Monday, 10 March 2014

2014 Canadian Screen Awards: Viggo and Cronenberg take a bow!

photo by donna g
The highlight of my evening at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards was the moment actress Gabrielle Marion-Rivard (left) walked onto the press room stage, absolutely glowing, as if lit up from within. I don't think I have ever seen someone beam before last night. As she held her award in her arms, and answered questions in both English and French, Marion-Rivard spoke about how winning her award (Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role) was a dream come true. The coming of age romance Gabrielle  which was nominated for a foreign-language Oscar (2013) was later presented with a Canadian Screen Award for Best Picture. Director, Louise Archambault says that she has heard from audiences that they see the film as being about "pure love" and not just an issues story about Williams syndrome,  a condition that first-time actress, Marion-Rivard shares with her character.

photo by donna g
I love David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen together. For a director and actor known for such serious work, they are like a vaudeville comedy duo as they riff off each other as Viggo holds up his ubiquitous Habs flag or jersey (Cronenberg is a lifelong Maple Leafs fan).  My cohort, blogger HeidyMo, had a fangirl moment over the dynamic duos presence, but Viggo's History of Violence co-star (and my girl crush), Mario Bello, although in attendance at the event for Cronenberg's acceptance of his Lifetime Achievement Award, did not come to the press room. Still it was revealling to hear Cronenberg express his gratitude to the Canada Council and Telefilm Canada for allowing him to have a career and live in Canada. Without support from these two organizations when he was starting out, he would have had to leave Canada in order to become a filmmaker, or he might have pursued his love of writing and become a novelist. (His debut novel, Consumed will be released this year.)

photo by donna g
Big winners for the evening were television's Tatiana Maslany's (left) clone drama Orphan Black and Jason Priestly's comedy Call Me Fritz, while multiple honours also went to Denis Villeneuve's feature film Enemy. Lost Girl's Zoie Palmer won Fan Favourite Star and the show won Fan Favourite.

The Canadian Screen Awards honours achievements in film, television and digital media. For the second year in a row, the event was held at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, and I don't know if it was because the Academy was celebrating its 65th year, but the Red Carpet was definitely longer this year! The host broadcaster was the most suitable, CBC, and stage host was the inimitable Martin Short, or as he sang in his humourous tribute song to potential "losing ladies" last night, Uncle Marty.

Being in an awards press room can be pretty dry: some journalists were plugged into headphones to get the feed from the stage, but others, like myself, watched the silent monitors in between the winners taking to our stage for their post-win Q & A session. Thank you, Richard Crouse for your positive vibes, and for asking such great questions that I always feel as if you are reading my mind. Richard also knows how to share, never once forgetting to check the room for those who have their own questions. If you ever have the chance to attend an event where Richard is facilitating a discussion about film or with filmmakers, do yourself a favour and buy a ticket. I sometimes feel at these events that some people in the room are only interested in getting sound bites and money shots. Richard is that person in the room that always, always maintains an enthusiasm for film.

For the complete list of winners and nominees, please visit: 

For more of my pictures, please visit my facebook page:

Friday, 31 January 2014

POSTPONED: Swell Broad & The Homemaker (Jan 31-Feb 9)

If you were planning to see Swell Broad & The Homemaker the production has been POSTPONED! 

"Convection Productions and Peanut Butter People are sad to announce that Swell Broad & The Homemaker: A Double Bill has being postponed (one day before opening).

Unfortunately, a pipe burst in our venue, The Downstage, and the theatre is completely flooded. Along with the floors, audio and lighting equipment has been damaged beyond repair. 

We are currently looking to secure a new venue for late March or early April and will keep you updated. Thank you for your continued interest and support!"

Brooke Banning

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Man, I love me some Ralph Fiennes!...

