Friday, May 29, 2015

TIDFAF celebrates 5 years of 'deaf cinema'

story & photo by Allan Tong

This weekend, the Toronto International Deaf Film and Arts Festival (TIDFAF) celebrates five years of “deaf cinema” by screening the films of Canadian and international artists.

“The festival is important to the city as it's part of the diversity and international representation of films by deaf and hard of hearing artists and filmmakers that's not often seen in the mainstream film festivals” says festival director Catherine MacKinnon.  “These filmmakers films deserved to be seen and heard.”

Last night's opening gala at The Royal Theatre (608 College St.) saw the premiere of the German documentary, Die Mauer (The Wall), as co-presented with the Goethe-Institut. Co-directors (above) Mark Berry and Benedikt J. Feldmann flew in from New Zealand and Russia, respectively.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Steam Whistle raises a glass to 15 years of brewing

Story & photos by Allan Tong

Anyone Torontonian who's attended a film festival or arts event over the past decade has likely seen the green Steam Whistle logo. The reason is that Steam Whistle has sponsored countless such events.

This past weekend, Steam Whistle celebrated its own event, namely its15th anniversary, at its brewery nestled in the historic Roundhouse behind the SkyDome.

On Friday afternoon, Steam Whistle offered free tours of its facilities and poured samples of its golden beer. It was an afternoon of live bands and a sun-soaked patio filled with Blue Jays fans enjoying some suds before the Mariners game, perfectly timed for a sunny spring day. Tours and events continued over the weekend.

ICFF warms up with Midnight Sun

Story & photo by Allan Tong 

The Italian Contemporary Film Festival runs June 11-19, but it's already screening to students and teaching film literacy.

On May 22, the ICFF presented the Canadian premiere of Midnight Sun (Il Mio Amico Nanuk), starring Toronto’s own Dakota Goyo who plays a boy living in icy northern Canada and befriends a young polar bear.

Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 Billboard Music Awards – winners

The Billboard Music Awards held their ceremony Sunday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

25 year old singer-songwriter Taylor Alison Swift was the evening's biggest winner, taking a total of eight awards. After premiering her “Bad Blood” music video at the top of the show, she went on to win for Top Artist, Top Female artist, Billboard Chart Achievement Award, Top Billboard 200 Album, Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top 100 Hot Artist, Top Digital Songs Artist and Top Streaming Song (Video). Going into the night, she had been nominated for a total of 14 awards.

In accepting her award for Top Female Artist, she thanked “all the girls I talk to on the Internet and we talk about your feelings and you teach me your teen slang.” When she later received the Top Streaming Song (Video) Award, she added, “Honestly, the fans -- I’m obsessed with you. You guys are the reason this year has happened the way that it's happened.”

Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea and Pharrell trailed well behind with three awards. One Direction, Hozier, Jason Aldean, Enrique Iglesias and John Legend each picked up a pair of prizes.

Monday, May 11, 2015

40th Toronto International Film Festival announces its programmers

Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, reveal the team of 22 programmers who will make the selections for the 40th Toronto International Film Festival, which runs Thursday, September 10 through Sunday, September 20, 2015.

Piers Handling
Europe, City to City: London, Special Presentations, Gala Presentations
Handling is the Director and Chief Executive Officer of TIFF. He has held this position since 1994, and is responsible for leading both the operational and artistic growth of the organization. Under Handling’s direction, TIFF has grown to become an internationally renowned cultural institution. He has curated numerous film retrospectives, presented programmes of Canadian cinema, sat on festival juries all around the world, and has published extensively on Canadian cinema. In 2013, Handling co-curated a multi-platform celebration of iconic Canadian director David Cronenberg, the exhibition component of which is currently touring to cultural institutions worldwide. In 2014, Handling was invested into the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest official honour.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hot Docs wraps its 22nd edition with record-breaking audience numbers reaching an estimated 200,500


Hot Docs has wrapped its 22nd edition with record-breaking audience numbers reaching an estimated 200,500. The 11-day event featured 452 public screenings of 210 films on 17 screens across Toronto, an internationally renowned conference and market for documentary professionals, and Docs For Schools, a phenomenally popular education program for youth. The Festival welcomed more than 300 guest filmmakers and subjects from across Canada and around the world to present their films and take part in special post-screening Q&A sessions with audiences. Official film selections were chosen from a total of 2724 films submitted to the Festival.

At the Festival, Hot Docs presented the third edition of the Scotiabank Big Ideas series, featuring screenings and live onstage discussions with prominent documentary subjects, including Grammy-nominated comedian Tig Notaro, charismatic former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams, journalist Andy Greenberg, the parents of DEEP WEB subject Ross Ulbricht, Ex-Fugee Pras Michel, Olympic Gold Medal–winning hockey player Charline Labonté, former Major League Baseball player Billy Bean, and American college football player Conner Mertens. This year also saw the launch of the DOCX program, which featured a virtual reality installation of four short films and an interactive live performance launching the final chapter of the NFB’s acclaimed HIGHRISE digital documentary series.

Friday, May 1, 2015

2015 Hot Docs Awards – winners


Hot Docs is pleased to announce this year’s award-winning Festival films and filmmakers. The Hot Docs Awards Presentation, hosted by Garvia Bailey, host of Good Morning Toronto! on Jazz.FM91, took place on Friday, May 1, at the Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto. Twelve awards and $61,000 in cash and prizes were presented to Canadian and international filmmakers, including awards for Festival films in competition and those recognizing emerging and established filmmakers.

The Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award was presented to HAIDA GWAII: ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (D: Charles Wilkinson; P: Charles Wilkinson, Tina Schliessler; Canada), the story of Aboriginal rights activists, newcomer ecologists and quirky islanders uniting to create a sustainable healing community in the beautiful Haida Gwaii. Sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada, the award includes a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs. Jury statement: “We were impressed by the stunning cinematography, the depth of the characters and the beautiful presentation that spoke not just to this gripping story but also to the universal message of how we as a society treat and exploit indigenous people.” HAIDA GWAII: ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD screens again on Saturday, May 2, at 8:15 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Sunday, May 3, at 7:00 p.m. at the Hart House Theatre.