus-20-degree weather with the band during an encore. Karkwa obviously enjoy themselves too, laughing and smiling throughout their performances.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kaboom! The Films of Gregg Araki at TIFF Bell Lightbox, April 8-20

In addition to releasing his latest feature Kaboom today, TIFF Bell Lightbox presents a retrospective of iconoclastic American independent filmmaker Gregg Araki. Over the next two weeks, they will be screening all 10 of the feature films he has made in his 23-year career.

In addition to unspooling his entire feature film output, director Gregg Araki himself will be present for the three screenings of his landmark road movie
The Living End. On Saturday, April 9, Lightbox programmer Noah Cowan will interview Araki about his career for In Conversation with…Gregg Araki.

This is a fascinating opportunity to trace the development of an important Asian filmmaker and a key figure in the
New Queer Cinema movement. His films began with raw edge and wildness (he made his first four features for less than $50,000 total) and have become increasingly polished and assured. He now regularly attracts Hollywood talent in his recent works, including names such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Faris, John Krasinski, Kathleen Robertson and Rose McGowan. But no matter what stage of his career, his films always display a sly and offbeat sense of humour, an flexibility in exploring sexuality that isn't limited to gay or straight, and a endless stream of impossibly gorgeous young men and women.

61st Deutscher Filmpreis (German Film Awards a.k.a Lolas) - winners

Today, the Deutsche Filmakademie (German Film Academy) held its awards ceremony in Berlin for the 61st Deutscher Filmpreis (German Film Awards), also known as the Lola in honour of Marlene Dietrich's character in Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel).

The surprise winner of the Best Film Lola in Gold was the Tourette's Syndrome romantic comedy Vincent will meer (Vincent Wants to Sea) by Ralf Huettner. It also captured the Best Actor prize for its star and screenwriter Florian David Fitz.

, Dir. Yasemin Samdereli was the runner-up with the Silver award, while Andres Veiel's Wer wenn nicht wir (If Not Us, Who?) took the Bronze. Almanya also won Best Screenplay for Nesrim Samdereli and Yasemin Samdereli. The other nominees for Best Film were Drei (Three) by Tom Tykwer, Der Ganz Grosse Traum (The Really Big Dream) by Sebastian Grobler and Philipp Stolzl's Goethe! (Young Goethe in Love).

Drei (Three) was winner for Best Director (Tom Tykwer), Best Actress (Sophie Rois) and Best Editor. It was Tykwer's first German-language film in a decade. Goethe! (Young Goethe in Love) captured the award for Best Makeup.

Call for submissions: Toronto Urban Film Festival 2011

The Toronto Urban Film Festival (TIFF) is now accepting submissions for its 5th edition of the festival. It runs concurrently with the Toronto International Film Festival from September 9-18, 2011. It accepts silent one-minute films that will be shown to over 1.3 million daily commuters in the Toronto subway system.

Although they have not officially announced the themes and jurors for this year, last year's themes were 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.

The festival is open to submissions from anywhere in the world. Last's year's 1st Place prize winner was Ahmet Serif Yildirim from Yenibaglar, Turkey. The festival offers over $10,000 in cash and in-kind awards. In addition to the first, second and third place prizes, they have awards for Best In Category as well as the Nash McHugh Award for Emerging Filmmakers, Most Ambitious Film by a Local Female Director, Viewers Choice Award, Best Environmental Film by a Canadian Filmmaker, Best Animation by a Local Artist, Best Local 1st-Time Filmmaker, and Best Local Screenplay.

Playwrights Guild of Canada workshops on the business of playwriting

The Playwrights Guild of Canada is presenting a full day of workshops on the business of Playwriting in Toronto on June 3. There are six workshops presented throughout the day. Playwrights Guild of Canada members and students get a discounted price.

