Friday, October 12, 2018

Filmmaking in Toronto (on Erik Anderson's Thesis Film)

A unique experience in Canadian cinema, Erik Anderson's newest feature to get a public screening is impressive for its liberty and vulnerability. Just like Rebeccah Love’s Acres from last year, My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson, with its uncharacteristic lengthy running time of nearly four hours, reorients the traditional length onto its own narrative terms. When the aesthetic norm for first time and second features is either an ascetic formalism or a social naturalism (usually due to film festival imperatives), Anderson's film impresses in its ability to successfully entertain and captivate, to make you think and laugh. And even though its duration is lengthy, it never feels long as through its character’s excitement and vulnerability it is able to capture a thoughtfulness, pleasure and doubt. And this is especially redeeming as the indie feature norm seems to be to oppress or to bore, that is if they are even properly made or dramatic. But thankfully My Thesis Film bypasses these shortcomings as it is surprisingly well acted, stylistically polished, entertaining and most importantly funny.
My Thesis Film is about struggling to find your place – for Erik in Toronto, trying to complete his thesis film – but it does so with a lightness and a melancholy. Though the narrative is obviously fictionalized it still seems closer to a self-portrait for Anderson as, having known him over the years, I can attest that he has really put a lot of himself into his film, let alone that he stars in it and that he’s the one experiencing these re-enactments. My Thesis Film does a really good job at capturing a distinct experience of Toronto from the perspective of a grad student in film production, which in this case is at York University. It captures the bond between friends, interpersonal debate and conflict about representation in the arts, and feelings of insecurity experienced in these settings. It’s a quite distinct experience of the city, which isn’t always welcoming. But it does so with a humour that comes from an awkwardness in the addressing of these prickly topics that would make any fans of Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm both smile and cringe.
There is its prologue Plato's Republic: Book 1 that sets the rhythm and tone to the film. It is a modern day adaptation of a discourse on justice from Plato’s Republic. Anderson, in the lead role, surprises in terms of his acting and his range of emotions. But what’s especially noteworthy is the film’s dialogues. Words pop, language is nuanced and thoughtful, and most conversations progress as if all of these characters have spent years in the debate club. The character types are all different and have these well-defined personalities that provides the richness of the mosaic of voices and perspectives of this milieu. And there’s a naturalness and articulateness to all of them, which provides a more realistic portrait of a certain young educated class in Toronto more so than the inarticulateness of so many other Canadian low budget features. And their wit and opposing views is also the source of the film’s humour.
Following the Plato prologue, My Thesis Film progresses through three different chapters: Chapter 1. Erik arrives to Toronto from Montreal to start his MFA at York. There he starts to question his idea for his thesis film as he encounters overwhelming critiques in regards to gender parity and diversity. Throughout the year he spends a lot of time with his friends Fernando and Gary (played by Juan Arce and Franco Nguyen) while they start encountering other types that would be recognizable for anyone that has gone through a film studies degree: there is the brash young filmmaker who just got his first film into Slamdance, an esteemed Mexican filmmaker who is known for his 'slow' films, and the militant feminist and the spiritual hippie, among some others. The first year is a struggle for Erik and afterwards, as he didn’t receive any financial support, he's forced to return to his mother's in Victoria to spend the summer. Chapter 2. This is a sad summer for Erik as he starts to take on menial tasks to make a living – including, and even failing at, being a barista – and where, however well intentioned his mother, aunt and her husband try to be, they are actually not that encouraging. But Erik finally returns to Toronto, hopeful that it'll be a better year, but that is still to be determined. Chapter 3. After struggling with his Plato adaptation to take off, through a discussion with his best friend, he decides to incorporate his initial idea into a making-of of a making-of of his film. And there he finds success, well sort-of, at least he completes it before he has to go through a lengthy critique.
With My Thesis Film and Calvin Thomas, Yonah and Lev Lewis’s Spice It Up, another new Toronto film that had a fraught production history, it appears that the new generation of local filmmakers, which have started making work around 2010, are starting to be more explicit about the challenges of creation and getting programmed in this city. This reflexive tendencies tends to be more funny than dour and recalls something like Luc Moullet’s Les Sièges de l'Alcazar meets the CBC. It’s very interesting and I highly recommend both of these films if you have a chance to see them. Spice It Up is about a young woman filmmaker who also arrives to Toronto from out of town to complete her thesis film and that also has some shades of ancient Greek philosophy, though for her she is studying at Ryerson. In it you can find the local film critic Adam Nayman (after his small role earlier on this year in Fail to Appear) as a film professor giving his students advice and feedback that sounds just like he does in person. Matt Johnson also has a surprising small role in it as a playful and lewd photographer.
So with both My Thesis Film and Spice It Up a new landscape and geography of the city emerges and with that different characters and ways of being and talking. The freedom of these works, and especially of My Thesis Film, is that it elides conventional filmmaking trappings, and there's also a sense or urgency and necessity at play. Anderson talks about My Thesis Film as being thought out and conceived over a five year period and that it was made with the barest of crews (usually one or two people) and without any of the usual arts grants or funding. It's this necessity of creation, vulnerability of representation and the pulling off of the project that makes it so admirable. My Thesis Film is a great model for all struggling filmmakers.
It will be a real shame if it does not get more then the only two screenings that it has received so far.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Not to be missed : My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson

