Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Coverage

Photobucket

Pre-Festival Coverage
April 16, 2008

Daily Coverage
Hot Docs 08 Day 1 - Thursday April 17/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 2 - Friday April 18/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 3 - Saturday April 19/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 4 – Sunday April 20/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 5 - Monday April 21/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 6 - Tuesday April 22/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 7 - Wednesday April 23/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 8 - Thursday April 24/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 9 - Friday April 25/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 10 - Saturday April 26/08
Hot Docs 08 Day 11 - Sunday April 27/08

Post-Festival Coverage
Wrap Up
Awards

Hot Docs 2008 ran from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hot Docs 08 - Wrap Up

Photobucket

I have to say that Hot Docs was quite the experience! Never have I seen that many documentaries in such a short period of time: 20 films in about a week. It was clear that the fans love their documentaries as there was always energy in the theatre and healthy rush lines. Let's take a look at some of the stand out films:

Artistic work of wonder: Man on Wire, it is amazing to see someone with such a strong, singular artistic vision. Absolutely astounding.

Most Haunting: Men of the Lake

Most Inspiring: Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, a beautiful film and well deserved of receiving a standing ovation

Quintessentially Canadian: Passage, where some moments reminded me of Canadian Heritage Minutes.

Best Day: Day 7, all the films were fantastic: Passage, Man on Wire and Bigger, Stronger, Faster *

Best Line: "Mindblowing!" - Shot in Bombay

Best experience & audience: Anvil! The Story of Anvil, the audience was so pumped, there were Anvil fans all about and the band & director were present for the Q&A. Tons of fun.

Best Q&A's: Eleven Minutes with Jay McCarroll and directors Rob Tate and Michael Selditch. Very entertaining.

Still has me thinking: Corridor #8, Mechanical Love, The Unbearable Whiteness of Being, Second Skin and Bigger, Stronger, Faster *

The weird and bizarre: Green Porno, Isabella Rossellini as various bugs delightfully bizarre.

Favourite Short: I'm including two, Peter and Ben because it was the cutest film I've seen in ages and Kids + Money for it's shocking insight to LA kids and their relationship with money

Almost to hard to watch: Be Like Others. I can't imagine what it would be like to be faced with having a sex change operation to hopefully lead to being accepted for who you are.

Wasn't expecting: TTC Strike! Totally through a wrench in the works for the final weekend, and leads right into .....

Wish I hadn't missed: Planet B-Boy, Dreams with Sharp Teeth and Blast!

Unexpectedly loved: Bigger, Stronger, Faster *. Although I'm not American and it's been years since I lifted weights I felt very connected to the common experience of growing up watching wrestling and action movies.

Fullest Screenings: Passage, Man on Wire, The Unbearable Whiteness of Being and Be Like Others

Most Enthusiastic Crowd: Eleven Minutes, Man on Wire

The festival experience was more than the films, but full of film lovers too. I got catch up with Bob from Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind as well as meet James from Toronto Screen Shots and Milton.

Hot Docs 2008 ran from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Monday, 28 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Awards

Awards time for Hot Docs 08! It amazes me festival after festival, how I always seem to miss the films that win the awards. Perhaps that is why I list the films that made the strongest impressions during my festival wrap up write up. Out of the winners here, the only one I saw a few including Corridor #8 on Day 6 and the award is well deserved, and insightful cultural experience that left room for some natural humour. I also caught a fair number of the the top films from the audience awards including Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai on Day 6, Anvil! The Story of Anvil on Day 2 and All Together Now. See all the details of the awards ceremony on April 25/08 from the official announcements (April 26/08, April 28/08 and the International Documentary Challenge Winners). Congratulations to all the winners, it was a stellar year!

The English Surgeon (dir: Geoffrey Smith)
The Best International Feature Documentary Award

To See if I'm Smiling (dir: Tamar Yarom)
Special Jury Prize for international feature documentary

Corridor #8 (dir: Boris Despodov)
HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award

Junior (dir: Isabelle Lavigne & Stéphane Thibault)
Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award

FLicKeR (dir: Nik Sheehan)
Special Jury Prize for Canadian feature documentary

The Apology Line (dir: James Lees)
Best Short Documentary Award (up to 29 minutes)

It's Always Late for Freedom (dir: Mehrdad Oskouei)
Best Mid-Length Documentary Award (between 30-59 minutes)

Shock Waves (dir: Pierre Mignault & Hélène Magny)
CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) Award for best Canadian film on an international development issue

Alzheimers: A Family's Journey (dir: Ayesha Khalid & Katie Rastrick)
Doc It! Award - 1st Place

Tiny's Footprint (dir: Natalie Linton, Inthuja Selveratnam & Alisha Sunderji)
Doc It! Award - 2nd Place

Richard Leacock
Outstanding Achievement Award

Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze/ 沿江⽽上)
Don Haig Award

Elizabeth Lazebnik
Lindalee Tracey Award

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (dir: Lisa Merton & Alan Dater)
1st place - Hot Docs Audience Award

Here are the runners up for the Hot Docs Audience Award:
2nd place - Planet B-Boy (dir: Benson Lee)
3rd place - Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father (dir: Kurt Kuenne)
4th place - The English Surgeon (Dir: Geoffrey Smith)
5th place - Triage: Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma (dir: Patrick Reed)
6th place - Anvil! The Story of Anvil (dir: Sacha Gervasi)
7th place - The Beetle (dir: Yishai Orian)
8th place - Daddy Tran: A Life in 3-D (Dir: Siu Ta)
9th place - Stranded, I've Come From a Plane that Crashed in the Mountains (dir: Gonzalo Arijon)
10th place - All Together Now (dir: Adrian Wills)

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 11 - Sunday April 27/08

Photobucket

Here we are at the final day of Hot Docs, although it isn't a 'we' for me with the TTC Strike continuing until late afternoon/early evening today so I decided to forgo 40+ minute walks or cab rides to get out to the festival and instead I will look back fondly at one a film I caught an early screening of and share it with you now.

