Friday, 26 October 2012

Why Do We Need a Breast Cancer Film Festival?

Michelle Rothstein (below, left) is the Artistic Director of Breast Fest. With the festival almost a week away, she took time out to answer a few questions that I (maybe you) have about this emerging event

.donna g: With all the film festivals that Toronto has to offer, why add another festival to the scene and why a film festival about breast cancer?

Michelle Rothstein: There are over 70 different film festivals in Toronto and I think for good reason. The past century has shown us the true power of the moving image. We have now had a number of generations raised in a movie theatre, or watching films at home. Using film to tell stories, different perspectives, to showcase diversity, to provide a window into others lives is extremely powerful. At Breast Fest we are doing the same thing but to educate and create awareness around breast cancer. We use these films, our speaker series and other art forms, to connect people to our cause, inspire dialogue and facilitate learning. Using a darkened theatre to open people’s hearts and minds is an extraordinary vehicle to have people come to terms with many of their own experiences.

donna g: With so much "pinking" being marketed aren't you concerned about audience fatigue and the potential for cynicism?

Michelle Rothstein: Breast Fest is exactly the place to confront that fatigue and cynicism. Our festival is a place where some of the harder question surrounding the disease and cause are brought up. For instance, this year we are showing Lea Pool’s film Pink Ribbons Inc and rather than shying away from it as a breast cancer charity, we are facing the issues head on by following up the film with an amazing nuanced and balanced conversation specifically on breast cancer fundraising. We are calling the conversation 50 Shades of Pink. It should be an interesting one!

donna g: Breast cancer is seen as a women's issue, but Breast Fest has included a very powerful documentary, which deals in part with male breast cancer. Do you plan on doing any male-targeted promotion of  Rachel Libert's Semper Fi: Always Faithful?

Michelle Rothstein: Absolutely. First of all, as a breast cancer charity we have women and men involved all the time. Our programmes may specifically target younger women, but we are bringing our education, awareness and fundraising to a large populace. It is always important to us to engage both men and women. For Semper Fi specifically, Mike Partain, the young man featured in the film with breast cancer has written a blog for us. I encourage you to check it out and repost it. It is an amazing piece about his experience. http://rethinkbreastcancer.blogspot.ca/2012/10/mikes-story-diagnosed-with-male-breast.html

We have wanted to address male breast cancer for a while now, but remarkably, this is the first film that has touched upon it. We jumped at the chance to screen it as Breast Fest is a great vehicle to highlight some of the areas of breast cancer that are forgotten or rarely addressed.

donna g:  I was surprised to see Agnes Varda's classic film Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cléo from 5 to 7) included in your film programme. It's one of my favourite films, but I'm curious as to why Breast Fest chose to include a film that was made in 1962?

Michelle Rothstein: First of all, the film is fabulous. It is gorgeous, beautifully shot and a classic. But besides all those amazing qualities, we on the advisory thought the perspective of a young woman waiting for a  cancer diagnosis was still quite fresh. Plus, it is our 5th anniversary and we wanted to do something fun!


donna g: How does your Clutch Fund work, and how can women access it?

Michelle Rothstein: We do approach donors to help us underwrite the cost of attending Breast Fest. It is extremely important that as an education and outreach program we make the festival accessible to all. While a $10 ticket may seem very little to some people that can pose a great challenge for young women in treatment, students, those who are employment challenged. Raising those funds helps us to make sure our audience and our discussions at Breast Fest and remain diverse. To access the Clutch Fund please email hello@rethinkbreastcancer.com.













TICKETS: 
Films $10, more or special events
Questions: 416-920-0980
www.breastfestfilmfest.com
@breastfestfilm
@rethinktweet

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West (at Bathurst)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

TMTM Book Club Selection: LUCHADORAS by Peggy Adam

LUCHADORAS by PEGGY ADAM is our next Book Club selection.  Our on air discussion date: Sat. Nov. 17, 1-2pm on CIUT 89.5 FM or listen at www.ciut.fm 

Joining me in studio will be blogger, HeidyMo (http://hyemusings.blogspot.ca/) and Alan Harnum (Toronto Public Library). Read along with us (mature readers)!  This graphic book is available in the Toronto Public Library or at Comic/Graphic Book outlets.

