Saturday, 30 June 2012

FRINGE THIS! 11 shows, 11 Pitches, 5 Minutes Each, Go!

Can you say EXHAUSTED!? That's what I am right now after hosting and producing my Annual 5-Minute Fringe Showcase. This year, instead of my usual 10 shows "selling" their shows to you in 5 minutes or less, I had 11. When I went into the Map Room at Hart House to meet everyone, I didn't expect that everyone there would be a Fringe-er. The room was packed! Eleven shows, but 20 people! I must admit that it was a bit overwhelming, but everyone was so co-operative and in such good spirits, that it made my job of organizing everything run quickly and smoothly. While in the Map Room, each show picked their on air order by lottery (ok, bits of orange scrap paper folded to hide the numbers) and I did a quickie Q and A with each show while Jason Murray,of THE DINNER (whom I had never met before) took pictures of the gang. He didn't even question me when I put my camera in his hand and directed him to do photo duty--what a trooper! Photos are in the order each play stepped up to the mic.

Daniel Kim, Adriana Crivici, Cydney Penner
Soup Can Theatre
VENUE: Randolph Theatre
July 04 06:30 PM, July 06 10:30 PM, July 08 01:15 PM
July 09 08:15 PM, July 10 01:00 PM, July 13 05:15 PM

Dir. Celeste Percy-Beauregard and Josh Browne
SoCo Productions
VENUE: 401 Richmond (at Richmond and Spadina)
July 5, 6:00 pm, July 6, 6:00 pm, July 12, 6:00 pm
July 13, 6:00 pm, July 14, 5:00 pm

Morgonn Ewen (Annabelle) w/Vlad Jon Cubrt 
VENUE: Tarragon Extra Space
July 06 09:15 PM, July 07 03:30 PM, July 08 04:45 PM
July 11 05:45 PM, July 12 03:30 PM, July 13 01:45 PM
July 15 07:30 PM

John Coburn (designer), Vlad Jon Cubrt (writer/dir.)
Zocalo Toronto
VENUE: Tarragon Main Space
July 04 07:00 PM, July 07 09:15 PM, July 08 06:30 PM, 
July 10 01:15 PM, July 11 02:15 PM, July 13 03:30 PM

Jerry Silverberg's play is adapted from"Something From Nothing" 
VENUE: Palmerston Library Theatre
July 07 07:15 PM, July 08 11:00 AM, July 09 04:15 PM
July 10 12:45 PM, July 11 02:45 PM, July 13 07:45 PM
July 14 02:15 PM, July 15 03:30 PM

Basel Daoud (Death), Dir. Ruth Pe Palileo
Socratic Theatre Collective
VENUE:University College Quadrangle, 15 Kings College Circle
July 07 07:00 PM, July 08 02:00 PM, July 13 07:00 PM
July 14 07:00 PM, July 15 02:00 PM
Represented by Celeste and Josh of ENGLAND
VENUE: Annex Theatre
July 04 10:30 PM, July 08 12:30 PM, July 09 08:30 PM
July 11 03:30 PM, July 12 11:00 PM, July 13 04:30 PM
July 14 05:45 PM
Kevin Fox, producer of Sarah Skinner's Belly Dancing
adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson version of
The Little Mermaid
Sisters of Salome
VENUE: Helen Garndiner Phelan Playhouse
July 06 10:30 PM, July 08 07:15 PM, July 10 06:30 PM
July 11 04:00 PM, July 12 06:00 PM, July 13 11:00 PM
July 15 05:45 PM
Actor, Claire Acot and Dir. Jenny Salisbury
 Audience tweeting/texting expected and welcome!
Footpath Productions
VENUE: Theatre Passemuraille Main Space
July 05 06:30 PM, July 07 02:15 PM, July 08 07:30 PM
July 09 05:15 PM, July 11 09:30 PM, July 12 07:00 PM
July 13 11:30 PM

The cast of TICK with Dir. Jajube Mandiela (front right)
Lallygag Theatre
VENUE: George Ignatieff Theatre
July 05 08:15 PM, July 08 07:30 PM, July 09 02:00 PM, July 11 02:15 PM,
 July 12 04:00 PM, July 13 08:30 PM, July 14 05:45 PM
Jason Murray, writer and my impromtu photographer. Thanks, Jason!
Upstage Productions
VENUE: Factory Theatre Main Space
July 04 08:15 PM, July 07 05:15 PM, July 09 02:45 PM
July 10 06:30 PM, July 11 05:15 PM, July 13 12:00 PM
July 15 07:00 PM

The Toronto Fringe Festival
July 4-15th (various venues mostly in the Bathurst/Bloor area)
$11 Advance Tickets
$10 At the Door
FringeKids (children $5)

Photo Credit: Jason Murray

Saturday, 23 June 2012

When the Young Speak

Jaelejit, Scofield, Marlon, Qani (back)
Orit and her Mom, Assie 
Jaelejit  and Qani return to The More the Merrier and brought friends, Scofield and Marlon, respectively to share their talents.  My special guest was the adorable Orit, who recited "It's Raining Gumballs." Orit won a first prize ribbon at her school for her recitation. Orit's mother, Assie was thrilled to have her daughter on the show and to have her be part of such impressive company. As for the young cyphers, they thought Orit was a very talented little princess. Have a listen (apologies or a few tech issues):

Sunday, 17 June 2012

i am a good person/i am a bad person EXTENDS RUN at Royal Cinema!

Actress, Hallie Switzer (left) with her mother/director Ingrid Veninger
 (i am a good person/i am a bad person, MODRA,ONLY) at TIFF 2011

pUNK films & The Royal present  
i am a good person/i am a bad person


THE ROYAL (608 College Street) - TORONTO 
Q&A’s with Director and Cast Following Each Screening


(Toronto – June 18, 2012)  On-the-heels of a smash festival tour including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, St. John’s, Sarasota, Whitehorse, Bradford and New York City, among others -- Ingrid Veninger returns to Toronto for a pUNK films presentation of i am a good person/i am a bad person starting June 14th, at The Royal.
i am a good person/i am a bad person will be extended until June 24 at The Royal
BOX OFFICE PROCEEDS FUND THE $1000 Feature Film Challenge. Details here: Final Film Selections Announced: June 25th
UPDATED Screenings are as follows:
Monday June 18:
7:00pm- i am a good person/i am a bad person
9:30pm - i am a good person/i am a bad person

Tuesday June 19:
7:00pm – ONLY w/ Cast Q&A
9:30pm - i am a good person/i am a bad person

Wednesday June 20, Thursday June 21, Friday June 22 and Saturday June 23:
9:30pm - i am a good person/i am a bad person

Sunday June 24:
7:00pm - i am a good person/i am a bad person
9:30pm - i am a good person/i am a bad person

i am a good person/i am a bad person Canada, 2011, English, 82 minutes, HD, Colour, Dolby Digital

Recently in Ottawa, the Canadian Film Institute had a Retrospective on Ingrid’s films, INTIMACIES: THE CINEMA OF INGRID VENINGER.
“Ingrid Veninger’s work as a writer-director often probes the nature and complexities of intimacy: between lovers, families, friends, and, in an important sense, audiences and images. Her cinematic explorations of intimacy, rooted in a playfully subversive use of documentary-based realist aesthetics, are stylish, insightful, and unflinchingly honest assessments of how we treat one another.” Tom McSorley, Executive Director, Canadian Film Institute

Her metaproject - i am a good person/i am a bad person - was inspired by the director’s various film festival adventures and continues Veninger’s bold humanist work by deftly revealing the frailties of a mother and daughter who must confront secrets withheld from one another, and make life-changing decisions, before returning home.

i am a good person/i am a bad person opens with filmmaker and married mother Ruby White (Veninger) dutifully “servicing” her husband before her departure to a film festival in England, where her eighteen-year-old daughter Sara (Veninger’s real-life daughter Hallie Switzer) will tag along as her assistant. Mother-daughter bonding may have been the intent, but Sara’s sullenness and Ruby’s laissez-faire ways drive the two women apart. The trip goes so poorly that Sara decides to fly to Paris instead of travelling to Berlin with her Mom as planned. Sara has some difficult decisions to make regarding her future, while Ruby is fleeing something that will require more time to fathom.

i am a good person/i am a bad person was shot in Toronto, Paris, Berlin and Bradford, England with a crew of 2 and an international cast of 23.


INGRID VENINGER  - Writer/Producer/Director/Actor (Ruby White)
Born in Bratislava, Slovakia, Ingrid Veninger has worked extensively in film, television and theatre for over 20 years, beginning as a teen actor on the CBC television series, AIRWAVES. In addition to over 50 acting credits working alongside Meryl Streep, Gena Rowlands, Vincent D’Onofrio, Holly Hunter, Clark Johnson, Janeane Garofalo, Stellan Skarsgård and others, she has collaborated with Canada’s most established and emerging filmmakers, including Atom Egoyan, Peter Mettler, Julia Kwan, Anais Granofsky and Charles Officer. A graduate of Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre, Ingrid created pUNK FILMS INC. in 2003 to create artist driven features, with a 'nothing is impossible' manifesto.

HALLIE SWITZER – Actor (Sara White)
Born in Toronto, Hallie graduated with honors from Rosedale Heights School for the Arts. As singer/songwriter, in 2007, she formed WEE GOLDEN. In 2008, she appeared on camera with a one-line role in ONLY. In 2009, she acted the co-lead role in the award-winning feature MODRA. i am a good person/i am a bad person is her second co-lead role in a feature film. Hallie has recently completed the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King’s College in Halifax and has been accepted to the Cinema Studies Programme at the 
University of Toronto.

Photo Credit: donna g

Friday, 8 June 2012

Scott Thompson and Dave Foley are probably the most famous faces you will see in the Stranger in as Strange Land programme at CFC's Worldwide Short Film Festival, but the film in which Thompson stars and Foley appears, The Immigrant, is not the reason I am recommending that you head to the Isabel Bader Theatre this afternoon (4:15pm) or Saturday night (June 9, 10:15 pm); there are 6 other selections that are worth seeing.

 I AM JOHN WAYNE. This American short takes a different tactic in the boys in the hood genre. When Taco's friend is killed, rather than seek revenge, he finds an alternative that leads to a potential new friendship, and a way in which to deal with his grief. Jamir Daaliya (Taco) is a young actor whose emotive expressions are ideal for the big screen.

ODYSSEUS' GAMBIT. Chess is both a metaphor and a mirror of life in this documentary about a Cambodian refugee who has grown up in the United States, but is not of the United States. Shot numerous times in the head, Saravuth, has created a life for himself on the streets of New York, offering chess lesson, selling CDs of his music and dealing daily with the constant memory of his parents and siblings murder and his breakdowns. One of the original boat children rescued/kidnapped by the United States, Saravuth, is living  monument to history and the aftermath of war.

THE CHANGELING. A medieval couple lose their human child and gain a Troll baby in this German morality tale about prejudice and motherly love. Wonderful animation and a simple script make for a humourous yet thought provoking look at how we chose to deal with difficult situations.

 REINALDO ARENAS. It's amazing what some directors can do in just 4 minutes. Director Lucas Leyva has juxtaposed the familiar immigrant story with the adage about a "fish out of water." To say too much would give away the surprise element in this experimental documentary. Shot predominantly in black and white, with a Latin American flavour, this short will make you marvel about how simple yet complex is the art of creativity.

THE CROSSING OF THE LIVING ROOM. This Canadian dramatic short captures the subtle challenges that a woman must face when dealing with her alcoholism. The presence of an off-screen daughter, the confines of a home, and the steady, natural performance of Michelle Bernard all combine to bring to the screen a heartfelt everyday conflict.

 URSUS. This Latvian animation will hit you right in the seat of your emotions.  Director, Reinis Peterson, and the team behind this animated tale of a motorcycle bear combating loneliness and loss of space is simply brilliant. Charcoal drawings come to life, bringing pathos in every sroke, making us wish that we could leap into the screen and hug this majestic beast. Just when we think all is lost...Go see it and find out;-)

Stranger in a Strange Land 
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street)
June 8, 4:15 pm
June 9, 10:15 pm
Tickets: $11 (available at the door)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Worldwide Short Film Festival:TONIGHT! An Evening with Dame Judi Dench and Friends

Tonight's Worldwide Shorts Film Festival programme of Celebrity Shorts is a gift of wonderful films that have the have the added bonus of featuring known actors of the big and small screen. Of the eight films in this programme, I thoroughly enjoyed seven of them, and was amused by the eighth.

