Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Film review: The Hangover Part II

Writer: Scot Armstrong, Craig Mazin, Todd Phillips; based on characters by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Director: Todd Phillips
Producer: Daniel Goldberg, Todd Phillips
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor
Raunchy Buddy Comedy
1 hours, 42 minutes





17th Worldwide Short Film Festival, May 31-June 5

After launching on the weekend with a free party at Yonge & Dundas Square, the 17th Worldwide Short Film Festival begins tonight with an opening night gala followed by an after-party.

The opener is traditionally of award-winning short films from around the world. Tonight's program consists of Bukowski, West of the Moon, Big Bang Big Boom, Lipsett Diaries (Les journaux de Lipsett), Na Wéwé (You Too) and The Lost Thing.

Tomorrow morning, the festival's excellent Symposium of industry panels and workshops kicks off with a master class featuring award-winning director Kari Skogland, (Fifty Dead Men Walking, The Stone Angel) and actor Callum Keith Rennie (The Killing, Californication) on Directing Performance.

The screening takes place at the Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West just east of Bathurst Street. The show begins at 7:00 pm. The program repeats at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on Sunday June 5 at 9:30 pm.

THR’s Drama Showrunners Roundtable Video

Last month, The Hollywood Reporter hosted a roundtable interview with writers of summer movies. Now they've begun a round of roundtable interviews in advance of the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards later this fall.

Today, they posted their Drama Showrunners roundtable. These are usually the creators and head writers of a television series. They are generally credited onscreen as Executive Producers.

The featured creatives in this discussion are Mike Royce (Men of a Certain Age), Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood), Graham Yost (Justified), Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead), John Wells (Shameless), Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) and Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire).

It is unfortunate that as with the previous roundtable, all of the the assembled writers here are middle-aged white males. But that is the current state of the industry. Among the issues they discuss are disputes between the studio and the network; being creative while staying within a budget; and how they plan to end their series.

Monday, May 30, 2011

59th Stratford Shakespeare Festival, May 30-Oct 30

Tonight is opening night for the 59th season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, just 90 miles west of Toronto. The opening play is a Shakespeare comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor. It will be directed by Tony Award-winning director Frank Galati in his Stratford debut, and stars Geraint Wyn Davies as Sir John Falstaff.

Three other Shakespeare plays will be staged over the coming months: Richard III, Titus Andronicus, Twelfth Night. They will also present the Shakespeare-themed Shakespeare's Will by Vern Thiessen about the recollections of Shakespeare's widow Anne Hathaway.

The other plays presented are not by Shakespeare. They are The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), The Homecoming (Harold Pinter), Hosanna (Michel Tremblay), The Little Years (John Mighton) and The Misanthrope (Molière). They will also present the two musicals Camelot (Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice).

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival runs until October 30 when it closes with afternoon performances of Camelot and The Homecoming.

Le Festival St-Ambroise Fringe de Montréal, May 30-June 19

Tonight is the opening night for the 21st edition of Le Festival St-Ambroise Fringe de Montréal (Montreal Fringe Festival). It kicks off with a free Fringe-for-All at Café Campus, 57 Prince-Arthur Est just east of Boulevard Saint-Laurent. Fringe artists will be on hand to present a small taste of what lies ahead.

This promises to be the
biggest Montreal Fringe ever with 500 artists performing 110 shows at 30 venues over the 20 day period. But things will start slowly and picking up steam until the second half where the Parc des Ameriques at St-Laurent and Rachel becomes the Fringe Park. They will present all manner of shows, free music, workshops and films.

The festival introduced Nuits du Fringe (Fringe After Dark) last year and this year they continue with expanded offerings such as Slowdance Night, Strip Spelling Bee, Crowd Karaoke and the farewell run of the 13th HOUR.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

37th Annual Alberta Film & Television Awards (Rosies) - winners

Last night, the Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA, formerly known as the Alberta Motion Picture Industries Association) held its 37th Annual Alberta Film & Television Awards or Rosie Awards at the Marriot at River Cree in Edmonton.

The winner for Best Dramatic Feature was Michael Dowse's Fubar II, also known as Fubar: Balls to the Wall. It had been up against A Heartland Christmas, A Legend of Whitey, The Corrupted, The Future is Now and The Pharmacist.

The documentary Code Breakers took three awards: Best Documentary - Over 30, Cinematographer - Non-Fiction, Over 30, and Overall Sound - Non-Fiction. Another The Nature of Things documentary Tipping Point also won three awards - Best Director and Best Screenwriter for Niobe Thompson and Tom Radford, and Best Editor.

The big winner for television series was the CBC drama Heartland. Its five awards were Best Dramatic Series, Best Director - Drama Over 30 (Francis Damberger), Best Actor (Shaun Johnston), Cinematographer - Drama Over 30 (Craig Wrobleski) and Best Editor - Drama Over 30 (Ken Filewych). The movie based on the series A Heartland Christmas won for Sound - Drama.

Worldwide Short Film Festival 2011 kicks off with free party

Although the Worldwide Short Film Festival doesn't begin until Tuesday night, the festival is launching this year with a free "Square Party" to give everyone a taste of what's in store. The festivities take place starting at 8pm on Sunday night at Yonge and Dundas Square.

The festival has already started showing short films in the "Short Bus" that has been driving around the city to give people an opportunity to watch short films for free in a traveling theatre. It will continue showing up at various locations to screen films until the last day of the festival on Sunday.

They've also announced that Award-winning director Kari Skogland, (Fifty Dead Men Walking, The Stone Angel) will lead an inspiring Master Class with actor Callum Keith Rennie (The Killing, Californication) on Directing Performance.

