Filmed right here in Vancouver, COLOSSAL won big raves at TIFF ’16. Since then it has gotten distribution in the U.S. from newly-created NEON and it premiered at Sundance yesterday where it won more accolades. An April release date has been set for the Sci-Fi/Action/Thriller/Comedy starring Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens and Anne Hathaway.
After losing her job and boyfriend in New York, Gloria (Hathaway) moves back to her home town and is shocked to discover that the catastrophic events hitting Earth are somehow connected to her mental state.
One of our favourite TIFF bashes annually is the UniFrance Party, held at The Fifth Social Club. While the Red Carpets during the Festival are very Hollywood-centric, this one event stretches the scope of the Festival to include French-language Film. Several high-profile names graced the Carpet at the Party this year including iconic actress Isabelle Huppert and auteur Filmmakers like Paul Verhoeven, François Ozon and Olivier Assayas. Legendary French actress Agnès Varda who was a dear friend of the late Jim Morrison, also attended in a rare appearance.
The Cocktail Party is brought to us by the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et du Développement International (MAEDI), Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Institut Français, Procirep, Mairie de Paris, Air France, Lacoste, m0851 and Renault Nissan.
It’s so hard to believe we’re only a couple days away from the end of what has been a memorable TIFF ’16! Highlights tonight around town included our v. own Jacob Tremblay and Vera Farmiga walking the Red Carpet for BURN YOUR MAPS at Ryerson Theatre, plus Lily James, Jai Courtney and Oscar Winner Christopher Plummer walking the Red Carpet for the World Premiere of THE EXCEPTION at VISA Screening Room. Rooney Mara also walked the Carpet at her third Film of the Festival, THE SECRET SCRIPTURE, at Princess of Wales Theatre.
While TIFF ’16 begins to wind down, we still are seeing some quality Films premiere. At VISA Screening Room, we have Rebecca Hall in what Critics are calling a riveting performance in CHRISTINE, baaed on real events surrounding a reporter who commit suicide on-air. Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver also brought starpower to Ryerson Theatre for (Re)ASSIGNMENT. Gerard Butler is set too to walk the Red Carpet at Roy Thomson Hall for Toronto-made THE HEADHUNTER’S CALLING. Meanwhile, Rooney Mara walks the Red Carpet at Princess of Wales for UNA.
The Canadian Film Fest in association with the Directors Guild of Canada always throw the most relaxed and fun-filled parties during TIFF and this year was no exception! With no VIP section and a strict “no posers, just hosers” policy in effect, this year’s Soirée was spread across two floors at the iconic DRAKE HOTEL.
The fashionable Canuck Glitterati feasted on luxurious poutine, cupcakes, craft beers, wines and ciders and munched from huge bowls of a variety of flavours of the addictive Miss Vickie’s chips strewn throughout. And when special guest DIRECTOR X took over the DJ duties, inhibitions were lost and everyone danced to the classics from Prince to Michael Jackson from a booth decorated with retro radios, tuners and speakers.
After an evening of talking about what’s and who’s been seen at TIFF ’16, all guests left with a swag bag that included wild socks from GOTSTYLE, tea from GENUINE TEA and goodies from M0851.
Another great evening from the hosts with the mosts!
Telefilm Canada and Birks joined forces once again this year to honour 12 Canadian Women in Film at the Birks Diamond Tribute. Honourees were selected based on their accomplishments at home and abroad. Held traditionally during TIFF, the event took place tonight at the Shangri LaHotel in a dazzling display of fashion among many of Toronto’s top social influencers and screen talents.
Notables celebrating the affair included Nolan Funk, Kris Holden-Reid, Stacey Mackenzie, Tracy Moore, Steven Lund, Amanda Brugel, The Property Brothers, Kiesza, Eric Johnson and several more.
I am honoured to be among a jury of 20 who selected this year’s recipients of the Birks Diamond Tribute and together we selected the following brilliant women:
Ann Marie Fleming
Some facts are so basic that they are not questioned: the sky is blue, Elvis is dead, and millions of Jewish men, women, and children were the victims of a genocide acted out by the Nazi party during World War II. In the mid-1990’s American Deborah Lipstadt was sued in the British courts for defamation for calling Holocaust denier David Irving a “liar and falsifier of history.” Lipstadt was forced to prove her innocence by putting history on trial.
Based on Lipstadt’s Memoir, Mick Jackson’s new Film Denial is a tense courtroom drama starring Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall as the two legal combatants. Wishing to “give voice for the ones who did not make it,” Lipstadt is odds with her legal team regarding the best way to present their case: they would prefer to err on the side of provable, historical facts rather than emotional, eyewitness testimony.
The Movie takes place mostly in London but also travels to Auschwitz for some emotionally fraught scenes. As Lipstadt and her lawyer (Tom Wilkinson) walk through Auschwitz the snow dusts the ground like ash and even the barbed wire fences seem to weep for those who died. The imagery is perhaps manipulative but nonetheless effective and beautifully-shot.