There's a truism in Canadian cinema which is that it's surprising it even exists. Just look at some of its major figures like Don Shebib, Joyce Wieland or even Patricia Rozema and you'd see that sometime throughout their career, and with good reason, that they've lamented the sad state of production, distribution and even reception in this country. However much cultural prestige they've been conferred, I would posit that all Canadian filmmakers are 'orphans' of a national media industry that was never that interested in fostering a domestic film industry with the goals of cultural expression or regional specificity. Instead you keep hearing about the creation of 'global' oriented 'content', while screen incentives keep being directed towards runaway American productions.
And if you've heard as many horror stories as I have from film production students about the difficulties they've encountered each step of their way to make their work and get it seen then you would understand how even just the completion of a project and then getting only one public projection could be seen as a success. 
And it's not that there hasn't been other interesting Canadian films that came out this year - I've seen more then my fair share, though I'm still wondering why... - but they seem to come out with a build-in ephemerality: Catch us if you can, or not at all...
With that in mind, I just want to signal a unique screening happening this week: I forget how many years exactly it has been in the making for - four years? or is  it five, or is it even more? - and how many requests I regret not taking up with its director, but Erik Anderson's thesis film, My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson, is finally getting screened in Toronto: On Wednesday at 6:30PM at the Lightbox. I can only speak for myself to say this is a cause for celebration and that I'm really excited to see it.
And it's another great sign of the uniqueness and perseverance of Toronto DIY filmmakers that so far this year they have already produced Fail to Appear, Mouthful, A Woman's Block, Spice it Up! and 22 Chaser (if I can indulge myself by including this gritty thriller). It's time for folks to start listening.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Suggested Screening : A Woman's Block

Well August is almost over but summer doesn't officially end until September 22nd. So even though it's back to school and business for a lot of folks, why not try to enjoy the next few weeks to the fullest? Instead of packing up the outdoor gear and returning to a routine, it'll be good to relax and enjoy yourself and the city as much as you can while you still can. In the Toronto film community there's an exciting screening this week: Rebeccah Love is premiering her new short A Woman's Block, which has her team up again with Sarah Swire from Acres and is shot in her own neighborhood of Regal Heights but with a new improvisational style. It'll be on Tuesday, August 28th at The Pilot and it starts at 7:10PM sharp. There will be some special guests, too. See this great MUFF interview with Love for more information about the new short film and her process. Hope to see some of you there and enjoy the next few weeks!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Listening to Others: On Antoine Bourges’ Fail to Appear

It starts with a photocopier in a dimly lit supply room: a fax is slowly being printed out with the report of a young man Eric (Nathan Roder) who has been charged with theft and who’ll need a social worker. The fiction begins and throughout Fail to Appear it’ll continue onward through subtle visual details in a setting that’s actually the one that it’s exploring. Antoine Bourges’ project, just like it was in his earlier East Hastings Pharmacy, is to use fiction to better articulate some of the world’s realities. To not simply document but to slow things down, really focus to better see and to think with the changes occurring around us. It’s at this formal level that Fail to Appear is really interesting. It’s the story of a young social worker Isolde (Deragh Campbell) trying to help her patients while also learning the tasks and responsibilities that go with the job. The great idea here is to cast someone unfamiliar with the milieu so that you can see the struggle to keep up, that of a mixture of care and confusion, eagerness and awkwardness. The film’s exploration of the world of social workers and its client’s matches the beginner’s journey that Isolde is going through. Then there’s the opening of the film up to the real world: there are the clients and other practitioners, its offices and community centres, courtrooms and neighbourhood surroundings. The world keeps intruding onto its fiction so that the film never ends up being self-contained. Its style also adds to its contemplation as the long-take form allows for the scenes to play out for as long as it’s necessary – for a person to say what they need to say, and for them to properly represent themselves – and its framing and stillness distils an emotion into the people that it portrays. Fail to Appear perfectly blends art-house cinema techniques with observational documentary and conceptual photography. It imagines a new way to look at the relationships between people and how they interact with their surroundings. If the actors in Fail to Appear remain somewhat impenetrable, whose motivations are never really clear, it instead proposes a good first step on how to create positive changes in people: that of listening and caring about others. So it is only after Isolde, who had already helped Eric avoid his charge, sent him a kind email that he would start to participate more in his family’s life. The film proposes that change and affect takes place at the level of these small gestures and how these can have a lasting positive influence. And in a province that overnight, with the Ontario elections, became a majority conservative government it’s even more vital to have these reminders of the personal struggles of the already underappreciated health care and social worker professionals and the people that they serve. It’s time to not turn away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