Also new this year, they will be having a full day of programming at the CN Tower including films suitable for children, and also a date night where you get dinner and a movie for $20.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

65th Nastro d'Argento (Silver Ribbon) Awards for Italian film - nominations

The Sindacato Nazionale dei Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani (Association of Italian Film Critics) announced the nominations for their 65th Nastro d'Argento (Silver Ribbon) Awards.

Leading with seven nominations was the recent Cannes competitor Habemus Papam (We have a Pope) by Nanni Moretti. It received nominations for Best Director, Producer, Story, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction and Costume Design.

Two films followed closely with six nominations. Benvenuti al Sud (Welcome to the South) received nominations for Best Comedy, Producer, Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay, while Nessuno mi può giudicare (Nobody Can Judge Me) picked up nominations for Best New Director, Comedy, Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay. Earlier this month at the 55th David di Donatello Awards, Paola Cortellesi won Best Actress for Nessuno mi può giudicare (Nobody Can Judge Me), while Valentina Lodovini of Benvenuti al Sud (Welcome to the South) won Best Supporting Actress.

La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi (The Solitude of Prime Numbers) picked up five nominations. A number of films nabbed four: Malavoglia (The House by the Medlar Tree), Una vita tranquilla (A Quiet Life), Vallanzasca - Gli angeli del male (Angels of Evil), 20 sigarette (20 Cigarettes)Immaturi (The Immature) and La banda dei Babbi Natale (The Santa Claus Gang). The last two titles are comedies by Paolo Genovese.

Free screening of Bodyguards and Assassins

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is presenting a free screening tonight in celebration of Asian Heritage Month.

Bodyguards and Assassins by Teddy Chan Tak Sun is an action-packed epic martial arts film set in 1905. Its all-star cast includes Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Leon Lai, Wang Xueqi and Tony Leung Ka-fai.

The film won 8 awards at the 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards including Best Film. It set a record for the most nominations in the event's history with eighteen. It also won Best Actor (Wang Xueqi) and Best Supporting Actor (Nicholas Tse) at the 4th Asian Film Awards.

The screening takes place tonight at the Toronto Underground Cinema at 186 Spadina Ave. It begins at 8pm and runs 2 hours and 19 minutes.

Friday, May 27, 2011

4th annual Sidabrinė gervė (Silver Crane) awards for Lithuanian film - winners

Tonight, the Lietuvių kino akademija (Lithuanian Film Academy) held their ceremony for the 4th annual Sidabrinė gervė (Silver Crane) awards at the Congress Palace, Vilnius.

The awards were swept by Kristijonas Vildžiūnas' Cold War drama Kai apkabinsiu tave (Back in Your Arms). It not only won Best Picture and Director, but won all four acting categories, screenplay and production design.

The only other film to win multiple awards was Taip Laima lėmė which won Best Animated Picture and Original Music. Best Documentary went to Barzakh by Mantas Kvedaravičius, an examination of tortures and abductions in Chechnya.

The Auksinė gervė (Golden Crane) for Lifetime Achievement went to actor Regimantui Adomaičiui.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Telefilm Canada's 2nd annual Golden Box Office Award goes to Splice

Telefilm Canada announced the winners of the 2nd annual Golden Box Office Award today at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. The award is given to the director and writer(s) of the highest-grossing English Canadian film for the previous year.

The winners for the year 2010 were director and co-writer Vincenzo Natali and co-writer Doug Taylor for the film Splice. It was a science-fiction film starring Canadian Sarah Polley, American Adrien Brody and French actress Delphine Chanéac. Polley and Brody play genetic scientists who introduce human DNA into their experiments.

Last week, Splice was the winner for feature film at the 1st annual Canadian Cinema Editors (CCE) Awards. The editor was Michelle Conroy.

Curiously, the Golden Reel Award at the 2011 Genie Awards for top box-office performer of 2010 went to Resident Evil: Afterlife. Like Splice, that movie was a Canadian-French co-production. Resident Evil: Afterlife, however, did not receive Telefilm funding and its writer/director Paul W. S. Anderson is not Canadian but British.

Festival TransAmériques 2011, May 26-June 11

The next two weeks mark the 5th edition of the Festival TransAmériques, the follow-up to the Festival de théâtre des Amériques which ran from 1985 to 2006. It celebrates the newest in contemporary dance and theatre, as well as other disciplines.

In addition to various performances, the festival will host a symposium on the weekend of June 4 and 5 called Supporting New Work. It will bring together artistic directors, presenters, programmers for art centres and festivals, choreographers, theatre directors, dramaturges and art critics for discussions on fostering creativity in the contemporary performing arts. In addition, there will be other talks and discussions with visiting artists, all of which are free.

There will also be film screenings of Territoires de l’art – Lia Rodrigues, de Vitry à Rio and Les ballets de-ci, de-là. And of course, the festival will hosting parties and other events.

The festival continues until June 11 at various venues throughout Montreal.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Call for Proposals: HATCH 2011

A call for proposals for the 9th edition of HATCH has been put out by the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. HATCH is a development program for local performance artists and companies. Successful applicants receive a residency and mentorship from Harbourfront Centre.

For this series, the curator will be Jess Dobkin who has received international recognition for her work. She has been named Best Performance Artist by NOW and X-tra.

The deadline for applications is June 20th, 2011.


Calls for Submissions: HATCH 2011-12

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Call for submissions: Trinity Square Video's "Right"

The film and video collective Trinity Square Video has put out a call for submissions for the second part of their trilogy series LEFT, RIGHT, CENTRE. TSV will select five proposals for works 5-7 minutes long to receive $750 in equipment rentals, technical support and a small honorarium.

