Monday, December 19, 2016

film review: Harry Benson: Shoot First

Directed by Matthew Miele & Justin Bare

Review by Allan Tong

You've likely seen this iconic image. But in February 1964, nobody expected a "pop" group of English moptops called The Beatles to last. Similarly, nobody bet on a loudmouthed black boxer named Cassius Clay to become the world heavyweight champion.

Scottish-born photographer Harry Benson wasn't lucky to photograph these two legends crossing paths--he was smart and hard-working. A fine, new documentary by Matthew Miele and Justin Bare reveals that it was Benson's idea to pair the Fab Four with Clay (later to rename himself Muhammed Ali). The Beatles were Miami, Benson needed shots for his editor, and Clay/Ali was in town.

Monday, December 12, 2016

5 cool things at IIDEX this year

Story and photos by Allan Tong

With a movie screening, walking tours, book signings, workshops, panels, awards and parties, IIDEX, Toronto's annual interior design expo, has blossomed into a multimedia affair that's expanded beyond its two days (Nov.30-Dec.1) on the convention floor. Here are five cool things we saw at IIDEX (in no particular order):

Monday, October 31, 2016

Film review: Gimme Danger

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Review by Allan Tong

Punk pioneers, The Stooges, receive the deluxe rock doc treatment in the entertaining, funny and illuminating Gimme Danger. Makes sense that indie king, Jim Jarmusch, tells the story of the iconoclastic band that hailed from working class Michigan during the flower power era then roared across stages and recorded three seminal albums before drugs poisoned the band.

Stooges' front man, Iggy Pop, dominates the storytelling and it's clear he's the driving force throughout the band's frenetic history. Iggy's reminisces are detailed and warm. It's jarring to see him (as young James Osterberg) in old photos wearing suits and posing with his early bands behind drum kits (he started as a drummer). Blues freak Osterberg then travels to Mecca (aka Chicago) and gradually finds his voice by banding with the Asheton brothers, Ron and Scott, and a bassist, and mentoring under rock revolutionaries, the MC5.

Friday, October 28, 2016

145 documentary features submitted for 2016 Oscar race

One hundred forty-five features have been submitted for consideration in the Documentary Feature category for the 89th Academy Awards®.

Several of the films have not yet had their required Los Angeles and New York qualifying releases. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and comply with all of the category’s other qualifying rules in order to advance in the voting process. A shortlist of 15 films will be announced in December.

Films submitted in the Documentary Feature category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

10 documentary shorts named to Oscar's 2016 shortlist

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that the field of Documentary Short Subject contenders for the 89th Academy Awards has been narrowed to 10 films, of which 5 will earn Oscar nominations.

Voters from the Academy’s Documentary Branch viewed this year’s 61 eligible entries and submitted their ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers for tabulation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

85 countries in competition for 2016 Foreign Language Film Oscar

Eighty-five countries have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 89th Academy Awards. Yemen is a first-time entrant.

The competitive Foreign Language Film category was introduced in 1956 for the 29th Academy Awards. In celebration of its 60th anniversary, the Academy has created a complete playlist of acceptance speeches and a poster gallery of all the Foreign Language Film Oscar winners.

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Toronto International Film Festival Announces 2016 Award Winners

The Toronto International Film Festival® announced its award winners at a ceremony at TIFF Bell Lightbox today, hosted by Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. To watch the presentation, visit The 41st Festival wraps up this evening.

The short film awards below were selected by a jury comprised of American filmmaker Abteen Bagheri (That B.E.A.T.), French filmmaker Eva Husson (Bang Gang), and Canadian filmmaker Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls).

The Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film goes to Alexandre Dostie’s Mutants. The jury remarked, “Mutants takes a summer in Quebec and infuses it with a ribald lyricism. Awkward moments of sexual awakening paired with self cannibalism and self immolation rise it above standard nostalgia. It was a film that took chances with both its subject matter and humour, and framing it through the eyes of children. Congratulations.” The award offers a $10,000 cash prize.

TIFF and the art of self-promotion

BaBa Zula rocks TIFF
Story & photos by Allan Tong

Each September, the world's second-largest film festival (after Cannes) attracts armies of filmgoers, showbiz heavies and journos. A while back (I don't know when), some marketing folks began to open drop-in lounges to promote everything from eyeliner to self-published mafia memoirs. Meanwhile, state film commissions throw lavish parties to promote their nation's filmmaking industry while film producers orchestrate death-defying stunts. On King Street, which was closed to traffic during the first half of the fest, tea, chocolate and other vendors were giving away samples to long lines. They all aim to generate Tweets and blog space for themselves and their clients. Hey, there's a huge market at TIFF. Let's hang our shingle here. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How to schmooze at TIFF

Story & photos by Allan Tong

It's day 8 at TIFF, the Americans have left and, while the galas and screenings continue strong, the parties are over. That's left me to reflect on schmoozing. 