All Together Now
Dir: Adrian Wills
Canada

Upon hearing the project that this documentary follows, a Cirque du Soleil production based on the music of The Beatles entitled "LOVE". Just thinking about this concept I wondered "How could this not rock?". Turns out to be a rhetorical question because it does rock, and rocks a lot the more you are interested in Cirque, The Beatles and the creative process. It isn't a seamless process as no project of this scale could be and it tactfully shows different points of view from vast array of people involved and invested in the project. The artistic content and vision is so grand that watching the film feels somewhere in between being a fly on the wall and a kid in a candy store. Either way, it is a joy to watch. A real treat.

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 10 - TTC Strike

For those getting around Toronto who rely on the TTC, just in case you have not already heard they went on strike Friday night at midnight. This will have some serious impact for me on what, if any, remaining Hot Docs films I can see.

For more on the TTC Strike check out this story on CTV.ca

Friday, 25 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 9 - Friday April 25/08

Photobucket

I'm taking a day off from the festival and preparing for the final two days. There are still lots of great films to check out. Don't forget about the added screenings on Sunday which include such films as Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Nursery University and The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins. Remember to check the weather, bring your tickets and if your going to Rush the show - wear comfortable shoes.

See you out there!

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Are you a Filmmaker? Call for submissions

It appears to be the submission time of year for fall film festival. If you are a filmmaker check out these call for submissions.

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Film Festival
Festival Focus: Films made by international and Canadian Indigenous filmmakers and producers.
Submission Deadline: June 1, 2008
Festival Dates: October 15 - 19, 2008
See details here, download pdf here

Toronto After Dark Film Festival
Film Types: Horror, Supernatural, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Animation, Crime, Action, Thriller, Suspense, Cult, Bizarre, Genre-defying, Experimental as well as:
- Documentaries, with a genre-related or cult/bizarre subject matter
- Music Videos, with a genre-related or cult/bizarre aesthetic
Submission Deadline: April 25, 2008 (early), May 23, 2008 (official) June 30, 2008 (late)
Festival Dates: October 17-24, 2008
See the details here

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
Festival Focus: Works from East and Southeast Asian artists.
Submission Deadline: May 16 2008 (no fee), June 16/08 ($10 fee)
Festival Dates: November 12-18, 2008
See details here

Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival
Festival Focus: Exploring mental health & addiction through facts and mythologies.
Submission Deadline: August 11, 2008
Festival Dates: November 6-15, 2008
See details here (pdf)

Please check the respective sites carefully for full details.

Do you know of a festival not on the list? Email me at moviemoxie at gmail dot com, and I'll add it on.

Film Fan Fridays for Friday April 25, 2008!

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday April 25, 2008! Dragnet like newsletter this week as I'm continuing daily coverage of Hot Docs here at Movie Moxie through until April 27, 2008.

Here is a brief look at the limited release films of note: It's a Free World was a hot ticket at TIFF last year and the film looks fantastic as we can always expect from director Ken Loach. It is thrilling to have an opportunity to see an Estonian film and this week we can with The Singing Revolution. One film getting mildly lukewarm reviews is The Visitor but I find the trailer very moving and I am going to give it a shot. Straying very far off the beaten path is the highly anticipated The Machine Girl will be screened during Over the Top Fest on Sat May 4/08 at midnight at the Royal.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Hot Docs
Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
Continues until Sun April 27/08, at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Over the Top Fest
Film, music and art festival.
April 30 - May 4, 2008, film screenings at the Royal in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday April 25, 2008 Releases

Baby Mama

Writer/Dir: Michael McCullers - directorial debut
Cast: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Romany Malco
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Deception
Dir: Marcel Langenegger - directorial debut
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Maggie Q
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

The Forgotten Woman
Dir: Dilip Mehta
Documentary
Limited Release
Hot Docs link

Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay
Dir: Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle)
Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

It's a Free World
Dir: Ken Loach (Sweet Sixteen, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Bread and Roses)
Cast: Juliet Ellis, Kierston Wareing, Leslaw Zurek
UK/Italy/Germany/Spain/Poland
Limited Release
Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer on YouTube
Trailer is mostly spoiler free, if you are super sensitive only watch to the halfway point.

The Singing Revolution / Laulev revolutsioon
Dir: James Tusty & Maureen Castle Tusty - directorial debuts
Documentary
USA/Estonia
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

Then She Found Me
Dir: Helen Hunt - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick, Colin Firth
USA
Limited Release
IMDb Page, Trailer

The Visitor
Writer/Dir: Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent)
Cast: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Jekesai Gurira
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer

War, Inc.
Dir: Joshua Seftel (Breaking the Mold: The Kee Malesky Story)
Cast: John Cusack, Hilary Duff, Marisa Tomei, Joan Cusack, Ben Kingsley
USA
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of April 25, 2008**

Hot Docs 08 Day 8 - Thursday April 24/08

Photobucket

Day 8 was another stellar day at Hot Docs looking at a fair number of serious and social issues from skin lightening to the complex nature of relationships with androids. After all the seriousness it ended on a fantastic and fun note with Eleven Minutes, about Project Runway winner Jay McCarroll.

Photobucket
(Be Like Others director Tanaz Eshaghian, The Unbearable Whiteness of Being director Faisal Aziz)

Unbearable Whiteness of Being, The
Dir: Faisal Aziz
Short, Scotland/UK

A fascinating look at a brother-sister duo that sells a natural skin lightening product in the UK, and the reactions to the product and the stereotypes that go along with being lighter or darker skinned. The Q&A with the director created very interesting discussion on the issue including how it isn't parallel to tanning because in general when people are trying to darken their skin they are not trying to change there ethnicity.

Be Like Others
Dir: Tanaz Eshaghian
Canada/Iran/UK/USA

This film explores people undergoing sex change operations in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death but the sex change operations are available when someone is declare by a psychiatrist as transsexual. It was an eye opening experience to see a window into this world, but overall I felt saddened as I wanted the people involved to be able to accepted as themselves without having to go through such drastic measures especially where there was an indication that they didn't really want to do it but felt the need to out of limited choices. I was impressed at the depth of knowledge on the subject the film explored on all levels be they personal, medical or religious and cultural.

Photobucket
(Peter and Ben director Pinny Grylls)

Peter and Ben
Dir: Pinny Grylls
Short, UK

This is a heart warming and whimsical film about two souls whom fled their flock, one of humans and one of lambs. An absolutely beautiful short film.