Works selected will screen at an exhibition in November 2011. They will also be included in the
LEFT, RIGHT, CENTRE catalogue. The first part of the series, LEFT, is currently screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox until June 12.

The program is intended for Toronto-based artists. However, those from Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area can apply if you can ensure that you will attend all RIGHT related activities at your own expense.

The deadline for submissions is Friday July 1st, 2011.

56th Annual Drama Desk Awards - winners

Last night, the Drama Desk Awards were held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan Center. The Awards honour all of the New York theatre scene -- Broadway, Off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway and legitimate not-for-profit theatres.

The winners for the night were led by The Book of Mormon and Anything Goes which received five awards apiece. The Book of Mormon was received awards for Oustanding Musical, Director of a Musical, Music, Lyrics and Orchestrations. Anything Goes captured prizes for Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Actress in a Musical (Sutton Foster), Choreography, Set Design and Sound Design in a Musical.

The award for Outstanding Play went to War Horse by Nick Stafford. The honour for Outstanding Revival of a Play was given to The Normal Heart.

Those receiving acting awards included Bobby Cannavale (The Motherf**ker With the Hat), Frances McDormand (Good People), Brian Bedford (The Importance of Being Earnest), Edie Falco (The House of Blue Leaves), John Larroquette (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and John Leguizamo (Ghetto Klown).

8th annual Student Film Showcase, May 24, 26

The Toronto International Film Festival continues its support of emerging talent with its 8th edition of the Student Film Showcase. 12 films have been selected from student filmmakers across Canada, though it seems limited to B.C. and Ontario where most of the Film School Consortium affiliates are from. Nonetheless, the films are strong and show a wide variety of approaches.

The student filmmakers will participate in a panel discussion with animator/director Larry Jacobs, as well as filmmakers Kari Skogland and Warren Sonoda (Coopers' Camera, Textuality). Plus, a jury of industry professionals will award impressive prize-packs for the best live action and best animation films.

The animation films are particularly compelling. Basic Space has an innovative and imaginative approach to the visual style involving paper cutouts. Bramula is a stop-motion piece that seems inspired by Tim Burton with its macabre humour and Vincent Price-style narration. The Dimming is a gorgeous and haunting piece based on Inuit storytelling. My Name Is Mitch uses lovely hand-drawn animation to tell a story of self-acceptance. Paso Doble is a lively interpretation of a flamenco number.

But the live action films are good too. The standout there is Blink, a futuristic romance with a striking visuals and excellent performances. Shuffleboard Kings is the funniest of the bunch and though it has a cheesy synthesizer soundtrack, it is well-written and has lots of good laughs.

The Script Tease Project, May 24-29

The National Theatre of the World trio of Ron Pederson, Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram presents an entire week at the Theatre Passe Muraille in the vein of their Impromptu Splendor evenings.

Called The Script Tease Project, they've enlisted a number of playwrights to write the first two pages of a play. The three will read them onstage sight unseen and use as a jumping-off point to improvise an entire full-length play. They will also include some input from the audience at each show to include in the ad-libbed story.

The playwrights who agreed to participate is quite impressive: Judith Thompson, Linda Griffiths, Daniel MacIvor, Woody Harrelson, Hannah Moscovitch, Brad Fraser, Morris Panych, Mark McKinney, Norm Foster and John Patrick Shanley.

The Script Tease Project runs from now until May 29, with afternoon and evening shows on most days. Theatre Passe Muraille is located at 16 Ryerson Avenue, northeast of Bathurst Street and Queen St. West.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Concours Musical International de Montréal 2011, May 23-June 3

The Concours Musical International de Montréal (Montreal International Musical Competition) begins today as 24 musicians from around the world vie for a prize package worth over $150,000. The First Prize is $30,000 plus a Career development programme valued at $20,000. The Second Prize is $15,000 while the Third Prize $10,000. Additional prizes include Award for the Best Canadian Artist and the Joseph Rouleau Award for the Best Artist from Quebec, both worth $5,000.

The CMIM was established in 2002 for voice, violin and piano, and rotates over a three-year cycle. This year's competition is for piano. In addition to the four Canadian participants Tina Chong, Younggun Kim, Steven Massicotte and Avan Yu, competitors come from Australia, China, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland and the U.S.

In addition to the competition itself, they are hosting a number of free events at the Place des Arts’ new Grand Foyer Culturel, the Espace Georges-Émile-Lapalme. From May 24 to 28, you can take a free piano lesson with a professional, bring your kids to workshops for 3 to 9 year-olds, or visit the piano bar happy hour at Place Deschamps wine bar.

On May 29, two Master Classes will be offered at Tanna Schulich Hall l’Université McGill. The first is with Jean-Philippe Collard in the afternoon, and the evening class is with Arnaldo Cohen.

2011 Billboard Music Awards - winners

After a five-year hiatus, the Billboard Awards returned with bang at last night's show in Las Vegas. The evening's host was Ken Jeong from The Hangover 2.

Taylor Swift was the big winner of the night, taking home three trophies including Top Artist, where her fellow nominees were Justin Bieber, Eminem, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

The other nominees all picked up prizes of their own, however, and Canadian Justin Bieber picked up seven awards total, including Top New Artist and  Fan Favorite of the Year. Eminem swept the rap categories and was named Top Male Artist, while Rihanna was named Top Female Artist.