TFR Presents : Now It’s Dark

Not to be too glib, but one gets the feeling that if you’re a young Canadian filmmaker wanting to make a mark, there’s almost something of an algorithm to follow. Simply make a film in the mould of the Dardennes Brothers or Michael Haneke, then expect a few festival appearances followed by polite word from local press desperate for a thriving Canadian art cinema.

And this is not to say that many fine films aren’t being produced in this tradition, but is it not a little depressing to find a certain mix of naturalism and cynicism as the standard for Canadian film? That’s why with its latest screening, Toronto Film Review is shining a light on recent films (well, dating back to 2012 in some cases) that have shown a strong inclination towards a wholly different cinema.

While the eights films on display in this program wildly vary in scope and resources, they’re undeniably all exciting. Many of them taking place in less glamorous corners, be they cramped apartments, dank city streets or hellishly cold landscapes, the overriding theme of the works could seem like yet more variations on millennial despair. Yet they’re filtered through utterly unique visions that don’t rely on mundanity as a crutch. That being said, they render a Canada that’s highly recognizable to this writer, meaning quite fucking strange. - Ethan Vestby

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Springtime in Toronto

In Natty Zavitz’ Edging (now available on iTunes) a young man is in a period of transition in his life. Having just bought a house, he’s having a housewarming party with friends from throughout his life but where instead of hosting he’s stubbornly focused on a home maintenance problem in his garage. Edging is a tale of springtime in Toronto. Where the rest of the city, and the world too, is moving forward with confidence, after a harsh winter, in what should be a period of renewal, its protagonist Jordan (Shomari Downer) gets stuck on one of the immediate problems at hand: The garage door is broken. Throughout the film, old friends come and go, recollecting about their youth and current anxieties, while new acquaintances come through, enjoying themselves and getting into trouble, but for Jordan, to make sense of the confusion and chaos around him, he has to remove himself from the social center, contemplate and discuss, so that he can eventually regain self-confidence and grow.
            This narrative of anxiety and growth is a great metaphor for how I’m experiencing the Toronto film culture in the Spring of 2018. By all accounts it’s thriving: Every night there’s an exciting screening, on weekends a new festival and publications are putting forward relevant polemics. Some positive recent examples: There’s the publication of the new André Bazin’s Selected Writing, the film magazines Cahiers, Positif and Cinema Scope are on point, CBC’s new shows Workin’ Moms and Caught exceeded expectations, and there’s the upcoming What The Film Festival and Canadian Film Fest. Regardless of the problems in the world, the consensus seems to be that Toronto film folks are forming communities, pursuing goals and achieving results. All really great things.
            But sometimes it’s important to step back a little and figure out what you need to do before you can go out to join others.

Monday, March 19, 2018

100 Best Canadian Films – Seth Feldman

It was a good SCMS this year. In Toronto at the Sheraton there were hundreds of guests, panellists and academics, graduate students and senior professors, and the atmosphere was lively and congenial. There were some great panels on Canadian cinema, both by Canadians and Americans, along with stimulating ones on topics that synthetized the last year of scholarship, and which most likely will influence research to come. There was also socializing and events, where I got to chat with folks about this 100 Best Canadian Films project, and who were receptive towards it.
The first of these academics to have completed the request is my old documentary cinema professor Seth Feldman from my time at York University when I did my Masters there. Feldman is noteworthy in the Canadian film scholarship landscape for his academic practice at York University and his research on Canadian cinema and documentary. This includes a book on Allan King and a plethora of contributions to a myriad of anthologies on Canadian cinema and documentary, along with being a regular presence at conferences on these topics. Thanks again Seth!