Mechanical Love
Dir: Phie Ambo
Denmark

This film shows a variety of interactions between humans and robots or androids. Will humans accept and relate to electronic facsimiles in their own likeness? Or the likeness of a pet? How will this be received by others in society? It appears that there is no one answer to this question. I enjoyed the wild perspective of the Japanese engineer whom created a gemanoid (android in this own likeness, therefore a 'copy' of him), but was fascinated and also slightly disturbed by some of the experiments. Of course, going into this film I completely forgot that androids scare me, and the gemanoid was so lifelike it felt like being inside a science fiction world. The film gives us a rare opportunity to see research in action, which was very compelling indeed.

Photobucket
(Hot Docs staff with Jay McCarroll and Eleven Minutes directors Rob Tate and Michael Selditch)

Eleven Minutes
Dir: Michael Selditch/Rob Tate
USA

This film definitely had the ladies out in droves to see the story of Jay McCarroll (Project Runway winner, Season 1) compile his first collection for Fashion Week in New York. This film is a must see for fashionistas and fans of the artistic process. I have to admit, it made me miss the creative process of designing, even with all the crazy unsure moments and conflicts. It was amazing to see how much work is put into what eventually is eleven minutes on the runway.

It was a treat that the directors Michael Selditch and Rob Tate were in attendance with the one and only Jay McCarroll, who was very entertaining for the Q&A including making someone whom was asking a question tell everyone her name, where she was from and if she was single or not. It also became very clear that the Jay we see and love on screen is the same person in person. This was one of the huge highlights of the festival. The film is screening again on Friday April 25/08 at 11:45PM at the Bloor.

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 7 - Wednesday April 23/08

Photobucket

Day 7 was a fantastic day at Hot Docs, all three films were stories of men and all of the films were excellent. From the creative storytelling style of the historical journey in Passage, to the singular vision of a wirewalker in Man on Wire, to a personal journey to understand the appeal of steroids in Bigger, Faster, Stronger * they all had unique perspectives and were extremely well done.

Photobucket
(John Walker, director - Passage)

Passage
Dir: John Walker
Canada

This film shows parallel journeys of the historical quest to find the Northwest passage through the Arctic and the current quest to find out the truth of this history, specifically through the lives of Dr. John Rae and Sir John Franklin. It plays with different ways of storytelling from showing the rehearsal process of a stage play to the traveling and learning how to live on the land in the North. It is a wondrous film with beautiful cinematography, but the heart of it feels present in the people working towards seeking the truth. One of true joys of the film is the presence of Tagak Curley, an Inuit stateman whom brings the oral tradition as well as the perspective of how this incident affected the Inuit people.

Photobucket
(James Marsh, director - Man on Wire)

Man on Wire
Dir: James Marsh
UK

This is one of the hottest tickets of the festival as it comes off the tails of Sundance and after Hot Docs is headed straight to Tribeca. It is a tour de force film based on the singular vision Philippe Petit to wirewalk between the two buildings of the World Trade Centre 1,350 feet above ground. The film has a delightful look and feel to it with a huge array of archival footage, interviews with Philippe and his team as well as reinactments. The footage is fascinating and the interviews are so heartfelt and vivid, it is amazing to see everyone on this quest and the relationships and bonds that formed. I would not be surprized if this film wins for audience pick, the crowd was captivated by every single moment. An excellent selection.

Photobucket
(Christopher Bell, director - Bigger, Stronger, Faster *)

Bigger, Stronger, Faster *
Dir: Christopher Bell
USA

* the side effects of being American

This is a documentary that not only explores the use of steroids but also the personal journey of Christopher Bell and a portrait of his family. Growing up during the age Hulkamania and action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, the goal for him and his brothers was clear: get big and be successful. But in reality, and is it even possible? If it is possible, can it be done legally? Are steroids the only answer to get pumped? This is a fascinating film at looking at the reasons behind use of steroids and also covers health concerns, legal issues and links to current sports. The film is filled with not only personal archival footage but great clips of action films and wrestling moments. A stellar film.

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 6 - Tuesday April 22/08

Day 6 here at Hot Docs puts us smack dab half way though the festival. All three films I saw tonight were about change, be it interactive or reactionary. How we live with change, anticipate change or strive to make change. Tonight was also the first screening that I've attended that received a standing ovation and that was for Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai. But, let us take a look at the day chronologically.

Men of the Lake, The
Dir: Aaron Naar
Short, Bolivia/USA

This touching film blends fable and reality of the Uru-Muratos people of Lake Poopó as their story is told verbally with haunting imagery and sound that parallels the spooky nature of the tale. We understand the reality the people have faced due to dire repercussions from mining but they also wish to attempt to preserve a historical lifestyle and traditions. A film of trying times and a call for help.

Photobucket

Photobucket
(Corridor #8 producer Martichka Bozhilova, director Boris Despodov and Hot Docs International Programmer Myrocia Watamaniuk)

Corridor #8
Dir: Boris Despodov
Bulgaria

This is a fascinating documentary that travels the physical journey of the planned Corridor #8, an infrastructure to connect the Adriatic Sea with the Black Sea through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. We connect with people in all of the countries and get to hear their opinions on Corridor #8 and their view of the neighbouring countries. It is a refreshing, lively view of the Balkan countries and culture. There is always a sense of humour in the film, but it still provides knowledge on the subject at hand. A wonderful film.

Kudos to International Programmer Myrocia Watamaniuk during the Q&A for keeping the peace as an audience member attempted to dominate the Q&A period but she tempered the audience to hear the multiple questions addressed.

Photobucket
(Intro to Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, Minister of Culture - The Honourable Aileen Carroll, Hot Docs Executive Director Chris McDonald)

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai
Dir: Lisa Merton/Alan Dater
USA

This film is a fascinating and inspiring portrait of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan political activist whom brought and encouraged the growing of trees to the women of Kenya through the The Green Belt Movement. Over time we see that what started with planting trees became so much more, providing knowledge and awareness to broader political and social issues. The audience was well entranced with the film every step of the way and it resulted with the first standing ovation that I've seen for the festival this year. The film gives hope, vision and the realization that every person can make a difference.