The show included performances by Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Far East Movement, Mary J Blige and Lil Wayne. Beyonce was presented with the Billboard Millenium Award for her career achievements.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

64th Festival de Cannes - award winners

Tonight at the Festival de Cannes in France, the jury presided by Robert De Niro presented their awards in a ceremony at the Palais. Robert De Niro received a standing ovation from the attendees.

The top prize Palme d’Or went to Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Malick wasn't on hand to receive the honour and so producers Bill Pohlad and Dede Gardner accepted the award. Pohlad said, "I have always wanted to speak French, and tonight more than ever. Tonight I have to take the place of a giant. Terrence Malick is very shy and discreet. But I spoke to him today and I know he is very happy to receive this honour. The Tree Of Life was a long journey, but it was all worth it. I would like to thank especially the Festival de Cannes."

The Grand Prix was a tie between Le Gamin au Vélo (The Kid With a Bike) by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne and Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The controversial choice for the Jury Prize was Polisse by Maiwenn, which like Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da is a police procedural but received a more polarized critical response.

Nicolas Winding Refn won Prix de la Mise en Scene (Best Director) for Drive. The Prix d’interpretation masculine (Best Actor) went to Jean Dujarin in the silent film The Artist. Kirsten Dunst received the Prix d’interpretation feminine (Best Actress) for Melancholia.

13th Annual Young Hollywood Awards - winners

Organized to honour and celebrate the accomplishments of emerging young talent throughout the entertainment industry, the 13th Annual Young Hollywood Awards were held in Los Angeles, California on Friday night.

The winner for Actor of the Year in Film was Garrett Hedlund for his role in Country Strong. He also starred this past year in Tron: Legacy. The award for Actor of the Year in Film went to Elle Fanning (younger sister of Dakota Fanning) for her role in Somewhere. Hailee Steinfeld was presented with the Breakthrough of the Year award for her performance in True Grit.

The Television Actress of the Year and Actor of the Year awards went to Aimee Teegarden and Jesse Williams respectively. The cast for Pretty Little Liars was named the Cast to Watch.

For the first time in the history of the Young Hollywood Awards, the event will be nationally televised on Thursday, May 26 airing on the ION Network.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cannes FIPRESCI and Ecumenical Jury - award winners

Prix Fédération internationale de la presse cinématographique
(The International Federation of Film Critics Prize)

At the 64th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) has been presented to Le Havre by Aki Kaurismäki (shown in the Official Competition); to The Minister (L'Exercice de l'état) by Pierre Schoeller (Un Certain Regard); and to Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols (Critic' Week).

Take Shelter was previously named the winner of the Grand Prix and the Prix SACD.

The FIPRESCI jury was headed by Brazilian critic José Carlos Avellar. Members consisted of Tereza Brdeckova (Czech Republic), Shahla Nahid (France), Ahmed Atef Dorra (Egypt), Josip Jurcic (Croatia), Laurent Aknin (France), Anna Louise Smith (United Kingdom), Joost Broeren (The Netherlands) and Malwina Grochowska (Poland). Pamela Biénzobas (Chile/France) coordinated the work of the jury.

Cannes Un Certain Regard 2011 - award winners

The award-winners have been announced for the Un Certain Regard section of the 64th Festival de Cannes.

The Un Certain Regard prize was shared by Arirang by South Korea's Kim Ki-duk and Halt auf freier Strecke (Stopped on Track) by German filmmaker Andreas Dresen. A Special Jury Prize was awarded to Andrey Zvyagintsev for Elena.

The Directing Award went to Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof for Bé Omid é Didar (Au revoir). Rasoulof is currently serving a seven year prison sentence and has a 20-year filmmaking ban in Iran as does his countryman Jafar Panahi.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hitler is not amused by Von Trier's ban from Cannes

Well, it had to happen.

With the latest scandal involving Lars von Trier and his mention of Nazis and Hitler, appropriately enough someone has created a new version of the infamous re-subtitled Hitler meme from Der Untergang (Downfall) by Oliver Hirschbiegel.

Of course, I think this whole affair smacks of silliness and hypocrisy. Lars von Trier is really guilty of nothing more than just telling bad jokes -- badly.

Still, this video is quite amusing as many of them are. This has an added "meta" quality since it has the character Hitler complaining about a controversy in which he played a part. But be warned, the humour is raunchy. Enjoy!

1st Annual Canadian Cinema Editors (CCE) Awards - winners

Last night, the Canadian Cinema Editors (CCE) held its 1st Annual Editors Awards Night at the Capitol Event Theatre in Toronto.  This event is created by editors to celebrate the craft of editing in all mediums.

The winner for Best Editing in a feature drama was Michelle Conroy for her work on Vincenzo Natali's Splice. She had been up against fellow nominees Michael Doherty (George A Romero’s Survival of the Dead), Matthew Hannam & Gareth Scales (This Movie is Broken), Stephen Lawrence (Sophie) and Susan Shipton (Barney’s Version).

The winner for Documentary editing was Nick Hector for his work on the David Suzuki profile Force of Nature.

The prize for Best Editing in a movie-of-the-week or mini-series went to Mike Lee for the dramatization of the brash hockey personality Don Cherry Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story.

2011 Cannes Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors' Fortnight) - award winners

At the Festival de Cannes, the 43rd Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors' Fortnight) sidebar announced their award winners today.

Les Géants (The Giants) by Bouli Lanners was the big winner, picking up both the Prix SACD given by the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers) for best French-language title and also the CICAE's Art Cinema Award presented by the Confédération Internationnale des Cinémas d'Art et d'Essai (International Confederation of Art Cinemas). Les Géants is a comedic coming-of-age story about two brothers left to fend for themselves one summer at their grandfather's house. It hasn't screened yet, as it is the closing night film for the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs.