What's schmoozing? That's the art of making small talk to impress someone at a festival party without overtly pitching them or blowing smoke up their ass. Newbies fail miserably at this, and one must learn the nuances through painful trial-and-error. However, to get a head start here are 10 tips:

1) Dress the part. I love the Jays, but I sure as hell wouldn't wear a Jose Bautista jersey to a TIFF party (the exceptions being Kevin Smith and Spike Lee who can wear any damn sports jerseys they want). Who want to look like a schlub or homeless? 

Men, wear a dress jacket at the very least. Tie optional. Jeans are okay as long they are clean and ironed. Dress shoes preferred, but you can get away with running shoes because it's considered anti-authoritarian.

The gathering of the Canadian film tribe: the CFC BBQ

Story and photos by Allan Tong

"You going to the barbecue?"

If you're a Canadian at TIFF, you inevitably hear that question, followed by, "Did you get an invite?"

Held in the first Sunday afternoon of the festival, "the barbecue" is a gathering of the Canadian film tribe as well as a fundraiser for the Canadian Film Centre. It takes place on the manicured lawns of the CFC far north of the Lightbox but near the millionaire mansions of the Bridal Path. Given its distance and isolation, the barbecue is hard to crash and coveted.

If you're lucky enough to get in, you nibble on burgers, hot dogs and pizza and sip wine and beer that sponsors generously donate. But the real point is to show your face, shake hands and catch up with other Canadian filmmakers from various disciplines. Exchanging business cards is an essential ritual.

Each year, CFC founder Norman Jewison delivers a speech and this year under a sweltering sky, the venerable film director, wearing his "NJ" baseball cap, asked for a moment of silence on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Telefilm and Birks salute women at TIFF

Story and photos by Allan Tong
Sandra Oh

Last night at the posh Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto, Telefilm Canada and jewelerer Birks feted a dozen women in Canadian film at the Birks Diamond Tribute. They included actresses Amanda Crew (Silicon Valley),Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal) Christine Horne (Hyena Road),Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy, Window Horses) and Jennifer Podemski (Fire Song); directors Tracey Deer (Mohawk Girls),Ann Marie Fleming (Window Horses), April Mullen (Below Her Mouth, 88), Léa Pool (Set Me Free) and Ann Shin (My Enemy, My Brother); and, for the first time, screenwriters Emma Donoghue (Room) and Marie Vien (La passion d'Augustine).

What distinguishes this list of honourees this year from last is racial diversity. In 2015, the honoured women were all white, a point not lost on some attendees. Perhaps to rectify this imbalance (particularly in the year of #OscarsSoWhite), Telefilm has included Asians (Oh, Shin and Fleming) and First Nations (Podemski, Deer) in a profound way. 

Documentarian Shin feels she she has been "lucky" in getting her films made about Asian and black issues, but is about to make her first fictional film. "I hear it's tougher," she says. In particular, she feels it's hard to get Asian males on screen. "There's a bias."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Isabelle Huppert and the French shine at UniFrance, TIFF

Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne (directors, The Unknown Girl)
Story and photos by Allan Tong

Over the weekend, UniFrance celebrated France's directors, screenwriters and stars attending TIFF this year with their films. These include Paul Verhoeven's controversial Elle starring the legendary Isabelle Huppert, the Dardenne brothers' The Unknown Girl and renowned director, Agnes Varda who was in Toronto to receive an award named after the late, great film critic Roger Ebert.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Jackie Chan, Anne V. Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman to receive Academy’s 2016 Governors Awards

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Tuesday night (August 30) to present Honorary Awards to actor Jackie Chan, film editor Anne V. Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. The four Oscar statuettes will be presented at the Academy’s 8th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 12, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center.

“The Honorary Award was created for artists like Jackie Chan, Anne Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman – true pioneers and legends in their crafts,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “The Board is proud to honor their extraordinary achievements, and we look forward to celebrating with them at the Governors Awards in November.”

After making his motion picture debut at the age of eight, Chan brought his childhood training with the Peking Opera to a distinctive international career. He starred in – and sometimes wrote, directed and produced – more than 30 martial arts features in his native Hong Kong, charming audiences with his dazzling athleticism, inventive stunt work and boundless charisma. Since Rumble in the Bronx in 1996, he has gone on to enormous worldwide success with the Rush Hour movies, Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights, Around the World in 80 Days, The Karate Kid and the Kung Fu Panda series of animated films.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Academy reveals 2016 Student Academy Award winners

The Academy has voted 17 students as winners of the 43rd Student Academy Awards® competition. The Academy received a record number of entries this year – 1,749 films from 286 domestic and 95 international colleges and universities – which were voted by a record number of Academy members. The 2016 winners join the ranks of such past Student Academy Award winners as Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Trey Parker and Robert Zemeckis.