Photobucket
(Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, Directors Alan Datar and Lisa Merton with Hot Docs staff)

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 5 - Monday April 21/08

Day 5 of Hot Docs brings stories of persistent people be that if they are fighting for political change or for a quest from an NPC (Non-Player Character).

Photobucket
(Pimpaka Towira, director - The Truth Be Told: The Cases Against Supinya Klangnarong)

Truth Be Told: The Cases Against Supinya Klangnarong, The
Dir: Pimpaka Towira
Thailand

This documentary follows Supinya Klangnarong during the time period of time where she is going through criminal and civil court cases, after being sued by a telecommunications company for defamation. Supinya Klangnarong is a media activist and journalist whom remains very positive throughout the process and very aware of how things work. The film opens with her discussing with her family what they can and can't do and in an endearing sequence to ensure that their cell phones are all off. Long establishing shots parrallel the long process of the law, but always leave us with touching moments.

See more about The Truth Be Told: The Cases Against Supinya Klangnarong the here.

Photobucket
(Hot Doc's staff with Second Skin producer Victor Pineiro and director Juan Carlos Pineiro)

Second Skin
Dir: Juan Carlos Pineiro
USA

Being a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) gamer myself I was particularly interested in this seeing Second Skin, a film that explores the online world of gamers. As stated in the film festival program, the film is a voyeuristic view of the world of online gamers and it feels as it most well received by the non gamers in the jam packed crowd. You could also tell that the crowd was more non gamers than gamers by when the laughs happened, and there were many laughs. There were also a lot of serious situations handled, including gaming addiction and relationships. If you are unfamiliar with this world, the film is an interesting view into it especially on how if the virtual world a part in gamers lives. But, as a gamer I found most of the issues are not new (friendship & relationships, addiction, escapism, gold farmers/outsourcing) and were dealt with in a relatively superficial manner. I did enjoy the information from the numerous experts they talked to including Matt Firor and Nick Yee, Founder of the Daedalus Project.

During the Q&A it was revealed that both Victor Pineiro and director Juan Carlos Pineiro are both console gamers whom had tried online gaming for a few months and had a friend that had a big role in one of these virtual worlds which was the inspiration of the film.

See more at the Second Skin website

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Monday, 21 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 4 – Sunday April 20/08

Photobucket

Sunday at Hot Docs was a nice and relaxed day. The weather looked like it might give us a bit of rain but it held off and the clouds eventually passed along their merry away. I only checked out one film on day 4, so let's get right to it.

Photobucket
(The Rise and Fall of Grumpy Burger: Marshall Sfalcin and director Matt Gallagher)

Rise and Fall of the Grumpy Burger, The
Dir: Matt Gallagher
Canada

This film was really high on my list of films to see for a few reasons. First, the premise of exploring the history of fast food chain that predated McDonald's was interesting. Second, it's a documentary about making a film. Third, I couldn't make the screening it had at Cinematheque. Add to all of that it's Canadian. What's not to like? Well the audience sure did like it, as it received many a giggle especially as we see Marshall Sfalcin making his Ten Dollar Tale's films, which we saw a lot of. But, at about 25 minutes into this 84 minute film, I was wondering when we were going to start hearing about Grumpy Burger and the whole fast food documentary idea. It does get there but it feels like the focus of the film wasn't so much about that as it was snippets of life during that period of time which included a lot of arguments, swearing and frustration. The screening did have a lively Q&A with hilarious questions including shout outs to Windsor locals.

Photobucket
(left to right: Bob - Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind, James - Toronto Screen Shots and Me)

One of the really fun things about Day 4 was meeting up with some fellow film fans for a drink and discussion about the festival so far and film in general. It was a great time! Of course, now I have so many more films that I want to add to my list to see!

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 3 - Saturday April 19/08

Photobucket

We continue to enjoy the lovely weather here in Toronto as Hot Docs enters its first weekend. I started the day off early and headed to the ROM to check out Emoticons playing with Kids + Money. I wasn't the only one. When I arrived to the theatre an hour and a half before the screening there were already people in the Rush line, and that is true dedication. The line continued to grow as the morning progressed, and I'm sure it was worth the wait. I really hope they all got in to see the films.

Photobucket
(Rush line for Kids + Money & Emoticons, more than an hour before the screening)

Kids + Money
Dir: Lauren Greenfield (Thin)
Short, USA

Lauren Greenfield strikes the uncomfortable truth yet again with Kids + Money just as she did with Thin. Showing a variety of kids ranging in ages from 12-17 and from different economic standpoints we see their vision of money mostly in terms of social status and clothing. One of the most startling things about the kids, is their awareness of certain realities be it that the clothes they buy may have been from child labour, or that their parents can't really afford to spend that much on them but they still push for it. The other side is shown as well, with the kids that have very little, in one instance had lived without even having a fridge. Compelling at every moment, this documentary is shocking yet rings true at every step.

Emoticons
Dir: Heddy Honigmann
Netherlands

This film follows six young women and not only their online relationships, but their relationship with being online. They participate in the online world for a few different reasons, but at the root of it usually in the hopes of looking for being treated with mutual respect or finding someone with a mutual goal. Both of which are lacking in their offline lives. This film was a lot more serious that I had anticipated, dealing with issues bullying, isolation and even harsher circumstances. What was refreshing to see was that even though these girls were all dealing with hard situations they all had hope, for connection, for friendship and for helping others. Beautiful and delicate portraits under trying times.

Photobucket
(Q&A: Sarah Whitehouse - International Programmer, Liz Mermin - director Shot in Bombay)

Shot in Bombay
Dir: Liz Mermin
UK

This documentary follows the filming of the Bollywood film Shootout at Lokhandwala (Apoorva Lakhia), a film inspired by an actual shoot out between gangsters and police in Mumbai, in 1992. It's pretty wild to see a documentary film based on the making of a film, it's so meta it's crazy. Add to that it parallels historical events of the 1992 incident as well as ongoing legal issues with the main actor Sanjay Dutt. Enjoyable and entertaining from start to finish, and hard to resist giggling at times, especially at the enthusiasm of the director (of the film within the film) on all of the 'mindblowing' takes.

