Monday, 27 October 2008

Different Voices: Irish and Latino

Literature was the focus of the show on Saturday, October 25th, with interviews with Irish writer, Dermot Bolger, Halli Villegas, publisher of Tightrope Books and poet, Monica Rosas. Bolger is a participant in Harbourfront Centre’s International Festival of Authors (IFOA), which for the first time, is spotlighting authors from a particular country: Ireland. Bolger’s thick accent and rapid-fire delivery was a pleasure to listen to as we talked about the wealth of writers in Ireland due, in part, to the introduction of free secondary schools and tax breaks for writers, and also to the Irish imagination. Where other countries had a tradition of opera and performing arts, Bolger says it’s writing that has always been a popular method of artistic expression in Ireland. Bolger’s first novel, Night Shift, was written while working in a factory. He used his co-workers as characters since he didn’t think it would really get published. Lucky for him, everyone was okay with the obvious characterizations. Bolger has since written many award-winning poems, plays and novels, including The Journey Home, from which he reads at the Fleck Dance Theatre the evening of October 25th along side other Irish authors Emma Donoghue, Hugo Hamilton, and David Park.

Being involved with the Irish writing scene (he started Raven Arts Press which has since turned into New Island), Bolger is encouraged by the variety of expression in contemporary Irish literature. As a member of the Aosdána, an organization which provides small stipends to writers so they can concentrate on their craft, Bolger hopes that the tax breaks and government funding to the arts will not be cut during this current economic climate.

IFOA runs until November 1, 2008 at Harbourfront Centre. 416-973-4000.

How familiar are you with Canadian voices of Latin American descent? I sometimes see event notices for readings by Latin American writers, but these writers have usually been invited from outside Canada. Tightrope Books publisher, Halli Villegas who is half Mexican-half Welsh and looks Caucasian, became involved in the upcoming event, Other Voices: Latino Writing and Music because she has an interest in promoting the works of people who look like her and who share a Latin American heritage. Villegas founded Tightrope books in 2005 because she wanted to take Canadian publishing in a different direction, connecting more with the writer, and publishing books that resound with unheard voices.

Poet, Monica Rosas (of Colombian-Peruvian heritage) is one of the performers at Other Voices. Rosas has an interest in bringing to the forefront experiences of gender and cultural status, demonstrated in her very eloquent reading of a selection from her chapbook,Inside Out.

Monica’s book is published by Lyrical Myrical Press and will be available for sale, along with the works of other writers reading on Thursday, October 30th at the Trane Studio (964 Bathurst Street). Doors open at 6:30 pm and includes music by Cubanos. The event is FREE, so please bring some money to support these authors.

Photo: Dermot Bolger
Photo Credit:

Photo: Monica Rosas
Photo Credit: Stephanie Sonnemann

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Coming Soon! Coverage of the12th Annual Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival Nov. 12-16th

Long Story Short by award-winning director, Christine Choy features actress Jodi Long (Margaret Cho's mom on the short-lived sitcom, All American Girl) and delves into her family's multi-generational attempts to make it big in show business. Just one of many films I'm looking forward to at this year's Reel Asian International Film Festival.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Arts for Everyone

The Federal election may be over, but I hope you haven't forgotten the round table discussion I had a few weeks back about cuts to the Arts. My guests for that October 4th show were Claire Hopkinson (Executive Director of the Toronto Arts Council), Kelsey Matheson (Eastern Regional Director of First Weekend Club), Bobby Del Rio (actor/producer and founder of INCLUDE, Canada's largest multicultural entertainment industry network), and Kirk Cooper (publicist and founder of Film Market Access). All pointed out the economic benefits of the Arts & Culture sector from providing employment to millions of Canadians to the trickle down effect of businesses (hotels, restaurants, shops) who benefit from people attending events such as film festivals, stage shows, concerts etc.

That the Arts are for everyone, something Canadian conductor, Kerry Stratton and I agree upon wholeheartedly. Stratton will be conducting the Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia at Roy Thomson Hall on November 3rd, as part of Gala Italia. He is also taking the OIDI to such places as Milton and Welland and several other Ontario cities. Stratton loves to take classical music to underserved communities and unusual venues (he recently took a classical violinist to the Bovine Sex Club--it's not what you think!), and enjoys showing visiting musicians a bit of Ontario.
Gala Italia
Nov. 3rd, 8:00 pm
featuring L’Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia
Roy Thomson Hall
$35.00 ($25.00 students/seniors)
416-872-4255 or
click here