Michael Petrasek leads a workshop on promoting your work internationally; Maja Ardal explores the
intricacies of self-producing and how it fit into the Canadian theatre landscape; Bruce Barton discusses writers and writing in collaborative creation and devising; Joanna Falck, Stephen Colella and Erica Kopyto examine the Dramaturg / Playwright relationship; Michael Wheeler speaks about social media and the Arts; and Lisa O’Connell will address the benefits of playwright development centres and explain how they serve to nurture and develop the playwright.

Workshops take place at the Playwrights Guild of Canada's location at 215 Spadina Ave. Suite #210 in Toronto.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

24th annual Кинопремия Ника (Nika Awards) for Russian film - winners

The Академии кинематографических искусств (Russian Academy of Cinematic Arts and Sciences) in Russia held its 24th Annual Кинопремия Ника (Nika Film Awards) at the State Academic Theatre of Moscow Operetta.

Russia's submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the the Academy Awards Край (The Edge) took top honours, winning Best Film. It also won for Best Cinematography and a Best Actor prize for Владимир Машков (Vladimir Mashkov).

In a reversal of the rival премия Золотой Орёл (Golden Eagle Awards) which were held in January, Как я провел этим летом (How I Ended This Summer) lost Best Film but won Best Director for Алексей Попогребский (Alexei Popogrebsky). It was, however, its only prize on the night.

Китайская бабушка (The Chinese Grandmother) won both of the actress categories, which went to Нина Русланова (Nina Ruslanova) and Ирина Муравьева (Irina Muravyeva). Овсянки (Silent Souls) was also a multiple winner with wins for screenplay and music. The war drama Брестская крепость (Brest Fortress) won three technical awards for Production Design, Costume Design and Sound.

2011 Worldwide Short Film Festival Symposium - schedule

The Worldwide Short Film Festival has announced the full schedule for its Symposium, the industry sessions that take place during the festival held annually in Toronto.

WSFF is the largest short film festival in North America. In addition to screening about 300 short films of varying lengths in 30+ programs, they run an excellent industry series that is a must attend event for any filmmakers who are in the area. Topics covered include funding, music, editing, cinematography and a master class with the Canadian Film Centre's Actors Conservatory on directing a performance.

The big session that filmmakers won't want to miss is the Who Buys What? panel where a series of broadcasters, distributors and buyers explain what their needs are. They always give useful information and it's a great opportunity to meet some key people who are very approachable.

The panels are $20 each, but you can buy a four-pack for $60 or an all-access pass for $100. Any industry ticket purchase also allows you to enter the Screenplay Giveaway which will award a $70,000 prize package of goods and services to the winning script.

2011 David di Donatello Awards for Italian film - nominations

Gian Luigi Rondi, the President of the Accademia del Cinema Italiano (Academy of Italian Cinema) announced the nominations today for the 55th edition of the David di Donatello Awards for Italian cinema. The awards are named in honour of the famous statue whose likeness it bears.

The historical drama Noi Credevamo (We Believed) by Mario Martone led with 13 nominations. In addition to Best Film and Best Director, it received nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Producer. However, it was shut out of the acting categories.

The other nominees for Best Film were Rocco Papaleo's Basilicata Coast to Coast, Luca Miniero's Benvenuti al Sud (Welcome to the South), Daniele Luchetti's La nostra vita (Our Life) and Claudio Cupellini, Una vita tranquilla (A Tranquil Life). All except Rocco Papaleo also received a nomination for Best Director. Benvenuti al Sud (Welcome to the South) was second in nominations with 10. Basilicata Coast to Coast and La nostra vita were next with eight nominations each.

The nominees for Best European Film were Another Year, The King's Speech, Il segreto dei suoi occhi (The Secret in Their Eyes), Susanne Bier's Oscar-winner In un mondo migliore (In a Better World) and Uomini di Dio (Of Gods and Men). Canada's Denis Villeneuve received a Best Foreign Film nomination for Incendies, as did Hereafter, Black Swan, Inception and The Social Network.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

11th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival, April 6-10

The multicultural ReelWorld Film Festival launches their 11th annual edition tonight in Toronto with a gala screening of the Canadian movie Snow, directed and produced by Rohan Fernando and starring Kalista Zachharyias.  This is the Canadian Premiere of Snow following sold-out screenings for its World Premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival, in California. 