Seth Feldman’s 100 Best Canadian Films

1. Back to God’s Country (David Hartford, Neil Shipman, 1919)
2. Carry On, Sergeant! (Bruce Bairnsfather, 1928)
3. Rhapsody in Two Languages (Gordon Sparling, 1934)
4. The Viking (George Melford, Varick Frissell, 1931)
5. Tit-Coq (René Delacroix, Gratien Gélinas, 1952)
6. Lest We Forget (Frank Badgley, 1935)

NFB (1939-1959)
1. Churchill’s Island (Stuart Legg, 1941)
2. The War for Men’s Minds (Stuart Legg, 1943)
3. Alexis Tremblay Habitant (Jane Marsh, 1943)
4. The Loon’s Necklace (F. R. Crawley, 1948)
5. Neighbours (Norman McLaren, 1952)
6. Corral (Colin Low, 1954)
7. City of Gold (Colin Low, Wolf Koenig, 1957)
8. Skid Row (Allan King, 1956)
9. Begone Dull Care (Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart, 1949)
10. The Days Before Christmas (Wolf Koenig, Terence Macartney-Filgate, Stanley Jackson, 1958)
11. Back Breaking Leaf (Terence Macartney-Filgate, 1959)
12. A Chairy Tale (Norman McLaren, Claude Jutra, 1957)
13. Les Raquetteurs (Michel Brault, Gilles Groulx, 1958)

1960s – 1970s
1. Glenn Gould: On the Record (Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor, 1959)
2. Universe (Colin Low, Roman Kroitor, 1960)
3. Lonely Boy (Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor, 1962)
4. Warrendale (Allan King, 1967)
5. The Things I Cannot Change (Tanya Ballantyne, 1967)
6. In the Labyrinth (Roman Kroitor, Colin Low, Hugh O'Connor, 1967)
7. La Lutte (Michel Brault, Claude Jutra, Marcel Carrière, Claude Fournier, 1961)
8. À Saint-Henri le cinq septembre (Hubert Aquin, 1962)
9. Pour la suite du monde (Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault, Marcel Carrière, 1963)
10. À tout prendre (Claude Jutra, 1963)
11. The Cat in the Bag (Gilles Groulx, 1964)
12. Very Nice, Very Nice (Arthur Lipsett, 1961)
13. Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)
14. Reason Over Passion (Joyce Wieland, 1969)
15. The Hart of  London (Jack Chambers, 1970)
16. La Région Centrale (Michael Snow, 1971)
17. The Far Shore (Joyce Wieland, 1976)
18. Tiger Child (Donald Brittain, 1970)
19. The Mills of the Gods (Beryl Fox, 1965)
20. Waiting for Fidel (Michael Rubbo, 1974)
21. La vie heureuse de Léopold Z (Gilles Carle, 1965)
22. The Death of a Lumberjack (Gilles Carle, 1973)
23. Les Ordres (Michel Brault, 1974)
24. Nobody Waved Good-bye (Don Owen, 1964)
25. Goin’ Down the Road (Donald Shebib, 1970)
26. Mon Oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra, 1971)
27. Paperback Hero (Peter Pearson, 1973)
28. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Ted Kotcheff, 1974)
29. The Old Country Where Rimbaud Died (Jean Pierre Lefebvre, 1977)

1980s – 1990s
1. The Grey Fox (Phillip Borsos, 1982)
2. Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983)
3. The Wars (Robin Phillips, 1983)
4. Margaret Atwood: Once in August (Michael Rubbo, 1984)
5. Moose Jaw (Rick Hancox, 1992)
6. Canada’s Sweetheart (Donald Brittain, 1985)
7. My American Cousin (Sandy Wilson, 1985)
8. Decline of the American Empire (Denys Arcand, 1986)
9. Night Zoo (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1987)
10. A Winter Tan (Jackie Burroughs, John Walker, John Frizzell, Louise Clark, Aerlyn Weissman, 1987)
11. Bye Bye Blues (Anne Wheeler, 1989)
12. The Company of Strangers (Cynthia Scott, 1990)
13. Black Robe (Bruce Beresford, 1991)
14. Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg, 1991)
15. Canal (Richard Kerr, 1981)
16. Illuminated Texts (R. Bruce Elder, 1982)
17. Lamentations (R. Bruce Elder, 1985)
18. ?O, Zoo! (Philip Hoffman, 1986)
19. Forbidden Love (Lynne Fernie, Aerlyn Weissman, 1992)
20. Kanehsatake (Alanis Obomsawin, 1993)
21. Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (François Girard, 1993)
22. Le Confessional (Robert Lepage, 1995)
23. Rude (Clement Virgo, 1995)
24. A Place Called Chiapas (Nettie Wild, 1998)
25. Last Night (Don McKellar, 1998)

1. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
2. What These Ashes Wanted (Philip Hoffman, 2001)
3. Ararat (Atom Egoyan, 2002)
4. Le Confessional (Robert Lepage, 1995)
5. Ataranjuat: The Fast Runner (Zacharias Kunuk, 2002)
6. From the Journals of Knut Rasmussen (Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn, 2006)
7. Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett, 2000)
8. The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin, 2000)
9. Waydowntown (Gary Burns, 2000)
10. Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, 2006)
11. The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand, 2003)
12. Beowulf and Grendel (Sturla Gunnarsson, 2005)
13. C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005)
14. Fire (Deepa Mehta, 1996)
15. Water (Deepa Mehta, 2005)
16. The Trotsky (Jacob Tierney, 2009)
17. Maelström (Denis Villeneuve, 2000)
18. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007)
19. Away From Her (Sarah Polley, 2006)

2010 –
1. Angry Inuk (Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, 2016)
2. Bear 71 (Jeremy Mendes, Leanne Allison, 2012)
3. High Rise (Katerina Cizek, 2009-2015)
4. Tom at the Farm (Xavier Dolan, 2013)
5. Mommy (Xavier Dolan, 2014)
6. Monsieur Lazhar (Philippe Falardeau, 2011)
7. Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, 2011)
8. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Toronto Film Review Presents : That DMX Feeling

“Of all the recent American films that were set in Las Vegas, Showgirls was the only one that was real – take my word for it. I who have never set foot in the place!” - Jacques Rivette 

A story recently broke that the city of Vancouver now defines “affordable” rent as $1,750 and $2,505 per month for a one and two bedroom apartment respectively. For a city with a population of well under a million people, one gets the sense that living there must be an experience of extreme alienation, at least for those belonging to a less than affluent background. Would it not seem that the city is not outwardly pushing you out if you’re not a condo-residing hotshot? 

Though forgive this writer for making any big claims about Vancouver, as he’ll admit he hasn’t visited since he was a young child. Yet the three films being shown as part of the latest screening in the Toronto Film Review Presents, Neil Bahadur’s From Nine to Nine, Sophy Romvari’s It’s Him and Heather McDonald’s ReZoning Love, paint a vivid picture for anyone who’s never even been. 

Forming somewhat of a collective, the three millennial directors dramatize one of the most filmed yet not depicted (well with the exception of maybe um, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever) cities in the last thirty years of cinema, and put it through the lens of youth escaping trauma, or rather the painful everyday experience of living paycheque to paycheque. As taking us through fried food joints, movie theatres, parks, libraries, sketchy audition rooms, malls and euphorically in Bahadur’s film, “da club”, we get a sense of the lives lived by a greater portion of the 647,540 who call Van home than we’d care to think. - Ethan Vestby

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

100 Best Canadian Films – Stacey Donen

It’s been quite the pleasure organizing this 100 Best Canadian Films series. For those who are passionate about Canadian cinema these lists, I hope, should spark a completest curiosity towards discovery. The lists in the series are meant to be personal and subjective histories of Canadian cinema which should showcase its fluidity, richness and diversity. We’re nearing the end of the series, though I’ll wait for a few more others before concluding it, but once its over I plan to put them all together into one mast list. I think it’ll be quite special.
But for now, I need to thank Stacey Donen for this new contribution, as he’s always been someone that I looked up to in terms of seriously engaging and promoting Canadian cinema. Some of these accomplishments include programming one of the all-time great films Jean-Marc Vallée’s C.R.A.Z.Y. at TIFF when he was there as a Canadian film programmer from 1999 to 2006. This programming of Canadian films was also the impetus behind his distribution company College Street Pictures, which released two of the important early Toronto DIY films, Kazik Radwanski’s Tower and Igor Drljaca’s Krivina. This active engagement to increase an awareness of the best of Canadian cinema is such a great quality. More folks could definitively benefit from this approach.

