Tag Archives: TIFF

Cinema on the high Sees: How to save a village, a top Oscar candidate and a Churchill surprise

SOMEWHERE AT SEA: Yesterday was a beautiful day on the Atlantic ocean –warm, sunny, inviting — on the splendidly comfortable cruise ship called the Seabourn Sojourn. So naturally we spent most of it inside in the dark. But then, what else would you do on the 12th Floating Film Festival? On days when we’re at sea, we see three films. On days when we are in a port, we only screen two.

WHERE DO WE GO NOW at FFF 12

Yesterday was a three-film day, starting with a 9:30 am screening of Where Do We Go Now, a film by Caramel writer-director Nadine Labaki, about a group of Lebanese women who try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. Selected by Floating Film Festival programmer Hannah Fisher, unfortunately sidelined at the last minute by foot surgery, Labaki’s film came to us with solid credentials, having already won Audience awards at film festivals in Oslo, San Sebastian and TIFF. It’s not hard to see why. Introduced by Cinefranco filmfest chief Marcelle Lean, the film is a bizarre, strangely engaging mix of pop music, death and destruction, and was very well received by our dedicated band of early-morning moviegoers.

FOOTNOTE: Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film

After lunch we screened our second film, Footnote, which came to us with even more dazzling credentials – it swept last year’s Israeli Oscars, picked up Best Screenplay at Cannes, and was cited as one of the top foreign language films by the National Board of Review – not to mention its nomination for Best Foreign Film at Sunday night’s Oscar giveaway. Writer-director Joseph Cedar creates a scenario in which a father and son are rival professors in Talmudic Studies. When both men learn that the father is about to be lauded for his work, their complicated alpha-male relationship gets even more complicated. What makes it particularly fascinating, for me at least, is the concept of self-sacrifice — as in , no good deed goes unpunished.

CHURCHILL: Unexpected champion of Israel

Before dinner we screened our third film of the day, a documentary originally made for television by Floating filmfest commander and filmmaker Barry Avrich (The Last Mogul, Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project) and one which is seldom seen on the big screen. An Unlikely Obsession: Churchill And The Jews is a powerful celluloid spin-off of a book by Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, and details Churchill’s ultimate and unlikely obsession in becoming a supporter of Jewish causes — most notably being responsible for determining the future status of the Jewish National Home in Palestine. It’s an intriguing story, and one which both surprised and pleased Floating Film Festival patrons last night, and one which should intrigue American audiences when it premieres in the USA in May.

Today we are scheduled to see three more films: Darling Companion, from Big Chill director Larry Kasdan; Woody Harrelson’s controversial new drama Rampart; and Exporting Raymond, in which the creator of the hit TV series Everybody Loves Raymond goes to Moscow to try to help produce a Russian version for Soviet TV.  So, as we say in TV Land: Stay tuned.

DEFINITELY OVER THEIR HEADS: DNTO host Sook-Yin Lee and her guests take a dive in “over their heads” at a special live recording of CBC Radio One’s Definitely Not The Opera tonight at the Tranzac Club on Brunswick

LEE: over her head

Avenue in Toronto. Scheduled guests include Little Mosque on the Prairie creator Zarqa Nawaz, As It Happens host Carol Off, writer/performer James Gangl, comedian Ron Josol and writer-performer and motivational speaker Deborah Kimmett – all of whom will share real-life stories about how they found themselves truly in over their heads. Musical guests are Corin Raymond (crowd-funding his newest recording with Canadian Tire money donated by his fans!) and Montreal-based Little Scream. Admission is free. You can reserve a ticket by emailing CBCtorontocommunity@cbc.cawith DNTO in the subject heading … and in one of the most anticipated shows of their high-rated season, the Dragons leave their

OFF: Definitely Not

studio tonight to catch up with memorable entrepreneurs who once braved the Den. This special edition of Dragons’ Den promises to reveal what’s happened to your favourite pitchers, track down the most memorable disasters and catch up with some of the biggest success stories in the show’s history, tonight at 8 pm on CBC Television … and calling all Lighthouse fans! The band that am (and continues to be) plays tonight at Casino Nova Scotia, tomorrow night at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, Friday night at The Playhouse in Fredericton, Saturday night at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John NB, then on to Ontario to play March 9 at the Sound Academy in Toronto, March 10 at the Opera House in Orillia and April 4 at the Richmond Hill Arts Centre. And yes, they still meet with their fans in the lobby after the show. So catch ’em while you can!

