Human Rights Watch Film Fest 2015: Uyghurs, Prisoners of the Absurd
As US forces inhabit Afghanistan in October of 2001 in search of their enemy number one Osama Bin Laden, the US military starts bombarding the country with flyers from planes above promising riches beyond compare for the information/capture of Taliban terrorists. For 22 members of China’s Uyghur minority that just happen to be living in the country after fleeing oppression in their native land, this turns out to be a disastrous turn of events. The Turkish-speaking Muslims are sold to US forces under false accusations and propaganda where they become some of the first accused terrorists illegally detained at Guantanamo Bay. (more…)
TIFF Free Screen – “Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater”
Tonight as part of TIFF’s Free Screen program TIFF brings a unique night with an equally unique documentarian, James Benning, with a screening of Gabe Klinger’s film on Benning and his 30 year old friendship with director Richard Linklater “Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater”. Double Play won the Best Documentary on Cinema Award at the 2013 Venice International Film Festival and screens with Benning and Klinger in attendance to discuss the film and some of Benning’s seminal work.
Benning and Linklater couldn’t be 2 more opposite filmmakers; Benning is a documentarian in the Cinéma Vérité mold that rarely breaks the camera’s concentration whereas Linklater has experimented with his camera quite a few times with films like “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly”. The pair met 30 years ago when Linklater made Benning the first guest at Linklater’s then newly established Austin Film Society (founded a year before the release of Linklater’s Slacker). But with Linklater’s newest film “Boyhood”, Klinger brings the pair together on camera to discuss the similarities between Boyhood and Benning’s works.
After the screening of Double Play, starting at 6:30, the evening will be topped off with a screening of 2 of Benning’s works as the director himself will be back to introduce American Dreams (lost and found), the film that most closely resembles/inspires comparison to Linklater’s Boyhood, and the short Chicago Loop which are both being presented on newly restored 35mm prints.
Tickets are being handed out on a first come/first served basis tonight, August 23rd, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox box office starting at 4:30 pm.
Till Next Time
Movie Junkie TO
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Paul Verhoeven spills ‘Flesh + Blood’ at the Lightbox
Starting this past Friday, January 24th 2014, and running until April 4th, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is launching another major retrospective series, this time chronicling the career of prolific Dutch directorPaul Verhoeven, entitled Flesh + Blood: The Films of Paul Verhoeven. After making a string of brilliant and bloody films in the Netherlands that had him proclaimed a national hero, Verhoeven was slammed back down to earth with the critical backlash that erupted from his motocross epic Spetters, which ended up with him packing his bags for Hollywood. Verhoeven would soon become the master of action packed excess with such films as Robocop, Total Recall, and the sexually charged thrillerBasic Instinct. But soon the critical backlash would rear its head in Hollywood as well, sending Verhoeven back to his homeland. (more…)
‘The Crash Reel’ highlights dangerous world of extreme sports
While training for the 2010 Winter Olympics, champion US snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a devastating accident on the slopes, putting him temporarily in a coma and leaving him with a debilitating brain injury. When he finally recovered both speech and mobility, Kevin shocked his supportive, tight-knit family by announcing that he wanted to return to the sport he loves—despite doctors’ warnings that even the slightest blow to the head would be enough to kill him.
The Crash Reel is an engrossing exposé on the world of extreme sports and more specifically the terrible accident and recovery of Kevin Pearce, known to his fans simply as KP, who before his tragic accident was poised to upset Shaun White for the gold in the Vancouver Olympic Games. The film follows diligently the Pearce family as they try to recover from his head injury that almost cost Kevin his life. Through practice and competitive footage, director Lucy Walker does excellent job of examining the psyche of an athlete and paints a compelling picture of the athlete and the man that Pearce would become.
TIFF Free Screen: Cocksucker Blues
Invited to document the Stones’ US tour in support of their legendary album Exile on Main Street, Robert Frank forgoes the glamour on stage in favour of the everyday chaos of life in the wings, as the band and their assorted hangers-on (groupies, roadies and journalists) pursue various listless debaucheries to kill the boredom and homesickness of constant travel. Reportedly described by Mick Jagger as “a fucking good film … but if it shows in America we’ll never be allowed in the country again,” Cocksucker Blues remains one of the most raw and unfiltered accounts of life on tour ever recorded.
Director Robert Frank’s unflinching record of life on the road with the Rolling Stones remains one of the most notorious documentaries ever made, and one of the most impossible to see. A legal settlement with the band — who feared that their entourage’s onscreen antics could lead to public embarrassment and/or criminal prosecution — permits it to be screened only in very controlled circumstances (which makes this screening at the Lightbox a priceless rare event). Throughout the film though Jagger and Richards are very protected as whenever something illicit may happen, for example when Jagger goes to snort cocaine through a rolled dollar bill provided by Richards, the camera pans away to other action in the room.