Stacey Donen’s 100 Best Canadian Films (in alphabetical order)
1. 32 Short Films About Glen Gould (Francois Girard, 1993)
2. A Hard Name (Alan Zweig, 2009)
3. A Life (Frank Cole, 1986)
4. A Married Couple (Allan King, 1969)
5. A Place To Stand (Christopher Chapman, 1967)
6. À tout prendre (Claude Jutra, 1963)
7. Adventure of Faustus Bidgood, The (Andy Jones, Michael Jones, 1986)  
8. Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, The (Ted Kotcheff, 1974)
9. Archangel (Guy Maddin, 1990)
10. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Zacharius Kunuk, 2001)
11. Au claire de la lune (Andre Forcier, 1983)
12. Automatic Writing (Ann Marie Fleming, 1996)
13. Avoir 16 ans (Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, 1979)
14. Bar Salon (Andre Forcier, 1974)
15. Big Snit, The (Richard Condie, 1985)
16. bons debarras, Les (Francis Mankiewicz, 1980)
17. chapeau, Le (Michèle Cournoyer, 2000)
18. Chat dans le sac, Le (Gilles Groulx, 1964)
19. Churchill's Island (Stuart Legg, 1941)
20. Continental, un film sans fusil (Stéphane Lafleur, 2007)
21. Continuous Journey (Ali Kazami, 2004)
22. Crash (David Cronenberg, 1996)
23. C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005)
24. Crime Wave (John Paizs, 1985)
25. Dancing in the Dark (Leon Marr, 1986)
26. Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 1988)
27. dernières fiançailles, Les (Jean Pierre Lefebvre, 1973) 
28. Deux actrices (Micheline Lanctôt, 1993)
29. Double Happiness (Mina Shum, 1994)
30. Dying at Grace (Allan King, 2003)
31. Emporte-moi (Lea Pool, 1999)
32. esprit des lieux, L’ (Catherine Martin, 2006)
33. États nordiques, Les (Denis Côté, 2005)
34. Exotica (Atom Egoyan, 1994)
35. face cachée de la lune, La (Robert Lepage, 2003)
36. Fix: The Story of an Addicted City (Nettie Wild, 2002)
37. Gambling, Gods and LSD (Peter Mettler, 2002)
38. Gina (Denys Arcand, 1975)
39. Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett, 2000)
40. Goin’ Down the Road (Don Shebib, 1970)
41. Grey Fox, The (Phillip Borsos, 1983)
42. Hard Core Logo (Bruce McDonald, 1996)
43. Heart of the World, The (Guy Maddin, 2000)
44. How Heavy This Hammer (Kazik Radwanski, 2015)
45. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (Patricia Rozema, 1987)
46. It's All Gone Pete Tong (Michael Dowse, 2004)
47. J.A Martin Photographe (Jean Beaudin, 1977)
48. Jesus Of Montreal (Denys Arcand, 1988)
49. Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (Alanis Obomsawin, 1993)
50. Kissed (Lynne Stopkewich, 1996)
51. Last Night (Don McKellar, 1998)
52. Last Train Home (Lixin Fan, 2009)
53. Laurentie (Simon Lavoie, Mathieu Denis, 2010)
54. Leolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1991)
55. Life Classes (William MacGillivray, 1987)
56. Like a Dream That Vanishes (Barbara Sternberg, 2000)
57. Lonely Boy (Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor, 1962)
58. Maelstrom (Denis Villeneuve, 2000)
59. Man That Got Away, The (Trevor Anderson, 2012)
60. Manufactured Landscapes (Jenifer Baichwal, 2006)
61. Matins infidels, Les (Francois Bouvier, Jean Beaudry, 1989)
62. Memorandum (Donald Britain, John Spotton, 1965)  
63. Mon Oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra, 1971)
64. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007)
65. Neighbours (Norman McLaren, 1952)
66. Nobody Waved Goodbye (Don Owen, 1964)
67. On est loin du soleil  (Jacques Leduc, 1970)  
68. Ordes, Les (Michel Brault, 1974)
69. Outrageous! (Richard Benner, 1977)
70. Perfectly Normal (Yves Simoneau, 1991)
71. plante humaine, La (Pierre Hébert, 1996)
72. Post Mortem (Louis Belanger, 1999)
73. Pour la suite du monde (Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault 1963)
74. raquetteurs, Les (Michel Brault, Gilles Groulx, 1958)
75. Rameau's Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen (Michael Snow, 1974)
76. Reason Over Passion (Joyce Wieland, 1969) 
77. Rhapsody in Two Languages (Gordon Sparling, 1934)
78. Ryan (Chris Landreth, 2004)
79. Sea in the Blood (Richard Fung, 2000)
80. signes vitaux, Les (Sophie Deraspe, 2009)
81. Silent Partner (Daryl Duke, 1978)
82. Skip Tracer (Zale Dalen, 1977)
83. Sleeping Giant (Andrew Cividino, 2015)
84. Sonatine (Micheline Lanctôt, 1984)
85. Street, The (Caroline Leaf, 1976)
86. Sur la trace d'Igor Rizzi (Noël Mitrani, 2006)
87. Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, 2011)
88. Tales From the Gimli Hospital (Guy Maddin, 1988)
89. Ten Cents a Dance (Parallax) (Midi Onodera, 1985)
90. Tom (Mike Hoolboom, 2002)
91. Unarmed Verses (Charles Officer, 2017)
92. Up the Yangtze (Yung Chang, 2007)
93. Very Nice, Very Nice (Arthur Lipsett, 1961)
94. Vic and Flo Saw a Bear (Denis Côté, 2013)
95. Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1982)
96. Waiting for Fidel (Michael Rubbo, 1974)
97. Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)
98. What these ashes wanted (Phil Hoffman, 2001)
99. When The Day Breaks (Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, 1999)
100. Zyklon Portrait (Elida Schogt, 1999)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Noteworthy : shy kids in a state