The winner of the Europa Cinemas Label for best European film in the selection was Atmen (Breathing) by Karl Markovic. It is also a coming-of age story but darker in tone, about a delinquent teen who finds work in a morgue.

The Séance "Coup de coeur" prize went to Ruben Östlund's Play. Also a story about youths, Play is based on real incidents of bullying that occurred a few years ago.

Cinéfondation Prizes 2011 - winners

The awards for the student films of the Cinéfondation section of the 64th Festival de Cannes were announced today by the jury headed by Michel Gondry.

The First Prize went to Der Brief (The Letter) by Doroteya Droumeva from Germany. The Second Prize winner was French director Kamal Lazraq's Drari. The Third Prize was given to Ya-gan-bi-hang (Fly by Night) by South Korea's Son Tae-gyum.

Each award comes with a cash prize, with € 15,000 going to the First Prize, € 11,250 for the Second and € 7,500 for the Third.

Yesterday, the winners for the 50th Semaine Internationale de la Critique (International Critics' Week) were announced. The 64th Festival de Cannes continues until Sunday, May 22.


4th Annual Toronto-Romanian Film Festival, May 20-22

This weekend brings the 4th Annual Toronto-Romanian Film Festival, presented by the ToRo Arts Group. The festival brings the best of recent Romanian cinema to Toronto audiences.

Screened films include many winners from the recent Premiile Gopo (Gopo Awards) for Romanian cinema. The opening night film will be Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle) which set a Gopo record with thirteen nominations and won six awards including Best Film. The closing night film is Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceauşescu (The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu) which won for Best Documentary and Editing.

Other films being presented include Medalia de onoare (Medal of Honour), Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas), Morgen and Kapitalism - Reţeta noastră secretă (Kapitalism: Our Improved Formula).

Films will be screened at the Bloor Cinema and Innis Town Hall. The festival runs until Sunday, May 22.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In defence of Lars von Trier, persona non grata at Cannes

Most people with an interest in film will have heard by now that Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier got into hot water at the 64th Festival de Cannes by making comments about being a Nazi and understanding Hitler. As a result, he has now been declared persona non grata by the festival's board of directors. Whatever you may think about his films or him as a person, this has to be the most ridiculous overreaction to a bad joke in recent memory.

Let me be clear, so that I don't provoke the same overreaction. I think what he said was in poor taste and obviously regrettable. He would agree himself, since he issued an apology very quickly, and gave a stronger ones again later. But to no avail, since so many have been so quick to crucify him.

The first thing to keep in mind, is that almost all reports of the incident have been overblown if not downright wrong. They've mostly omitted any context, too. And they're gone out of their way to sensationalize the incident as much as possible.

So the place to start is with the press conference itself, and not just the two-minute clips either. You can watch the entire 39-minute conference here:

Cannes Semaine de la Critique (Critics' Week) - award winners

Tonight at the Festival de Cannes, the sidebar 50th Semaine Internationale de la Critique (International Critics' Week) announced its award winners.

The Grand Prix winner was American filmmaker Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter which stars Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. It also won the Prix SACD given by the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers).

The Cannes Semaine de la Critique jury was led by South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong and comprised of four critics, Scott Foundas (Film Comment Magazine, U.S.), Nick James (Sight and Sound, U.K.), Cristina Piccino (Il Manifesto, Italy) et Sergio Wolf (El Amante, Argentina). The jurors for the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD) were Laurent Heynemann, Gerard Krawczyk, Christine Laurent, Benjamin Legrand and Bertrand Tavernier.

Australia's Justin Kurzel received a President's Special Mention for Snowtown.

58th National Film Awards (India) - winners

The Government of India's Directorate of Film Festivals announced their 58th National Film Awards tonight in New Delhi. The National Film Awards is the leading film award given in India. The awards were dominated by Southern Indian films in the Tamil and Mayalayam language.

The Best Feature Film was the Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu by Salim Ahamed. It also received best cinematography and best music direction, and shared the award for best actor (Salim Kumar).

The Tamil film Aadukalam by Vetrimaran received the most trophies, taking a total of six for best director and original screenplay for Vetrimaran, actor (Dhaush), editing, choreography and special mention for V.I.S. Jayaraman. Dhaush was the co-recipient of the Best Actor award with Salim Kumar.

Winners are selected by jury. For this year's awards, the Feature Films jury was headed by JP Dutta, the Non-Feature Films jury by AK Bir and Best Writing on Cinema jury was led by Ashok Vajpeyi.

21st Annual Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival, May 19-29

Tonight, the 21st Annual Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival kicks off with the Toronto premiere of Loose Cannons. Ferzan Ozpetek's story is a comedic romp set in Puglia, Italy. It will be followed by the Opening Gala Party at 10pm with performances by Ill Nana and DJ Deko-ze. The party takes place at the OCAD Great Hall, 100 McCaul Street and is free with your opening night screening ticket.

Many of the filmmakers will be attending the festival. Expected guests include
director Zanele Muholi (Difficult Love), director S. Casper Wong (The LuLu Sessions), director Tim Wolff (The Sons of Tennessee Williams), director Zacharius Mavroeidis (The Guide), executive producer Jack Chen and director Allan Neuwirth (What's the Name of the Dame?), director Jan Gassmann (OFF BEAT), director Jeanne Crepeau and actor Amelie Grenier (A Montreal Girl), director Rashaad Ernesto Green (Gun Hill Road), director Casper Andreas (Going Down in LA-LA Land), director Myriam Aziza (Evening Dress), director JC Calciano and actor Houston Rhines (eCupid), producer Laura Terruso and actor Lisa Haas (Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same) and director Maryam Keshavarz (Circumstance).