First-time honors go to Maharishi University of Management, DePaul University, Michigan State University, The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz.

All Student Academy Award-winning films are eligible to compete for 2016 Oscars in the Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short Film or Live Action Short Film category. Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 49 Oscar nominations and have won or shared eight awards in several categories, including Writing, Directing, Documentary Feature and Animated Feature Film.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Toronto International Film Festival announces Canadian selections, Talent Lab, Pitch This!, Rising Stars


The Toronto International Film Festival® announced an exciting lineup of Canadian features, packed with World Premieres from acclaimed filmmakers Deepa Mehta, Alanis Obomsawin, Bruce McDonald, and Brigitte Berman to promising new work from Kevan Funk, Anne Émond, Chloé Robichaud, Jamie Kastner, and Vincent Biron. North American Premieres include the latest from Xavier Dolan, Nathan Morlando, Kim Nguyen, Ann Marie Fleming, and Johnny Ma.

“We are thrilled to present a robust selection of projects from some of Canada’s best filmmakers,” said Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF. “From thought provoking documentaries and affecting dramas, to unconventional biographies and thrillers, to animated features, this year’s selections highlight the diversity and high-calibre work produced in Canada.”

“We are proud to shine a spotlight on both veteran filmmakers and emerging talent in this year’s slate,” said Magali Simard, Film Programmes Manager, TIFF. “Canadians continue to forge their own path on a global scale with their own distinct perspectives and methods of storytelling.”

Monday, August 1, 2016

Call for submissions: EURODOC Pitch, and One‐on‐One for Emerging Filmmakers


Montreal, August 1, 2016 – Doc Circuit Montréal (DCM) is delighted to announce two exciting calls for projects: the EURODOC Pitch and the One‐on‐One for Emerging Filmmakers. Established québecois producers and emerging filmmakers are invited to submit their documentary projects by September 15th as part of these two pitching events.


We are now accepting submissions to the prized EURODOC Pitch! Five Quebec-based documentary producers will be selected for the opportunity to pitch live in the hopes of receiving a $4,000 grant and securing a much coveted slot for one of Europe’s leading training programs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Toronto International Film Festival announces first films for 41st edition

Featuring World Premieres from filmmakers including Oliver Stone, Mira Nair, Ewan McGregor, Konkona Sensharma, Lone Scherfig, Raja Amari, Jonathan Demme, Baltasar Kormákur, Amma Asante, Christopher Guest, Feng Xiaogang, Rob Reiner, J.A. Bayona, Arnaud des Pallières, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and many more

Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, announced the first round of titles premiering in the Gala and Special Presentations programmes of the 41st Toronto International Film Festival.

Of the 19 Galas and 49 Special Presentations announced, this initial lineup includes films from such celebrated directors as Werner Herzog, Denis Villeneuve, Jim Jarmusch, Mia Hansen-Løve, Rebecca Zlotowski, Tom Ford, François Ozon, Andrea Arnold, Maren Ade, Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee woon, Kenneth Lonergan, Antoine Fuqua, Damien Chazelle, Pablo Larraín, and Paul Verhoeven.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Film review: Cafe Society

Writer/Director: Woody Allen
Producers: Letty Aronson, Ron Chez, Helen Robin,  Adam B. Stern, Allan Teh, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Parker Posey, Corey Stoll
1 hour, 36 minutes

By now, audiences expect certain elements in a Woody Allen movie: a period piece from the 1930s, a love triangle, a nebbish Woody-Allen-like protagonist, perhaps a gangster, a discussion about morality and, of course, some sharp, funny lines sprinkled throughout.

Cafe Society, the auteur's latest, contains all these ingredients which adds up to an entertaining though flawed film that's parts comedy, romance and drama.