And make sure to read the shy kids interviews on the Toronto Arts Report with Matthew Hornick, Greg Francis, Patrick Cederberg, and Walter Woodman.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Toronto Film Review Presents: Valentine's Doomsday (Feb 15, 8PM @ CineCycle)

The inaugural screening in a new program Toronto Film Review Presents (please like us on Facebook!) Valentine's Doomsday will be a night of short films, mostly by emerging Canadian directors, on the evening of Thursday, February 15th at the CineCycle. 

There will be a pre-show, romantic comedy trivia for some prizes, a full program of nine shorts (including a fun trailer, so that it feels like you're at the movies), a brief question period and afterwards we'll be launching Mitch Greenberg and Pierce Csurgo's new web-series La chasse with a dj set, drinks and snacks. This will coincide with the online launch of the webseries, which has already started to go up

The full program includes: Rebeccah Love’s GardenConnor Jessup's Lira's ForestMitch Greenberg’s GhostedChandler Levack’s We Forgot to Break UpPierce Csurgo’s As Above, So Below, Kathleen Hepburn's Never Steady, Never Still, Karen Chapman’s Lessons Injustice, Mike Hoolboom’s 3 Dreams of Horses and Tono Mejuto's Quiasma.

It should be a lively, diverse and impressive screening, which we're happy to have put together. The event is pay what you can (with a five dollar suggestion) and there will be cheap drinks available. Doors are at 7:30 pm, the pre-show begins at 8:00 pm and the screening start at 8:30. We hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

100 Best Canadian Films - Michael Marlatt

Canadian cinema is at a good place these days. Filmmakers are making good work. It’s being properly honored at film festivals and award ceremonies. Scholars, journalists and cinephiles are more passionate about it, which has led to more writing and arguments for its future. The programming of its film history has led to important discoveries, which has opened up new trajectories to understand its evolution. All of this, I think, is making Canadian cinema right now one of the most exciting national cinemas. The lists in this 100 Best Canadian Films series hopefully show that it’s film history is not only quite impressive and diverse but that it’s also equally malleable and open to change. There's reason to be optimistic. Let's keep this going!
I need to thank my friend Michael for this great list. Here’s his bio:
“Michael Marlatt is a film preservationist and archivist with a passion for Canadian film – both on the screen and on the reel. At the CFMDC he inspected miles of 16mm, including many of the avant-garde films on other lists in this series, and at the TIFF Film Reference Library he processed the collection of filmmaker Christopher Chapman, of A Place to Stand fame (the film originating the Ontari-ari-ario song). He is also an avid researcher of the histories of film exhibition and museums, especially in Canada.”

Notes: There really was no theme in my selection process. These are just all films (and a couple of other works) that I have enjoyed watching over the years. I was a little surprised at just how little I had on my list from the 1980s but oh well. Our country has really put out some incredible work. My apologies to David for getting this list in so late. I hope I am forgiven. – M.M.