In addition to screenings, the festival hosts many parties and events such as a
Master Class with Samar Habib. The Master Class takes place after a Shorts Program that is part of the Spotlight on the Middle East.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

34th Annual Gawad Urian Awards for Filipino cinema - winners

The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (the Filipino Film Critics) has handed out the 34th Annual Gawad Urian Awards for the year's best films from the Philippines. Remton Siega Zuasola's Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria (The Dream of Eleuteria) came out on top, winning a total of four awards - Best Picture, Director, Cinematography and Music. It tells the story of a girl from a poor family in Olango island in Cebu being sent to Germany as a mail-order bride and is shot in one long take.

Sheika was next with three awards, claiming Best Screenplay (Arnel Mardoquio), Actress (Fe GingGing Hyde) and Editing. No other films were multiple winners.

The Best Actor award went to previous Best Actor winner Sid Lucero (Muli) while Supporting Actor went to Joem Bascon (Noy). Rosanna Roces was named Best Supporting Actress for her work in Presa. Both Muli and Presa were directed by Adolfo Alix Jr.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the veteran writer Jose "Pete" Lacaba.

The Evolution of the Symphony: l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal & Kent Nagano


Giovanni Gabrieli: Excerpts from Symphonia Sacrae for brass
Johann Sebastian Bach
: Sinfonias 1 to 5 (for keyboard)
Anton Webern
: Symphony, Op. 21
Johann Sebastian Bach
: Sinfonias 8 & 9 (for keyboard)
Igor Stravinsky
: Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920)
Johann Sebastian Bach
: Sinfonias 11, 12, &15 (for keyboard)
Ludwig van Beethoven
: Symphony No. 5

l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Kent Nagano, Conductor
Angela Hewitt, Piano

The full broadcast program of l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's excellent season-closing concert at Carnegie Hall on Saturday May 14 is available online at NPR. They had played the same program in Montreal earlier in the week, but were the final show of the hall's first ever Spring for Music festival.

The festival was designed to allow participating orchestras to showcase their artistic philosophies through distinctive and adventurous programming. The OSM's The Evolution of the Symphony program featured a first half that contrasted the early music of Gabrieli and Bach with the modernity of Webern and Stravinsky, none of whom used the term "symphony" in the traditional classical/romantic sense. The second half is the quintessential symphony, Beethoven's monumental Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

38th Annual Student Academy Awards - winners

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the winners for its 38th Annual Student Academy Awards competition. Fifteen films were selected as award winners. Twelve were from nine American colleges or Universities while three were from Europe (Sweden, Germany and Norway).

The Narrative winners were Soham Mehta (Fatakra), Shawn Wines (High Maintenance), Columbia University, and Julian Higgins (Thief). For Documentary, the winners were Anthony Weeks (Imaginary Circumstances), Theo Rigby (Sin Pais (Without Country)), and Wonjung Bae (Vera Klement: Blunt Edge).

The 38th Annual Student Academy Awards ceremony takes place on June 11 at Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. At that time, winners will learn whether they have received Gold, Silver or Bronze Awards in their respective categories.

2011 BET Awards - nominees

The nominations for the 2011 BET Awards have been announced. The nominees for Best Movie are Death at a Funeral, For Colored Girls, Takers, The Book of Eli and Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married, Too?

Nomations for Best Actress went to Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Regina King, Zoë Saldana and Kerry Washington. The Best Actor nominees were Laz Alonso, Chris Brown, Don Cheadle, Idris Elba and Jamie Foxx. The YoungStars Award nominees were Shenell Edmonds, Keke Palmer, Diggy Simmons, Jaden Smith and his sister Willow Smith.

The BET Awards are heavily weighted on the music side and Chris Brown led the field with six nominations, receiving nods for Best Male R&B Artist, Best Collaboration (twice), Video of the Year, Best Actor and Viewers' Choice categories. Next was Lil' Wayne with 5. Drake, Kanye West and Rihanna followed in a tie with four each. Other multiple nominees included Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars, Trey Songz, Marsha Ambrosius, Keri Hilson, Cee Lo Green and B.o.B.

The 2011 BET Awards take place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 26 at 8pm EST and will air live. Kevin Hart will host.

2011 MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVAs) - nominees

Today the nominations for the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVAs) were announced. The hip-hop group Down with Webster, singer Fefe Dobson and R&B singer Shawn Desman led with four nominations apiece. Rapper JDiggz and crooner Danny Fernandes followed with three nominations each.

Double nominees include Arcade Fire, Abandon All Ships, Avril Lavigne, Drake, Justin Bieber and Metric. On the international front, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Eminem and Bruno Mars also each received two nominations.

The awards ceremony for the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards will take place on June 19 on Queen Street West at the MuchMusic building in Toronto. It will feature live performances by Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Avril Lavigne, The Black Keys, and City and Colour, as well as American pop singer Selena Gomez. Wristbands to attend the event will be handed out on June 10.

16th Festivalissimo (Ibero-Latin-American Film), May 18-June 5

Tonight is kickoff for the 16e Festivalissimo, le festival de films ibéro-latino-américains de Montréal, the 16th Festivalissimo Festival for Ibero-Latin-American Film. The opening gala screening will be the Canadian premiere of the Chilean film La Vida de los Peces (The Life of Fish) by Matías Bize.

Festivalissimo will also be paying tribute to Matías Bize’s work by presenting a retrospective of two of his most important films: Sábado, una pelicula en tiempo real (2003) and En la cama (In Bed, 2005).