...This thought flashed into my brain over the holidays, as I watched Skyfall. Even consumed as I was with Daniel Craig, (Bond, James Bond) and the powerful triumvirate of Dame Judi Dench and Javier Bardem, I still couldn't take my eyes off Ralph and the balanced character he created in Gareth Mallory. As the chairman of the Security and Intelligence Committee, the role of Mallory had to be played by someone strong enough to wear the cloak of authority demanded by the character, but savvy enough to not overplay the role as an actor. The actor must play Mallory as a character who is just outside the parameter of Craig, Dench and Bardem without breaching the triangle. Ralph pulls this off flawlessly, making us believe that Mallory was once indeed an IRA prisoner who is now a fantastic security chief (we buy that he can handle a gun in a crisis) and strategist (its his idea of the best way to track the bad guys).

photo by David Appleby, Coutesy of Mongrel Media
Now, at the beginning of 2014, you too, can have the pleasure of seeing Ralph on the big screen in The Invisible Woman when it opens on January 17th. The title is apt, as the film tells the story of Charles Dickens and his mistress, whom he managed to keep in the shadows ("his profound secret") for many years; but in terms of screen appeal, the title sucks. I'm hoping that Ralph's name will get bums in seats even if the title conjures up images of a cult film heroine swathed in bandages.  I was captured by the opening scene of Nelly (Felicity Jones) as she stomps out her demons on the cold, stark beach. I desperately hoped that the rest of the film would not fail me and, happily, I can report that it did not. Ralph is the egotistical, famous author, who wants his own world as well as Nelly, and while men in this time period did not have the most screen friendly fashions, his Dickens has the aphrodisiac of power and the seductiveness of words that will captivate us as he does Nelly. I urge you not to wait for the video as this is a big screen event that demands scenes that are projected several stories high and wide.

I haven't seen every single movie that Ralph has been in (he's been in some wonderful film, as well as some stinkers), but I remember when I finally got a chance to see him in The English Patient--the beauty, the horror! To be loved the way his fictionalized Count Laszlo de Almasay loved Katherine Cliffton (Kristen Scott Thomas) is enviable. It makes me want to swoon. Yep, I said it swoon! Even as I grapple with the morality/immorality of actions taken by his character, Ralph makes me melt with his quiet strength, his mellifluous voice and his incredible glacial-blue eyes!

He also has a great butt. Trust me, he does. Have a gander some time. Have you seen Coriolanus? My other love, Shakespeare teamed with Ralph Fiennes' acting prowess and theatrical training!  What a feast! And what a delectable duo is Fiennes and Butler ("He's mine, or I am his") in this dramatic play adapted, modernized and directed for the screen by himself. Ralph's bad boys are no good, but they fascinate because of what he brings to the role--check out In Bruges (not for the politically correct). And what can we say about Lord Voldemort in 4 of the Harry Potter films? Even scaring children, with a face that's digitally altered, his threatening voice makes me want to join Slytherin House. (Actually I think I'm a Gryffindor/Ravenclaw hybrid).

Sexy, serious Ralph is expected, but I love his playfulness in, wait for it, Maid In Manhattan. I know, I know, it's not a good film, but it's my guilty pleasure! The plot is full of holes, but I can't resist those normally cold eyes glinting with pleasure! He laughs in this one. Please don't hold this against me as you head out the door to watch "The Invisible Woman"Ralph may have done Manhattan as a break from his usual offerings, but The Invisible Woman is his baby (he not only stars, he directs) and as the offspring of a writer and a photographer, you can bank on the fact that Ralph Fiennes knows how to tell an amazing visual story!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Toronto Film Critics Association Gives Its Nod To...

Well, the Toronto Film Critics Association has made their list and checked it twice, and we can all now speculate as to how this roster of films will do at the upcoming Golden Globes and the Oscars. Some awards such as the Manulife Financial Student Film Award (best from programmes at Humber College, Ryerson University, Sheridan College and York University ) and the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award will be selected on January, 17, 2014. The three finalists are: The Dirties, directed by Matt Johnson, Gabrielle, directed by Louise Archambault; and Watermark, directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky.