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Jennifer plays Winnie, Sheila plays Halifax, Rick plays Rideau Hall — and stars coax us into the cold

STARS IN OUR EYES: Grammy showstopper Jennifer Hudson continues to prove herself as an actress as well as a singer. She and Terence Howard shine as Winnie & Nelson Mandela in the fascinating biopic Winnie, one of

HUDSON & HOWARD: As Winnie and Nelson Mandela in new biopic "Winnie"

the celluloid treats selected for the 12th annual Floating Film Festival. The FFF, launched by TIFF co-founder Dusty Cohl two decades ago and now captained by filmmaker Barry Avrich, embarks on a 10-day Caribbean odyssey on Monday Feb. 27 – the day after the Oscars – on the Seabourn Sojourn. More on FFF 12 as it happens …  Rachel McAdams and her main squeeze Michael Sheen are having a lovely Valentine’s Day, thanks for asking. McAdams’ film with Channing Tatum, The Vow, is number one at the box office, and Sheen is now set to star in the Showtime pilot Masters of Sex …  triumphant trio Russell Braun, Krisztina Szabo and Erin Wall, the three great voices who spark the current,

McADAMS: Happy February

theatrically dazzling Canadian Opera Company production of Love From Afar, won’t be sitting around after the controversial extravaganza closes on Feb. 22. Ms. Szabo is already set to perform with conductor Alex Pauk at the Esprit Orchestra event Gripped By Passion at Koerner Hall on Feb. 26 .And  her co-stars Braun and Wall are set to team up again in Ottawa in a new production of Carmina Burana March 8-9 at the National Arts Centre … and dynamic duo Jay Leno & Madonna teamed up to promote his Tonight Show with a delightfully snappy SuperBowl commercial I finally caught up with yesterday. Did you miss it too? Here it is. Enjoy!

PRESENT LAUGHTER: Montreal’s phenomenal Just For Laughs comedy festival celebrates its 30th anniversary (!!!) this year July 12-29, after warming up with a six-night stand in Chicago June 12-17 … a new cartoon-for-the-mind

JOHNSTON & MERCER: Rideau Hall playdate

podcast from those wacky Illustrated Men is set in the mythical town of Monogami, Ontario.  In the first episode Sam and Ella Toad move to Monogami to make a new start; some kids out camping spot a UFO; and alien bounty hunters land. Will Sam’s car get towed by zombies? You’ll have to tune in to find out …  stand-up guy Harry Doupe hosts Everyone’s A Winner, the March 9 all-star comedy fundraiser at Second City in support of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League with smile-makers  Sean Cullen, Tim Steeves, Laurie Elliott, Pete Zedlacher and many more … Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are set to play two middle-aged guys starting over as interns at an internet company in the Shawn Levy comedy Interns … and Rick Mercer finally gets a taste of the high life he’s been missing when he hobnobs with new Governor-General David Johnston at Rideau Hall tonight on CBC’s Rick Mercer Report.

McCARTHY & NICHOLSON: on stage in Halifax

FOOTLIGHTS: Stage and screen lioness Sheila McCarthy is back on the boards at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, garnering glowing notices in Norm Foster’s new comedy Mrs. Parliament’s Night Out with J. D. Nicholson. McCarthy is also set to co-star in  Lost In Yonkers with Linda Kash, David Eisner and Happy Days legend Marion Ross when the Neil Simon classic opens here in May   … Graham Abbey of The Border TV fame

BALABAN: Back at Theatre Passe Muraille

is also collecting kudos for his stage turn with Barry Flatman in the Canadian premiere of Enron, directed by Antoni Cimolino at Theatre Calgary … Divisadero: a performance, adapted by Michael Ondaatje from his Governor General Award-winning novel and directed by Daniel Brooks, is back at Theatre Passe Muraille for a limited run through Sunday Feb. 26. The production reunites the original cast of Liane Balaban, Maggie Huculak, Tom McCamus, Amy Rutherford and Justin Rutledge, who created music specifically for the piece …  and Allan Hawco and Philip Riccio’s ambitious Company Theatre has announced its next production. Speaking In Tongues, by Andrew Bovell, will be directed by Riccio and play the Berkeley Street Theatre Oct. 29-Nov. 24. Will Riccio load the dice with lotsa star power? Stay tuned.