Planet in Focus International Environmental Film and Video Festival (October 22nd - 26th)Yes, there are films about climate changes and the dangers of food, but there are over 100 films in this international festival about other issues. Canadian filmmaker/producer Tina Hahn's documentary Tales of a Yellow Bike deals with sustainable transportation. Hahn traveled to such places as China, Paris, and Amsterdam to see how those places were able to launch and maintain programs when Toronto's own award-winning, Bike Share Program had to fold. Imagine 3 million people going out for a nighttime bike ride with their families. Well, it happens in Columbia.
Tales of a Yello Bike
Sat. Oct. 25th, 11:00 am
Innes Town Hall
2 Sussex Avenue
Tickets: 416-967-1528, or Box Office at 55 Bloor Street West (Manulife Building, north entrance). Tickets are also available at the door of each venue.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Intimate and Interactive with Musicians in Ordinary and Comedian, Zabrina Chevannes

Last Saturday's show turned out to be more intimate than expected. Lutenist (but this time on baroque guitar), John Edwards and soprano, Hallie Fishel and I huddled around 1 microphone on Saturday due to a technical difficulty in our interview studio. Both Hallie and John were great sports as they talked about their upcoming concert Guard My Cows, which showcases music from 17th century Spain and Mexico. The last time John was at CIUT we talked about lutenists being hanged as spies during the Elizabethan era. This time round he and Hallie talked about the dirty songs of the 17th century that were banned! And you thought music from the past was boring. I hope you enjoyed the interview as well as some of the selections they performed.
Musicians in Ordinary
Sat. Oct 25th, 8:00 pm
Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. (near Bay Subway) at 8PM, Single tickets $20 / $15 students & seniors. For information call us at 416 535 9956 or click here

Zabrina Chevannes, Tim Sims Encouragement Award NomineeI didn't ask stand up comedian, Zabrina Chevannes to do or say "something funny". She hears that all the time as soon as people find out she is a comedian. Zabrina will be performing at Second City on Monday, Ocotber 27th, 8pm. She is just one of 5 nominees who will be showing off their comedic skills and timing to a panel of judges. She will be the only Jamaican, the Black woman, and the only nurse in the line up to win the $5,000 award. Click here for details or contact Second City (51 Mercer Street)(416) 343-0011. Tickets are $10.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

This Weekend

Staying home? Check out Black Books.

Black Books - video powered by Metacafe

Going Out?

I still recommend the French thriller, Tell No One.

I missed it at TIFF 08, but a few friends have recommended I see Blindness. It's a Canadian film, and you know how I love our films.

If you've got kids, check out Harbourfront Centre's celebration of Geeks.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Things To Do This Weekend

ON SCREEN: Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne)

Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne) is a gripping French thriller about a man who receives an email from his wife. The catch? A serial killer murdered her 8 years ago. Is she his wife? Is someone playing a cruel joke on him? What is going on? Travel through this gripping cinematic labyrinth with Alexandre Beck (François Cluzet) as he tries to figure out exactly what is the truth? This movie has starts out as a romantic drama and escalates into a fantastic thriller with one of the best street chases I have seen in a very long time. British actress Kristen Scott Thomas has a wonderful supporting role as Beck's ally. I haven't seen Nathalie Baye on screen in a while, so it was great to see her, even if her screen time is limited.

ON SCREEN: "Religulous"

Comedian Bill Mahr challenges believers of various religions. Mahr was raised Catholic and didn't find out his mother was Jewish until he was thirteen years old. From his perspective, religion causes more problems than it solves. What will you think after seeing this film? How do you think it compares to another film, "For the Bible Tells Me So"?

Catch a double bil at the Berkeley Street Theatre with Marcia Johnson's production of "Late"
and Wesley Enoch's "Black Medea".

Presented by Obsidian Theatre Company until October 5th. Click here for details.

AROUND THE CITY: Nuit Blanche (click link for details)
October 4th, 6:52 pm to sunrise

There is a lot to check out, but I'm going to make sure I visit the Toronto Reference Library to experience "Circus of Dreams"

Why not get out and vote? I have voted at the advance polls for years because I don't want to be out of my riding on election day, and miss my chance to do my civic duty. For more information visit

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Vote for the Arts: Tune in on Saturday, October 4th from 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Tune in to The More the Merrier on Saturday, October 4th from 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm for a discussion about the Arts and the Federal Election. Guests: actor/playwright Bobby Del Rio; Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director of the Toronto Arts Council; Kelsey Matheson, Eastern Regional Director of the First Weekend Club; Kirk Cooper of Film Market Access Publicity.

The More the Merrier (TMTM)
Arts Outreach and Education
Saturdays 1:00 - 2:00pm
Listen Live on CIUT 89.5 FM,
Rogers Digital Channel 946 or Star Choice Satellite Channel 826

I hope you will be listening!
donna g

I was reviewing past coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and realized that as good as it is to use social media, I m...