Monday, January 31, 2011

Free screening of Petropolis, followed by talk with director Peter Mettler

On Tuesday, February 1, folks in Toronto will have the chance to see a screening of the acclaimed documentary film Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands by Peter Mettler. The screening will be followed by an appearance by the director in conversation with journalist and editor Marc Glassman.

The film is 43 minutes long and was commissioned in 2009 by Greenpeace.

The event takes place at the Ryerson University campus in the city's downtown, near Dundas subway station. The Library LIB-72 is located at 350 Victoria St. at the North West corner of Victoria and Gould. The screening is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm.

There is no admission charge. Anyone may attend.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

17th annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards - winners

The Screen Actors Guild held their awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center today. The King's Speech won the main prize for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Colin Firth also won for Male Actor in a Leading Role. These two victories cement the film's status as the new frontrunner in this Awards season. The Social Network came away empty-handed.

Natalie Portman won Best Female Actor for her brilliant performance in Black Swan. She jokingly thanked "my parents who taught me to work my hardest and never be an asshole. It's never acceptable." As with the Golden Globe Awards, both supporting acting awards went to The Fighter. Christian Bale was joined by the real-life Dicky Eklund on stage as he accepted his prize.

"Boardwalk Empire" won two awards. It took the award for Best Ensemble and for Male Actor, Drama (Steve Buscemi). 

Alec Baldwin won his fifth consecutive Actor award for Male Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on “30 Rock.”

The 2011 Schweizer Filmpreis ‎(Swiss Film Prize) - nominations

The Schweizer Filmakademie (Swiss Film Academy) announced the nominations for their 2011 Schweizer Filmpreis ‎(Swiss Film Prizes), known as the "Quartz". 35 nominations were made in nine categories, and each nomination comes with a cash prize of CHF 5,000 to 25,000 (Swiss Francs). A total of CHF 425,000 prize money was awarded.

Three films led with three nominations apiece including Best Film - Peter Luisi’s Der Sandmann (The Sandman), Michael Steiner’s Sennentuntschi and Mike Schaerer’s Stationspiraten (Ward Pirates). Der Sandmann also received nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Fabian Krüger). Sennentuntschi took additional nominations for Actor (Andrea Zogg) and Score (Adrian Frutiger). The other nominations for Stationspiraten were for Actor (Scherwin Amini) and Supporting Actor (Stefan Kurt).

The other Best Film nominees were Silvio Soldini's Cosa voglio di più (Come Undone) and La petite chambre (The Little Room) by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond. Both were also nominated for Best Screenplay.

63rd Annual DGA Awards - winners include King's Speech and Inside Job

The winners of the Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement Awards for 2010 were announced Saturday night during the 63rd Annual DGA Awards Dinner at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles. Tom Hooper won the DGA's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The King's Speech.

He was a surprise winner over a strong field of nominees which included the favourite David Fincher (The Social Network), as well as Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Christopher Nolan (Inception) and David O'Russell (The Fighter). David Fincher left the ceremony immediately after Hooper's name was announced as the winner.

For some such as Richard Corliss of Time Magazine and Sasha Stone at Awards Daily, this is a terrible travesty. But as I pointed out when The King's Speech won at the PGA Awards, it is the critics that were wrong and now the industry/guild awards are finally getting it right.

The Documentary winner was Charles Ferguson for Inside job.  Accepting his award, Ferguson said “It’s a pretty ballsy, out-there movie. It didn’t make me too many friends in the investment banking community.”

Saturday, January 29, 2011

2011 Sundance Film Festival award winners

As the 2011 Sundance Film Festival comes to a close, they held their awards ceremony Saturday night. The two main Jury Prize winners were the long-distance love story Like Crazy (Dramatic) and the examination of legalized physician-assisted suicide How To Die In Oregon (Documentary). Like Crazy also picked up a Special Jury Prize for acting for actress Felicity Jones.

The Jury Prizes for World Cinema went to the comedy Happy, Happy (Dramatic) and another Afghanistan war doc Hell and Back Again (Documentary).

Directing awards went to Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene (Dramatic), John Foy for Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Documentary), Paddy Considine for Tyrannosaur, (World Cinema, Dramatic) and James Marsh for Project Nim World Cinema, Documentary). Tyrannosaur also picked up the World Cinema Special Jury Prize (Dramatic).

1st annual Österreichischen Filmpreis (Austrian Film Awards) - winners

Today, the Akademie des Östereichischen Films (Academy of Austrian Film) held the ceremony for their first ever edition of the Österreichischen Filmpreis (Austrian Film Awards) at the Odeon in Vienna. The surprise winner of Best Feature Film was the oddball comedy Die unabsichtliche Entführung der Frau Elfriede Ott (The accidental kidnapping of the Woman Elfriede Ott) by Andreas Prochaska. It also won the awards for Best Screenplay and Best Music.

Der Räuber (The Robber)
directed by Benjamin Heisenberg had led with seven nominations.
It too captured three awards, for Best Director, Best Actor (Andreas Lust) and Best Sound Design.

The other film nominated for Best Feature Film was Jessica Hausner's
Lourdes but its only prize was for editing. Shirin Neshat's Women Without Men captured two prizes, for cinematography and Art Direction.