TENNANT: On a MIssion

DEEP FREEZE: Some of our faviourite stars are urging us to come into the cold. And their message is definitely on point. “Come freeze your butt off on February 25, 2012 with Yonge Street Mission on the coldest night of the year! It is a 5k and 10k non-competitive walk in the frigid cold for the hurting, homeless and hungry. Sign up as an individual or a team today. If you can’t join us that night, consider donating!” Sparklies askng us to participate via a very engaging vimeo include Maria Del Mar, Peter Keleghan, Debra McGrath, Patrick McKenna, Mark McKinney, Colin Mochrie, Leah Pinsent, Veronica Tennant and, still wearing his Stephen Leacock moustache, Gordon Pinsent. To see it, just click here.

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Coming soon to a Canadian casino or concert hall near you: Latenite TV talkers Larry, Craig, Conan & Jon!

JON STEWART

GOING GREEN THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY: Where do talk show hosts go on hiatus? Where the money is. Which is howcum you can now buy tickets to see Larry King this month. Larry is sharing the stage with certifiably gorgeous wife #7, country music warbler Shawn King, on March 26 & 27, at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls. Top ticket price, before scalpers, is $90 a pop. Not so crazy about Larry? You can see Craig Ferguson (top price, before scalpers: $69.50) at Massey Hall on April 23 and/or the much-anticipated return of Conan O’Brien on his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny 
On Television tour
 at Massey Hall on May 22 (top ticket, before scalpers: $89.50.) Meanwhile, ticket prices for Jon Stewart, who is set to return to Fallsview on June 17 & 18, start at $90. (Good luck with those!)

LARRY

CONAN

CRAIG

FLICKERS: Oscar bridesmaid George Clooney is set to star in The Descendants, a new film directed by Alexander Payne [Sideways] … Clooney’s young Up In The Air co-star Anna Kendrick, fresh from her Oscar nod, has signed on to star opposite James

EASTWOOD & DAMON: together again?

McAvoy (so good in The Last Station) in a comedy drama about a young man’s cancer diagnosis (!?!) Sounds like a lotta laffs so far … Twilight heartthrob Taylor Lautner, who charms as a Valentine’s Day lothario, will play Stretch Armstrong in the new movie based on the Hasbro toy …  Universal has snapped up the rights to the graphic novel Fire for Zac EfronRobert Pattinson, Sean Penn and Reese Witherspoon are reportedly the front runners for the leading roles in the screen version of Water For Elephants … and Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood got along so well when they shot Invictus that they’re teaming up again on a new thriller, Hereafter.

BARUCHEL as The Trotsky

TROTSKY DEFEATS LENNON: Montreal-born screen charmer Jay Baruchel couldn’t be hotter if you set him on fire. His new comedy She’s Out of My League opened to good reviews and solid box office last weekend.  Later this month moviegoers will hear him as the lead voice in the much-anticipated 3D film How To Train Your Dragon, and in July he’ll be back on view playing apprentice to Nicolas Cage in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Before that, however, we’ll get to see his celebrated work in the sleeper hit of last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, The Trotsky, an off-the-wall comedy from young \writer-director Jacob Tierney that is quietly becoming legend before it even opens. First it won the audience awards at both the Tokyo Film Festival and the Atlantic Film Festival. Then it made the annual TIFF list of Top 10 Canadian Films. Then it made the Canadian Press list of the Top 10 Films Of 2009,

HAMPSHIRE: leading lady for Baruchel

keeping company with Avatar and The Hurt Locker and displacing such supposedly sure bets as Inglourious Basterds and A Single Man. Then Tierney was nominated for Best Screenplay by the Writers Guild of Canada. But wait, it gets better, Last week Tierney won the Russian Guild of Film Critics’ prize at Spirit Of Fire, the 8th International Festival of Cinematic Debuts, and last weekend The Trotsky was named the winner of this year’s Audience Award at the Sofia International Film Festival which ended Saturday in the Bulgarian capital.  A jubilant Tierney attended all four Sofia screenings, including one by popular demand.  (His closest competitor? Nowhere Boy, the British-made saga about the young John Lennon.) Prior to opening here in May The Trotsky, which also features stellar performances by screen lioness Genevieve Bujold, Colm Feore, Emily Hampshire and Michael Murphy, will make its US debut in April at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

MERCER: going to Extremes

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Indefatigable producer Pat Ferns is set to host Hot Docs’ International Co-Production Day on May 3 with delegations from around the world expected to participate … perennial crowd-pleaser Don Rickles returns to Fallsview Casino on April 8 … Rick Mercer salutes hard-hustling student fundraisers at universities in Ottawa and B.C. tonight at 8 pm on his Rick Mercer Report — and wait ’til you see the nail-biter Extreme Biking sequence! … and expect more than a few chuckles at this year’s Banff World Television Festival. William Shatner is set to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Ricky Gervais will be picking up this year’s Peter Ustinov comedy trophy.