Photobucket
(A great place to pick up a snack, right beside The Bloor: Ghazale - Middle Eastern & Vegetarian Foods, they serve up a rockin' shawarma)

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hot Docs 08 Day 2 - Friday April 18/08

Photobucket

It begins as festivals always will with the first line up of the year. It's a lucky thing though, as it was a lovely day outside, feeling more like June than April as we joined the queue outside the Isabel Bader Theatre for the screening of Anvil! The Story of Anvil. At a good 30 minutes before the show the line went all the way back to University and past the first TTC entrance, so it was clear it would be a packed house.

Photobucket
(Director Sasha Gervasi introduces the film)

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Dir: Sacha Gervasi
USA

Can a film be inspiring and crushing at the same time? Sure it can, if the film is Anvil! The Story of Anvil. This documentary follows the metal band Anvil, a band where the frontman/guitarist Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner have been playing together for 30 years. Yes, thirty years. Have you heard of them? Well you have now and I hope you hear a lot more about them. The film is a great introduction to their collective past as well as their recent European tour. At moments it's hard to watch and the band members as they slug through their day jobs and tour with varied success on vacation, then go back to the day job. Although emotions can run high at time, overall they remain positive and continue to strive for excellence and always stick to their dreams. How many of us can say that? A truly inspiring film.

Want to know more?
See the film for yourself at the added screening on Sunday April 27/08 at 9:30 at the Royal.
Check out the Anvil Film Site and the Anvil band site

Photobucket
(Anvil: Robb Reiner with Hot Docs staff, Steve 'Lips' Kudlow, Glenn Five)

Photobucket
(Anvil CD and merchandise were available after the screening, to many a fans delight)

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday, 18 April 2008

Film Fan Fridays for Friday April 18, 2008!

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday April 18, 2008! It looks like spring has sprung and that includes some incubated films hitting the theatre to relieve us from the draught of winter. None of the super big name films are here yet but we have a batch of fascinating limited releases and some entertaining wide releases.

In limited release we have Emotional Arithmetic a Canadian film with a stellar cast including Roy Dupuis, Susan Sarandon and Max von Sydow. I was very close to seeing this film at TIFF 07 and am happy I'll get a chance to see it now. Next up is Ben X, a Belgium/Netherlands co-production and was a three time winner at the 2007 Montreal Film Festival. It pulls together living with bullying as well as the escapism of gaming, and I found the trailer compelling enough not to research further than that. Continuing with harsh themes, London to Brighton is another multiple award winning film but this one is set around the story of a young runaway in London. It looks very intense, but very good. Last up is Young @ Heart a documentary on a senior's chorus who rock out to the likes of Sonic Youth and The Ramones. Nothing like a little hard rock to help lighten everyone up.

In wide release we have the Al Pacino thriller 88 Minutes (which is actually 108 minutes long), comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall from "the guys that brought you Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin" so they sure know who their audience is and last up is the long awaited Jackie Chan & Jet Li film: The Forbidden Kingdom. Out of the wide releases I would have to pick The Forbidden Kingdom, although it looks very PG and cute, it still looks like a lot of fun.

However, regular releases will have to wait a little bit for me as spring festival fever continues this week with the opening of Hot Docs. Be sure to check out my daily coverage at Movie Moxie from April 17 - 27, 2008. So many documentaries, so little time. As a side note, I really hope there is no TTC strike as then I would have to change my schedule radically and of course because I hope for an amicable solution instead of the strike!

Have a great warm weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Sprockets
Toronto International Film Festival for Children
Continues until Friday 18/08, at Canada Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hot Docs
Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
Thurs April 17 - Sun April 27/08, at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday April 18, 2008 Releases

88 Minutes

Dir: Jon Avnet (Red Corner, Fried Green Tomatoes)
Cast: Al Pacino, Neal McDonough, Amy Brenneman, Leelee Sobieski
Germany/USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer has spoilers throughout considering the nature of the film but is mostly safe until the 1/2 way point

Ben X
Writer/Dir: Nic Balthazar - directorial debut
Cast: Greg Timmermans, Laura Verlinden, Marijke Pinoy, Pol Goossen, Titus de Voogdt, Maarten Claeyssens
Belgium/Netherlands
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer has no timer, so hard to gauge spoilerness timing. First half is spoiler free at least.

Emotional Arithmetic
Dir: Paolo Barzman (Time is Money)
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Max Von Sydow, Roy Dupuis, Gabriel Bryne, Christopher Plummber
Canada
Limited Release
TIFF 07 page, IMDb Page, Trailer
When I watched the trailer, it was preceded by a 15 second commercial (shortest one I could find), bleh.
Trailer spoiler free for first half.

The Forbidden Kingdom
Dir: Rob Minkoff (The Haunted Mansion, Stuart Little, The Lion King)
Cast: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano, Yifei Liu, Collin Chou
USA
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer is spoiler free.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Dir: Nicholas Stoller - directorial debut
Cast: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand
USA
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer is spoiler free.

London to Brighton
Writer/Dir: Paul Andrew Williams - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Lorraine Stanley, Johnny Harris, Sam Spruell, Georgia Groome
UK
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, For Trailer Go Here, click picture second from the right
Trailer is pretty intense, there are spoilers but no counters on the trailer, so use your judgement when watching.

Young @ Heart
Dir: Stephen Walker - feature film directorial debut
Documentary on seniors that will rock you
UK
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer is spoiler free for this documentary.

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of April 18, 2008**

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Hot Docs 08 Day 1 - Thursday April 17/08

Hot Docs opens tonight with Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Sacha Gervasi) at 7pm and the world premiere of Air India 182 (Sturla Gunnarsson) at 9:30 PM, both at the Winter Garden Theatre. Both films are a part of the Special Presentation program.

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Win tickets to Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble (溫哥華中華樂團) in Richmond Hill

If you head on over to the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival website and sign up for their newsletter before Monday April 21/08 by 6pm to enter the contest.