Bette Davis conquers the Lightbox- the hard way.
Starting this weekend at the Tiff Bell Lightbox is the new retrospective on the films of Hollywood icon Bette Davis entitled The Hard Way: The Films of Bette Davis. The retrospective covers the entire gamut of Davis’ career and runs until Sunday December 8th.
This weekend featured some of the earlier films from the Davis cannon with Of Human Bondage, The Letter and the scathing behind the scenes Broadway drama that earned Davis Best Actress honors at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951, All About Eve. All About Eve is one of the career defining roles for Bette Davis, she carries the role of Margo Channing of with ease and responds to the manipulations and Anne Baxter’s conniving Eve Harrington aplomb. (more…)
CONTEST! Win passes for ‘Alien Boy’ at the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival
Its contest time here again at the FIX and here is the second of 2 contests for passes to films at the upcoming 21st edition of the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival in Toronto!
Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival started in 1993, and has evolved and grown into one of the world’s leading festivals showcasing edgy, thought-provoking films, video, media installations, symposiums and panel discussions on Canadian and international perspectives of mental illness and addiction.
The Claire Denis Retrospective rolls on with the Director herself in attendance
This past weekend the TIFF Bell Lightbox started its 4 week retrospective into the works of director Claire Denis with some of her earliest works, Chocolat, Beau Travail and No Fear, No Die. The retrospective continues into mid-November with more of the director’s works on display, but this weekend marks the biggest weekend for the retrospective as the Lightbox will be graced with the presence of the lady herself.
On Thursday October 17th, Denis will be live and in person at the Lightbox for the presentation of the Carte Blanche selection of Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki-Bouki, along with director Mati Diop whose short A Thousand Suns will precede the film. Then the following night, October 18th, Denis will introduce her latest film Bastards, which is currently finishing a regular theatrical run at the Lightbox this week. (more…)
‘La Pirogue’ needs a little more work to achieve greatness
Starting this weekend at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the critically acclaimed story of the struggle for a better life and the perilous journey that happens along the way in “La Pirouge”. The tale of African refuges is a story that has rarely been seen on screens before and was a big sensation at last year’s Cannes film festival, even becoming a nominee for the ‘un certain regard’ jury prize.
Starring Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Laïty Fall, Malaminé ‘Yalenguen’ Dramé
Written by Éric Névé, David Bouchet
Directed by Moussa Touré
Each year, thousands of people leave Africa in rickety boats to undertake the dangerous (and illegal) voyage to Europe in search of a better life for them and their families. Moussa Touré’s powerful and suspenseful drama focuses on Baye Laye (more…)
‘A Band Called Death’ rocks the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Starting this weekend at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the new music documentary that unearths one of the most influential bands that almost nobody has ever heard of, “A Band Called Death”. The documentary boats executive producers Scott Mosier (friend and producer of Kevin Smith’s films) and Entourage’s Jerry Ferrara, which just goes to prove the vast and different influence their music has had. A band becoming a hit 30 years after recording your demo tape is a compelling and unique story, and one that has never been told on screen this way before.
A Band Called Death
Directed by Jeff Howlett, Mark Covino
Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was Death. Formed in the early 1970s by three teenage brothers from Detroit, Death is credited as being the first black punk band, and the Hackney brothers, David, Bobby, and Dannis, are now considered pioneers in their field. But it wasn’t until recently, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of Bobby’s attic nearly thirty years after Death’s emergence, that anyone outside a small group of punk enthusiasts had even heard of them. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family chronicle, the story of Death is one of brotherly love and fierce, divinely inspired expression.
‘The Deep’ brings a riveting tale of survival to the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Starting this weekend at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the critically acclaimed Icelandic film that made the Oscar shortlist for best foreign language film at last year’s ceremony, “The Deep”. The film comes from director Baltasar Kormákur, the director of the Mark Whalberg starring “Contraband” and “2 Guns” and features a stellar lead performance from one of Iceland’s best actors, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.
Starring: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jóhann G. Jóhannsson, Þorbjörg Helga Þorgilsdóttir, Stefán Hallur Stefánsson
Written by: Jón Atli Jónasson, Baltasar Kormákur
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur
In 1984, a fishing boat goes down miles off the coast of Iceland’s Westman Islands in some of the most forbidding seas on the planet, leaving the fishermen at the mercy of frigid and turbulent waters. Miraculously, one of the crew Gulli (Ólafsson) manages to survive, (more…)
‘Computer Chess’ looks great but fails to get the audience in checkmate
The TIFF Bell Lightbox takes a step back to the low fi days of computer programming starting this weekend with the underwhelming “Computer Chess”. The surreal and subdued comedy strives to obtain the levels of classic Christopher Guest productions in its quirkiness of world building, but the question becomes is it witty and engaging enough to earn that comparison?