TOMORROW:

From diamonds-in-the-rough to diamonds:

meet the Dragons in their grand-slam finale.

-/-

Who wouldn’t talk about Hef, who got shortchanged in my TIFF tally, and who took home the hardware

GOOD MORNING, TORONTO: Welcome to another razzle-dazzle week of entertainment in Our Town.  Among the notable treats in store: The Boys In The Photograph, the new Andrew Lloyd Weber–Ben Elton musical about

SLEAN: on Abbey Road

SLEAN: on Abbey Road

young men and women involved with a neighbourhood soccer team in Belfast in 1969, opens tomorrow night at the Royal Alex … DanceWorks opens its new show, Namesake: three, on Wednesday at Harbourfront’s Enwave Theatre … also opening Wednesday: The new Allen Cole-Melody Johnson-Rick Roberts collaboration, Mimi (or A Poisoner’s Comedy) at the Tarragon  … Darren Anthony’s new concert show, Secrets Of A Black Boy, produced by his sister Trey (Da Kink In My Hair) Anthony, opens at the Music Hall on Friday, the same night conductor Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Anton Kuerti, Richard Margison and more launch a reportedly spectacular new

RIVERS: Saturday night

RIVERS: Saturday night

Royal Conservatory music venue, Koerner Hall, in the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning on Bloor Street West … Chick Corea and Sophie Milman christen the hall with jazz the following night … Celebrity Apprentice champ and TSC favourite Joan Rivers plays Casino Rama that same Saturday night … and Kevin Hearn, Raine Maida, Steven Page and Sarah Slean are among the celebrated warblers who will lend their voices when Andrew Burashko’s Art Of Time Ensemble salutes the 40th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road with a re-imagined, re-invented concert version running two nights only, this Saturday and Sunday, also at the Enwave.

And that’s just for starters, folks.

MY BAD: It’s easy to get cross-eyed when so many stars come to town at the same time. At least, that’s my lame excuse for telling you that Colin Farrell and

BETTANY: double-header

BETTANY: double-header

Julianne Moore ruled the TIFF roost this year with three, count them, three films each, while celebrated runners-up George Clooney, Colin Firth and Amands Seyfried each appeared in two TIFF entries. All of which is true, except for two guys I forgot to mention. Don’t know how I missed him, but Willem Dafoe also deserved to be in that top spot with Colin and Julianne, as he appeared in no less than three TIFF titles this year: Antichrist, Daybreakers and Farewell. Sorry about that, Willem. And yes, Paul Bettany, who played Charles Darwin in the opening night film Creation and Lord Melbourne in the closing night film Young Victoria, should have been listed with Clooney, Firth and the young Ms Seyfried in second place. And yes, I’m just hoping I didn’t miss anyone else.

PLAYBOY OF THE EASTERN FILM FESTIVAL: After three capacity crowds jammed the TIFF cinemas where her much-discussed documentary on Hugh Hefner premiered last week, director Brigitte Berman admitted that

BENNETT: talking about Hef

BENNETT: talking about Hef

by the time she finished shooting she had an embarrassment of riches, and had to delete scenes she loved from the original version to bring the film to a more manageable size. Deletions included interviews with the magazine magnate’s two sons, and the stories they tell about how they were treated in high school as Hugh Hefner’s offspring are apparently so fascinating that Berman intends to include that footage as a separate feature when the film is released on DVD. At a Q&A after the film she informed us that Playboy is the second best-known brand in the world — “Coca-Cola is number one,” she added — and that the toughest interview subject to secure, surprisingly, was Tony Bennett. “His agent is very protective of him, as he should be. But as soon as Tony was told of the request, he was all for it, and just a pleasure to work with.”

Did any key players from Hef’s past actually turn her down? “Yes,” replied the ever-candid Oscar-winning director — “Gloria Steinem, Jules Pfeiffer and Bill Cosby.”

WHO WON WHAT: As T.O. filmfest chief Piers Handling noted on Saturday night, TIFF delivered not only 335 films but also 10 days of consecutive sunshine – “the summer we did not have.” But thanks to superb programming, meticulous planning and the more than 2,000 volunteers (!!) who help make it happen, it was truly a festival to remember.

CLARKSON: winning film

CLARKSON: winning film

Finally, just in case you missed it, here’s who took home the hardware from the 34th annual Toronto International Film Festival.

– Best Canadian Short Film: Pedro Pires, Danse Macabre. Honourable mention: Jamie Travis,The Armoire.