Details of the event:
Win tickets to Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble (溫哥華中華樂團)
When: Saturday April 26, 2008 at 8:00 PM
Where: Richmond Hill Chinese Community Church, 9670 Bayview Avenue, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Contest Deadline: Monday April 21/08 by 6pm

How to enter: Sign up for Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival newsletter

Hot Docs 2008 Preview

The week in Toronto the 15th Hot Docs festival celebrating documentary film will be the talk of the town. The festival begins Thursday April 17/08 and runs until Sunday April 27/08 - that is 11 days (including 2 full weekends) of documentary film to enjoy. The theatre venues for Hot Docs are all in downtown Toronto, and some are steps away from each other (Isabel Bader/ROM/Cumberland) or relatively close to each other (The Bloor/Al Green or Al Green/Innis) and then a little further (The Royal). Check out full information on venues here.

Remember to plan your time well! Although most of the films appear to hover around the 80-90 minute mark, a fair number are shown with a short as well. If you are planning on seeing multiple screenings in a row, be sure to plan your time wisely including both the feature and short (if applicable) as well as travel time and some extra wiggle room just in case.

There are so many fascinating films this year it was a challenge to narrow down what to see, here are some of the films I am really looking forward to:

Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Dir: Sacha Gervasi
This is the opening night film, a documentary on the Canadian metal band Anvil. This film got huge buzz in Sundance and sounds fantastic.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Be Like Others
Dir: Tanaz Eshaghian
This film explores people in Iran who go through sex change operations which there is more acceptable than homosexuality, which is punishable by death.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster *
Dir: Christopher Bell
Exploration on steroid use & culture and the drive (or obsession) to be the best.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Dreams with Sharp Teeth
Dir: Erik Nelson
Portrait of the writer Harlan Ellison.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Eleven Minutes
Dir: Michael Selditch/Rob Tate
Following Jay McCarroll, Project Runway winner as he does his first collection.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Kids + Money
Dir: Lauren Greenfield
After seeing Lauren Greenfields documentary Thin I'm inclined to see any of her work, this short film is shows kids perspective on money.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Man on Wire
Dir: James Marsh
This is another big buzz film and Sundance winner. It explores the historical 'art crime' of tightrope walking in 1974.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Passage
Dir: John Walker
A historical look at the attempt of explorers to find a passage through the Arctic.
See more at Hot Docs site.

Planet B-Boy
Dir: Benson Lee
I'll take a dance movie in any day! This film treks the globe finding hip hop dancers strutting their stuff. Oh, and there is a contest too.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Rise and Fall of the Grumpy Burger, The
Dir: Matt Gallagher
Investigation of 'Grumpy Burger' the supposide inventors of fast food.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Second Skin
Dir: Juan Carlos Pineiro
This film got huge buzz at SXSW as it goes into the lives of MMORPG's (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) gamers. As a gamer myself, I can't pass up the chance to see this film.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

Shot in Bombay
Dir: Liz Mermin
A behind the scenes during the shooting of gangster film in Mumbai. I have to admit the print shot got me on this one, everyone looks like they are having the time of their lives as they are covered in fake blood.
See synopsis on the Hot Docs site.

For more information, check out the Hot Docs website, Film-by-Subject Guide, Searchable Online Film Schedule, Venue Information, Ticket Information and Box Office FAQ. For anyone who has a Scene Card - if you buy your tickets at the Documentary Box Office you get 15% off.

Hot Docs runs from April 17-27/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Images Festival 2008 Coverage

Images Festival 08 - Wrap Up

Photobucket

As the Images Festival comes to a close I feel like there was so much more to explore! What a fantastic festival full of energy, exciting and innovate ideas. It also has the most articulate as well as best dressed crowd (in a Queen West way) that I've encountered. The overall artistic quality of the films is very high and it pushes the boundaries of the moving image media in all of the programming. A mighty impressive festival indeed. Here are some of the highlights.

Favourite Feature: Hail the New Puritan from Day 7

Favourite Short: Tie - Foodie from Day 1 and nocturne (lampedusa - fort europa) the silent short from Day 6

Best Attended: The Lollipop Generation from Day 1 and Trading the Future from Day 11, in classic opening and closing night nature. There was great attendance throughout the entire festival from the events I went to.

Favourite Experience: The Conversation, a.k.a. Everything is Everything live video creation by Tasman Richardson and Kentaro Taki on Day 6 was hands down the most fascinating experience of the festival.

Still on my mind: Vivid images of some of the animated characters in the films, like Foodie falling into a bowl of cheese puffs and The Last Samosa making a run for it. So cute!

Best Day and Best Q&A's: Day 5 with oodles and oodles of shorts and many filmmakers in attendance, this was a very entertaining night.

Favourite Program: S is for Student curated by Lesley Loksi Chan, Dan Neuhaus and Serena Lee on Day 5. A wealth of fascinating short film, very impressive student works.

Wasn't expecting: Late starts. The festival has a relaxed arty feel to it and that felt like it naturally let to a more organic schedule.

Wish I hadn't missed: A lot. There was so many things that looked awesome and I wish I could have gone to it all! I would have liked to see the installations and possibly taken a bus tour, but my biggest regret was missing NO CUTS. NO SPLICES. Selections from One Take Super 8. I hope it was awesome.

The Images Festival ran from April 3-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto Singapore Film Festival 2008 Coverage

Photobucket

Pre-Festival Coverage
April 1, 2008
April 4, 2008

Daily Coverage
Toronto Singapore Film Festival 08 Day 1 - Friday April 4/08
Toronto Singapore Film Festival 08 Day 2 - Saturday April 5/08
Toronto Singapore Film Festival 08 Day 3 - Sunday April 6/08

Post-Festival Coverage
Wrap Up

The Toronto Singapore Film Festival ran from April 4-6/08 at Innis Town Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Toronto Singapore Film Festival 08 - Wrap Up

Photobucket

Favourite Feature: Tie - 18 Grams of Love on Day 1 and 4:30 on Day 2.

Favourite Short: Zo Gang from Day 2. I have watched this short at least 3 times since the festival, it's hilarious and cracks me up every time. Zo Gang can be seen here on the Hosaywood.com site.

Themes: Pressure of work & social status, loneliness/isolation amongst others, money, gambling/lottery and quirky humour

Best Attended & Most Enthusiastic Crowd: Singapore Dreaming on Day 3

Scariest: Fonzi, a short from
Day 3. It's not a scary film per se, but it creeped me out, as it had a dreamlike/alternate reality feel to it.