[Spoiler alert] Jesse Eisenberg plays Bobby, a naive Jewish kid from Brooklyn who hits up his bigshot uncle Phil (Steve Carell), a Hollywood agent, for a job. Unwittingly, Bobby falls for Phil's younger secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) who is secretly Phil's mistress. When Phil leaves his wife for Vonnie, Bobby's world crashes down and he returns to Brooklyn to work for his gangster brother, Ben (Carey Stoll) and runs his high-society nightclub. Years pass, Bobby marries another woman and becomes a father. He grows tougher, harder, wiser. One day, Vonnie and Uncle Phil visit Bobby's New York nightclub and that nearly rekindles his L.A. romance with Vonnie. By the end of the film, we're left with a big What if? What if Vonnie had chosen Bobby instead of Phil?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

David Bowie is back...on the big screen

review by Allan Tong

Six months after cancer claimed the iconic British musician, David Bowie returns to Canada on select Cineplex screens on July 21, 24 and 31. No, it's not The Man Who Fell to Earth or Labyrinth, but a documentary about Bowie's superb retrospective mounted by London's V&A Museum that traveled to cities from Toronto and Melbourne in 2013-5. Both the show and the film are called David Bowie is and both are indispensable to fans of rock music, pop culture and The Thin White Duke.

If you caught the exhibition, then the film is a 94-minute souvenir that perfectly recaptures the show. If you missed it, then the next best thing is to catch this documentary. David Bowie is is part museum guide, part documentary and part biography. It is an unusual creature in that the curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, speak directly to the camera as in a TV special while periodically Bowie fans gush on camera about their idol as they would in a TV commercial.

However, David Bowie is redeems itself by detailing key moments in Bowie's life by deftly using the exhibitions rare photos, films, costumes, Bowie's audio interviews and his handwritten lyrics. The curators give us a tour of several exhibits, starting with photos of the teenage Bowie and his early band, The Kon-rads, looking confident and "imagining himself as a star already" rising from grim postwar England. We glimpse Bowie in a rare film performing mime under the key influence of teacher Lindsay Kemp, who would teach Bowie to adopt characters later in his music career. "It was much easier to be somebody else," Bowie says in voice-over.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Academy Invites a record 683 New Members

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 683 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 2016.

18 individuals (noted by an asterisk) have been invited to join the Academy by multiple branches. These individuals must select one branch upon accepting membership.

New members will be welcomed into the Academy at an invitation-only reception in the fall.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

ICFF review: All Roads Lead to Rome

 Italian screen legend, Claudia Cardinale, delivers a sharp, sardonic performance in All Roads Lead To Rome (Tutte le strade portano a Roma), but even she can't save this romantic comedy which screens tonight in Toronto at the ICFF (Italian Contemporary Film Festival).

Cardinale plays 80-year-old Carmen who secretly plans to wed her one true love in Rome against the wishes of her son, Luca (Raul Bova). However, the focus lies on Maggie (Sarah Jessica Parker), a cheery, but daffy divorced mum who tries to re-connect with her rebellious (obnoxious, really) teenage daughter, Summer (Rosie Day) with a trip to a gorgeous Tuscan village that she frequented as a youth. Maggie runs into her old flame, Luca, and Summer wants to return to her sleazy boyfriend in New York who's battling drug charges.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

They Called Me Jeeg astonishes at ICFF

by Allan Tong

The best film of this year's Italian Contemporary Film Festival is They Called Me Jeeg (Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot).

To label Jeeg as Italy's first superhero action film is incomplete. It's also a dark comedy with a twisted romance. Enzo (Claudio Santamaria) is a small-time crook who falls into radioactive waste during a cop chase. He's a lonely wanker who eats endless pudding and has no friends. During a botched drug deal which slays a fellow criminal, Enzo discovers these super physical powers that let him survive a fall off a high building and to shove refrigerators across rooms with his bare arms.

Enzo literally robs an ATM by ripping it out of the wall and steals using his newfound powers. That ends when gang leader Zingaro (Luca Marinelli) comes looking for his drugs and cash, and he strong-arms Alessia (Ilenia Pastorelli), the mad daughter of Enzo's fellow criminal. Enzo winds up protecting--and falling in love--with the poor, deluded Alessia who believes Enzo is the hero of a Japanese anime called Steel Jeeg Robot. She's been lost in her own world ever since her mother died years ago and/or her father started molesting her.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Funnyman Zalone opens the ICFF in Toronto

story by Allan Tong
photos by Sally Warburton

"Thank you for the orgasm," declared Italian funnyman, Checco Zalone.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Love and laughter at this year's ICFF

by Allan Tong

From June 9-19, Italian cinema rules Toronto and Vaughan (with screenings in Hamilton, Quebec City and, new this year, Niagara Falls) with the Italian Contemporary Film Festival. The ICFF offers another entertaining year of movies, mostly drawn from Italy with a few from Canada, but this year the overall program skews towards comedy and romance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Call for submissions: TIFF Studio 2016

TIFF Studio 2016 Applications are now open:
Calling Canadian writer-directors!

Applications for Canadian writer-directors are now open for TIFF Studio, our year round training programme for mid-career professionals, co-supported by the Harold Greenberg Fund and the Director’s Guild of Canada. Our fourth edition will run from June to January 2017.

Studio is a space for filmmakers to be inspired, consolidate skills, exchange ideas, and discuss challenges in a collaborative environment. Offered to a select group of 10 mid-career, writer-directors, Studio is intended to take the candidates careers to the next level, via creative and business skill development.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Call for submissions: Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM)

Submissions for RIDM 2016 are now open!

Quebec’s only film festival dedicated to documentaries, the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) presents the best reality-based films, including the works of established directors and new talents alike. Every November, RIDM screens approximately 140 domestic and foreign productions and hosts a dozen complementary activities such as workshops, master classes, debates and roundtables. The festival typically welcomes about 100 guests from outside Quebec, and hands out 11 awards selected by juries comprised of industry professionals.

Doc Circuit Montréal, the documentary market organized in parallel with the festival, hosts a dozen activities for documentary professionals, including workshops and presentations, and facilitates more than 1,500 business meetings.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

2016 Canadian Screen Awards – Pre-Show & CBC Broadcast Winners

Comedian Norm Macdonald hosted the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards live on CBC from the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, where 39 CSAs were presented to winners from across the country, it was announced by the Academy of Canadian Cinema &

"Tonight we congratulate and applaud all of the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards' nominees and winners,” says Academy Chair Martin Katz. “Through your skill, artistry and talent – you represent the cultural infrastructure of our creative economy. We are all very proud of you.”

39 Canadian Screen Awards’ winners included six Academy Special Awards:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

2016 Canadian Screen Awards – Television & Digital Media Gala 2 Winners

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television held their gala evening at the Westin Harbour Castle for the second round of Canadian Screen Award winners for 2016.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television is pleased to announce that 49 Canadian Screen Awards and six Academy Special Awards were presented tonight in Drama, Children’s or Youth, Comedy and Variety categories. This Canadian Screen Awards Gala was hosted tonight by comedian Steve Patterson at the Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

2016 Canadian Screen Awards – Television & Digital Media, Gala 1 Winners

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television held its first gala tonight at the Westin Harbour Castle for the first round of Canadian Screen Award winners for 2016. The event was hosted by comedian Seán Cullen and presented 50 Canadian Screen Awards in the News & Sports, Documentary, Lifestyle, Reality & Digital Media categories.

In addition, they presented and three previously announced Academy Special Awards – Canada in Perspective received the Diversity Award; Mark Starowicz received the Gordon Sinclair Award for Broadcast Journalism; and Much Music Video Awards – Router-Based Production Audio Design received the Outstanding Technical Achievement Award.

Nominations announced for the 2016 MTV Movie Awards

Get ready movie buffs, because the 2016 Movie Awards are coming to you Sunday, April 10th from the Warner Brother Studios in Burbank, California.

It's time to witness another show down. Voting is now open, so get hype to cheer on more of your favorite bad ass girl crushes, epic superheroes and lovable villains as they fight dirty for the Golden Popcorn. Your vote counts towards their destiny. To host this epic night of movie magic, MTV has enlisted action hero and all-around BAMF, Dwayne Johnson, and 2015 Comedic Genius honoree, Kevin Hart to be our masters of the Golden Popcorn. This dynamite duo will be sure to fill the night with unforgettable jokes, side-splitting introductions, and tweet-provoking moments.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

2016 WGC Screenwriting Awards finalists announced

The Writers Guild of Canada celebrates 25 years of working for Canadian screenwriters, showcasing their talents at the 20th annual WGC Screenwriting Awards. The gala event takes place on May 2, 2016 at Toronto’s beautiful Koerner Hall.

This year close to 150 scripts were nominated, with 24 scripts chosen as finalists, and 32 screenwriters up for awards. Special awards, including the WGC Showrunner Award, the Alex Barris Mentorship Award, and the Sondra Kelly Award will also be presented.

The 19th Annual TIFF Kids International Film Festival, April 8 – 24, 2016

Festival extended to three weekends to make room for more films, more family time and more fun!

Toronto – The TIFF Kids International Film Festival™, one of the world’s premier film festivals for children aged 3-13, returns for its 19th year, brimming with exhilarating stories, diverse programming, and lively animations that will delight and inspire children and parents alike.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Call for submissions: Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM)

The Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM) or Montreal International Documentary Festival has announced its call for submissions for this year's edition. It will be held from November 10 to 20, 2016.