– Best Canadian First Feature Film: Alexandre Franchi, The Wild Hunt.

– Best Canadian Feature Film: Ruba Nadda, Cairo Time, with Patricia Clarkson, Tom McCamus and Alexander Siddig. Special Jury Citation: Bernard Émond, La Donation (The Legacy).

– FIPRESCI Prize (Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics for Discovery:) Laxmikant Shetgaonkar, The Man Beyond the Bridge (India).

SIDDIG: Cairo Time

SIDDIG: Cairo Time

– FIPRESCI Prize for Special Presentations: Bruno Dumont, Hadewijch (France).

– People’s Choice Award: Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire. First runner-up:  Bruce Beresford, Mao’s Last Dancer. Second runner-up: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Micmacs (Micmacs à tirelarigot).

– People’s Choice Award – Documentary: Leanne Pooley, The Topp Twins. Runner-up: Michael Moore, Capitalism: A Love Story.

– People’s Choice Award – Midnight Madness: Sean Byrne, The Loved Ones. Runner-up: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig, Daybreakers.

TOMORROW:

Margaret Atwood, Twyla Tharp, Rick Mercer, and more.

Who has the most flicks at TIFF? And who wrote that Lightbox song we’re all humming? Stay tuned!

I WILL LIGHT YOU UP / I WILL LIGHT YOU UP: More and more people are leaving Toronto International Film Festival screenings humming the

PILOT SPEED: filmfest rockers

PILOT SPEED: filmfest rockers

theme music from the on-screen Bell Lightbox promo that precedes every TIFF showing. Can we name that tune? Yes we can. The song, Light You Up, is performed by Toronto rockers Pilot Speed and is from their album Wooden Bones. Do they have pages on Facebook and My Space? Of course. Where and when can you see them in person? Tomorrow night at 9 pm in a free TIFF concert at Yonge-Dundas Square.

And yes, they’ll probably perform Light You Up.

And no, I can’t stop humming it either.

FARRELL: TIFF's top star?

FARRELL: TIFF's top star?

FARRELL & MOORE TOP TIFF LIST: Still trying to figure out who has the most movies at TIFF this year? Me too. By my count By my count TIFF veteran Colin Farrell (Triage, Ondine, The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus) is tied with filmfest alumnus Julianne Moore (Chloe, A Single Man. The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee) and both of them have a one-flick lead over fellow filmfest faves George Clooney (The Men Who Stare At Goats, Up In The Air) and Colin Firth (Dorian Gray, A Single Man,) who are tied with hot TIFF newcomer Amanda Seyfried (Chloe, Jennifer’s Body.)

MOORE: TIFF hat trick

MOORE: TIFF hat trick

Ms. Moore, of course, makes a lot of intriguing film choices – she was here last year for Blindness — but still can’t have it all. Which is why she had to bow out of playing Hillary Clinton in the ‘90s-era HBO drama The Special Relationship. Which turned out to be a lucky break for Hope Davis, on summer hiatus from her hit Broadway show God Of Carnage, because she got to play Hillary. But don’t feel too badly for Julianne. She now gets to play with Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Beloved Broadway baby Chita Rivera will perform at Birdland next month to launch her new solo studio album And Now I Swing, which features

RIVERA: still Swingin' (photo: Joan Marcus)

RIVERA: still Swingin' (photo: Joan Marcus)

such crowd-pleasers as Nowadays from Chicago and Where Am I Going from Sweet Charity. Also on the CD are songs from the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical version of The Visit, in which Rivera co-starred with George Hearn. The show never made it to Broadway but now, happily, some of the songs will … Kathleen Turner joins David Duchovny in the new season of his hit Showtime series Californication, premiering Sept. 28 on TMN … and Janet Jackson is set to chair amFAR’s Fashion Week AIDS fund-raiser in Milan the same night.

The TWO RICKS: At CBC’s Fall Launch yesterday Rick Mercer confirmed that he had indeed flown to B.C. last week to tape a segment for Season 7 of the

MERCER: taking the plunge

MERCER: taking the plunge

Rick Mercer Report with legendary Man In Motion Rick Hansen at Whistler.

Sooo … summer skiing? Wheelchair racing?

Exactly what were the two Ricks actually doing at Whistler?

“Bungee jumping,” Mercer confessed. “It was terrifying, but we had a lot of fun.”

This we gotta see. And we will, when Mercer kicks off his new season on Tuesday Sept. 29.

TOMORROW:

the hot titles emerging from this year’s TIFF,

and some of the stars who slipped in to see them.

-/-