#PENDANCE: 2020 PENDANCE FILM FESTIVAL PREVIEW
Running February 20 – 23, 2020, the Pendance Film Festival returns once again in its third edition at TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX and AGO‘s JACKMALL HALL! Giving a platform to innovative storytellers, the Festival features films, short films, special screenings, conferences, workshops, and panels. Expect lots of hidden gems which have gone through a stringent approval process. Our Team have been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of some of the Films playing at the Festival. See their thoughts below:
Review by Justin Waldman
First-time feature Director Alex Thompson teams-up with first-time Writer/Actress Kelly O’Sullivan to bring a story of love, compassion, understanding and family to life in the beautifully-crafted Saint Frances. The Film stars O’Sullivan and feels a lot like Jason Reitman’s Tully but lays it on a little thicker, while being more poignant and captivating. Saint Frances is a beautiful take at what life can bring you in the most unexpected ways.
The Film focuses on Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) after she aborts an accidental pregnancy and befriends the six year old girl Frances (Ramona Edith Williams) whom she is tasked with babysitting as she is trying to get her life in order and escape her dead-end job. What she never expected was to create a bond with Frances’ mothers and to create an undeniable bond with Frances herself that will carry on for a lifetime. The story is truly touching and redefines some clichés, especially those regarding millennials.
O’Sullivan’s Script and Thompson’s direction brings Saint Frances to life along with great performances by O’Sullivan herself and that of her young Co-Star Ramona Edith Williams. The two lead actresses are remarkable as their on-screen chemistry is something truly special.
Saint Frances plays Pendance Film Festival on Saturday February 22, 2020 at 9:30 PM.
THE SHORT HISTORY OF THE LONG ROAD
By Amanda Gilmore
Teenager Nola (Sabrina Carpenter) and her father Clint (Steve Ogg) have been living out of a van for as long as she can remember. When tragedy strikes, Nola finds herself at a crossroads: One leading to a continued life on the road or one where she integrates herself into a society she has never known.
This heartfelt coming-of-age film is a love letter to living on the road while also examining the importance of relationships and socialization. However, the Film could have been a grittier look at the subject. This is because every obstacle that Nola finds herself faced with seems to have a quick and easy solution. Writer-Director Ani Simon-Kennedy creates a steady pace and a central character to root for. And Carpenter is striking onscreen expressing the anxiety, fear, thrill and happiness that comes along with the freedom of Nola‘s age and lifestyle.
The Short History of the Long Road screens at Pendance on Saturday, February 22 at 4 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
THE LAST TREE
By Amanda Gilmore
Femi (Sam Adewunmi) spent his childhood in the English countryside with his foster mother (Denise Black). When Femi’s biological mother (Gbemisola Ikumelo) comes back for him the two move to south London. Thrusting a child and teenage Femi into this new world that he has to learn to navigate.
This semi-autobiographical film by Writer-Director Shola Amoo tells a specific yet universal coming-of-age story. With each scene, Amoo examines the influence of the community in which we live effects and shapes us. He does this while also examining the lasting emotional scars our parents give us from birth. Through these two themes, the audience is brought on the moving and beautiful journey Femi is on and empathizes with him in his darkest moments. The Cinematography by Stil Williams is gorgeous, particularly in the scenes of Femi’s childhood playing in the English countryside. And talented newcomer Adewunmi is a powerful force with a magnetic presence. He’s definitely one-to-watch.
The Last Tree screens at Pendance on Saturday, February 22, 1 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
By George Kozera
After two disastrous romantic attempts with guys, STRAIGHT UP opens with a whippet-fast monologue from Todd telling his two closest friends that, despite loving cashmere sweaters and Legally Blonde, he may really not be gay and that he could meet a girl who will see his flamboyance as more “metro/hipster”. His first heterosexual tryst ends in a hilarious, never-saw-that-coming event. Rory is an inept waitress/aspiring Actress with a penchant for inappropriate jokes and observations. Todd and Rory meet in the self-help section of a library and a relationship is born.
As Todd, James Sweeney (who also co-produced, wrote and directed this Movie) creates a character filled with neuroses, unapologetic intelligence and off-kilter humour and is brilliantly and equally matched with Windsor, Ontario native, Katie Findlay’s performance as Rory. The chemistry between these two talented big screen newcomers is perfection personified as are their rapid-fire exchanges.
Anchored with stellar supporting performances from Tracie Thoms, Betsy Brandt, Russell Park and James Scully as Ryder, STRAIGHT UP is Pop Culture-savvy, uniquely filmed with a glorious Score and, I’m afraid to admit, had me laughing out loud consistently and often. It touches on topics about relationships, love, sexuality and friendships with intelligent insights. Sweeney is a name to watch for as I see great things coming from him in the future. It’s been a long time since I loved a gay-themed movie this much. See STRAIGHT UP. That’s an order!!
STRAIGHT UP screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of the on February 21, 8:00 PM.
More on the 2020 Pendance Film Festival here.
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