Quebec’s only film festival dedicated to documentaries, the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) presents the best reality-based films, including the works of established directors and new talents alike. Every November, RIDM screens approximately 140 domestic and foreign productions and hosts a dozen complementary activities such as workshops, master classes, debates and roundtables. The festival typically welcomes about 100 guests from outside Quebec, and hands out 11 awards selected by juries comprised of industry professionals.

Hot Docs Announces A Selection Of Special Presentations To Screen During 2016 Festival

Hot Docs is pleased to announce 15 documentary features that will be a part of this year’s Special Presentations program, a high-profile collection of world and international premieres, award-winners from the recent international festival circuit and works by master filmmakers or featuring some star subjects. These films will screen as part of the 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, running April 28 to May 8.

The complete Special Presentations program and the full selection of films to screen at Hot Docs 2016 will be announced on March 22, including the 2016 opening night film. Ticket packages and passes are now on sale online. Single tickets and package redemption will be available beginning Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Canadian Film Fest Reveals 2016 Lineup (March 30 – April 2)

The Canadian Film Fest (CFF), celebrating it’s 10th edition, has revealed the line up for this year’s festival along with a new logo and website.

The CFF returns to The Royal Cinema in Toronto from March 30 – April 2 and opens with the Toronto premiere of Jeremy LaLonde’s How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town, which is fresh off its U.S. premiere at Slamdance and stars Jewel Staite, Ennis Esmer, Katharine Isabelle and Kristian Bruun. Director X’s feature film debut Across the Line, with Stephan James and Sarah Jeffery, has its Toronto premiere as the closing night film.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

88th annual Academy Awards – winners [UPDATING LIVE]

The 88th Academy Awards took place tonight at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. It was hosted by comedian Chris Rock, who joked that the Oscars were "the White People’s Choice Awards." His opening monologue was quite funny, and dealt primarily with the controversy surrounding the Oscars' lack of diversity.

The big surprise winner of the night was Tom McCarthy's Spotlight, the journalistic drama about the investigation of the Catholic Church abuse scandal in Boston. It won the first award of the night for Best Original Screenplay, but then didn't win another award until the final award of the night for Best Picture. It had been nominated for a total of 6 awards including the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress (Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams respectively), as well as Best Director and Best Editing.

Call for submissions: Just For Laughs comedy short films

The Just For Laughs/Juste Pour Rire Comedy Festival has announced a call for submissions for short films to present at their upcoming 34th edition of the festival.

The Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal is currently scheduled to run from July 13 - 31,  2016, and JFL42 in Toronto which is scheduled from September 22 - October 1, 2016.

36th annual Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies) winners announced

The ceremony for the 36th annual Golden Raspberry Awards or Razzies were held in Los Angeles on Saturday night to celebrate the worst in film.

The top "winners" were Fantastic Four and Fifty Shades of Grey which each took four awards, including a share of the top Worst Picture prize. Fifty Shades of Grey won the top acting prizes with Worst Actor going to Jamie Dornan, Worst Actress to Dakota Johnson, and Worst Screen Combo to both. The other awards claimed by Fantastic Four were for Worst Remake/Rip-off/Sequel, Worst Director (Josh Trank) and Worst Screenplay.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

31st Film Independent Spirit Awards winners announced

Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA, handed out top honors to Spotlight, Beasts of No Nation and Room at this afternoon’s 31st Film Independent Spirit Awards. Carol, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Krisha, The Look of Silence, Son of Sauland Tangerine also received awards at the ceremony, which was held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica. Spotlight received the Robert Altman Award. In addition to being the celebration that honors artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers whose films embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision, the Spirit Awards is the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs. The ceremony aired live today on IFC and a rebroadcast will air later this evening; please check your local listings for times. Clips from the ceremony will be available on Film Independent’s YouTube channel after the show.

Over the past 31 years, the Film Independent Spirit Awards has made a name for itself as the premiere awards show for the independent film community. Artists who have received industry recognition first at the Spirit Awards include Ava DuVernay, Justin Simien, Ryan Coogler, Joel and Ethan Coen, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Ashley Judd, Robert Rodriguez, David O. Russell, Edward Burns, Aaron Eckhart, Neil LaBute, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Hilary Swank, Marc Forster, Todd Field, Christopher Nolan, Zach Braff, Amy Adams, Lena Dunham and many more.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Interior Design Show wraps up in Toronto

story and photos by Allan Tong

January in Toronto is a cold, dark place, but for four days the Interior Design Show adds a little colour. The 18th IDS just wrapped (Jan. 21-24) after launching with a giant party Thursday night where for $56 anyone could sip wine and nibble on snacks as they surveyed over 200 exhibits ranging from the coffeemakers of appliance giant Miele to local furniture designers. On the following days, the IDS feted renown designer Tom Dixon and held workshops and keynotes that informed professional designers and everyday consumers alike on the latest trends and innovations. Here's a survey of some exhibits that caught our eye:

Art2Lights brings street art into living rooms with colourful artwork you're used to seeing in Toronto's downtown alleyways.