It’s been an unusually thrilling year for cinema,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson, film critic at Maclean’s. And these awards celebrate a remarkable diversity. Among our distinctive Canadian finalists, each offers an inspired take on a compelling issue—from school bullying in The Dirties to sexual liberation among the disabled in Gabrielle to epic environmental crisis in Watermark.”

The full list of Toronto Film Critics Association Awards winners and runners-up:

Inside Llewyn Davis” (Mongrel Media)
            “Her” (Warner Bros.)
            “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)

            Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
            Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
            Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

            Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
            Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
            Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”

            Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
            Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
            James Franco, “Spring Breakers”

Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
            Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
            June Squibb, “Nebraska”

            Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
            Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
            Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Spike Jonze, “Her”
            Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
            Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

            “Neighboring Sounds”, directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho
            “Fruitvale Station”, directed by Ryan Coogler
            “In a World …”, directed by Lake Bell

            “The Wind Rises” (Touchstone Pictures)
            “The Croods” (20th Century Fox)
            “Frozen” (Walt Disney Pictures)

            “A Touch of Sin” (Films We Like)
            “Blue Is the Warmest Color” (Mongrel Media)
            “The Hunt” (Mongrel Media)

            “The Act of Killing” (Films We Like)
            “Leviathan” (Films We Like)
            “Tim’s Vermeer” (Mongrel Media)

The Dirties” (Phase 4 Films)
Gabrielle” (Entertainment One)
Watermark” (Mongrel Media)

The Toronto Film Critics Association was established in 1997 and is comprised of Toronto based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary.  All major dailies, weeklies and a variety of other print, electronic and web outlets are represented. Members of the TFCA also participate in the Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI).  As such, they have sat on juries at festivals in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Palm Springs, Chicago, Pusan, Moscow, Amsterdam, London and Vienna, among others.

Source (quote/list):
Virginia Kelly, Meghan Parnell
V Kelly & Associates

Source (logo):

Source (Poster): courtesy of

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Canada's Top Ten Announced!


As a supporter of Canadian film, I look forward to TIFF announcing its selection of films that will be screening at its Canada's Top Ten To make the list, "each film must have premiered at a major film festival or obtained a commercial theatrical release in Canada in 2013. The filmmaker must be a Canadian citizen or resident working on a Canadian production or co-production."  Canada's Top Ten runs January 3 to 12, 2014 at TIFF Bell Lightbox and besides films will include In Conversations with filmmakers Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal, and John Greyson and TIFF Artistic Director, Cameron Bailey.

Like every list out there, debates will break out on social media in regards to the merit of the 10 features and 10 shorts that have been chosen this year. Entertainment One Films should be proud to have five films in the mix, but I'm happiest about the mix of established (Denis Villeneuve) and new filmmakers (Jeff Barnaby) that they have chosen to support. The rest of the features list doesn't surprise me, and as someone who has had the difficult task of doing a Top Ten list, I know that not all good films can make the cut. I'm thrilled that I will get to see some of the features that I missed at TIFF 2013, especially Asphalt Watches, Gabrielle, and When Jews Were Funny

In terms of the shorts, I am stunned that shorts such as Cory Bowles' Anatomy of Assistance, Jasmin Mozaffari's Firecrackers, Bruce Alcock's Impromptu and Randall Okita's Portrait as a Random Act of Violence were not included in the Shorts Programme. I would have selected any of these films over the way-too-long, An Extraordinary Person and Paradise Falls! But hey, not my list, and I would sit through these again to see the brilliant Noah, the heart-warming, Nous avions, The Chaperone 3D and other the selections.