Thursday, June 7, 7:45 pm
Bloor Cinema, 756 Bloor Street

Penny Ryder and Dame Judi Dench
FRIEND REQUEST PENDING. It was such a pleasure watching Dame Judi Dench act as a giddy school girl over linking up with a man via the internet! I watched this screener twice, and encourage you to go out and see it on the big screen tonight at the Bloor Cinema. As her BFF, Penny Ryder, is the perfect foil, lending encouragement to Dench with suggestions and advice. Romance and tech talk is not just for the younger generation any more, so don't be surprised who is poking whom these days;-)

Rita Wilson and Anna Paquin
THE CARRIER. Actress Rita Wilson (It's Complicated, Sleepless in Seattle) gives a nuanced performance as a woman grieving the accidental death of her son while having the added responsibility of tying up some of his lose ends. As we watch her meet with her son's former lovers we gain insight into the son's character as well as the dynamics that must have been at play with the mother-son relationship. The film's conclusion may not be a surprise to some, but that still doesn't mean the consequences are any less morally complicated. Director, Scott Schaeffer does a brilliant job of unfolding Colin Borden's screenplay.

David Duchovny voices Beaufort 
THE BEAUFORT DIARIES. In a nod to his Red Shoes Diaries days, David Duchovny narrates this seamy tale of Beaufort the Polar bear, as he moves from his arctic home to the hedonistic lifestyle of  L.A.  Duchovny's dry delivery bumps up the humour level of the salty monologue with its Hollywoodisms. I howled (yes, indeedy, I did!) at his retelling of what playwright David Mamet told him to go do...Four minutes of fun.

Martin Freeman (left)
 Tom Hollander (right)
THE VOORMAN PROBLEM. An eminent psychiatrist (Martin Freeman of Sherlock, Love Actually) is called in to a help a desperate prison warden deal with an inmate who thinks that he is God in this interesting take on the "God" myth. Freeman is perfect as the stuffed-shirt psychiatrist who thinks he has seen it and knows it all, while Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean) matches him theory for theory in this seductive game of reality versus madness. ...and the winner is?

Charlotte Rampling

 THE END. It's always such a joy to see Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool, Melancholia, The Verdict, Viva la vie) on screen. In this case, though, Rampling is dealing with her own disappearance from her films. In this world, technology has taken over and aging actresses and actors are being digitally removed from their films and replaced by younger actors. Not so far fetched a concept, is it? Black and White films have been colorized, Fred Astaire danced with a vacuum cleaner in a commercial, and Avatar starred a blue girl. This film covers many themes, so I will leave it up to you to decide which way you want to interpret it. Well-executed by Barcelo whose screenplay (co-written by Benjamin Parent) is infused with just the right amount of black humour to bring out the absurdity and horror of Ramplings situation.

John Malkovich
BUTTERFLIES. I wish director/cinematographer Sandro Miller's 2-minute experimental short was actually a bit longer, but knowing how time-consuming it takes to do stop-motion animation, I can only compliment this film making team on producing a captivating short about the sometimes mind-altering effects of television.  They also chose the perfect actor to star in this piece. John Malkovich can communicate an entire Victorian novel with a raised eyebrow and in this short he encapsulates our collective tv-viewing consciousness in 120 seconds of sitting in a chair.

Michael Fassbinder (left)
Liam Cunningham (right)
PITCH BLACK HEIST. As the title suggests, this bank job is to be carried out in the dark. As the robbers, Fassbiner (Shame) and Cunningham (Game of Thrones) are brought together by a third party, who lays out the scenario of the heist. We watch as the two train blind-folded, and endure the wait along with them as they sit in a pub anticipating the go-ahead from their boss.   By choosing to shoot in black and white (and in 35MM, no less), director John MacLean achieves a stark, silvery coldness and shadowy depth that enhance this well-acted Irish crime drama.

Rainn Wilson
BLITZEN TRAPPER MASSACRE. What I liked about Rainn Wilson's short, is that it introduced me to the folk/country group Blitzen Trapper. What I didn't like was how long this 7-minute short seemed. Rainn plays a pesky, wanna-be musician who gets turned down by the group. He then decides to take them out one by one. What could have been a satiric comedy is ruined by unnecessary plot details and too much screen time for Wilson. Cut this down to 3-4 minutes and it could have been a good laugh.