27th Annual Producers Guild Awards – winners

The 27th Annual Producers Guild Awards were held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel January 23, 2016.

The big winner of the night was The Big Short which claimed the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. Its producers were Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. Brad Pitt was also in the all-star cast that included Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Steve Carell and Melissa Leo.

The winner in the Animated Theatrical Motion Picture category was Inside Out produced by Jonas Rivera. For Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures, the winner was James Gay-Rees who produced Asif Kapadia's Amy Winehouse profile Amy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Academy Takes Historic Action To Increase Diversity

Lifetime voting rights reframed; new governor seats added and committees restructured
Goal to double number of diverse members by 2020

In a unanimous vote Thursday night (1/21), the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse. The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announces 2016 CSA nominations

“We are proud today to announce the nominees for the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards,” says Helga Stephenson, CEO, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

"Congratulations to each and every nominee," Stephenson adds. "They stand out in a field where the bar is already set high and continues to rise. That's one sign of a vibrant screen-based industry in Canada."

CSA nominations in 132 categories (24 film, 101 in television and 7 in digital media) were announced today at simultaneous press conferences in Toronto and Montreal and via live webcast on the Academy’s newly designed

“We’re looking forward to a great 2016 Canadian Screen Awards with a brand new production team headed by executive producer Barry Avrich,” says Stephenson.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

88th annual Academy Awards – fact sheet

Best Motion Picture of the Year
The Big Short (Paramount Pictures) [Produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner.] - This is the sixth nomination and the third in this category for Brad Pitt, who won for 12 Years a Slave (2013). His other Best Picture nomination was for Moneyball (2011). He received Acting nominations for his supporting role in 12 Monkeys (1995) and his leading roles in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball. This is the fourth nomination for Dede Gardner, who won for 12 Years a Slave (2013). Her other Best Picture nominations were for The Tree of Life (2011) and Selma (2014). This is the third nomination for Jeremy Kleiner, who won for 12 Years a Slave (2013) and was nominated last year for Selma.
Bridge of Spies (Walt Disney and 20th Century Fox) [Produced by Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger.] - This is the ninth nomination in this category for Steven Spielberg, who won the award in 1993 for Schindler's List. His other Best Picture nominations were for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), The Color Purple (1985), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Munich (2005), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), War Horse (2011) and Lincoln (2012). He has seven Directing nominations, for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich and Lincoln. He won Oscars for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. He also received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1986. This is the first nomination for both Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger.
Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight Pictures) [Produced by Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey.] - This is the second nomination for both Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey. They were nominated in this category for An Education (2009).

88th Academy Awards nominations announced

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Guillermo del Toro, John Krasinski and Ang Lee announced the 88th Academy Awards® nominations today (January 14).

Del Toro and Lee announced the nominees in 11 categories at 5:30 a.m. PT, followed by Boone Isaacs and Krasinski for the remaining 13 categories at 5:38 a.m. PT, at the live news conference attended by more than 400 international media representatives. For a complete list of nominees, visit the official Oscars® website,

Academy members from each of the 17 branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. In the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominees are selected by a vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

9th Annual Cinema Eye Honors

Joshua Oppenheimer’s Follow-Up to Act of Killing Named Outstanding Feature, Direction, Production
Amy’s Chris King Wins Unprecedented 3rd Prize for Editing

The Look of Silence was the big winner at the 9th Annual Cinema Eye Honors, taking home three awards, including Outstanding Nonfiction Feature, Outstanding Direction for Joshua Oppenheimer and Outstanding Production for Signe Byrge Sørensen. It’s the first time in Cinema Eye history that filmmakers have won Outstanding Feature or Outsanding Production twice – Oppenheimer and Sørensen were honored in both categories for The Act of Killing in 2014.

Nominations announced for the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild (MUAHS) 2016 Annual Awards

Ceremony to Take Place February 20, 2016 at Paramount Studios, Johnny Depp to Present Lifetime Achievement Awards

Nominees for the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards (MUAHS, IATSE Local 706) in 23 categories honoring make-up artists and hair stylists outstanding achievements in motion pictures, television, commercials and live theater were announced today by MUAHS President Sue Cabral-Ebert. Winners will be revealed during the black-tie annual MUAHS Guild Awards ceremony, hosted by comedian Loni Love, on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at Paramount Studios. M.A.C. Cosmetics is the official host of the cocktail party.

