Wednesday, 25 April 2012

From Teenagers to Grandmothers at Hot Docs 2012

My Thoughts On...Inocente, Oma and Bella, Not a Car Wash, Wildness, Women with Cows 



INOCENTE
Fifteen year-old San Diego artist, Inocente, has an amazing talent. Her works, like the make up she dons daily, is full of vibrant colours, fanciful curves, and infectious joy. Each of her paintings has a story behind them, some of which she shares with us in this documentary. Thanks to a program called A.R.T.S (A Reason To Survive), Inocente's innate talents are being recognized, and as she continues to transfer her dreams to her canvasses, she wins the daily battle against depression and her status as an illegal resident who has never stayed in one place longer than three months.  Go see this film, not to feel sorry for Inocente, but to experience the humour in her work, and to hear her innocent yet mature response to the life. English and Spanish with English subtitles.
Sun, Apr 29 7:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Mon, Apr 30 6:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Fri, May 4 11:00 AM
The ROM Theatre




NOT A CAR WASH
Albania's best known director, Kujtim Çashkuhis students and arts and culture activists fight to keep Marubi Film Academy from being bulldozed by the "authorities". Exactly who these authorities are is a confusing mess in post-communist Albania. Çashku has a writ saying that the police cannot bar the students from the  property, yet the police and the Minister of Culture, Youth, Tourism and Sports claim that they have the right to not only remove the protesters, but also to tear down the outdoor screening area and film school. Ironically, a Human Rights Film Festival was planned on the very site that is being fought over. Çashku was born in Tirana, and was a boy when Kinostudio was built in 1952 and heralded by the communist state as having the best of everything that would shine the light on Albanian arts and culture. When communism fell, so did Kinostudio, and part of that land is where Çashku founded Marubi Academy to train future filmmakers and writers, to host industry visitors from the West, and where residents of Tirana (population 800, 000) would have access to a second cinema. The fight for Marubi is an argument against mediocre television in favour of artistic expression and public space versus private interests and monetary profits from land sales. Albanian with English subtitles.

Tue, May 1 6:30 PM
The ROM Theatre

Thu, May 3 1:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3


 OMA and BELLA
They are going to think we're two "meshuggoim" (crazy women) laugh Regina and Bella as they sing old songs in a river boat in Berlin.  Regina is director Alexa Karolinski's Oma (grandmother); Bella Katz is Regina's best friend, who has moved in with Regina after her hip operation. As these Jewish grandmothers cook, bake and wield disposable razors shaving chicken legs and pigs feet, they respond to Alexa's questions. While Alexa tries to document recipes that are made by intuition rather than measurements, we learn that Bella is a picky eater ("I only eat Jewish food") who was once a wartime guerrilla fighter in Lithuania, that Regina, who can't help but feed her granddaughter ("Alexa, this orange juice is full of vitamins") took up smoking at 14 when the prostitutes in a Polish concentration camp gave her cigarettes to help her stay calm. The personal history of these two women is what takes the documentary beyond the familiar holocaust story: everyone can relate to hearing stories about their grandmothers when they were young, especially when events are revealed that were never spoken about previously.  Regina and Bella are survivors of a horrible moment in time, and while they will never forget the horror, they continually connect to their lost families and culture by preparing the foods that were once cooked in the kitchens of their childhood. The past and present dwell simultaneously in their lives and in this film, recorded by a granddaughter whose work will forward these stories into the future. German with English subtitles.
Sat, Apr 28 6:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Mon, Apr 30 4:30 PM
The ROM Theatre 


WILDNESS
The Silver Platter narrates this story about its life as a bar and safe community space for MacArthur Park's Latino LGBT residents. Voiced by Miriana Marroquin (who is also a producer of the film), the Silver Platter welcomes viewers, introducing them to her history and the lost "children" who find her when they are ready. In the past, she welcomed straight acting gay men, then M to F trans women, then a mix of queer-straight alliances, four of whom began programming Wildness, a Tuesday night staple of DJ-ing and queer avant-guarde performances that attracted a younger clients. The film is directed by Wu Tsang, one of the four producers of Wildness (along with Asma, Daniel and Ashland). At first, the women were suspicious of "Martes", thinking that Tuesday nights would have no room for them, but eventually they, too, became fans of Wildness, lining up to see queer culture represented in  its infinite varieties. Gentrification looms in the future of the area, but while rents remain cheap, the Platter has birthed children that bicker, love and find safety in community while organizing fights for human rights and dignity. An okay doc, but not exactly memorable once you step out of the theatre.  English and Spanish with English subtitles.
Wed, May 2 9:45 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Thu, May 3 7:00 PM
The ROM Theatre

