Friday, July 26, 2019

The Spirit of Toronto

In a Variety article on Atom Egoyan’s Guest of Honour they describe it as being about the relationship, “between a father and his 20-something year old daughter who wants to remain in jail for a sexual assault she knows she’s been wrongfully indicted for.” My first question: Who are these people? Can someone please explain to me what twenty-year old women would want to remain incarcerated for a sexual assault crime that she didn’t commit? These aren’t real people. People don’t act and behave as Egoyan thinks they do. He’s up in his ivory tower repeating his bizarre phantasms that have nothing to do with reality. 

But what if, like me, you’re interested and care about the city of Toronto and Canadian cinema in general? Where is the city being represented? There’s Metro Morning with Matt Galloway who does an amazing job at showcasing the enthusiasm and protest, diversity and culture that Toronto has to offer. But that’s radio. Where are the features, shorts and shows that have an ounce of the quality that Galloway puts forward every morning? They’re there. But they’re in the nooks and crannies of the city – rarely ever featured prominently.

My next question: Does Canadian cinema even exist? The government spends a lot of money on it, so you can at least say that. Do its films spark the imagination of the collective? Their distribution is so infrequent and attendance poor, that I doubt it. Afterwards are these films properly released for home viewing and archived? Rarely. I don’t want to sound bitter – because I’m interested in the health of Canadian cinema, and I think everyone knows this and wants it to improve – but there needs to be more enthusiasm, attention and help on a grass-root level.

There’s a whole new generation of younger do it yourself filmmakers that are capturing the diversity of Toronto with enthusiasm and style. If in the last five years there was the full emergence of a new generation: Kazik Radwanski, Matt Johnson, Igor Drljača, Pavan Moondi, Natty Zavitz and others. Right now the quantity has only multiplied: There’s Rebeccah Love, Andrew Stanley, Mitch Greenberg, Pierce Csurgo, Meelad Moaphi, Federica Foglia, Karen Chapman, Kevin Dempster and Spenser Stewart. Instead of remaining so clandestine, they’re work needs to be seen and programmed as much as possible as they offer some of the liveliest scenes of what this city has to offer.

For anyone interested in discovering some work by this new generation, the Toronto Film Review presents series will be hosting a screening of Nathan Powell’s Steel Town Gaming and Alfio Foti’s Mouthful on August 7th

If there’s still something cool that proves that Canadian cinema still exists, it’s in the spirit of these younger filmmakers that are exploring their neighbourhoods with grace and style. They’re the ones that are showing us what makes Toronto still a worthwhile city to live in. Half of the pleasure comes from just being here to be a part of it.