Asphalt Watches, Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver (Delusional Brothers)
Enemy, Denis Villeneuve (Entertainment One Films)
The F Word, Michael Dowse (Entertainment One Films) 
Gabrielle, Louise Archambault (Entertainment One Films) 
Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Jeff Barnaby (Entertainment One Films) 
Sarah préfère la course (Sarah Prefers to Run), Chloé Robichaud (Les Films Seville) 
Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm), Xavier Dolan (Entertainment One Films) 
Vic et Flo ont vu un ours (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear), Denis Côté (Films We Like)
Watermark, Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky (Mongrel Media)
When Jews Were Funny, Alan Zweig (KinoSmith)

A Grand Canal, Johnny Ma (Maktub Films)
Quelqu’un d’extraordinaire (An Extraordinary Person), Monia Chokri (La Distributrice de films) 
The Chaperone 3D, Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone
The End of Pinky, Claire Blanchet (NFB)
In guns we trust, Nicolas Lévesque (Travelling) 
Noah, Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg
Nous avions, Stéphane Moukarzel (Travelling) 
Paradise Falls, Fantavious Fritz
Subconscious Password, Chris Landreth (NFB)
Yellowhead, Kevan Funk

For complete schedule, please visit:
416.599.TIFF (8433) 1.888.599.8433
Tickets: $10 each/ 6 Film Pack $50 

CCT quote/list courtesy of TIFF.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Regent Park Film Festival (Nov. 13th - 16th) Welcomes Everyone!

Ananya Ohri is the Executive Director of the Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF). She is an educator and filmmaker and holds a Master’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies from York University. In this interview, she shares how RPFF is different from other Toronto film festivals, and welcomes everyone to attend.
donna g: Some people may have the impression that Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF) is mainly for youth? Who attends RPFF?

ANANYA OHRI: Youth are very important to the festival, but we get people from all backgrounds and ages, and people from across the city attend. It’s a very welcoming event that offers excellent programming and a great film festival experience to everyone.
About 12 films from the 38 films at the festival this year are geared towards youth. We have our School Program that invites teachers for Grades 1-8 to bring their classes to the festival, and then we have our Saturday Morning Breakfast and a Movie that invites families with young kids.

The rest of the 26 films are for people of all ages. There are captivating documentaries like Blood Relative, wonderful fiction films like Mumbai Cha Raja. For those of us really interested in city building there is Check Check Poto, about inner city in France, or Playful City about culture jamming in Toronto.

donna g: RPFF has been around for 11 years, and seems to be growing each year. With so many film festivals in Toronto, what do you think makes RPFF festival so successful?

ANANYA: We strongly believe that people from all walks of life should have access to seeing and sharing great stories, and that the stories we see, hear and tell shape who we become. For this reason we are dedicated to bringing a diversity of stories to inner city communities, beginning with Regent Park.

The Regent Park Film Festival has been very lucky to carve out a very unique space for itself. It is Toronto’s only free, multi-cultural, film festival. There are so many wonderful film festivals in the city, and what we offer, that is different is that we bring these great stories on film, many of which circulate in these other festivals, to people who would otherwise never be able to see them. And we do it in a very down to earth way, – welcoming everyone to join in.

donna g: I have a couple of questions about your Opening Night: Arts, Escape, Action:
1. How many filmmakers are involved, and how were their films selected?

ANANYA: 10 films are being screened at our Opening Night. It’s a tradition at Opening Night that we show films by young filmmakers, honoring their voices, and giving them a platform. These films were selected by our community based, volunteer Programming Committee. The committee watched all the submitted films and picked the best ones. We are very happy to be able to feature three films from Regent Park in this year’s opening night.

2. The evening also includes a panel discussion with three well-respected Canadian filmmakers: Charles Officer, Alanis Obomsawin, and Anita Doron. RPFF must be very excited about this. How did RPF manage to get such incredible talented and busy filmmakers to attend the festival?

ANANYA: We just asked! The staff and the Board of Directors worked together to figure out and approach filmmakers, and because there is such a good buzz around the festival, and filmmakers are people that really get and support our vision - They said yes!

This year’s panel is on finding courage to tell difficult stories.

donna g: Besides film, RPFF also offers Workshops. What's on offer this year, and what's involved in the registration process?