JUNE 5 - 10

Monday, 4 June 2012

TMTM Book Club Selection: The Vintage Caper

Peter Mayle's THE VINTAGE CAPER is the next selection for the TMTM Book Club. Join us in reading this light summer treat by the author of A Year in Province and many other books set in his favourite country, France.  This Brit has been award many prizes including the Legion d'Honneur from the French government, which is understandable given that he has successfully lured many oenophiles and would-be oenophiles and gourmands to various parts of France with his descriptions of food and wine. So far, I have only been able to partake vicariously through his books. No one else can make our mouths water for delicately prepared offal and temp our olfactory and unseasoned palettes with wines whose bouquets we can almost smell wafting from the pages. And where there is wine, there is always cheese, but I digress.  This wonderful caper moves quickly from the sweet life of L.A's elite to the the vineyards of Bordeaux and the port city of Marseilles, contrasting the particular cultures of each area through food and beverage, language, style and manners.  Taking us through this flavourful journey is ex-lawyer, Sydney Levitt, who agrees to find the voleur behind the theft of 2.5 million dollars (or is it 3 million dollars? Hmm.) worth of wine. Like Mayle's other books, cherchez la femme. In this case, the femme is the French Sophie, "a prime example of bon chic bon genre" or "BCBG" who acts as Peter's entre into some of the best eateries and wine cellars in France.

TMTM Book Club Discussion Date: Saturday, July 7, 1-2pm on CIUT 89.5 FM or
Available in book, or CD at the Toronto Public Library:
Free to borrow with a library card. If you do not have a library card, go to any branch with a piece of ID that shows your address, or a letter mailed to you at your current address and get a card. You can then place an order for the book to be delivered to your local branch.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

FREE Flicks, June 3rd, 12 noon

Looking for something to do with the kiddies tomorrow, or a way to while away your afternoon? How about going to a Flick-Nic?  The Worldwide Shorts Film Festival (June 5-10) is having a FREE pre-Festival outdoor screening in Dufferin Grove Park at high noon. So grab some lawn chairs, and some snacks, some kids and their friends, or some friends of your own (you don't have to be a shorty to enjoy the flicks) and dig in.

"Could these be the eyes of the big bad mouse?" wonders THE GRUFFALO'S CHILD as she wanders away from her house.  This sequel to THE GRUFALO, last year's festival favourite, is narrated by a mother squirrel (Helena Bonham Carter) trying to keep her children in check. The story takes us on an adventure with the Gruffalo's Child (Shirley Henderson, Harry Potter's Moaning Myrtle) as she defies her father (voiced again by Robbie Coltrane) and sneaks out at night. Accompanied by her favourite toy twig, the Gruffalo's Child plays sleuth in the woods, tracking various footprints left in the snow and interrogating a snake, an owl, and a fox, as she detects her way to the big bad mouse. Her intrepid spirit combined with Bonham Carter's wonderfully voiced narration, and brilliant digital animation is sure to make The Gruffalo's Child a big hit with everyone.

Other films in this outdoor showcase include, the beautiful short Italian short, FOUR, about a little fairy who brightens up the sleeping forest. Light, airy music by Alexandra Harwood is a fine complement to this magical 3-minute short. ACORN BOY (Latvia), touches the heart, and tickles the funny bone as this toddling stray acorn gets deluged with pollen, makes some friends, and finds a home. Based on the books by Marie-Louise Gay, STELLA AND SAM: NIGHT FARIES, takes us into the backyard to "say goodnight to the sun" and wait for the night fairies to appear, so that wishes can be made. The interaction between big sister, Stella and her brother Sam ring true as she introduces him to the night, and Sam braves his fears of not sleeping in his own bed. Their delightful pet dog Fred rounds out this trio. ANIMAL BEATBOX is a 3-minute Australian short that matches images of animated animals with a rhythmic beat. Be prepared for the younger kids to be chanting "dogs and cats and dogs and cats and dogs and cats" for the next few days. SID THE PIKE (Sweden) is  like an underwater peek at a meandering fish. This blend of realism and animation that takes us into Sid's watery world is perhaps a bit too long, but I can hear the questions now about what makes Sid's gills move the way they do, and why does he have speckles. A trip to the Ontario Science Centre might be in your future.

Short for Shorties: Flick-Nic
Dufferin Grove Park (875 Dufferin St.)
Sunday, June 3

Friday, 1 June 2012

Coming Soon!

I know, I know, I'm behind on my posting, but you know how life is...I'm working on some stuff for you, and one of them is the WorldWide Short Film Festival. My social networking sites are always up to date, so LIKE the TMTM page at or follow me at .

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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...