The festival presents about thirty feature films from 12 different countries of Latin-American, Spanish and Portuguese cultures over the next two-and-a-half weeks. They will also be introducing new events including free dance workshops at the Place Alexis Nihon and closing festivities in the park named Festivalissimo Fiesta Latina: three days of non-stop shows for the whole family at the Cabot Square, adjacent to Atwater metro.

The festival continues until June 5.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Toronto International Film Festival call for volunteers

The Toronto International Film Festival has put out their call for volunteers for their 2011 edition which runs from September 8 to 18.

TIFF is the largest public film festival in the world and is a not-for-profit orgranization, unlike many large American festivals. Its success is due in part to a large army of hundreds of dedicated volunteers that help to make the festival what it is. I myself have volunteered for them in the past. In fact there are many Toronto filmmakers who have volunteered for TIFF, such as Don McKellar.

Volunteers are required to attend an orientation session. For each shift that a volunteer takes, they receive a voucher which allows them to attend a screening during the festival itself or at TIFF Bell Lightbox when it is done. Not all of the shifts take place during the festival; you can sign up for volunteer shifts in the set-up and tear-down stages of the festival too.

Volunteers are invited to attend the staff party that takes place at the festival's end. The volunteers are always a fun and enthusiastic group of people. If you have the time, you will find it an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Roundtable Discussion with the Coen Brothers in Israel

This is video of a roundtable discussion which took place yesterday in Tel Aviv. The discussion lasts one hour and twenty-four minutes.

The brothers were awarded the Dan David Prize which is given to people who have made "an outstanding contribution to humanity." The Dan David Prize is worth $1 million, of which ten percent is donated to doctorate and post-doctorate student grants.

Previous winners include Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, Al Gore, Amos Oz, Tony Blair and Yo-Yo Ma.

The event was held at the Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel.

"Accept the Mystery" - A Symposium with the Coen Brothers, recipients of the Dan David Prize.

Chairperson: Dr. Orly Lubin
Participants: Joel and Ethan Coen - Dr. Shmulik Duvdevani - Ms. Dana Ivgy - Mr. Danny Lerner - Dr. Raya Morag

Monday, May 16, 2011

56th Annual Obie Awards - winners

Tonight was the night for the 56th Village Voice Obie Awards which took place at Webster Hall in the East Village (125 East 11th Street). The ceremony was hosted by David Hyde Pierce and S. Epatha Merkerson. The presenters for the evening were Alec Baldwin, Andrew Rannells, Arian Moayed, Jim Parsons, John Larroquette, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mamie Gummer, Margaret Colin, Nina Arianda, Patina Miller, Robert Sean Leonard and Rose Hemingway.

The winner of Best New American Play was the professional wrestling comedy
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz. Directing Awards went to Austin Pendleton (Three Sisters), Roger Rees and Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher) and Leigh Silverman (In the Wake and Go Back to Where You Are).

A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to the Spanish-language theatre company Repertorio Español and its Artistic Director Rene Buch.

Founded by Jerry Tallmer in 1956, the Obie Awards are given annually to honour Off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway productions.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

7th Annual Montreal Israel Film Festival, May 14-23

Tonight is the opening night of the 7th Annual Montreal Israel Film Festival. Over the next ten days, the festival presents 18 films divided evenly between documentary and fiction. It gets going with a gala screening of Precious Life, a documentary about an Israeli doctor who works to save the life of a Palestinian baby without an immune system. The film's subject Dr. Raz Somech will be in attendance.

Films screened during the festival include A Film Unfinished, The Matchmaker, Land of Genesis and This is Sodom. Other guests in attendance are director Eran Riklis who will present his film The Human Resources Manager and his wife Dina Riklis' film Three Mothers, and Tomer Heymann who will present his films Bridge Over the Wadi and I Shot My Love.

Unlike the Toronto Jewish Film Festival currently taking place in that city, the Montreal Israel Film Festival features films in and by filmmakers from Israel specifically. The success of this Montreal festival led the organizers to launch a companion Israel film festival in Toronto that takes place annually in the fall.

Films are in Hebrew with English subtitles. The 7th Annual Montreal Israel Film Festival continues to May 23rd.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Music review: Tafelmusik with Stefano Montanari - Italianissimo!

Mozart: Symphony no. 13 in F Major, K. 112
Jommelli: Ciaccona
Cambini: Sinfonia concertante for 2 violins and orchestra in F Major
Sammartini: Symphony in G Minor
Durante: Concerto in A Major for strings,“La Pazzia”
Boccherini: Symphony no. 3 in D Major

Last year, violinist and conductor Stefano Montanari joined Tafelmusik for a concert of Italian Baroque music including Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons that thrilled the audience with its hair-raising excitement, virtuosity and musicality. It was disappointing then to learn that an injury would prevent him from playing the violin this time around. But fortunately he made his return anyway as conductor for the final Tafelmusik program of the season.

Italianissimo! focused on lesser known late Baroque/early Classical Italian music but actually began with an early Mozart symphony. Nonetheless, that was an appropriate choice because it was written while he was visiting Italy. Right from the outset, the highly charismatic Montanari electrified the listeners with his dynamic and flamboyant conducting style that was like a period music version of the late great maestro Carlos Kleiber.

2011 Ryerson University Film Festival (RUFF), May 12-14

While Montreal hosts the year end screenings of Concordia's Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Toronto does likewise with the Ryerson University Film Festival (RUFF) which also runs from May 12-14.

The Ryerson University Film Festival (RUFF) is the annual showcase for new filmmakers completing their final year at the School of Image Arts' Film Production Program. Since its inception, RUFF has hosted sold-out shows and has consistently been a harbinger of talent in Canada's film industry.