ANANYA: This is the first time we are offering workshops during the festival. Some highlights include our collaboration with UforChange to host a workshop called Shaping Your Own Enterprise, for people looking to put their technical video and filmmaker skills to earn some money. We have a panel on Community Based Arts Practices, and a special screening of the amazing film on the power of spoken word, Louder Than A Bomb, with a youth based spoken word workshop to follow. People can register by going onto our website

donna g: RPFF recently had a fundraising night. Could you tell us more about the evening? For those of us who weren't able to attend, what did we miss out on? Are you still accepting donations?

ANANYA: Our annual fundraising screening helps us keep the festival free for everyone. The fundraiser this year began with a reception, where we were treated by two fantastic performances by local musician Freddy King, and the talented Regent Park dance troupe, the South Side Swag. The main feature of the evening was Sudz Sutherland’s and Jennifer Holness’ film Home Again. The night was a great success, and a huge thank you to everyone who came out!

Anyone who would like to support the film festival can make a donation through our website:

NOV. 13 - 16, 2013
416.599.RPFF (7733)

Find us on: #rpff

Monday, 4 November 2013

Toronto Reel Asian Film Fest (Nov. 5-16) Kicks Off with Bombay and the Boxer

The 17th Annual Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (RA) is getting the party started right with an Opening Night that celebrates 100 years of Indian Cinema with Bombay Talkies, followed by an After Party in Yorkville's Empire Lounge. Bombay Talkies, a Cannes Film Festival gala showcase, is comprised of four short films by four of Mumbai's most talked about, hit box office directors: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap. The film his making its Canadian premiere, November 5, 7:00 pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles Street West. Keep your ticket stub and the gala party (10:00 pm - 1:00 am) is free. Can't make the film but want to celebrate RA's kick-off? Then poney up $10 at the door. Click here for complete details.

Live in Richmond Hill? RA comes to you with your own Opening Night screening of UNBEATABLE (Ji Zhan) by director, Dante Lam. The film is about a boxer and aspiring MMA contender who gets involved with the single mother of a "sassy" ten year-old daughter. Look for Election's bad boy Jet, Nick Cheung in this one.

Friday,November 15,7:00pm
Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts
10268 Yonge Street
Click here for details.


Sad that Hallowe'en is over? Well, don't be. RA is offering some "weird and wonderful" screenings that feature zombies, grave-robbing, explosive chokers and a vengeful serial killer. Click here for details about The Kirishima Thing, Tales From the Dark Part 1, Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo and Confessions of Murder. Hope you get chills!

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
17th Annual Editon
November 5-16, 2013
Toronto & Richmond Hill

Credits: stills and trailer by Reel Asian with the exception of Bombay Talkier poster by

Thursday, 31 October 2013

I Wanna Dance with Cornejo German (Tango Fire is Back in T-Dot)

Angentina's TANGO FIRE is coming to back to Toronto after a five year absence and a highly successful recent run in London, England. I had a wonderful opportunity to interview Cornejo German, the Company's award-winning choreographer/dancer, about his dancing and his partnership with Gesela Galeassi, with whom he was a finalist on Jennifer Lopez and Marc Antony's ¡Q'Viva! The two-time World Tango Champions were JLo's special guests at her 2012 concert in Buenos Aires.

donna g: I watched several videos of you without the sound turned on because I wanted to watch how you moved. Man, you have incredible talent in your hips and legs! You know how to control your movements in such a way that your dancing never seems mechanical or too flashy. You make it look easy, but even a non-dancer like myself knows that it's not. What methods have you included in your training to help you attain this level of fluidity in your dancing?

CORNEJO GERMAN: Thank you, donna. As you know, I have a foundation in different dance techniques and styles like contemporary and classical dance among others. That was very important for my formation because each technique gave me different ways to move my body and different points of view to develop my own style. I think that if you want to see the difference in the quality of your dance you need to train a lot to get good results.