Still thinking about: Kichiro from
Day 2. It's definitely ultra violent which isn't my thing, but it sure keeps coming to mind.

Best Day:
Day 1 not only because I enjoyed both the films that day but also got to share the events with my sister Jamie.

Wasn't expecting: So many filmmakers in attendance: Jacen Tan, Kelvin Sng, Elgin Ho and Lee Chee Tian. What a treat it was to have so many introductions and Q&A's over the three days.

Best Q&A: On
Day 2 there was a great Q&A with Kelvin Sng (Kichiro) as well as Juan Foo (producer: Perth) via webcam.

Festival First: I actually made it to each and every screening! That is one of the joys of a 3 day festival that starts Friday night and goes through to Sunday night. It was a real treat to have the full festival experience.

Photobucket

The Toronto Singapore Film Festival ran from April 4-6/08 at Innis Town Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Images Festival 08 Day 11 - Sunday April 13/08

Photobucket
Love was certainly in the air on the final night of the Images Festival, which helped it through a bit of a rocky night starting with a schedule change from starting time from at 8, to 7pm and some technical issues. Ironically the scheduled film, Trading the Future, started at just around 8pm. I'm thinking this was the time that it was meant to be shown after all, and the audience was very patient throughout.

The Garden City
Vera Brunner-Sung
USA, 14 minutes

Impressions: Interesting play between the intention of idea to the actuality of the ideas. The original idea for a location called Garden City is a place where every persons needs are planned for, which is an interesting concept but how can you plan for the unplannable? Exploring the location of Bangalore through city streets, highways and routes we see the city in its current reality.

Photobucket
(b.h. Yael)

Trading the Future
b.h. Yael
Canada, 59 minutes

Impressions: This video essay presents information regarding environmental concerns along with religious themes including the apocolypse to explore the idea of: Will the world end? Through informative interviews with experts as well as straight from the pavement opinions we see that there is an awareness and understanding of the environmental state of the world and are left pondering where and how we will live in the future.

The Images Festival runs from April 3-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sunday, 13 April 2008

My Week(s) in Film

Over the past few weeks I've been festivalling like mad and I've not seen a 'regular release' film since... ok since March 18, which isn't that long ago but for me it feels like ages! Here are the films that have graced my small screen recently.

First up is the 2006 documentary Black Gold based on the international coffee trade, starting in farms in Ethiopia all the way to the first ever Starbucks. I had in the back of my head that the reason to see this was because it was Canadian, but it isn't - it's a UK/USA co-pro. Bizarre. It is a pretty good documentary, but I felt I still had questions on my mind afterwards. More information about the issue can be found at the films official site.

Next up was one that I missed last year on the awards crunch: Michael Clayton. I can tell I've been away from Hollywood films for a bit because I could see that this was a good film, but I didn't really enjoy it. Strong acting, good story, high production values it had all of those elements but it didn't grab me, beyond Tilda Swinton - she is well deserved of her Oscar with her amazing performance. Other than that, I found it to be very similar to The Insider but not as compelling.

The only other newish film I watched Caché, or at least started to watch. I got through the first hour and it was very good, but I will have to catch up on the second half later.

The next three films I saw were more up my alley and a world of kitsch.
The Omega Man, Godzilla vs Megalon and a revisit of Tron. I ended up watching The Omega Man just days before the passing of the legend, Charlton Heston which is so sad. The reason I wanted to see the film was due to watching both I Am Legend and The Last Man on Earth recently, and all three films are based on the same book: "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson. I have to say, The Omega Man has a totally different feel to it from the other two as it is oh-so 70's with the soundtrack, clothing, etc but ironically out of the three it actually has a feeling of a political message as well. At least, that is what I think it was going for, man. One film that took it's sweet time to get through my library queue was Godzilla vs Megalon. After some of the heavy films I've seen recently this was just what I needed to temper a balance. What little dialogue was in the film is oddly dubbed, the monsters are very campy and there are extended periods of time with no sound other than "Rawr!". I loved every minute of it, enjoying it with glee and joy. It is a total classic. Now to see if I can find more Godzilla movies! Last but not least was revisiting Tron, which I am so surprized is a Disney film. I hadn't seen it for a good 20 years and it reads the same: campy and fun and a lot of blue light. I was inspired to revisit Tron as it's based in the game world and I'm going to check out Second Skin at Hot Docs, which is a documentary based on people who play massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG's).

The next little while will be summing up some festivals as well as enjoying
Hot Docs, but if I sneak in any 'regular' films I will let you know!

Photobucket

Friday, 11 April 2008

Film Fan Fridays for Friday April 11, 2008!

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday April 11, 2008!

In limited release this week we have the Ryan Reynolds drama Chaos Theory and the English dubbed verson of Persepolis featuring the voices of Chiara Mastroianni & Catherine Deneuve (reprising French language roles) along with Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands, Iggy Pop. See my review of the original French Language Persepolis here.

In wide release we have one film from almost every genre: Bella which looks like a touching romantic film, Smart People for comedy/drama, Street Kings for action and finally Prom Night for thrills and chills.

Throughout the month of April I have and will continue to be attending film festivals. Most recently, the Toronto Singapore Film Festival which had an absolutely wonderful set of films over the past weekend, very impressive for only being three years in the running. I'm currently covering the Images Festival which really stretches the boundaries and brings us the best in experimental film. Up next is Hot Docs which I am very much looking forward to and starts next Thursday April 17/08. Look for my pre festival Hot Docs run down early next week here at Movie Moxie, Toronto Singapore Film Festival coverage here and Images coverage here.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Images Festival
21st annual Images Festival of independent film, video and other time-based media
Continues until April 13/08 at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sprockets
Toronto International Film Festival for Children
Saturday April 12 - Friday 18/08, at Canada Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hot Docs
Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
Thurs April 17 - Sun April 27/08, at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Special Screening

Inside / À l'intérieur
Dir: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury - directorial debuts
Cast: Alysson Paradis, Béatrice Dalle
Wednesday April 16, 2008 at 9:30PM at The Bloor, presented by Rue Morgue
See French trailer here at Bloody Disgusting, trailer includes disturbing images, link includes film synopsis (including spoilers)

Friday April 11, 2008 Releases

Bella
Writer/Dir: Alejandro Gomez Monteverde - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Tammy Blanchard, Eduardo Verástegui, Manny Perez, Ali Landry
USA/Mexico
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page (has spoilers), Trailer
Wow, the trailer got me all teary eyed! Has spoilers all over it though: at the 1/3rd, 1/2 way point and right before the end.

