Friday, 4 July 2014

James Quandt on Satyajit Ray and Zabrina Chevannes on A Nurse's Worst Nightmare!

James Quandt, TIFF Cinematheque's Senior Programmer and I chat about the Satyajit Retrospective (on now until August 17) and nurse and standup comedian Zabrina Chevannes and I talk about laughter mental health, and the other talents that are part of her upcoming show, A Nurse's Worst Nightmare. Have a look/listen at the segment below.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

9 Fringe Shows Ask for Your Bum in Their Seats
tickets $12 no latecomers EVER!
(416) 966-1062
It's baaaack! The More the Merrier's Annual 5 Minute Fringe Showcase returns with 9 productions from the Toronto Fringe Festival telling you why you should spend your $12 to see their shows. Each show is given just 5 minutes to convince you that theirs is the show to see.

Click the video below to listen to the show. Show listing is by alpha order, not as you hear them on the video. Happy Fringing!

DESCRIPTION: Honour the start of the WWI Centennial with this musical inspired by a true story. In 1917, a Jewish American soldier in Germany enters a synagogue seeking solace from the terrors of war.

Kiever Synagogue, 25 Bellevue Ave.

July 02 at 07:00 PM   July 03 at 07:00 PM  July 04 at 01:00 PM
July 06 at 12:00 PM   July 07 at 07:00 PM  July 08 at 07:00 PM
July 09 at 02:00 PM   July 09 at 07:00 PM  July 10 at 01:00 PM
July 10 at 07:00 PM  July 11 at 01:00 PM   July 13 at 12:00 PM

Show length: 75min. Genre(s): Family, Musical   
Warnings: Audience Participation

DESCRIPTION: Four people struggle along the string that holds life together. Sexuality follows every relationship, every lifelong decision, but what gets left behind?

Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College Street
July 02 at 10:30 PM  July 05 at 12:30 PM  July 06 at 11:00 PM
July 07 at 05:15 PM  July 09 at 07:45 PM
July 10 at 09:15 PM  July 11 at 04:30 PM
Show length: 60min. Genre(s): Drama

DESCRIPTION: An evening in a communal apartment in Moscow with seven Russians in real life conflicts around every day issues. Gays and homophobes, working class macho guys and intellectuals, women and men, they fight, drink, and talk about the Sochi Olympics, Putin, the Ukraine, and gays.

Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, 79 St. George Street
July 03 at 07:00 PM  July 06 at 10:45 PM  July 07 at 03:15 PM
July 09 at 07:30 PM  July 11 at 03:30 PM 
July 12 at 12:00 PM  July 13 at 05:45 PM
Show length: 60min.  Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Warnings: Sexual Content, Mature Language

DESCRIPTION: The King and his three gentlemen have sworn off women for three years of study, until the Princess and her three ladies come to the court… Will their vow be forsworn or will love overcome?

Victory Cafe, 581 Markham St.
July 03 at 07:00 PM  July 04 at 07:00 PM  July 05 at 09:00 PM
July 06 at 05:00 PM  July 08 at 07:00 PM  July 10 at 07:00 PM
July 11 at 07:00 PM  July 12 at 07:00 PM  July 13 at 05:00 PM
Show length: 90min. Genre(s): Comedy
Age range: 19+

DESCRIPTION: Highbräu presents a comedic exploration of the depths, heights, and square footage of humanity...Free cake not guaranteed.

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Ave.
July 03 at 06:00 PM  July 05 at 01:30 PM  July 06 at 06:15 PM
July 08 at 06:45 PM  July 09 at 08:15 PM  July 10 at 09:45 PM
July 11 at 03:30 PM  July 12 at 01:00 PM   
Show length: 60min. Genre(s): Comedy, Sketch
Warnings: Mature Language

DESCRIPTION: Smart, sassy, sexy, sketch comedy performed by 4 of Vancouver’s best sketch comedians.

George Ignatieff Theatre, 15 Devonshire Place
July 02 at 10:30 PM  July 05 at 07:00 PM  July 07 at 01:00 PM
July 08 at 06:30 PM  July 10 at 12:00 PM
July 11 at 09:15 PM  July 12 at 05:45 PM
Show length: 75min. Genre(s): Comedy, Sketch
Warnings: Sexual Content, Mature Language

DESCRIPTION: What and where is home?
“If the values, people, and traditions of the place I call home have changed, where is my home now?”

