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.