The Closing Night Gala Film is I Will Follow by the critically acclaimed American director Ava DuVernay, starring Salii Richardson-Whitfield, Blair Underwood, Beverly Todd and Tracie Thoms. The opening and closing night galas take place at Scotiabank Theatre, Toronto (259 Richmond Street West). The remaining screenings and all industry sessiions take place at Canada Square Theatre (2200 Yonge Street).

The ReelWorld Film Festival was founded by Tonya Lee Williams ("Dr. Olivia Winters" from The Young and the Restless) to provide a platform to showcase Canadian filmmakers from diverse backgrounds and represent everyday Canadian diversity.

The festival also features an excellent and affordable Industry Series including panels on funding, reality television and a Case study with Telefilm and the filmmakers of the opening night film Snow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Festival Vue sur la Relève 2011, April 5-23

The 16th edition of the Festival Vue sur la Relève for emerging Francophone artists begins today in Montreal. Vue sur la Relève is an annual celebration of multidisciplinary talent from emerging young professional artists under 35 years of age. The festival promotes performing arts and rising Francophone artists from Québec, Canada and internationally and features music, dance, theatre, storytelling, DJs and circus performers.

The festival also presents 5 à 7 Profession: Artiste, free conferences and panel discussions for arts workers in the early stages of their careers. They will cover various topics such as surrounding yourself with a winning team and the use of free music.

The festival continues until April 23. Events take place at the Rialto Theatre and venues across the city. 

Call for submissions: Tapestry New Opera's Composer-Librettist Laboratory 2011

Tapestry New Opera, Toronto's opera company dedicated to creating, developing and performing new Canadian and International works, has put out a call for submissions for its Composer-Librettist Laboratory 2011 known as LibLab.

The week-long program provides writers and musicians an opportunity to work with a different partner every day to learn effective collaboration. Each pair writes a small piece of musical theatre which will be performed and critiqued. Collaborators have gone on to successfully develop larger works.

The program is open to everyone, from Canada or elsewhere. In addition to a cover letter and resume, they require a letter describing your interest and two work samples. A letter of reference from a professional in the field will suffice if you don't have a body of work.

The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2011.

Monday, April 4, 2011

2011 Sprockets Film Festival for Children and Youth, April 5-17

The 2011 Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children and Youth starts Tuesday morning in Toronto. Sprockets is TIFF's annual children's festival that "offers children and youth the opportunity to learn about cultural perspectives from around the world through the power of the moving image."

They will screen eighty films from twenty-seven different countries for ages 3-18. Screenings start daily at 9:45 in the morning and continue until the early afternoon. On the weekends screenings continue into the evening.

Tomorrow's opening screening is Severn, the Voice of our Children by Jean-Paul Jaud. This is followed by Big, Most Valuable Players, Future Frames, Louder Than a Bomb, Generation Gap, Circus Dreams and Soul Boy.

The festival runs daily until Sunday, April 17. All films play at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Reitman Square, 350 King Street West.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2011 Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) Awards - winners

The Canadian Society of Cinematographers held their gala awards ceremony for the 2011 CSC Awards last night at the Frontenac Ballroom, Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto. The winner for Feature Film cinematography was Nicolas Bolduc for his work in Kim Nguyen's La Cité. He emerged victorious against fellow nominees Paul Sarossy (a double nominee for both Chloe and The Duel), Brendan Steacy (Small Town Murder Songs) and Adam Swica (Casino Jack).

On the television side, Ousama Rawi was a double winner for TV Drama with Ben Hur (Night 2), and for TV Series with The Tudors “Ep. 410”.

The winner for Short Film was Craig Wrobleski for June.

For a full list of the nominees, click here.

2011 Kids Choice Awards - winners

Last night, the cable channel Nickelodeon held their 24th annual Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Jack Black hosted the event which has a tradition of "sliming" its guests. Performers during the show included The Black Eyed Peas and Willow Smith, and Britney Spears and Jim Carrey made special appearances.