DGA Announces Nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television, Commercials and Documentary for 2015

Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay today announced the DGA’s nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television, Commercials and Documentary for 2015.

“With more television and documentary choices than ever available to audiences, the level of directorial excellence across the nominees for these nine categories is unparalleled,” said Barclay. “We’re proud to recognize the critical role of director in these genres and honor the incredible range of talent and skill found in all of these projects. Congratulations to the nominees.”

The winners will be announced at the 68th Annual DGA Awards on Saturday, February 6, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. The DGA Awards will be hosted by actor Jane Lynch.

36th Annual Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Awards nominations announced

All five films up for Worst Picture at this year's 36th Annual Razzie Awards are big budget/high profile productions that have no excuse for being among the year's "berry" worst. And 2015's acting contenders include popular stars like Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum, and Kayley Cuoco-Sweeting, previous Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore, and such Razzie Repeat Offenders as Adam Sandler, Jennifer Lopez and Katherine Heigl. "Winners" will be announced in intentionally tacky ceremonies scheduled for 8pm/PST on Saturday February 27 -- Oscar eve.

The choices for Worst Picture include Fifty Shades of Grey (2015's "Most Successful Bad Movie") Fantastic 4 (a nearly instant remake that flopped with both critics and movie-goers) Jupiter Ascending (the latest sci-fi fiasco from Andy & Lana Wachowski) Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (a box office hit despite its 95% negative rating at Rotten Tomatoes) and Adam Sandler's latest excuse for a movie, the 70's video game-themed Pixels.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

DGA announces nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2015

Nominees for Inaugural First-Time Feature Film Director Category Also Announced

Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay today announced the five nominees for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2015.

“What makes this year different is the unbridled ambition of the five nominated films – in theme, in production, in visual imagination,” said Barclay. “What makes this year the same is that the films were all chosen by the directors’ peers, and it’s clear our members love when people use their vision and skill to push the media to new heights. Congratulations to all of the nominees for their incredible work.”

In addition, Mr. Barclay also announced the five nominees for a new category recognizing the achievement of first-time feature film directors. First announced by Steven Spielberg at last year’s DGA Awards, the Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director is a new DGA Award that was created to showcase the feature film talent of the future.

14th Annual VES Awards Nominees announced

Today, the Visual Effects Society (VES), the industry’s professional global honorary society, announced the nominees for the 14th Annual VES Awards, the prestigious yearly celebration that recognizes outstanding visual effects artistry and innovation in film, animation, television, commercials and video games and the VFX supervisors, VFX producers and hands-on artists who bring this work to life., Nominees were selected by VES members via events hosted by its nine sections, - Australia, Bay Area, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, New Zealand, Toronto and Vancouver. The VES Awards will be held on February 2nd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

As previously announced, the Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to award-winning director-producer Sir Ridley Scott., The Visionary Award will be presented to acclaimed visual futurist and conceptual artist Syd Mead.

Cinema Audio Society Announces Nominations for the 52nd CAS Awards

The Cinema Audio Society has announced the nominees for the 52nd Annual CAS Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for 2015 in six categories and the CAS Technical Achievement Award Nominations.

“This was a year of terrific sound in both film and television,” said Mark Ulano CAS President. “These nominations represent the outstanding sound mixing being done in each category and I congratulate each of our nominees.”

Final balloting for both the Outstanding Sound Mixing and the CAS Technical Achievement Awards will open online Wednesday January 27th and end Friday, February 12th.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The 73rd Golden Globe Awards winners

The gala ceremony for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards took place tonight. It was hosted for the fourth time by Ricky Gervais.

The night's biggest winner was Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant. It won for Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio. Last year, Iñárritu shared the Best Screenplay prize for Birdman but was edged out in the Best Motion Picture - Drama and Best Director categories by Boyhood.

Denzel Washington was the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award which honours extraordinary contributions to the entertainment world.

Friday, January 8, 2016

11 Scientific And Technical Achievements To Be Honoured With Academy Awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 scientific and technical achievements represented by 33 individual award recipients will be honored at its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on Saturday, February 13, at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. In addition, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) will receive a special award recognizing a century of fundamental contributions to the advancement of motion picture standards and technology.

“This year’s honorees represent a wide range of new tech, including a modular inflatable airwall system for composited visual effects, a ubiquitous 3D digital paint system and a 3D printing technique for animation,” said Richard Edlund, Academy Award®-winning visual effects artist and chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee. “With their outstanding, innovative work, these technologists, engineers and inventors have further expanded filmmakers’ creative opportunities on the big screen.”