St. Vlad's Theatre, 620 Spadina Ave.
July 02 at 08:45 PM  July 05 at 02:15 PM  July 07 at 03:00 PM
July 09 at 07:45 PM  July 11 at 02:15 PM
July 12 at 12:00 PM  July 13 at 09:00 PM
Show length: 60min. Genre(s): Drama
Warnings: Sexual Content, Mature Language

“Forget it”
“But it happened”
“Unhappen it”
“What does that even mean – “
“You’re at the fountain but this time you get directions”
“But that’s not true”
“What’s true?”

Citizenry, 982 Queen Street W
July 02 at 08:30 PM  July 03 at 08:30 PM  July 04 at 08:30 PM
July 05 at 08:30 PM  July 06 at 08:30 PM  July 08 at 08:30 PM
July 09 at 08:30 PM  July 10 at 08:30 PM  July 11 at 08:30 PM
July 12 at 08:30 PM
Show length: 75min.  Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Warnings: Mature Language

DESCRIPTION: Inside a Victorian house rented online for the night, the three young recessionistas of Viragon Capital Group and their thoroughly male, thoroughly unpaid intern search through their host’s effects looking for new, perverse business opportunities.

106 Albany Ave, 106 Albany Ave
July 02 at 07:00 PM  July 03 at 07:00 PM  July 04 at 07:00 PM
July 05 at 07:00 PM  July 07 at 07:00 PM  July 08 at 07:00 PM
July 09 at 07:00 PM  July 10 at 07:00 PM  July 11 at 07:00 PM
July 12 at 07:00 PM  July 13 at 07:00 PM
Show length: 85min.  Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Warnings: Sexual Content, Mature Language

Have a listen: 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

TMTM Book Club Selection: "Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter" by Alison Wearing

Photo Credit:
With Toronto hosting World Pride 2014, I thought it would be fitting to choose an LGBTT book for our next read. The book that immediately came to mind was Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter by Alison Wearing. I had first heard about the book on The Agenda. I managed to catch the last part of Steve Pakin's interview with the author and mentally placed the book on my To Read List.  Unlike other books that I have selected for the TMTM Book Club, I haven't read it in advance, so I will be reading along with you. Please email me should you wish to take part in the on air discussion.

Our on-air discussion of the book will take place in July (date TBC soon). As with other selections, this book is available through the Toronto Public Library (e-book and traditional p-book), but if you can, please support this Canadian author by purchasing the book. Happy Reading! -dg

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Inside Out 2014 Reveiw: My Thoughts on "Open Up To Me"

Open Up To Me leads Peter Franzen & Leea Klemola
Having last seen Peter Franzen, one of Finland's biggest stars playing a skinhead in Dome Karukoski's Heart of  Lion (TIFF14), it was a happy surprise to see his name attached to Open Up to Me (Kerron sinulle kaiken) in the Inside Out Toronto LFBT Film Festival guide. This actor has an "it" factor that would make millions if it was could be distilled. The man just has a sexuality about him that leaps off the screen! Maybe years ago audiences felt this way when they saw Clark Gable take his shirt off in It Happened One Night and revealed to the world that he wasn't wearing an undershirt, the style staple of era, or when they saw Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire; whatever it is, Franzen is heart-thumpingly captivating. 

Open Up to Me begins with Maarit (Leea Klemola), a cleaning lady, caught in her employer's clothes by Sami (Franzen) who mistakes as a therapist. Not sure how to correct the mistake, Maarit lets Sami pour his heart out to her. It seems that Sami, a married man, is a bit of a romantic, who, sexually, "doesn't feel safe if the woman doesn't love him." During this initial encounter, Maarit, becomes attracted to Sami and soon reveals to him her employment status (a school counsellor who can't find a job in her field), and sexual status (a divorced transgendered woman estranged from her son). 

