Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Feist jazz fest opener an enjoyable but low-key affair

The 34th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal got off to a bit of a soggy start with a cold and rainy day that threatened to put a damper on opening day festivities. Shows carried on in spite of it all during the day. And when it came time for Feist to put on her official festival-opener, the rain finally stopped and the the usual 100,000-plus crowd materialized.

She gave a shout of appreciation for this fact, declaring near the start, "It stopped raining!" This was a great relief for her, no doubt, because she had to conduct her mid-afternoon sound check wearing rain-gear during a light shower.

Friday, June 28, 2013

AMPAS invites 276 to become new Academy members

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 276 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy's membership in 2013.

"These individuals are among the best filmmakers working in the industry today," said Academy President Hawk Koch. "Their talent and creativity have captured the imagination of audiences worldwide, and I am proud to welcome each of them to the Academy."

The 2013 invitees are:

Watch the interactive documentary Burgundy Jazz online for free

Today is the official opening day for the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the world's largest jazz festival. To get into the spirit of things, check out the interactive documentary I directed called Burgundy Jazz that launched last week to great fanfare.

Burgundy Jazz
is an exploration of the rich history of jazz in Montreal in the decades before the festival, with a focus on the black community that was centred in the area now called Petite-Bourgogne or Little Burgundy. You'll discover many new things about Montreal and jazz, and hear about personalities such as Oliver Jones, Nelson Symonds, the International Band, the Sealey Brothers, Charlie Biddle and of course Montreal's most celebrated jazz star Oscar Peterson.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Call for submissions: RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights’ Competition 2013

Tarragon Theatre and the RBC Foundation are pleased to announce the fifth annual RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights’ Competition, one of Canada’s most prestigious contests for new artists. Since 2008, this national competition has received applications from every corner of the country. Tarragon and the RBC Foundation believe in investing in Canadian playwrights: through meaningful support we help them gain national recognition for their writing and look for the next Canadian voice to add to the national canon.

Tarragon will consider full-length plays (min. 80 minutes) written in English by Canadian citizens or permanent residents. To qualify, a playwright must be emerging, which is defined as someone with less than five years of professional playwriting experience. See contest guidelines for details:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The RIDM at Cinéma sous les étoiles: 5 parks, 7 free documentaries

Montreal – For a second summer, the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) is participating in the Cinéma sous les étoiles program organized by Funambules Médias. The RIDM will present a special summer program of seven films from the 2012 festival, for free in five different Montreal parks. All screenings will start just after sunset.

Once again this year, the screenings will be followed by discussions with the directors (assistant director in the case of Ma vie réelle) and, in some cases, with experts in the social issues addressed by the films. The RIDM is proud to be part of this summer program, through which Funambules Médias seeks to highlight social documentaries made in Quebec and elsewhere as well as the work of community activists fighting for positive change. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Launch event for Burgundy Jazz, June 19

Tomorrow night, there will be a launch event for the interactive documentary Burgundy Jazz, a project I've been working on for the last two years (and why I haven't posted much in the last while).

Burgundy Jazz is about the rich history of jazz in Montreal from the perspective of the black community in Little Burgundy. It reaches back to Prohibition and earlier, and explores how Montreal became a jazz hotspot in the early years – how headquarters set up in Montreal by Grand Trunk Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway attracted black workers at a time when train travel was luxurious and being a porter was the best job available to blacks; and how the rejection of Prohibition in Quebec led to Montreal being the only major city in Canada or the U.S. to legally drink, which attracted tourists for drinking, dancing, gambling, prostitution – and jazz.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

TIFF announces The Cronenberg Project for fall 2013

TIFF’s original film exhibition David Cronenberg: Evolution spearheads an ambitious, multi-platform celebration of the work of the iconic Canadian filmmaker

Toronto – Details of The Cronenberg Project, a multi-platform celebration of the work of one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, David Cronenberg, were announced today by Piers Handling, CEO and Director, TIFF and Noah Cowan, Artistic Director, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Running from November 1, 2013 to January 19, 2014, the core component of The Cronenberg Project is a comprehensive film exhibition titled David Cronenberg: Evolution, curated by Handling and Cowan. The exhibition, which will be presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox in the HSBC Gallery, explores the world of David Cronenberg by tracing his development and progression as a filmmaker through the themes of physical and psychological transformation that define his cinema; from telepaths and scientists to television producers and twin doctors. This also marks the first major original exhibition curated and launched by TIFF that will tour internationally with locations to be announced at a later date.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

2013 Student Academy Awards – winners

Sixteen students from colleges and universities around the world were honored tonight (June 8) as winners at the 40th Student Academy Awards ceremony at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The medal placements were announced at the ceremony hosted by writer-director and 1978 Student Academy Award® winner Bob Saget. Writer-director Kimberly Peirce and actors Clark Gregg, Jason Schwartzman and Quvenzhané Wallis presented the awards.

This year saw first-time honors go to Elon University, Occidental College and the University of Michigan in the U.S. competition, as well as to Zurich University of the Arts and RITS School of Arts, Erasmus University College Brussels, in the foreign competition.

The Student Academy Awards were established in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 46 Oscar® nominations and have won or shared eight awards. The roster includes such distinguished filmmakers as John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Robert Zemeckis, Trey Parker and Spike Lee.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2013 Montreal International Jazz Festival announces complete lineup

It’s finally time to unveil the free outdoor program of the 34th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan! In keeping with its formula, now an artistic and entertainment signature unique to Montreal, the world’s biggest jazz festival offers over 2/3 of its program free of chargeFrom June 28 to July 7, this unique event sets up shop in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, on a site perfectly conceived to offer an unparalleled entertainment experience, drawing 2 million visits to its 10 stages and hundreds of concerts and entertainment activities in a convivial and safe atmosphere.

Here’s a glimpse at what awaits us in 10 days and nights of discoveries, delights and surprises arrayed for aficionados of jazz, but also fanatics of blues, rock, world music, folk and other music genres born in the spectrum of jazz influence. In this vast range of formulas and formats, you’re guaranteed to discover a wealth of hidden treasures, gems of the next generation and essential legends, thousands of musicians invited from some thirty countries, playing electric guitars alongside balafons, double bass next to turntables, in intimate musical rendezvous and large-scale concerts in the heart of downtown, from noon into the wee hours… Yes, it’s free music at its absolute summer best!