The 2011 festival takes place at the historic Royal Cinema (608 College Street West) from May 12 – 14 in Toronto. Doors open at 6:30pm, show begins at 7:00pm.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

38th Festival des films de Concordia, May 12-14

Tonight marks the opening of the 38th edition of the Festival des films de Concordia (Concordia Student Film Festival). Concordia's Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema is recognized as one of Canada's outstanding film schools where many of Quebec's best talents received their training.

The festival takes place this year at the National Film Board of Canada's Cinérobothèque, 1564 Rue Saint-Denis. The opening party will be at 11pm held in a loft, 3674b Saint-Laurent (between Prince-Arthur and des Pins) – beers will be sold on location. The closing party will take place on Saturday starting at 11:30pm at the KOKO BAR – 8 Sherbrooke Ouest (near St-Laurent).

On Saturday afternoon from 1:30-3pm, they will be hosting a discussion The future of short films in Quebec/Le futur du court métrage au Québec avec invités spéciaux. Entry is free to all.

3rd Bi-Annual Toronto International Deaf Film & Arts Festival, May 12-15

Tonight, the Toronto International Deaf Film & Arts Festival launches its third bi-annual edition. It opens with a gala screening of Adventures of  Power with director and actor Ari Gold in attendance. Unfortunately, actress Shoshannah Stern had also been scheduled to attend but will not be able to make it. They hope to have her join the opening via technological means.

Other screenings include I'm Deaf and I Didn't Know by Igor Ochronwicz, Alexander Genievsky's The Gift, and See What I'm Saying by Hilari Scarl. All of the films are presented with English subtitles as necessary for the sign language. Various additional events are scheduled for Friday and Sunday.

All of the screenings take place at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave., one block south of St. George and Bloor St. W. The Toronto International Deaf Film & Arts Festival continues to May 15.


2nd Annual Toronto Russian Film Festival, May 12-15

After a successful inaugural year, the Toronto Russian Film Festival returns with its program of Russian and Russian-language post-Soviet cinema. The festival co-presented the Israeli movie Lenin in October yesterday at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, and kicks off officially tonight with an Invitation-only reception at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Over the next several days, the Toronto Russian Film Festival presents 10 feature films, animated films and documentaries that showcase the Russian storytelling style. They will present a Student Film Competition with films from Toronto and Russian film schools that is free for all to attend.

Highlights of this year's festival include the North American premiere of  Дом Солнца (The House Of Sun) by Гариком Сукачевым (Garik Sukachyov), the Canadian-Russian co-production Первый Русский (The First Russian) by Владимир Левин (Vladimir Levin) and Москва, я люблю тебя (Moscow, I Love You) by Алла Cурикова (Alla Surikova).

Visiting filmmakers include Сукачевым (Sukachyov), Левин (Levin), Cурикова (Surikova), Мария Яцкова (Mariya Yatskova) of Мисс ГУЛАГ (Miss GULAG), and Феликс Михайлов (Felix Mikhailov) of Весельчаки (Jolly Fellows).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

4th Annual National Movie Awards - winners

Tonight the 4th Annual L’Oreal Paris National Movie Awards took place at Wembley Arena in London in a ceremony was hosted by Christine Bleakley. These are a British cinema awards presentation where the winners are chosen by popular vote.

The winner of Best Drama was the already much-feted The King's Speech. It out-polled fellow nominees 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Social Network and True Grit. The King’s Speech also won a Special Recognition Award and Performance of the Year for star Colin Firth. Unfortunately, Firth couldn't attend due to work on his next project, so he had his onscreen daughters in the film accept on his behalf.

Co-star Geoffrey Rush was on hand to join director Tom Hooper in accepting the prize for Best Drama. He also accepted the Screen Icon Award on behalf of his Pirates of the Carribean co-star Johnny Depp.

The Best Comedy award went to the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost sci-fi parody Paul. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 won Best Fantasy while its sequel Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was named the Must See Movie of the Summer.

2011 Worldwide Short Film Festival - complete program

One of the highlights of Toronto's spring film festival season held a press conference to launch their 2011 edition. The 17th Worldwide Short Film Festival announced its full slate of programming which consists of 275 short films from 36 countries grouped into 33 programs.

The Worldwide Short Film Festival is the largest short film festival in North America and is an official accrediting festival for the Genie Awards and the Academy Awards. It is also perhaps the most fun of all the festivals too. The staff and filmmakers are youthful and enthusiastic. They have a terrific industry component called the Symposium. They will be rolling out the Short Bus again this year too - the traveling bus that allows passersby the opportunity to enter and watch some shorts at their leisure.

They have also extended the deadline for the Screenplay Giveaway to May 16 at 6pm.

The 17th Worldwide Short Film Festival takes place May 31 to June 5.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Juste pour Rire 2011 (Just For Laughs) programming announced

A press conference took place today to announce the programming for the 29th edition of the Juste pour Rire (Just For Laughs) Comedy Festival.

This year, Galas will take place at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts, and will be hosted by stars such as
homegrown Canadian talent Russell Peters, The Late, Late Show’s Craig Ferguson, Modern Family’s Emmy-winning Eric Stonestreet and The Daily Show’s John Oliver.

Previously announced shows include Jimmy Carr’s Laughter Therapy and Danny Bhoy’s Wanderlust. Louis C.K. will attend to perform and to receive the Just for Laughs Comedy Person of the Year Award.

This year, the English-language portion has expanded from a week to three weeks, from July 11 to 31.
The 29th Just For Laughs Comedy Festival runs from July 5th to 31st.