As we follow the affair that develops between Maarit and Simo, we gain entrance into the world they inhabit together and the world they negotiate when they are apart. We meet briefly, Maarit's wife, and his daughter, Pinja (Emmi Nivala). We also meet Sami's wife Julia (Ria Kataja) and Teo (Alex Anton) a student that he both teaches and coaches. It doesn't take long to realize that everyone in this film is confused about something. Who can't relate to being unsure about the next step(s) to take in life? This is the crux of this drama, and the fact that it plays out with non-traditional characters is what makes this such a fascinating journey.

Rather than give us the expected story of a transgendered woman focused on her sexual identity, director Simo Halinen instead chooses to focus Maarit's story on how she attempts to negotiate her relationship with her teenage daughter, Pinja. Leea Klemola is extraordinary as the newly confident  Maarit, a woman who has moved mentally and physically from being in a "body that wanted to be touched [but which] didn't exist." She is tired of identity lies and readily admits her "crush" on Sami. What she is insecure about, however, is her role in her daughter's life. She waffles about how she should go about building a relationship with her child, despite the fact that her ex-wife constantly tries to keep them apart. She can admit boldly in a job interview that she used to be a man, but how does she dress/act with the child she loves and whom she desperately wants to love her back? 

From the outside looking in, we see Sami as a handsome, soccer playing gym teacher with a good looking wife (who teaches at the same school) and cute children; yet, even he who seems to have what many would long for, doubts his masculinity and his ability to love and to sexually satisfy a woman. He can teach Sex Ed class and openly challenge his students about their so-called knowledge of sex, but he doesn't know whether or not he should be with the his liberating lover/pal Maarit, or his wife. It's Franzen's ability to play a credible tough guy with a core of vulnerability that makes his character of Sami so endearing in this film.

Ria Kataja's portrayal of Julia is solidly delivered, with the right emotional shadings that reveals her character's confusion about whether or not she wants to remain married to Sami.  On the one hand, we see that Julia doesn't feel that Sami is man enough for her, and on the other hand, we have the sense that she is not quite ready to move on. Complicating matters for her, is the fact that as Sami becomes sexually open with Maarit, his newfound vigor with Julia results in mixed feelings that she doesn't know how to interpret.

Teo, Sami's student and soccer protege, is as confused as the adults in the film. A teenage hunk, he is intrigued by Maarit's confident femininity, but confused about his own sexuality. Only Pinja, Maarit's daughter, has the strength to live in her world. Many miles away from her father (Maarit), Pinja  forges ahead, even though she is teased about her transgendered parent, and lives with a mother bitter and ashamed about her ex-husband. Actress, Emmi Nivala manages to meld  teenage sensitivity and coming-of-age self-determination in such a way that we want to reach out and hug as well as applaud Pinja.

We may guess where Open Up to Me is leading, but as we watch the film we can't help but assess our own relationship boundaries and barriers in this character driven piece that is refreshingly devoid of stereotypes. 

Photo credit:

Monday, 26 May 2014

Inside Out 2014 Review: My Thoughts on "Someting Must Break"

Something Must Break's Saga Becker "Sebastian/Ellie"
My first thought upon screening Something Must Break (Nånting måste gå sönder) is "I'm loving this film." My second was, "Please keep on being good."  Happily, I can share with you that I kept on loving the film, so much so that rather than leave the experience to viewing the protected online screener, I went to see it on the big screen during Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. To my added pleasure, actress Saga Becker was in attendance. Yaay! 

In my humble opinion, Ester Martin Bergsmark is a director to watch. She has already won awards for her documentaries in her native Sweden, but Something Must Break is her first fiction film, and I can't wait to see what she handles next.

Bergsmark's cast is young, not only in age, but in screen credits. Lead actress, Saga Becker, is making her film debut and does a stunning job as the trans character Sebastian, a young man working at a dead end factory job. Sebastian has such low self-esteem and is so starved for romantic love that he admits that he will allow anyone to do anything to him just to be loved. Sebastian has a confidant in Lea (Shima Niavarani), but she has her own girlfriend problems and while she tries to help Sebastian with some advice, he is not ready, nor is he able to take it.

When Sebastian is rescued by Andreas (Iggy Malmborg), he falls in love so deeply with his hero that he becomes obsessed with him. He collects objects that Andreas has used, he follows him around town, and fantasizes about being with him. Bergsmark's dreamscape vision of of Sebastian's emotions are reflected in the slow motion portrait shots and echoed in the soundtrack of the film. "I've never loved this hard before," is a lyric that perfectly captures Sebastian's worship of Andreas while the desaturated image that accompanies a Peggy Lee ballad is both beautiful and disturbing, not because of what is taking place in the scene but because of how it encapsulates Sebastian's feelings of heartbreak and confusion.