The award for Best Documentary was claimed by Bock for President by Sudabeh Mortezai. The film's subject, social worker Ute Bock, received a standing ovation from the audience and was moved to tears.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Golden Horse list of 100 Greatest Chinese-Language Films

The Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards assembled 122 industry professionals including film scholars, festival programmers, film directors, actors and producers to create a list of the 100 Greatest Chinese-Language Films. Most of the panel were Taiwanese, though, and that is reflected in the heavy representation of their filmmakers. The number 1 film was Hou Hsiao-hsien's A City of Sadness (悲情城市), winner of the Golden Lion at the 1989 Venice International Film Festival. Hou (who is the Golden Horse Film Festival's chairman) had seven films altogether on the list. Edward Yang had six films, Ang Lee and Tsai Ming-liang each had four.

Hong Kong filmmakers who received multiple mentions included Wong Kar-wai with five, Ann Hui with four, Stephen Chow, Tsui Hark and Stanley Kwan with two each.

Directors from Mainland China with more than one appearance on the list were Zhang Yimou with five, Jia Zhangke with three, and Chen Kaige and Jiang Wen with two.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Call for submissions: 2011 Planet in Focus Film Festival

The Planet in Focus Film Festival in Toronto has opened their submission for their 12th annual festival. Their Early-bird deadline is set for May 3rd, 2011. The Final deadline is June 17th, 2011.

Planet in Focus is Canada's leading environmental media arts organization, showcasing and promoting outstanding environmental films and videos in all genres (documentaries, dramatic, experimental, short films, features and animation) by Canadian and international filmmakers.

The 12th annual Planet in Focus Film Festival takes place on Wednesday, October 12th to Sunday, October 16th, 2011.

The International Ethnographic Film Festival of Quebec, January 26-29, 2011

The Festival international du film ethnographique du Québec (International Ethnographic Film Festival of Quebec) presents its 8th annual festival starting tonight in Montreal. FIFEQ runs until January 29, before continuing in Québec (January 28-30) and Chicoutimi (February 3-4).Tonight's opening screening will show Monsoon-Reflections by Stephanie Spray followed by Chai Qian (Demolition) by JP Sniadecki.

Aside from tonight's opening screening at the Cinéma du Parc, the screenings are all free.

Ethnographic films are a distinct form of anthropological documentary which attempts to record a community as faithfully as possible. FIFEQ screens films created by new filmmakers from both Canada and abroad as well as from renowned figures in the discipline of visual anthropology and the social documentary genre.

Many of the filmmakers will be in attendance. The countries explored include Nepal, Italy, Sudan, China, Brazil, Germany and Lithuania.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nominees for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed finally revealed all the nominees for their 83rd annual Academy Awards. As with the BAFTA nominations and the PGA Awards, the Academy favoured The King's Speech by giving it 12 nominations to lead the field. Its nominations included Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth) and Best Adapted Screenplay (David Seidler).

True Grit finished unexpectedly strongly in second place with 10 nominations, including a surprise nomination for directors Joel and Ethan Coen over Christopher Nolan, who some feel was snubbed. Nolan's Inception and critical darling The Social Network followed behind with 8 nominations. The Fighter picked up 7, including mentions for both Amy Adams and Melissa Leo in the category of Best Supporting Actress.

The other Best Picture nominees were Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter's Bone.

The brilliant Canadian film Incendies by Denis Villeneuve made it to the final five in the Best Foreign Language Film category. The other finalists were Biutiful, Dogtooth, Golden Globe winner In a Better World, and Algeria's Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi).

The 2011 Guldbagge Awards (Sweden) - winners

The Swedish Film Institute held their ceremony to reveal the winners of the 2011 Guldbagge  ('Golden Beetle') Awards, to honour the best in Swedish cinema. Babak Najafi's Sebbe which took the prize for Best Debut Feature at the Berlin Film Festival, was named the Best Film.

Another debut film Svinalängorna (Beyond) by Swedish actress Pernilla August had led with eight nominations, and came away with three awards. August won for Best Director, and it claimed the Best Supporting Actress (Outi Mäenpää) and Editing (Asa Mossberg) awards. August was also nominated for Best Actress for her performance in Miss Kicki, but lost to Alicia Vikander for her role in Till det som är vackert (Pure).

Also taking three prizes was Snabba Cash (Easy Money). Till det som är vackert (Pure) was another multiple winner with two awards, with Best Screenplay (Lisa Langseth) to go along with the Best Actress win.

Second look: The Social Network

Writer: Aaron Sorkin, based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich
Director: David Fincher
Producer: Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Cean Chaffin
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Josh Pence, Rooney Mara, Brenda Song, Rashida Jones
Talkie drama
2 hours

Up until this weekend's stunning upset victory by The King's Speech at the PGA Awards, the frontrunner and presumed lock to win every major awards event including the Oscars had been The Social Network. But so far, all the awards have been overwhelmingly critics' awards, including the Golden Globes. Critics everywhere deemed it to be edgy, relevant and current -- so much so that you'd think it was without question one of the greatest films of all time.  But film critics have a different way of watching films than general viewers and filmmakers themselves. Critics have the advantage of seeing way more films than most because it's their job; however, they tend to watch films more for content rather than for either easy enjoyment or for artistry and technique.

Now along come the industry awards, and the PGA's preference for The King's Speech indicates that filmmakers are less enamoured of The Social Network's cinematic qualities. Although many are brushing it off as a quirk of the preferential ballot that the PGA and the Oscars use for the 10 Best Film options, they actually made the smart, correct choice. If you really look closely at The Social Network as a film, there's simply not much going on.