A normal day for me starts with 3 to 4 hours of rehearsals. After rehearsals I have a break before I start giving lessons to my regular students for 4 hours more. Some days I am at the dance studio for 10 hours in a row (with some breaks of 20 minutes).

donna g: Nélida Rodriques, one of your teachers was a Tango star before you were even born. You call her your “Artistic Godmother” and credit her with teaching you “the secret of the tango steps.” I don't want you to reveal any secrets but I am curious about your first meeting and first classes with her. Had you met before she began teaching you, and did she whip your butt in those first classes?

CORNEJO: Yes, I know Nélida from the early days of my career. I saw her dancing many times in videos and in TV shows. She was really a Tango Super Star! Even today she is considered by the tango people to be one of the most influential women in tango dance. She is an icon for many generations of dancers.

She searched for me after she saw my performance with my dance partner at that moment (Angeles Trabichet) in one of the most highly rated TV shows in Argentina. She wanted us for work in a show that she directed. From this moment, we started a great relationship. She was always lovely with me, like a mother. Even in the beginning, when I hadn't made the steps in the right way she gave me her respect--something that not all the great artists do normally with their young students. I learned a lot from her about dance, and I loved listening to her words and stories about her life as a person and as a dancer. She is an amazing person and a terrific artist. I have to say thank God for putting her not only in my career but also in my life!

donna g: I watched you dance with several women, and you are an excellent partner. It would be so easy in a sensuous dance such as the Tango, for the man to get lost. You never lose our attention. In fact, your partnering abilities just makes us want to line up to dance with you. How do you do this? Is it something in your posture, is it the choreography or is it chemistry between partners?

CORNEJO: To answer your question: all of the above, but first, I must say that all of my partners were amazing dancers always. In fact, without the right technique on their bodies, all that I created would be impossible for them to realize.

One of the items you ask about is the posture: I keep the line of my back from my waist to my neck as if I am trying to increase my height. That posture allow us to show an elegant line of the body, and at the same time works to keep a closer embrace between us.

Your other point is the choreography. With the correct steps you can tell a story to the audience, enjoy the moment, and express yourself.

And the last thing that you ask me -but not less important- is the chemistry between the couple. The tango couple should be like a bubble: all the things that happen are between them, and the audience should feel like they are spying on them through a key hole.

donna g: You have formed a new partnership with Gisela Galeassi and the two of you have become very successful. How did the two of you become partners?

CORNEJO: I know her since 2003 when she became World Tango Champion. I always admired her work, but it was after we split up with our ex partners that we decided to start creating our own artistic world. She is an amazing woman and artist. It was so crazy, because we felt incredible embracing each other, and all the movements were flowing between us, unforced. The audience can feel how our hearts feel when they see us dancing together because both of us are very passionate.

donna g: Originally, the Tango was never a public dance. Over the years, this has changed and the dance has emerged as a theatrical event. How do choreographers such as yourself maintain a balance between a very intimate dance with roots in working class Argentina and a dance that is done on stages before large international audiences?

CORNEJO: I think that the problem appear when the choreographers are searching in the wrong places. The common mistake is that many choreographers try to show to the audience a lot of steps and movements without sense, just to show off that they can do many things. This is a huge problem because the tango is about passion, sensitivity and the communication that is born out of the deep intimate embrace of each couple. You need to keep the balance between the steps and the heart, as well as between the tango dance technique and emotion.

You can create different choreography showing several ways of tango dance because it is a reality that tango is changing all the time, but you need to keep the roots always, the essence of the tango. If you can find the right way to do this, I assure you that it is totally magical and at the same time as simple and basic as human contact. That is tango!

Show One Productions Presents...

with the all-new
Flames of Desire
accompanied on stage by Quarteto Fuego, led by violin virtuosa Estefani Corsini, with vocals by Jesus Hidalgo

November 8th & 9th, 2013
Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street, Toronto
Friday, November 8 @ 8pm,
Saturday, November 9 @ 3pm and 8pm

Tickets range from $49-$109 and can be purchased in person at the Winter Garden Theatre Box Office, by calling 1.855.622.2787 or online at
For more information visit