Chaos Theory
Dir: Marcos Siega (Underclassman, Pretty Persuasion)
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer, Stuart Townsend
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer feels oddly spoiler free, however I was distracted as it's the same music as King of Kong

Persepolis (dubbed in English)
Writers/Dirs: Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud - feature film directorial debuts
Voices: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands, Iggy Pop
France/USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site (autoplays French trailer), IMDb Page, Unable to find English dubbed trailer

Prom Night
Dir: Nelson McCormick (For Which He Stands)
Cast: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup, Dana Davis, Collins Pennie
USA
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
You get the gist of the film by the 1/2 way point after that it's pretty spoilerific

Smart People
Dir: Noam Murro - directorial debut
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker
USA
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
You get the gist of the film by the 1/2 way point, after that it has some mild spoilers

Street Kings
Dir: David Ayer (Harsh Times)
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Considering the trailer barely tells you what the films is about, I would have to say it's spoiler free.

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of April 11, 2008**

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Images Festival 08 Day 7 - Wednesday April 9/08

Photobucket

Hail the New Puritan
Charles Atlas
1985-6, USA/UK, 85 minutes
Choreographer: Michael Clark
Performers: Michael Clark, Gaby Agis, Leslie Bryant, Matthew Hawkins, Julie Hood, Ellen van Schuylenburch

Impressions: The audience was very lively at this screening and it was clear from the curators of the program Ben Portis (from Pleasuredome) and Kathleen Smith that they were very excited to present this film, especially considering that the filmmaker Charles Atlas was in attendance. Seeing Hail the New Puritans in this atmosphere was quite the delight. I am always up for seeing a dance themed film, and this one takes place in the 80's London punk scene and portrays a (fictional) day-in-the-life of dancers, primarily Michael Clark. From posed performances, video shoots to nightclub scenes and rehearsal conditions we travel with these heightened versions of the dancers persona's from the accessible to the surreal. Fantastic.

Want to see more from Charles Atlas? Check out Live Images V - Charles Atlas and Alan Licht on Friday April 11, 9:30 pm at the Workman Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Photobucket
(Kathleen Smith - curator, Charles Atlas - Hail the New Puritans)

The Images Festival runs from April 3-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Images Festival 08 Day 6 - Tuesday April 8/08

Photobucket

On Day 6 of the Images Festival, I took in 2 programs: International Shorts Program VI: Blurring the Terrain or Landscape as a Verb and Live Images II: The Conversation, a.k.a. Everything is Everything. I continue to find the artistic level of the works in the festival impressive and Day 6 pushed that even further. The shorts program was fantastic and I have been looking forward to The Conversation, a.k.a. Everything is Everything from the moment I read the description of two artists having a conversation through live video.

Photobucket

First up we have the International Shorts Program VI: Blurring the Terrain or Landscape as a Verb a collection of shorts that present, alter and discuss landscapes. Here are the highlights.

Proximity
Inger Lise Hansen
4 minutes

Impressions: Beautiful film with a jarring feel as the simple landscapes were flipped and we saw the sky below and land above. I found myself trying to understand what I was seeing but eventually drifted to enjoy the gentle beauty the film created.

nocturne (lampedusa - fort europa)
Pieter Greenen
28 minutes, silent

Impressions: Silent film can be a challenge to watch and I found this one to be very compelling. Opening shot of waves, and continued with shots of lights in the distance in various formations. An infrared camera was used to create this look which appears to the viewer as black and white, and the majority of the screen was black for the majority of the time. Various different landscapes are seen in this style, some easily recognizable like fireworks and a lighthouse and some I'm still pondering what we were seeing. I also loved the nervous giggles at one point where the direction of the light from there screen was so pinpointed on the audiences that it was as if we were the ones being watched. Fascinating and meditative exploration.

A note on silent film, I understand it can be a challenge for the audience. All of a sudden you notice how noisy the chairs can be as you hear every squeak and shift. Then, when the audience settled, then you could hear people outside the theatre. It isn't for everyone but I found this piece compelling.

Photobucket
(Rubin Guzman - filmmaker: City of Blind Alchemsts, Pablo de Ocampo - Images Artistic Director)

City of Blind Alchemists
Rubin Guzman
12 minutes

Impressions: Neglected and barren landscapes are shown as we are informed via voice over facts concerning the production and use of uranium historically as well as in the not so distant past. This informative and important this film challenges you to face the effects of the past and what our future will be like if change is not made.

Q&A Highlights Filmmaker Rubin Guzman was in attendance and provided the audience with insights on the film: The main motivation of the film was in wanting people to see it as it informed them of the content. The use of absence of people was intentional to present the audience witha picture of what it will be like it this doesn't stop.

Photobucket
(set up for The Conversation, a.k.a. Everything is Everything)

The Conversation, a.k.a. Everything is Everything
Tasman Richardson & Kentaro Taki
Live

This was a fantastic experience. Two artists collaborating live through video with side-by-side projected images playing off each other. They informed us that they had a set of protocols on the images they were going to use including: news footage, daytime TV, nighttime TV, colour and then sound alone with the sound projected as video. It was wild to see the difference and similarities from the two sides as the collection of images were from Canada and Japan. It was such a treat to see this kind of experiment live, and a huge feat to do this kind of presentation with the simultaneous yet back and forth nature of the experiment, to see if a new image or theme brought forth would be picked up and used or not. In a lot of ways it reminded me of a MCing contest, but without the contest feel as it was very collaborative. This is a brave and exciting adventure and I am very curious to see where it leads. Kudos to both Tasman Richardson & Kentaro Taki for presenting this work, it has been the highlight of the festival.

Follow the links to find out more about Tasman Richardson or Kentaro Taki

Photobucket
(The artists: Tasman Richardson, Kentaro Taki)

The Images Festival runs from April 3-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012