That's not to say that it's bad -- it's a good film, perhaps very good, but just not great. And certainly not the "best."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Golden Eagle Awards (Russian film) - winners

The National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Russia held their awards ceremony this weekend for their 2010 Golden Eagle Awards (премия Золотой Орёл) for film and television. Alexei Popogrebsky’s movie Как я провел этим летом (How I Ended This Summer) won the Golden Eagle award for Best Russian feature film of 2010. It also picked up the awards for Screenplay and Cinematography. It had previously won acting and camera awards at the last Berlin Film Festival.

Russia's submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the the Academy Awards Край (The Edge) won more awards, however. It took Best Director (Alexei Uchitel) and acting awards for Actress
(Anorka Shtrehel), Actor (Vladimir Mashkov) and Supporting Actress (Julia Peresild). 

The Best Foreign Film went to James Cameron's Avatar. For the Documentary prize, they recognized
Виктор Астафьев. Веселый солдат (Victor Astafiev. Jolly Soldier)
. The award for Best Animated Film was given to Белка и Стрелка. Звёздные собаки (Space Dogs 3D).

The 31st Annual Razzie Awards - nominations

The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation has announced its nominations for their 31st Annual Razzie Awards, which honour the year's worst in film. Leading the pack with 9 nods each were the two much reviled films The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and The Last Airbender.

Both were nominated for Worst Picture and Worst Director. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse also picked up individual nominations for its three lead actors Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart, as well as for the film's ensemble. Additional nominations for The Last Airbender included Worst Remake, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Couple/Ensemble (the entire cast) and the new category Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3-D. Jackson Rathbone had the distinction of receiving a Worst Supporting Actor nomination for his work in both films.

The other nominations for Worst Picture went to The Bounty Hunter, Sex and the City 2 and Vampires Suck. The four leads of Sex and the City 2 also received Worst Actress nominations in addition to their joint work for Worst Ensemble.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

22nd annual Producers Guild Awards - winners

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) held their 22nnd annual PGA Awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday. Judd Apatow host the event that saw Helen Mirren present the Darryl F. Zanuck Award (their equivalent of Best Picture) to The King's Speech (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin). This was a delightful upset, as the awards have been quite predictable so far. It bested its nine co-nominees including strong contenders such as 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, The Fighter, and especially The Social Network.

Toy Story 3 (Darla K. Anderson) won the Animated Picture award as expected. The winner for Documentary was Waiting For ‘Superman’ (Lesley Chilcott).

With the television series awards, the Comedy prize went to “Modern Family” while the Drama prize went to "Mad Men."

The Guild presented some distinguished members with honourary awards. Amy Adams presented the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television to Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and Hanks praised the acting community, saying "we are here because actors love the craft of acting." They were also winners of the Long Form Television category with "The Pacific."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Call for submissions: RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights’ Competition

Tarragon Theatre in Toronto has opened submissions for the third annual RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights’ Competition. The competition offers emerging Canadian playwrights "the opportunity to receive financial support to further develop their plays, benefit from working with artists skilled in new play development, and gain national recognition for their writing."

They have now removed the age limit and opened the competition to all emerging playwrights, as long as they have less than five years professional theatrical writing experience. The competition winner will receive a cash award of $3000 and the chance to have their play programmed in Tarragon Theatre’s Play Reading Week. The winner also receives a full year of dramaturgical support from Tarragon Theatre through regular meetings with Tarragon’s literary manager.

This competition is only for Canadian citizens or permanent residents with an original full-length play (minimum 80 minutes) written in English. Only one submission per playwright. The deadline is Friday, April 29, 2011 at 5pm.

36th annual César Awards - nominations

France's Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma unveiled the list of nominees for the 36th annual César Awards. Although it was not shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Oscars, Xavier Beauvois' film Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men) led the César nominations with eleven, including Best Film, Director, Actor (Lambert Wilson) and Original Screenplay (Etienne Comar, Xavier Beauvois).

The France/Germany/UK co-production The Ghost Writer was one of two films that received eight nominations, including Best Film, Director (Roman Polanski), Adapted Screenplay (Robert Harris, Roman Polanski) and Original Score (Alexandre Desplat). Johann Sfar’s biopic Gainsbourg (vie héroïque) about the life of Serge Gainsbourg was the other film with eight mentions, including Best Film and Best First Film.

The other contenders for Best Film are L'Arnacoeur (Heartbreaker), Le Nom des gens (The Names of Love), Mammuth and Tournée (On Tour). Tournée (On Tour) received seven nominations. So too did Bertrand Tavernier’s La Princesse de Montpensier (The Princess of Montpensier), though it wasn't among the Best Film nominees. Other notable omissions from the Best Film slot include Olivier Assayas' much-lauded five-and-a-half hour epic Carlos, le film, and Guilliame Canet's French box office champion Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies).

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

The Motion Picture Sound Editors revealed the nominees for their 2011 Golden Reel Awards. Black Swan and Inception led the field with three nominations each, for the same categories of Music; Dialogue and ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement); and Sound Effects and Foley.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, The Social Network, Tangled, Tron: Legacy and True Grit were also multiple nominees with two apiece.

In the television section, the multiple nominees include Fringe, Human Target, The Tudors, The Walking Dead and True Blood.

Honourary awards will be given to Brian Grazer and Walter Murch. Grazer will receive the 2011 MPSE Filmmaker Award, and Murch will be presented with the 2011 MPSE Career Achievement Award.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why people hate films about their own profession

Over the last few weeks, we've seen a slew of critiques of Black Swan from ballet dancers who object to its portrayal of their profession. At first, they were generally positive, as in this piece from the LA Times. But lately, they've become nasty and harsh, such as in the Montreal Gazette and the Guardian. Just today, The Guardian put out another piece wondering why Portman didn't do more of her own dancing. Real dancers apparently find the portrayal of dance in Black Swan unconvincing and clichéd. But does that make it a bad movie?

We see this sort of thing all the time. Last year, for example, the knives came out for The Hurt Locker, which was praised for its realism until actual soldiers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal units said it was a laughable pile of crap (see the Huffington Post and the LA Times). I can recall reading one critique that said an actual disposal would take around eight hours or more, as if that's what audiences wanted to see in real time.

So now it's happening all over again with a different film that was initially praised for its tremendous attention to detail. Natalie Portman had already studied ballet as a child, and spent a year studying intensely again in preparation for this role. She lost twenty pounds and did tons of research. Yet this is still not enough for some dancers who fault her for not actually managing to become a world-class ballerina in one year.

Canada's Top Ten at TIFF Bell Lightbox - Jan. 20-Feb. 1

After announcing their picks for Canada's Top Ten last month, the Toronto International Film Festival is screening the selections of 9 features and 10 short films at the Bell Lightbox from January 20 to February 1 (Barney's Version is currently in general release and thus isn't included in this program). Many of the screenings will take place with the filmmaker(s) in attendance, so you'll have a chance to interact with them in a Q&A after the film is over.

A panel discussion is scheduled for Friday, January 21. Cast This! The Ins and Outs of Casting will feature a discussion moderated by producer Damon D'Oliveira, and includes directors Denis Côté, Deborah Chow, Ingrid Veninger, casting agents John Buchan and Jason Knight (Splice), and producers Leonard Farlinger and Jennifer Jonas (Trigger).

Most have not yet been theatrically released, so this is an opportunity to get an early look. They are all strong choices and prove that the Canadian self-loathing of our own film and arts is completely unjustified. Denis Villeneuve's Incendies was the best of the hundreds of films I saw last year. Last Train Home was one of my two or three favourite documentaries.

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

The Costume Designers Guild announced their nominees for the 13th annual CDG Awards. The nominations for Contemporary Film went to Black Swan, Burlesque, Inception, The Social Network and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

For Period Film, the nominees were The Fighter, The King’s Speech and True Grit. The Fantasy Film nominees were Alice in Wonderland, The Tempest and TRON: Legacy.

The Contemporary category for television gave nods to Big Love, Dancing with the Stars, Glee, Modern Family and Treme. The Period and Fantasy categories are combined on the television side. The three nominations went to Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men and The Tudors.

Honourary Award recipients were also announced. The Lacoste Spotlight Award goes to Halle Berry. Director Julie Weiss will be presented with the Disaronno Career Achievement in Film and Television Award. The Distinguished Collaborator Award will be given to Joel Schumacher.

5th Asian Film Awards - nominations

The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) announced the nominees in the 14 categories of the 5th Asian Film Awards (AFA). Jiang Wen's Let the Bullets Fly and Tetsuya Nakashima's Confessions lead the pack with six nominations each, including Best Film and Best Director. The other nominees for Best Film were Aftershock (China/HK), Peepli Live (India), Poetry (South Korea) and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand).

Confessions is the only Asian film remaining in the Academy Awards' shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film category. Aftershock had been China's submission to the Academy. In another blow to Aftershock, Let the Bullets Fly passed Aftershock this week to become the largest-grossing Chinese film ever at the box office.  

Peepli Live and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives were also submitted to the Academy in the Best Foreign Language Film section. The omission of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives was considered a snub by many, but it isn't really since it's not an Academy type of film.

22nd annual GLAAD Media Awards - nominees

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation revealed the nominees for its 22nd annual GLAAD Media Awards. The nominations for Outstanding Film - Wide Release went to Burlesque, Easy A, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Kids Are All Right and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In the Limited Release category, the film nominees were Howl, I Love You Phillip Morris, La Mission, Patrik, Age 1.5 and Undertow.

They gave nominations for Outstanding Documentary to 8: The Mormon Proposition, Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, Prodigal Sons, Sylvester UnSung and Out: The Glenn Burke Story.

In the television section, the drama nominations were awarded to Brothers & Sisters, Degrassi, Grey's Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars and True Blood. For comedy, they chose Glee, Greek, Modern Family, Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oscar's Best Foreign Language Film shortlist

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has narrowed their Best Foreign Language Film contenders from a field of 65 official submissions to a shortlist of 9 films. 

Those still left in the running are
Algeria's Hors la Loi (Outside the Law), Canada's Incendies (directed by Denis Villeneuve), Denmark's Hævnen (In a Better World), Japan's Kokuhaku (Confessions), Mexico's Biutiful, South Africa's Life, Above All, Spain's Tambien la Lluvia (Even The Rain), and Sweden's I rymden finns inga känslo (Simple Simon)

Incendies is an extraodinary film, my personal favourite of the year. I think it has an excellent chance of making it to the final list of nominees and perhaps winning the Foreign Language Film Oscar itself. It opens this weekend in English Canada.

The South African submission Life, Above All is based on the novel "Chanda's Secrets" by Canadian writer Allan Stratton.

Denmark's Hævnen (In a Better World) was this weekend's Golden Globe Award-winner in the Foreign Language category.