While there is no question that Becker is the lead in the film, and that she manages to rise to the demands of her challenging role, much also rests on the shoulders of Iggy Malmborg. He had to be believable as the object of Sebastian's obsession in order for us to truly identify with how deeply that character had fallen in love with him. While the character of Andreas shows weakness in his inability to admit that he is gay, Malmborg had to find the right acting balance between playing a confused character, and being a strong secondary lead. Malmborg is successful in walking this tightrope because we adore him when Andreas and Sebastian lock themselves away from the world and are content, yet we hate him for the way he treats Sebastian when they move out into the real world. 

"It's like I'm destroying myself to become her." Like the duality of his hair colour, Sebastian is stuck between being Sebastian, the outward boy and Ellie, the young woman who sometimes makes an appearance in lipstick and heels. Early in the film, Lea admonishes, "You can never say yes or no."  As his yearning for a complete relationship with Andreas evolves, Sebastian must also evolve from his world of  "maybe" and emerge as his true self in order to stop himself from disappearing. The life lessons experienced in Something Must Break is beautifully captured by Bergesmark, and superbly realized through Saga Becker's acting. I'm not sure where Becker will go as a trans actress in Sweden, but she has a breakout role in this film, and I truly hope that she is able to grace the screen in many films to come.

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Nordic Charmers: May I Recommend Olga and Love & Engineering

You know I love Nordic films, and I'm happy to direct you to Olga--To My Friends, and Love & Engineering screening at Hot Docs 2014.

Olga--To My Friends
Want me to watch a film? Show me a picture of reindeer. So, why have I chosen to show you this picture of Olga instead? Because, Olga--To My Friends is an intimate portrait of a fascinating young woman who deserves your attention. Yes, there are reindeer in the film because she works at a station guarding provisions used by the reindeer herdsmen in the summer; but what I found absolutely fascinating about this documentary is Olga and her quiet will to keep surviving whatever life dispenses. Director, Paul Aders-Simma and cinematographer, Elen Lotman have framed and lit Olga in a style that references Old Masters, while at the same time managing to capture the vastness and icy-stillness of the tundra.

At the opening of the film, Olga tells us that she has spent 177 days alone at the outpost with only her cat as her companion. Upon learning this I felt an automatic sorrow for her until she began summarizing her life: being abruptly separated from her childhood friend at at orphanage, reunited and briefly raised with a family whose Sami roots she knew nothing about, and as an adult, dealing with her sisters' alcoholism and dysfunctional lifestyle. After hearing Olga talk about her life, I understand why this job is so suited to her, and why she is able to function with a sense of freedom and contentment in what you and I would consider destitute conditions. Later, my heart skipped a beat when, it's revealed that Olga's job at the outpost is in jeopardy because the cooperative wants to sell it. How will Olga meet this next challenge in her life?  

Scotiabank Theatre 7 
Wed, Apr 30 7:30 PM

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 
Fri, May 2 7:30 PM

Olga--To My Friends
 Is there a perfect formula for finding the perfect mate? Well, in Love & Engineering, Atantas, a Bulgarian scientist living in Finland, seems to think he can help his mates find a wife using the data he used to find his bride. He can't promise them a Claudia Schiffer, but they will be able to find someone they can put up with for life.  To put it in contemporary terms, it's like watching the character, Leonard from The Big Bang Theory leading seminars and conducting scientific tests on how he "hacked" his way into being Penny's boyfriend. Yes, "hacked".  According to Atanas, women have a relationship system that his fellow scientists should be able to hack so that they can find true love.  Atanas's heart is in the right place, but I wanted to yell at one scientist to stop talking about gaming when his date has already told him she is not into games and doesn't know the one he is so excited about has been released! Dude, you already know from the smell testing that she found your scent appealing, and then you go and shoot yourself in the foot? Arggh! 

Love & Engineering is a straight up funny documentary in which you can't help but root for the brilliant, inept, charming subject matters to find their perfect partners.