The verdict in this case is as easily googled as facts about the Holocaust but that does not take away from the impact Writer David Hare’s script. Strong performances bolster what is sure to be a much talked about Film at TIFF ’16.
Denial screens at TIFF:
Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 7:00 PMPrincess of Wales Theatre Monday, September 12, 2016 at 10:30 AM Winter Garden Theatre
Growing up, National Film Board Animated Shorts like The Cat Came Back and Log Driver’s Waltz helped define what it meant to be Canadian. They represented a support of the arts and a style of animation that were unique and unlike anything produced elsewhere at the time. Ann Marie Fleming’s Movie Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) is a nostalgic return to those halcyon days at the NFB.
Rosie (Sandra Oh) was raised by her grandparents after her mother died and her father disappeared. Her self-published book of poetry My eye Full, has brought her to the attention of a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran where she has been invited to share her work. Despite fearing rejection by her peers, Rosie flies to the home of her absentee father and immerses herself in Persian culture. At the festival she meets Dietmar (Don McKellar) a German hipster, Mehrnaz (the sublime Shohreh Aghdashloo) an Iranian professor, and DiDi (Jun Zhu) an exiled Chinese poet. Through them Rosie finds her voice and learns what it means to be a Poet.
The Movie works best when the animation is punctuating the poetry rather than chasing stories about Rosie’s father. In one particular scene early in the Movie, Rosie listens to the muezzins call out the morning prayer and sees rainbows stream from the top of the minarets around her. As someone who lived briefly in the Middle East, the images struck me as particularly beautiful expressing perfectly my own feelings about those first moments at dawn.
In a year punctuated by excellent Animated Movies, Window Horses stands apart thanks to its unique cross-cultural story. The poetry of animation and words will stay with audiences long after the Festival.
Window Horses screens:
Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 2:00 PMIsabel Bader Theatre Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 4:45 PMScotiabank Theatre
We are rarely the same people as children that we are as teenagers or adults. Outside forces like time, family, and even social status shape our world views and mold our characters. In writer/director Barry Jenkin’s brilliant new Film, Moonlight, we witness how seemingly small actions and insights change one boy’s life at childhood, adolescence, and finally adulthood.
When Juan (Mahershala Ali) first happens upon 9-year-old Little (Alex R. Hibbert), he has just escaped bullies who chased him into an abandoned apartment. The silent Little is reticent to share his name let alone the truth about his crackhead mother Paula (Naomie Harris). In this world where everyone is bigger than he is, Little’s only friend is Kevin (Jaden Piner).
At age 16 Kevin (Jharrel Jerome) is still Chiron’s (Ashton Sanders) only friend. Efforts to push aside his childhood nickname are met with derision as his sexuality is challenged daily by the same bullies he once ran from. With his mentor Juan dead, Chiron has no one to guide him when the pressures of life finally come to a head.
During the Final Act we meet a very different man. Having faced tough consequences from his actions as a teenager, Black (Trevante Rhodes) is now a drug dealer in Atlanta, Georgia. Out of the blue Kevin (André Holland) reaches out to him and the two attempt to bridge the distance that time and life experiences have wedged between them.
The true brilliance of Moonlight is its casting. Each actor brings something new to the character while still maintaining the same heart. Black is still as uncomfortable with words as Little was and as wary of betrayal as Chiron. Yet despite the similarities, Rhodes adds new nuances to the role making it his own.
Based on the play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight is a painfully beautiful modern tragedy. A frontrunner to win the TIFF ’16Platform competition, no one will leave the theatre unmoved by this Film.
Moonlight screens at TIFF:
Saturday, September 10, 2016 8:30 p.m. Winter Garden Sunday, September 11, 2016 9:00 a.m. TBLB1 Saturday, September 17, 2016 3:15 p.m. TBLB1
From director Adam Smith comes a complicated Family Drama, Trespass Against Us which begs the question to what lengths we will go to for our family. What makes this TIFF ’16 selection stand out are the lead performances from Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson.
The story focuses on the dynamic between Chad (Michael Fassbender) and Colby (Brendan Gleeson) as they live in a deserted part of town with the rest of the family in trailers and Colby sends them on missions to cause havoc and break the law in town. It truly is a family affair, but Chad always seems to be the go to guy for big jobs and general mayhem. When enough becomes enough, Chad tries to leave the family but Colby is not a force to be reckoned with. The overarching question is, can Chad manage to escape his father and siblings to protect his family or will he forever be stuck with the hand he was dealt?
Trespass Against Us truly is a great addition to TIFF ’16 with its powerhouse performances from both Fassbender and Gleeson making this one of many must-see Films at the Festival.
It screens on Friday, September 9, 2016 at 10 PM at Princess of Wales and Saturday September 10, 2016 at 11:45 AM at the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre.