It seems like every week there is a new film festival taking place in Toronto. So far have I attended two of these, the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival 2010 and the 11th annual imagineNative: Film + Media Arts Festival. It was the fourth annual enRoute Film Festival: Stories that move and the short films are designated for Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment monitors. The prizewinners get all-inclusive trips to the Whistler Film Festival as well as a monetary prize. The final competition on October 13th consisted of Rob Coxford, Josh Vamos & Marlaina D’Angelo’s Push Past: Rob Dyer’s Skate across Canada, Shervin Kermani & Aita Jason’s Sofia, Allessandro Piedimonte’s A Cut Above, Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers Un Trou dans la Memoire, King Mugabi’s Red Snow, and Adam Shamash’s La Khaima: The Tent of Mile-End. The festival was followed by an open bar award celebration at The Drake Hotel. The most impressive short by far is Sofia. In it a reclusive elderly painter recalls the major emotional events that shaped him. From his first girlfriend telling him that they should stay together, to his father explaining why he is leaving, and to a wonderful ballet sequence by his youthful mother. The acting is superb, the mise-en-scene is original, Robert Tagliaferri's cinematography is indelible with lush colors and atmospheric lighting, and its dream-like nature accentuated by long-takes is reminiscent of Tarkovsky.
imagineNative each fall (Oct. 20th – 24th) presents a selection of the most compelling and distinctive indigenous work from around the globe. This year’s festival included two projects by Zacharias Kunuk. The 1995 Caribou Hunt, which is set in Igloolik, fall 1945, and is about the community of First Nations trying to hold onto their traditional shamanistic culture in face of a frightening changing world (i.e. WWII). There was also the world premiere of Mr. Kunuk’s new film Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, which is an Isuma Productions documentary addressing the issue of climate change with interviews with Inuit’s that are personally experiencing the effects of melting polar ice caps. The Kaleidoscope: Shorts Program III, which I attended, highlights were Bear Witness’ Strange Home Land part 2, which is about a road-trip between Bear and his father through the Six Nations territory with interesting appropriations of Hollywood movies and Saturday morning cartoons; and Alanis Obomsawin’s When All the Leaves are Gone set in 1940, Quebec it is the story of shy little Wato who moves from the rural to the urban. To get away from the cities xenophobia and bullies, she dreams about an idyll nature setting with men-dressed-in-caribou suits to play with and a man playing the violin. These dream sequences are just charming. The program guide is really well designed and it included a memorial on the Māori, which are an indigenous group from New Zealand, filmmaker Merata Mita. The festival also had free discussions and panels. Beyond the Talking Head: New Ways to Doc, which I attended, had Peter Mettler and Zacharias Kunuk on the panel, among others, and they spoke about the importance in New Documentary of themes, honesty and transparency with the subjects, and of having a good team. - David Davidson