Scotiabank Theatre 3 
Thu, May 1 9:00 PM

TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 
Fri, May 2 8:30 PM

Revue Cinema 
Sun, May 4 1:30 PM

Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 24 - May 4, 2014 


Saturday, 26 April 2014

Hot Docs Day 3: May I Recommend


ROM Theatre 
Sat, Apr 26 3:30 PM

This film gives you a look at poverty, not from the perspective of having nothing, but from the Malagasy people themselves speaking of how their sense of community, culture and fortitude has enabled them to maintain their sense of pride and fortitude.

Scotiabank Theatre 4 
Sun, Apr 27 4:00 PM
Scotiabank Theatre 3 
Sat, May 3 9:15 PM


Scotiabank Theatre 7 
Sat, Apr 26 6:00 PM 

This is not an easy film to watch, but it is an interesting look at poverty that is a direct result of historical conditioning. The Pine Ridge reservation is just above Haiti in terms of its lack of economic development. This South Dakota reservation brings to light the generational effects of the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890) and references the impact of the Wounded Knee Incident (1973). Seen through the eyes of several youth, the film asks the question: why are such dire conditions allowed to continue in one of the richest countries on earth.

TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 
Sun, Apr 27 1:00 PM  
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4
 Sun, May 4 4:30 PM 

Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 24 - May 4, 2014 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Hot Docs Day 2: May I Recommend


Then I suggest a screening of Que Caramba Es la Vida by renowned German director, Doris Dörrie. Her take on mariachi music is refreshing in that it follows the lives of several female musicians who perform in Mexico's Garibaldi Square. Mariachi can be a macho business, but these women, some of whom are daughters of mariachi fathers, have inherited the love of the music and their passion drives them to perform despite some of the negative side effects of their chosen profession. In the square they perform for families or couples who are out for an evening of social activity, but they also have to put up with the drunks and drug users (as well as some men) who hurl slurs at them. As one woman puts it, she has often had to tell men she is a singer, not a prostitute. Dörrie also delves into a bit of the history of female mariachas through interviews with members of Las Estrellas de Mexico and Las Coronelas, some of the first mariachas in Mexico. While the women of today have to deal with leaving their children at home to perform, these women, tell how once they started getting married and the children came along, they had to give up singing professionally. Some also speak of husbands getting jealous because they were performing in bars and their mates would have thoughts that cigarette/cigar smoke on their clothes meant more was going on with their evenings than just singing.

I'm a women through and through
If they try to lasso me
I'll shoot them down
If they shout at me
I'll clear them out of the way

Que Caramba Es la Vida
Scotiabank Theatre 7 
Fri, Apr 25 3:30 PM
For additional screening dates/times click HERE


Denmark's Erland E. Mo's documentary, Four Letters Apart,  takes an interesting look at Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by introducing us to an alternative school that uses methods other than drugs in the treatment of children with the condition. The children are very much aware of their disorder and talk about ways in which they would like to be treated by society. They are also taught to take responsibility for their actions by talking about how they treat each other. Following the journey of three of the school's students broadens our perspective and understanding of children with ADHD and leads us to ponder where we stand on the grounds of giving Ritalin to every child with the disorder. Does and should one treatment fit all?

Four Letters Apart
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
 Fri, Apr 25 3:45 PM
For additional screening dates/times click HERE


A woman and her family see a young girl in a white dress along the way to Cober Pedy, another feels a hand pressing her face into the floor...these and other tales of Warkwick Thornton's The Darkside are related with fascinating detail. Set in Australia, Thornton's stories are told with backdrops by campfires, in rooms glowing in orange, green, by docks, the ocean, and even while we watch an artist at work on his over-sized canvas. In this film, the cinematography is as important as the storytelling. For viewers this means that we are never bored, and our eyes become captivated by each scene whether we listen to people directly speaking to us about their encounters with the spirit world, or whether we are hear their voice as we watch an image presented to us. By keeping the eye and the brain focused, Thornton delivers a documentary that with each subject makes us think the childlike phrase, "tell us another one!"

The Dark Side
ROM Theatre
 Fri, Apr 25 9:00 PM
For additional screening dates/times click HERE

Canadian and International Documentary Festival
April 24 - May 4, 2014