Free screening in Toronto of No Strings Attached, starring Natalie Portman

Tomorrow night on Thursday, January 20, Innis Town Hall in the University of Toronto will host a free advance preview screening of No Strings Attached. The film is directed by Canadian Ivan Reitman (Ghost Busters) and stars Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Olivia Thirlby, Greta Gerwig, Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes and Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges.

This light sex-romp is a departure for Portman, though nothing new for Kutcher. She plays a doctor who desires emotionally uncommitted sexual relationships, and Kutcher plays the kind friend who grants her wishes.

The screening starts at 7pm. Some will have passes, but there will also be a rush line for those without passes. Arrive early to be sure to get in.

Anyone can attend - you do not have to be a University of Toronto student. 

Innis Town Hall is located at 2 Sussex Avenue, on St. George Street a block south of Bloor Street West, or a block north of Harbord Street.

2nd Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) Dorian Awards - winners

The Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) announced the winners of its 2nd annual Dorian Awards. The Italian film Io sono l'amore (I Am Love) was named Film of the Year. It beat out fellow nominees Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network and Toy Story 3. The Documentary award went to Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Annette Bening took the Film Performance of the Year prize for her work in The Kids Are All Right.

The LGBT Film and Documentary of the Year awards went to I Love You, Phillip Morris and 8: The Mormon Proposition respectively. GALECA declared Burlesque the "um, winner" of their Campy - Intentional or not - Film of the Year Award. Easy A was named the Unsung Film of the Year.

The television awards were dominated by the hit musical Glee, which took TV Music or Comedy, LGBT-Themed TV Show, Rising Star (Darren Criss) and a tie for TV Comedy Performance for co-stars Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking - winners

Tonight, the 2011 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking were handed out at the newly re-opened Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, New York City. The surprise winner of the Outstanding  Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking Award was Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop. I remain unconvinced that it is in fact non-fiction or outstanding. It also won the Editing Award.

Last Train Home by Montrealer Lixin Fan had led with 7 nominations (Outstanding Feature, Direction, Production, Cinematography, Editing, International Feature and Audience Choice), with a record 6 for Fan himself. It picked up three awards, for Production, Cinematography and International film.

A newly introduced category, the Heterodox Award, was created to honour a narrative film that “imaginatively incorporates nonfiction strategies, content and/or modes of production.” Putty Hill by Matt Porterfield overcame the competition from Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s Alamar, Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte,  Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture and Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul's Palme d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

the 8 fest 2011 small-gauge film festival – January 28-30

the 8 fest is back for its fourth year. On the weekend of January 28-30 in Toronto, you'll have a chance to see a wide range of films all shot on small gauge film formats. The screenings will take place at the Trash Palace (89-B Niagara Street at Bathurst).

They will also host a free Super8 filmmaking workshop on the afternoon of Saturday, January 29.  Preregistration is required, however.

The 8 fest is North America's only festival devoted to all forms of small-gauge film, including Super 8, 8mm, 9.5 and loops, shown in their original formats. The 8 fest showcases the 70+ year history of small gauge film—from contemporary artists' work in the form, to its wider cultural use in home movies, instructional loops and beyond.

Toronto Screenwriting Conference 2011 - registration now open

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference returns with its second edition for the year 2011 and they've just opened up registration. The dates are set for April 9-10 and they'll be located at Ryerson University again, in the heart of downtown Toronto. For the time being, they have an Early Bird Registration rate but only until the end of February.

Last year's conference featured such prominent speakers as Dr. Linda Seger ("Making A Good Script Great") and Tim Long (The Simpsons). Although this year's lineup hasn't been finalized yet, they've already scheduled some heavy hitters in the screenwriting world: Christopher Vogler ("The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers"), Pen Densham (Trilogy Entertainment Group, "Riding the Alligator: Strategies for a Career in Screenplay Writing (And Not Getting Eaten)"), Sheldon Bull (Newhart, Coach, "Elephant Bucks: An Insider's Guide to Writing for TV Sitcoms"), and Dara Marks ("INSIDE STORY: The Power of the Transformational Arc").

Check the website for more information. You can also sign up for their mailing list to keep updated as more speakers are confirmed.

BAFTA's Orange British Academy Film Awards in 2011 – Nominations

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have announced their nominations for the 14th edition of the Orange British Academy Film Awards. The King's Speech leads the race with fourteen nominations including Best Film, Director (Tom Hooper), Original Screenplay (David Seidler), Actor (Colin Firth), Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush) and Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter).

Black Swan followed close behind with twelve nominations, including Best Film, Director (Darren Aronofsky), Original Screenplay (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John Mclaughlin) and Actress (Natalie Portman). Interestingly, their choice for Best Supporting Actress was Barbara Hershey rather than the Golden Globe nominated Mila Kunis. Both Black Swan and The King's Speech had led the BAFTA longlist with 15 mentions.

Inception was next with nine nominations, followed by True Grit with eight and 127 Hours which took seven. The Social Network received just six nominations. This is correct in my view, as each of those five films are superior to, but neglected in favour of, a rather over-written blab-fest.

Monday, January 17, 2011

68th Annual Golden Globe Awards - winners

On Sunday night, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association held the ceremony for their 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Ricky Gervais hosted the event for the second consecutive year and had some delightfully caustic zingers to lead off the show and to introduce guests and presenters throughout the evening. Some of his pointed barbs included "Everything this year was three-dimensional, except the characters in The Tourist", "nothing for Sex and the City 2? I was sure the Golden Globes for special effects would go to the team that airbrushed that poster," and "please welcome Aston Kutcher’s dad, Bruce Willis."