On the film side, The Karate Kid came out on top with wins for Favorite Movie and Favorite Buttkicker (Jackie Chan). It bested nominees Alice in Wonderland, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 to claim Favorite Movie. Alice in Wonderland did, however, win a Favorite Movie Actor Award for Johnny Depp. The Favorite Actress was Miley Cyrus for The Last Song.

The main winner for television was iCarly, which took Favorite TV Show and Favorite TV Sidekick for Jennette McCurdy.

Canadian singer Justin Bieber won two awards. He took Favorite Male Singer and Favorite Song for his hit single "Baby."

Friday, April 1, 2011

12th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards - nominations

Today, the International Indian Film Academy announced the nominations for the 12th IIFA Awards in Mumbai. Milan Luthria’s Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai led the field with 12 nominations including Best Film, Best Direction, Leading Role - Male (Ajay Devgan) and supporting nominations for actor Emraan Hashmi and actress Prachi Desai.

Following close behind was Abhinav Kashyap's Dabangg with 11 nominations. It also received mentions for Best Film, Best Direction, Leading Role - Male (Salman Khan) and Supporting Role - Female (Dimple Kapadia).

They were followed by Ishqiya with nine nominations, Band Baaja Baaraat and Raajneeti with eight each, and My Name Is Khan with seven. The other Best Film nominations went to Band Baaja Baaraat, My Name Is Khan and Raajneeti.

Every year, the IIFA Awards are hosted in a different country to help bring Indian cinema to the world. Last year's IIFA festivities took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The 12th IIFA Awards will take place in Toronto from June 23-25, 2011, the first time it has taken place in North America.

Leonard Cohen Awarded the Ninth Glenn Gould Prize

Montreal-born poet-musician Leonard Cohen was named today as the recipient of the Ninth Glenn Gould Prize. The prize is an international award given by the Glenn Gould Foundation which was established in memory of the great Canadian pianist. The general public nominated the candidates and a jury selected Leonard Cohen to receive the award which comes with a bronze sculpture of Glenn Gould by Ontario sculptor Ruth Abernethy, a $50,000 prize and a $15,000 for a protégé of his choice.

The jury consisted of Atom Egoyan, Stephen Fry, Gary Graffman, Dadawa, Phoebe Greenberg, Elaine Overholt and Costa Pilavachi.

Cohen was not on hand to receive the award, but issued a brief statement thanking the Glenn Gould Foundation.

The award has previously been given every three years but now becomes a biennial award. The previous laureates of the Glenn Gould Prize and their protégés were all musicians: 2008 – José Antonio Abreu (protégé Gustavo Dudamel); 2005 – André Previn (Roman Patkoló); 2002 – Pierre Boulez (Jean-Guihen Queyras); 1999 – Yo-Yo Ma (Wu Man); 1996 – Toru Takemitsu (Tan Dun); 1993 – Oscar Peterson (Benny Green); 1990 – Yehudi Menuhin; and 1987 – R. Murray Schafer.

Festival du Cinéma Latino-Américain, April 1 - 24

Tonight is the opening screening for the Festival du Cinéma Latino-Américain de Montréal (Latin American Film Festival of Montreal). The crime thriller Carancho was Argentina's submission to the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It stars Ricardo Darín who also starred in last year's Argentinian Best Foreign Film Oscar winner El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes).

The festival will screen 9 short films and 38 feature films. Most are fiction films but some are documentaries. 10 of the feature selections are from Argentina, six each are from Mexico and Peru, five from Colombia, three each from Chile, two from Uruguay and one each from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Cuba.

Some of the filmmakers will be in attendance including Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Patricia Perez who will present her food documentary Mistura, El poder de la cocina (Mistura, The Power of Food) where free food will be served to those in the audience to enhance the experience.

The festival continues until April 24. All films screen at the Cinéma du Parc, 3575, avenue du Parc – 514-281-1900 –