Starring: Wiley Wiggins, Patrick Riester, Freddy Martinez, Myles Paige
Written and Directed by Andrew Bujalski
Set over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers thirty-some years ago, Computer Chess transports viewers to a nostalgic moment when the contest between technology and the human spirit seemed a little more up for grabs. (more…)
‘Blackfish’ will fascinate TIFF Bell Lightbox audiences starting this weekend
Starting this week at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the documentary that caused quite the splash at this year’s Hot Docs film festival, “Blackfish”. When director Gabriela Cowperthwaite began investigating the death of a trainer who was dragged to her death during a “Dine with Shamu” show at SeaWorld, she soon found the initial story gave way to a far more shocking and further-reaching situation that plumbed the depths of a billion-dollar industry.
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
A killer whale linked to three trainer deaths over two decades, Tilikum is the backbone of the story presented in Blackfish. However, Cowperthwaite discovered it wasn’t just this particular whale; there have been multiple cases of Orca attacks on trainers in parks around the world, although never in the wild. Featuring testimonies from experts and trainers, and with never-before-seen footage, (more…)
TOGA! TOGA! TOGA! at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Starting today at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and running through the rest of the summer is the new series based on the resurgence of the raunchy American comedy that was launched back in the 70’s by the now classic National Lampoon’s Animal House, ‘TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy’. Filled with special guests and screenings, the series promises to be one of the most hilarious set of films the Lightbox has managed to group together.
TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy
Running July 17th – Aug 29th 2013 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
In 1978 a film was launched into theaters that combined the growing movement of improv comedy, the likes of Saturday Night Live and comedy troupes like the Groundlings, emerging director John Landis and the National Lampoon humor magazine entitled National Lampoon’s Animal House. The film went on to shatter box-office records and drag R-rated comedy from its b-movie drive in origins into the mainstream. The film also made “Toga! Toga!” into a generational rallying cry and served as inspiration for many a college drinking night. This film series will screen 27 rude, crude and brilliant movies that changed the face of modern American comedy, all of which owe at least in part a huge debt to Landis’ ground-breaking comedy.
‘Museum Hours’ is a burden to undertake
Starting this weekend at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the veteran of the TIFF, Locarno and SXSW film festivals that examines the quiet life inside a museum, the people that walk among the pieces of art and their ruminations on their surroundings that comprises “Museum Hours”.
Starring: Mary Margaret O’Hara, Bobby Sommer, Ela Piplits
Written and Directed by Jem Cohen
When Vienna museum guard Johan (Sommer) befriends an enigmatic visitor, the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads which sparks explorations of their lives, the city, and the ways artworks reflect and shape the world.
Jacques Demy illuminates the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Starting this weekend and running until the 20th of July is the latest retrospective series from TIFF’s cinematheque program, “Bitter/Sweet: The Joyous Cinema of Jacques Demy”. The classic and influential French director gets the full treatment here with a full retrospective of the director’s works along 3 films from his wife, Agnès Varda, and a sidebar series comprised of favorite films that inspired and enraptured Demy and helped form the basis for his own work. The series is entitled Bitter/Sweet because Demy ran the gamut of heart wrenching and breaking stories to the joyous and vibrant tributes to the Hollywood musicals he loved.
Jacques Demy Retrospective
Bitter/Sweet: The Joyous Cinema of Jacques Demy
June 27th – July 20th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
The highlights from the series include the director’s first film “Lola” from 1961 which was shot in black in white , a stark contrast to the vibrant and oversaturation of color that became one of his trademarks, and shows the director starting to piece together his trademark style with characters spontaneously bursting into song along the way. Starring the stunning Anouk Aimée as Lola, a cabaret singer, the film hinted at what was to come with the music and iconic imagery infused into the film.
TIFF takes us through the ‘Century of Chinese Cinema’
Starting this weekend, and running through Aug 11th, the TIFF Bell Lightbox will be overrun by some of the greatest films and film luminaries that Chinese film has to offer. Dubbed ‘A Century ofChinese Cinema’, the extensive program features classic films and special events all focused around the history of Chinese film and its impact globally.
The Century of Chinese Cinema Series
The Golden Age program focuses on the films from 1930’s Shanghai and features TIFF Curator Noah Cowan hosting a night with the classic “Spring in a Small Town” and other classic films like “Crossroads” and “The Big Road”. A New China covers the period from the very late 40’s to the early 60’s and is highlighted by “The Love Eterne” and “The Winter”.
‘Lore’ takes her journey through the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Starting an exclusive run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this week is the much anticipated follow up to the 2004 film “Somersault” from Australian director Cate Shortland, “Lore”. The gritty and unnerving tale has the children of Nazi Germany set to have face and deal with the influx of allied troops that are swarming into their now crumbling country. The story is grim and dense, but features a heck of a lead performance.
Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs, André Frid, Mika Seidel, Kai Malina, Nick Holaschke and Ursina Lardi
Written by Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee
Directed by Cate Shortland
The year is 1945. After their SS Nazi parents are taken into Allied custody, five German children undertake a harrowing journey that exposes them to the reality and consequences of their parents’ actions. (more…)
‘The We and the I’ stop the bus at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this week
Starting an exclusive engagement at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this week is the newest film from the visionary director of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Green Hornet” Michel Gondry, “The We and the I”. The film carries a very experimental concept and feel to the screen, nothing new for Gondry, but also relies with on a very unconventional cast to tell this unique story. But does this long bus ride across the Bronx travel at a constant speed, or are their detours along the route?
The We and the I
Written by Michel Gondry, Jeffrey Grimshaw and Paul Proch
Directed by Michel Gondry
Director Michel Gondry applies his unique and dazzling style to yet another self-contained world, the back of a New York City school bus, populated by a group of teenagers riding the length of the Bronx on the last day of school (more…)
The TIFF Bell Lightbox sends ‘Greetings from Tim Buckley’
Starting an exclusive run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this week is the new drama about a time early in the career of singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley before any of the acclaim and accolades, Greetings from Tim Buckley. The film explores the ups and downs and the impact that Jeff’s father had on his life and career through flashback sequences intermingled into the days leading up to the tribute show. As talented as both Buckley’s obviously were, the film struggles to succeed on its merits.
Greetings from Tim Buckley
Starring Penn Badgley, Imogen Poots, Ben Rosenfeld and William Sadler
Written by Emma Sheanshang, Dan Algrant and David Brendel
Directed by Dan Algrant
TIFF highlights the films of Chris Marker with a mini retrospective
Starting at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, as a compliment to TIFF ‘s exhibition of Chris Marker’s photographs as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, is a mini-retrospective of the films from the heavily influential French Filmmaker himself entitled ‘Films in Remembrance of Things to Come: Works by Chris Marker’. Starting May 16 and running through the Sunday of the long weekend, May 19, the collection of films features a single screening for each and starts each night at 6:30. For some of these works the opportunity to see them on the big screen is extremely rare as some have only recently been restored after the passing of Marker last year.
Chris Marker Mini-Retrospective
Playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
May 16 – 19
The retrospective starts with one of perhaps his more widely known and easily attainable works with ‘Sans Soliel’. The ‘film essay’ that traverses the globe and deals with time, (more…)
‘I Declare War’ prepares to overtake the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Starting an exclusive run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this weekend is the visionary new film from directing team Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson that will transport audiences back to those hazy summer afternoons of childhood where playing with your friends carried much more epic circumstances in your own mind. The film takes on that area of adolescence just as the characters arrive on the cusp of typical teenage school dramas, including girls, where a game of ‘War; could hold so much sway. They film adds a level of the surreal by removing the crude homemade weapons the boys possess and replacing them with actual guns and ammunition.
I Declare War
Starring: Siam Yu, Gage Munroe, Michael Friend, Aidan Gouveia, Mackenzie Munro, Alex Cardillo, Dyson Fyke, Spencer Howes, Andy Reid
Written by Jason Lapeyre
Directed by Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson
Hidden Gem ‘Graceland’ graces the TIFF Bell Lightbox
One of the grittiest films to play at last year’s Reel Asian Film Festival in Toronto was the crime thriller “Graceland” from the Philippines. Not to be confused with the lavish estate of Elvis in Memphis, Graceland in this case refers to the seedy underground that inhabits and seeps out of every pore of the city of Manila. A place where everything has a price and nothing appears to be as it seems. Graceland is finally getting a long deserved theatrical run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox starting May 10th and it’s definitely a film that should not be missed.
Starring Arnold Reyes, Menggie Cobarrubias, Dido De Le Paz and Ella Guevara
Written and Directed by Ron Morales
Marlon Villar (Reyes) is a pious family man who minds his own business, takes care of his daughter Elvie (Guevara) and visits his bed-ridden wife at the hospital every night. (more…)
Director Shane Carruth returns with ‘Upstream Color’
Indie darling filmmaker Shane Carruth finally delivers his long awaited follow up to 2004’s surprise hit “Primer”, as the film starts an exclusive run at the Tiff Bell Lightbox April 12, Upstream Color. Upstream is a bolder and larger in scope. A more diverse effort from Carruth that will challenge even the most patient audience with its abstract metaphors and nonlinear story telling that is never broken down and explained for the viewer. This is the type of film that will have audiences in discussion for hours and days after, and will either be loved or vilified in the process.
Starring: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins
Written and Directed by Shane Carruth