As has been the case with most of the critics' groups thus far, they favoured The Social Network, giving it four awards in the categories of Best Drama, Best Director (David Fincher), Best Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) and Best Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross). It didn't, however, receive any acting awards.

The Kids Are All Right won Best Picture and Best Actress (Annette Bening) in the Comedy or Musical division. The Fighter was also a double winner with two supporting acting awards for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dozens of awards-contending screenplays now available online [UPDATED]

As we are well into awards season, many studios have been positioning their films as contenders, especially for the Golden Globes, Guild Awards and the Oscars. Most of the studios have made the screenplays for their stronger films available on their official websites for press and industry. It's interesting to see too what they deem awards-worthy and how they conduct their campaigns.

I've gathered together thirty-six of the scripts that have been released so far. Most of the top contenders are now online, including 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, The King's Speech, The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3 and Winter's Bone. Even a very detailed documentary script for Inside Job has been released. I'll update this page as more become available.

The links don't always stay active beyond awards season, so if you want to keep them then you should download them while they are still on the studio's websites.

Just click on the titles, or right-click and "save" to download. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

16th Annual BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards - winners

Tonight, the Broadcast Film Critics Association held the ceremony to present the winners of their 16th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards. As is becoming tediously predictable, especially with critics' groups, The Social Network came out on top. It won prizes for Best Picture, Best Director (David Fincher), Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) and Best Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross).

Inception actually came out with more awards, with wins for Best Action Movie, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound. Black Swan on the other hand had led with a record 12 nominations, but only came away with a single win for Best Actress (Natalie Portman).

The Fighter
won three acting awards for Best Ensemble, Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo). The King's Speech came away with prizes for Best Actor (Colin Firth) and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler).

The Best Animated Feature was Toy Story 3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was named Best Foreign Language Film. The surprise winner of Best Documentary was Waiting for 'Superman'.

Prix Lumière 2011 (16th annual Lumiere Awards) for French films - winners

The Académie Lumière held a ceremony at the City Hall in Paris for their 16th annual Prix Lumière (Lumiere Awards). Similar to the Golden Globe Awards, the Prix Lumière were founded in 1995 by French producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier and Newsweek foreign correspondent Edward Behrare, and are voted on by foreign journalists based in Paris.

The big winners on the night were Des Hommes et des Dieux (Of Gods and Men) by Xavier Beauvois and by The Ghost Writer Roman Polanski. Des Hommes et des Dieux won Best Film and Best Actor (Michael Lonsdale). The Ghost Writer took Best Director for Polanski and Best Screenplay for the script he wrote with Robert Harris. The Ghost Writer is a co-production between France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Best Francophone Film from outside France went to Mahamat Saleh Haroun's Un homme qui crie (A Screaming Man). The Prix TV5 Monde (World Audience Award) as voted by festival delegates went to the Belgian film Illégal by Olivier Masset-Depasse.

Free TIFF Lightbox exhibit: Mary Pickford and the Invention of the Movie Star

The TIFF Bell Lightbox opened a free exhibit yesterday of Mary Pickford and the Invention of the Movie Star. It's the inaugural exhibition of their new Canadian Film Gallery. The show runs until July 3, 2011 and is curated by Sylvia Frank, Director of TIFF’s Film Reference Library and Special Collections.

You can read Sylvia Frank's essay, "America's Sweetheart".

May Pickford was an early screen superstar and was known as "America's Sweetheart" even though she was Canadian. This exhibition draws on the private collection of Rob Brooks, who donated over 1,900 items including photographs, posters, memorabilia, postcards, and products associated with Pickford.

A parallel screening programme will show four of Pickford’s greatest films - Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Daddy-Long-Legs (1919) and Sparrows (1926).

61st annual ACE Eddie Awards (editing) - nominations

The American Cinema Editors (ACE) has  announced  its nominees for the 61st annual ACE Eddie Awards in film, television and documentaries. The five nominees for Best Edited Feature Film - Dramatic are Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The King's Speech and The Social Network. Astoundingly, the brilliantly edited 127 Hours was not selected as a nominee. Nor were other contenders such as True Grit.

They also have a separate Comedy or Musical category for feature films. The nominees for comedy/musical are Alice in Wonderland, Easy A, The Kids Are All Right, Made in Dagenham and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. The three Animated Feature nominees are Despicable Me, How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3. On the Documentary division, they chose Exit Through the Gift Shop, Inside Joband Waiting For "Superman" as their nominees.

Writer-director Christopher Nolan has been selected to receive the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award. ACE will announce two career achievement honourees next week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

84th Kinema Junpo Awards (Japanese film) - winners

The film magazine Kinema Junpo (also known as Kinejun) has announced the winners of its 84th Kinema Junpo Awards. Akunin (Villain) came away as the big winner, being named the number one Japanese Film in the top ten list, and winning the individual awards for Best Director (Lee Sang Il), Best Screenplay (Lee Sang Il, Yoshida Shuichi) and Best Supporting Actor (Emoto Akira). Akunin (Villain) also led the nominations for the Japan Academy Prize with fifteen.

Number two on the list is Tetsuya Nakashima's Kokuhaku (Confessions), which is Japan’s submission to AMPAS for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

Ddongpari (Breathless) by Yang Ik-Joon as named the Best Foreign Film. Since Villain's Lee Sang Il is Korean-Japanese, that makes it a strong showing for Korea. Both Yang and Lee won Individual Awards for directing.

The English-language films chosen for the Foreign Film Top Ten were Invictus, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Crazy Heart and Inception. The top documentary was Shoji to Takao.

Director's talk by Guy Maddin at the Toronto School of Art, January 19

The Toronto School of Art is welcoming famed Canadian director Guy Maddin for an artist's talk on January 19, 2011. It is a pay-what-you-can event and a cash bar will be provided. I've heard him speak before and he's a smart, witty and lively raconteur who is sure to be very engaging to hear in person.

He's well-known for a unique style that pays homage to silent films and home movies. If you are not familiar with his work, I suggest you check out Tales from the Gimli Hospital, Brand Upon the Brain!, The Saddest Music in the World, or My Winnipeg and then go hear him speak. Roger Ebert named My Winnipeg one of the top ten films of the decade (2000-2009).

You can also view some of his short films online at the Bravo!FACT website, where he has several shorts that accompanied The Saddest Music in the World which together were called The Saddest Shorts: Sissy Boy Slap Party, Sombra Dolorosa and A Trip to the Orphanage.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Denis Villeneuve's Incendies wins 2010 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award

The Toronto Film Critics Association held their Awards dinner tonight to honour the winners of their awards for the best of 2010. They also named Denis Villeneuve's Incendies winner of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award. This is his second win in a row, having won last year for his film Polytechnique. The prize comes with a $15,000 prize.

The other candidates for the Best Canadian Film Award were Splice by Vincenzo Natali and Trigger directed by Bruce McDonald. All three films were named to Canada's Top Ten by the Toronto International Film Festival and a panel of industry professionals.

The TFCA’s Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist was given to Toronto filmmaker Daniel Cockburn for his film You Are Here. The inaugural 2010 Deluxe Student Film Award was presented to Humber College student David Cadiz for his short film Adventures of Owen.

9th annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto - Nominations

The Toronto branch of ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) has announced their nominees for the 9th Annual ACTRA Awards. Two much-loved actors who recently passed away are included in the nominations. The venerable Maury Chaykin passed away on his 61st birthday in July. He received a nomination for Oustanding Male Performance for his role on the television series Less than Kind. The late Tracy Wright was nominated for Oustanding Female Performance for her role in her husband Don McKellar's film Trigger, as was her co-star Molly Parker.

The other nominees for Female Performance were Sarah Manninen (Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story), Zoie Palmer (The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard) and Liisa Repo-Martell (Flashpoint). The remaining nominations for Male Performance went to Mark McKinney (Death Comes to Town), Noah Reid (Score: A Hockey Musical), Nicholas Rose (New Year) and Chuck Shamata (Break a Leg).

The Outstanding Voice Performance nominees were London Angelis (You Are Here), Sean Cullen (Jimmy Two-Shoes), Cory Doran (Jimmy Two-Shoes), Billy MacLellan (Afghanada) and Maurice Dean Wint (Beasts of the Bible).

63rd annual DGA Awards - nominations for documentary and television

After announcing their fictional feature film nominees earlier this week, the Directors Guild of America has announced the nominees for documentary feature. The five nominees are Lixin Fan for Last Train Home, Charles Ferguson for Inside Job, Alex Gibney for Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Davis Guggenheim for Waiting for “Superman” and Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger for Restrepo.

It is a very strong field and includes the outstanding Chinese-Canadian doc Last Train Home, which was omitted from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's short list and thus cannot get an Oscar nomination. Many, including Eugene Hernandez (formerly editor-in-chief of indieWIRE, and now director of digital strategy for the Film Society of Lincoln Center) felt that this was an enormous oversight.

All of the nominees except for Alex Gibney are first-time recipients of a DGA nomination. Gibney's previous nomination was for Taxi to the Dark Side in 2007.

NAACP's 42nd Image Awards - nominations

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has announced the nominees for their 42nd Image Awards. Tyler Perry managed a whopping nineteen nominations for his film and television shows. His film For Colored Girls led the film section with seven nominations, while Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? picked up four. Each was nominated for Best Motion Picture. His television shows "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns" also scored eight nominations between them.

Unfortunately, Perry's work is not well-regarded in the industry or by critics. Many confess to wanting to like For Colored Girls but not being able to do so. It speaks very poorly for the film and television industry too, however, in that Perry has pretty much no competition this year. None of the major awards contenders this year were written or directed by a person of colour. Nor do any of them feature a person of colour in any significant role. This is a great disappointment after films such as Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire and Invictus played an important role in last year's awards season.

2nd Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) Dorian Awards - nominations

The Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association has announced the nominees for its 2nd annual GALECA Dorian Awards. The Dorian Awards are named in honour of Oscar, but in this case it's Oscar Wilde. The Kids Are All Right and Black Swan led with three nominations each including Film of the Year. The Kids Are All Right also picked up nominations for Film Performance of the Year (Annette Bening) and LGBT-Themed Film of the Year, while Black Swan also received recognition for Film Performance of the Year (Natalie Portman) in addition to a We're Wilde About You Rising Star Award nomination for Mila Kunis.

The other nominations for Film of the Year were for I Am Love, The Social Network and Toy Story 3. Other nominees for LGBT-Themed Film of the Year were A Marine Story, Howl, I Love You, Phillip Morris, La Mission and Undertow.