Sun, May 6 9:00 PM
WOMEN WITH COWS
Seventy-something sisters Brit and Inger have different ideas about what to do with the family dairy farm: Brit wants to keep it; Inger wants to sell it. Through home movies, we see the sisters grow up parented by their father after their mother died in childbirth, and watch them work the family farm. As farm girls, they were used to the demands of the farm, but while Inger got married, moved away and had a family, Brit stayed on the farm with their father (now deceased). Widowed and happy with her grandchildren, Inger tries to persuade Brit that she is too old and infirm to handle the dangers of being around the cows on her own. While she is not in pain, Brit has a broken back and other ailments that have left her severely hunched-backed, and, as tiny as she is, she is no match for the 12 cows that she tries to care for. Inger continues to help out on the farm, grudgingly milking the cows at 4:00 am, but decisions about the farm have to be made. Women with Cows could have been a very interesting short film, about siblings and the future of family farms, but there is not enough material here for a feature. At 93 minutes this documentary is about 60 minutes too long. Swedish with English subtitles.
Sun, Apr 29 9:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Wed, May 2 1:15 PM
Cumberland 2

Sat, May 5 3:45 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Hot Docs
Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 26 - May 6
Tickets: www.hotdocs.ca or  416-637-5150
Box Office: 783 Bathurst Street (south of Bloor)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Love and Magic at Hot Docs 2012

My Thoughts On...Ballroom Dancer, Breath, Planet of Snail, The Field of Magic, The Queen of Versailles

BALLROOM DANCER.  With it's brooding, volatile male lead, and a tempestuous romance to boot, this film feels more like a fiction feature than a documentary. After being crowned a champion in Latin American Dance, 34 year old Slavik had decided to re-enter the competition ten years later to regain his title. Problem is, his former partner continues to reap success with someone else, while Slavik and his new partner (also his lover) are still learning how to move as one.  A shirtless Slavik is beautiful to watch, but it's his athleticism, his drive, and the way he approaches dance with the same fervor as his martial arts training that brings an unexpected element to this doc.  The dancer as athlete is very much a part of this film, and that should appeal to those who know how difficult it is to prepare the body and mind to be at its best on competition day.  Slavik's dedication to his sport, his demanding coaching of his new partner, Ania, give a dramatic touch to this film that is further enhanced by Magnus Jarlbo's score.  Watching this film I couldn't help wondering who will make the Hollywood bio-pic, and who would star as Slavik. Can Channing Tatum dance? Danish, Russian with English subtitles.
Mon, Apr 30 9:00 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre

Tue, May 1 3:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Wed, May 2 11:00 AM
Isabel Bader Theatre

 BREATH. This doc introduces us to Francesko, Estonia's only female chimney sweep. While I admired scenes of Francesko walking on roof tops without guide wires and leap-frogging when the going got tough ("Damn it! The leg is so unstable today"), I wasn't very interested in scenes away from her job and her interactions with her clients. I wanted to know more about the differing demands of rural versus urban clientele. How did she deal with the city people who all call her in August wanting things done "yesterday" as opposed to the rural crowd who call her from Spring to Fall? The director's attempt to connect Francesko's work to the spirituality of the breath takes us away from an already interesting subject, and drags us into arenas of social boredom. Estonian with English subtitles.
Sun, Apr 29 6:45 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Tue, May 1 1:30 PM
The ROM Theatre


 PLANET OF SNAIL. This love story explores the world of poet Young-Chan and his wife, Soon-Ho. Introduced by a mutual friend, the story of their courtship is filled with humour and passion, emotions that have continued into their marriage. The lanky, Young-Chan and his diminutive wife communicate on a level that is astounding as it is beautiful to observe. Even surrounded by friends, or performing household chores like washing dishes or changing a light bulb, there is an intimacy between these two that is rarely seen in life. Not all of us are as lucky enough to find a partner that suits us so well, as one friend admits to Young-Chan. Young-Chan's poetry abounds in the film, taking us into the world of nature and his observations about life from a deaf-blind perspective. His gentle, insightful verses, match the grace with which Soon-Ho communicates with him using finger braille, and the way in which they love one another. The film runs a bit long at 89 minutes, but that's a minor complaint when weighed against the wondrous relationship of these two people. Korean with English subtitles.
Mon, Apr 30 9:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Wed, May 2 1:30 PM
The ROM Theatre

Sun, May 6 2:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

 THE FIELD OF MAGIC. Living off the land is given a different twist in this film about a group of people who have chosen to live near a dump. Scavenging through other people's refuse, they use the proceeds of their finds to buy food and staples for their tiny lodges, which are just large enough to house two. An outsider might be very tempted to dismiss or pity these people, but director, Mindaugas Survila's camera reveals a band of settlers who have created a community. Contrary to what the media has written about them, no one has committed suicide, and they are not living in despair. They have learned to cope with such difficulties as pulling water bottles through high snow, but they dance, have holiday parties with their neighbours, weep for estranged relatives, and talk finances just like people living in more socially acceptable places. Survila's film is a revealing, and at times, humourous portrayal of people living their lives on their own terms. Lithuanian, Russian with English subtitles.
Sat, Apr 28 6:15 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Mon, Apr 30 1:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3


 THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLE. It's almost obscene to go from The Field of Magic to talking about a billionaire and his wife, but that's what happens at Hot Docs, when so many different point of views are offered on screen. The filming of Jackie and David Siegel's story begins with the former beauty queen and her time-share selling husband talking about the new home they are building which is modelled after Versailles. Since they are bursting at the seams in their 26, 000 square foot home, the new house will be bigger than the White House, have 30 bathrooms, a skating rink (it's in Florida!), a grand staircase to beat all staircases and be the largest single-family dwelling in America. David Siegel is building his Versailles "because he can"; Jackie has seven children because she has nannies for them all; however, when the recession hits, and the bank stops lending money, David sinks into a depression as he tries to fund his international time share properties, and Jackie has to learn how to take care of her children with less staff. Peering into the lives of this family is a fascinating look at the rich, and we can't help but laugh ("What's the name of my driver?" Jackie asks the stunned rent-a-car representative), but at the same time, what is revealed is the state in which many Americans were living beyond their means without thought of it ever ending. The Siegels thought they would continue to get presidents elected, and everyone who worked for the Siegals expected that life to continue: Filipino nannies thought they would be able to send money back home; time share buyers thought their credit cards would always be there for vacations, and the Siegels children would surely never have to work. While not broke by many standards, the Siegels are having a hard time adjusting to the reality of the "American dream".
Wed, May 2 7:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Thu, May 3 9:15 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre

Fri, May 4 8:45 PM
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Hot Docs
Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 26 - May 6
Tickets: www.hotdocs.ca or  416-637-5150
Box Office: 783 Bathurst Street (south of Bloor)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Donate Today and Win!

Today is D-Day. Donation Day, that is! Donate $25 or more to The More the Merrier Arts Radio, and you will have a chance to win tickets to TIFF Hitchcock Master Classes with Guillermo del Toro (courtesy of TIFF) or a pair of tickets to the surtitled (listen in French, follow in English) performance of  "The Pain in the Ass/L'Emmerdeur" (courtesy of Theatre Francais de Toronto).  TODAY: 1-2pm. 416-946-7800/1-888-204-8976 or www.ciut.fm

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Put Your Money Where Your Ears Are: Support The More the Merrier Arts Radio on Sat. April 21st!

CIUT 89.5 FM Spring Membership Drive is now on!  If you're able to donate $25 or more and become a member of CIUT  you would be helping me towards my show's membership goal (and maybe win some great swag); however, since The More the Merrier is a show that supports artists it's only fair that, like artists, I offer the opportunity to Donate-What-You-Can.

Pledges can be made RIGHT NOW: on line at www.ciut.fm using a credit card or Pay Pal, by calling 416-946-7800 or toll free 1-888-204-8976 or in person at the CIUT office at 7 Hart House Circle. Be sure to list The More the Merrier as your favourite show! You can also feel free to contact me at tmtmshow@gmail.com and I'll be more than happy to fill out your donation form for you! 

If this is your first time visiting this page, have a look at some of the older posts and have a listen to the latest podcast  at http://www.ciut.fm/index.php/shows-2/the-more-the-merrier-tmtm/

Cheers!
donna g, Host/Producer,
The More the Merrier Arts Radio
Saturdays, 1-2pm
CIUT 89.5 FM

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Aravind Adiga's "The White Tiger" A Book Club Winner

The The More the Merrier's Book Club was successfully launched with Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger. Joining me for the on air discussion were bloggers, Heidy M (Hyesmusings.blogspot.com) and Khamal M (TheJuxtapositionApe.blog.com), and Marek Saulig, my former (now on call) technical operator. The social satire set in India, and dealing with the shenanigans of Balram, a murder, thinker and entrepreneur made for a lively discussion about social status, politics and nerve. As will all future TmTm Book Club selections, The White Tiger is readily available at the Toronto Public Library, your local new/used book stores, or on line. Stay tuned for our next selection...


Listen to our discussion:

Rating: Buy or Borrow? 2 buys: Khamal M, and donna g; 2 borrows: Heidy M, and Marek

May I recommend the following books for those interested in an Indian setting:


...and, of course, any of Balram aka The White Tiger's favourite poets Rumi, Iqbal, Mirza, and Ghalib. Happy reading!

BOOK LIST (clockwise from top to bottom)
Sisters of the Sari by Brenda L. Baker, Climbing the Mango Tree by Madhur Jaffrey, Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama, The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall, and India Authentic. The Book of Shiva by Deepak Chopra