Michael Marlatt’s 100 Best Canadian Films
- Back to God’s Country (David Hartford, 1919)
- Churchill's Island (Stuart Legg, 1941)
- Begone Dull Care (Norman McLaren, 1949)
- Neighbours (Norman McLaren, 1952)
- Tit-coq (Gratien Gélinas, 1952)
- The Yellow Leaf (Fergus McDonell, 1956)
- La Lutte (Michel BraultMarcel CarrièreClaude Fournier and Claude Jutra, 1961)
- The Mask (Julian Roffman, 1961)
- Very Nice, Very Nice (Arthur Lipsett, 1961)
- Lonely Boy (Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor, 1962)
- À tout prendre (Claude Jutra, 1963)
- Pour la suite du monde (Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault, 1963)
- Nobody Waved Good-bye (Don Owen, 1964)
- Winter Kept us Warm (David Secter, 1965)
- Florence Wyle and Frances Loring at Home in their Toronto Sculpting Studio (Christopher Chapman, 1965)
- The Scribe (John Sebert, 1965)
- Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen (Donald Brittain and Don Owen, 1966)
- Helicopter Canada (Eugene Boyko, 1966)
- Paddle to the Sea (Bill Mason, 1966)
- Warrendale (Allan King, 1967)
- A Place to Stand (Christopher Chapman, 1967)
- Impressions of Expo 67 (William Brind, 1967)
- A Married Couple (Allan King, 1969)
- The Hart of London (Jack Chambers, 1970)
- Goin’ Down the Road (Donald Shebib, 1970)
- Mon oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra, 1971)
- North of Superior (Graeme Ferguson, 1971)
- The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Ted Kotcheff, 1974)
- Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)
- Shivers (David Cronenberg, 1975)
- Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry (Donald Brittain and John Kramer, 1976)
- On est au coton (Deny Arcand, 1976)
- J.A. Martin photographe (Jean Beaudin, 1977)
- Outrageous! (Richard Benner 1977)
- I'll Find a Way (Beverly Shaffer, 1977)
- Rabid (David Cronenberg, 1977)
- Home for Christmas (Rick Hancox, 1978)
- Michael, A Gay Son (Bruce Glawson, 1980)
- Scanners (David Cronenberg, 1981)
- Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983)
- Le Déclin de L'empire Américain (Denys Arcand, 1986) 
- The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)
- I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (Patricia Rozema, 1987)
- Life Classes (William D. MacGillivray, 1987)
- The Cat Came Back (Cordell Barker, 1988)
- Roadkill (Bruce McDonald, 1989)
- Jésus de Montréal (Deny Arcan, 1989)
- Archangel (Guy Maddin, 1990)
- Canadian Children Public Service Announcements (Concerned Children's Advertisers, 1990-2017)
- The Adjuster (Atom Egoyan, 1991)
- Highway 61 (Bruce McDonald, 1991)
- Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg, 1991)
- Heritage Minutes (Historica Canada, 1991-)
- Léolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1992)
- Manufacturing Consent (Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, 1992)
- Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives (Lynne Fernie, Aerlyn Weissman, 1993)
- Calendar (Atom Egoyan, 1993)
- Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (François Girard, 1993)
- Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (Alanis Obomsawin, 1993)
- Zero Patience (John Greyson, 1993)
- Picture of Light (Peter Mettler, 1994)
- Exotica (Atom Egoyan, 1994)
- Margaret's Museum (Mort Ransen, 1995)
- Hard Core Logo (Bruce McDonald, 1996)
- Project Grizzly (Peter Lynch, 1996)
- Lilies (John Greyson, 1996)
- The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan, 1997)
- The Hanging Garden (Thom Fitzgerald, 1997)
- Last Night (Don McKellar, 1998)
- The Red Violin (François Girard, 1998)
- Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows (Paul Jay, 1998)
- Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett, 2000)
- Canada: A People’s History (CBC, 2000)
- Maelstrom (Denis Villeneuve, 2000)
- waydowntown (Gary Burns, 2000)
- Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Zacharias Kunuk, 2001)
- Les Invasions barbares (Deny Arcand, 2003)
- C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005)
- Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (Sam Dunn, 2005)
- A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
- Water (Deepa Mehta, 2005)
- Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, 2006)
Away From Her (Sarah Polley, 2006)
- My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007)
- Polytechnique (Denis Villeneuve, 2009)
- Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, 2011)
- Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan, 2012)
- Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012)
- The Dirties (Matt Johnson, 2013)
Mommy (Xavier Dolan, 2014)
- Into the Forest (Patricia Rozema, 2015)
- Sleeping Giant (Andrew Cividino, 2015)
- Closet Monster (Stephen Dunn, 2015)
- The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson, 2015)
- Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n'ont fait que se creuser un tombeau (Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie, 2016)
- Searchers (Maliglutit) (Zacharias Kunuk, 2016)
- Window Horses (Ann Marie Fleming, 2016)
- Angry Inuk (Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, 2016)
- The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (Simon Lavoie, 2017)
- Our People Will Be Healed (Alanis Obomsawin, 2017)