On the television side, Glee picked up five nominations, for TV Musical or Comedy of the Year, LGBT-Themed TV Show of the year, TV COmedy Performance of the Year (Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch) and a We're Wilde About You Rising Star Award nomination for Darren Criss.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

8th Annual Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) - nominations

The Irish Film and Television Academy has announced the nominees in 36 categories for the 8th Annual Irish Film and Television Awards. Juanita Wilson’s Bosnian War drama As If I Am Not There emerged as the front runner with six nominations. It was nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, Best International Actress (Natasha Petrovic), Best Cinematography (Tim Fleming) and Best Editing (Nathan Nugent).

The other nominees for Best Film are were Ian Fitzgibbon’s Perrier’s Bounty, Conor McDermottroe’s Swansong: The Story of Occi Byrne, Ian Power’s The Runway and Tom Hall’s Sensation.

The nominees for Best International Picture were Inception, A Prophet, Toy Story 3 and The Social Network.

IFTA also nominates television categories. Film and television nominations are merged for the technical categories. Sadly, due to the lack of enough women leads, the Lead Actress nominations were also merged for film and television. Amy Huberman in Rewind was the only actress nominated for a feature film role.

Film Review: The King's Speech

Writer: David Seidler
Director: Tom Hooper
Producer: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Ehle, Eve Best, Freya Wilson, Ramona Marquez, Claire Bloom, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall and Anthony Andrews.
Historical drama / buddy-flick
1 hour 58 minutes

The recent excitement over the upcoming royal wedding between of Prince William and Kate Middleton shows that public fascination with royalty hasn't diminished over time. But unfortunately, they aren't always held in the same high regard as before; many people nowadays view the monarchy itself with indifference if not outright disdain. One of the many miracles of The King's Speech is that you needn't be feel one way or the other to appreciate it. It will likely convince you more of your opinions while feeling sympathetic for this everyman who became king.

As Malvolio said in Twelfth Night, "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." This is definitely a case of the latter. Colin Firth plays Prince Albert, who is dragged kicking and screaming to become King George VI after his brother Edward abdicates the throne. What makes this a terrifying prospect is his paralyzing stammer. The advent of radio only adds to the pressure, since broadcasts were initially all done live.

25th Premios Goyas (Goya Awards) for Spanish film - nominations

The Spanish Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for their 25th Premios Goyas (2011 Goya Awards) in 28 categories for the best in Spanish Cinema. Leading with 15 nominations was Balada triste de trompeta, which translates literally as A Sad Trumpet Ballad but has the North American title The Last Circus.

Not far behind are its fellow Best Film nominees Pan negro or Pa Negre (Black Bread) with 14 nominations, También la lluvia (Even the Rain) with 13 and Buried with 10. Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful took in 8 nominations, followed by 7 for Lope, and 4 for Habitación en Roma (Room in Rome).

The English-language films The King's Speech and The Ghost Writer compete against France's Un prophète (A Prophet) and Germany's Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon) for Best European Film.

Last year's major winner at the Goya Awards was Cell 211, which picked up eight awards including Best Film and Best Director. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

25th annual American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards - nominations

The American Society of Cinematographers has announced the feature film nominees for the 25th Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards. They are Matthew Libatique (Black Swan), Wally Pfister (Inception), Danny Cohen (The King’s Speech), Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network) and Roger Deakins (True Grit).

Libatique, Pfister, and Cronenweth are members of the ASC, while Cohen is a member of the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC). Deakins is a member of both cinematography guilds.

With the Directors Guild nominations that were released earlier today, the Coen brothers' True Grit was left out of the picture. This time around, True Grit joins the group at the expense of The Fighter.

This is the ninth ASC nomination for Deakins. He is a previous winner for The Shawshank Redemption  (1995) and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2002), and received nominations for Fargo (1997), Kundun (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2001), No Country for Old Men (2008), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2008), Revolutionary Road (2009) and The Reader (2009). Along with his nomination for True Grit, the ASC previously announced that he will receive the ASC’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Alliance of Women Film Journalists announces winners of the 2010 EDA Awards

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists has announced the winners of the 2010 EDA Awards. Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right and Debra Granik's Winter’s Bone were both big winners.  

The Kids Are All Right had led with the most nominations and picked up seven awards including Best Original Screenplay and Best Woman Screenwriter (Lisa Cholodenko); Best Actress and Women’s Image Award (Annette Bening); Best Ensemble Cast; Best Depiction Of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction; and the Cultural Crossover Award.

On the other hand, Debra Granik picked up Best Woman Director and Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in Film, and Winter’s Bone star Jennifer Lawrence picked up the award for Breakthrough Performance.

Canadian Film Centre hosts director Spike Lee for Black History Month

February marks Black History Month and the Canadian Film Centre will get the jump on things by hosting an event in Toronto with renowned filmmaker Spike Lee. He will have a conversation moderated by Canadian filmmaker Clement Virgo at the Varsity Cinema. They will discuss his career and with particular focus on his use of music in his films.

The event will take place on Tuesday, January 25, 2011. Tickets are $20, with proceeds going to the CFC Diversity Scholarship.

Spike Lee is a controversial but undeniably gifted and important filmmaker. He is twice-nominated by the Academy Awards, receiving nods for Best Original Screenplay for Do the Right Thing and for Best Feature Documentary for 4 Little Girls. Many people (including myself) consider it a huge oversight that Do the Right Thing was not also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture.

Last year's event featured a discussion
with directors Lee Daniels (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire) and Norm Jewison (In the Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof, Moonstruck), also moderated by Clement Virgo.