 

The following copy about LUCHADORAS is from: 
http://www.blankslatebooks.co.uk/our-books/luchadoras/

Recommended for Mature Readers.
Chosen as part of the 2007 Sélection Officielle at the Angouléme International Comics Festival.
Since 1993, a grievous shadow has been cast over the Mexican border-city of Juárez. A tragic symbol of misogynist violence, Cuidad Juárez has been the scene of hundreds of feminicidios —the abduction and brutal murders of female victims aged between 12 and 22.
Referred to as ‘Las Muertas de Juárez’, many of these victims are found tortured, sexually abused, or disfigured – senseless atrocities that have caught international attention. With many of these cases still unresolved, some sources suggest the number of victims may even reach into the thousands.
It is in this harrowing real setting that we are introduced to Alma, a woman courageously attempting to escape her abusive gang-member fiancé. Following a violent altercation, she flees in the night, cementing her vow to never return by beginning a new relationship with a considerate stranger.
In this story of survival by any means necessary, Peggy Adam explores the complex issues surrounding the murders through the humanity of her characters. Truly a graphic novel of substance, Luchadoras asks the reader to consider where exactly the extents of morality lie in a corrupt society.
Luchadoras is like watching a piece of great world cinema… It’s a series of reminders that comics are made by people other than white male nerds, that comics don’t need high concepts, and that comics don’t require misanthropic navel-gazing to be gripping and important.”
- Danny Djeljosevic, Comics Bulletin (4 1/5 stars)
“Luchadoras is a concise, focussed gem that deserves to sit up there alongside epics like Los Bros Hernandez’ Love & Rockets and Jessica Abel’s La Perdida as another empathic, perceptive portrayal of troubling aspects of contemporary Mexican society.”
Paul Gravett
“Brilliant, brutal, and infused with the raw grace of a wounded panther, Luchadoras is so good, it hurts.”
– Jason Wilkins, Broken Frontier

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Toronto Consort Off To a Rousing Start With "The Tudors"

Happy 40th Anniversary Toronto Consort!

The Toronto Consort: (top row) David Fallis, Alison Melville, Michelle DeBoer, John Pepper, Paul Jenkins,
(bottom row) Katherine Hill, Terry McKenna, Laura Pudwell, Ben Grossman.

Photo Credit: Paul Orenstein
Last night was my first experience seeing the Toronto Consort. They kicked off their 40th Anniversary season with The Tudors: music from the Fairfax Manuscript, Henry VIII Manuscript, music recorded for the television series (The Tudors) as well as music their new double-CD All in a Garden Green: A Renaissance Collection, as well as an earlier CD, The Queen.

The first half of the evening included a lovely solo, Madame d'amours from soprano, Katherine Hill, backed by Alison Melville on flute, and Terry McKenna on baroque guitar. David Fallis, Paul Jenkins and John Pepper performed a wonderful a capella of Ah Robyn, a song best known as being performed by Feste in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The only non-vocal piece in this first half was a splendid collaboration on Consort VIII & If love now reigned (music by Henry VII) featuring viol, recorder and baroque guitar.

The Tallis choir joined Toronto Consort on the last sections before intermission in performing music by Thomas Thallis. Divided into eight sections, the entire group was dispersed into several aisles in the upper balcony of Trinity-St. Paul's Centre. Spem in alium, written for 40 voices, should have been the highlight of the evening, however, I was sitting in the balcony, much too close to a vociferous soprano. Each time that particular choir sang, I lost the experience of being enveloped by music. Had I been listening from the orchestra level, I would have been impressed by the staging as well as the unique surround sound experience; instead, I could only listen with half an ear to the choirs farthest away from my seat.

The second half of the evening showcased all the instruments: baroque guitar, flute, harpsichord, hurdy-gurdy, viol and mandolin. Alison Melville plays a mean recorder, and her talent was well-showcased on her solo piece, Waltham Abbey. Piva alla Venetiana was a toe-tapping little number, as was the funky Bellamira & Emperor of the Moon. I don't know how Ben Grossman makes the hurdy-gurdy sound as good as it does on Boate Man, but I definitely wanted to hear more! David Fallis showed his talent for characterization on Willy prithee go to bed, and mezzo-soprano Laura Pudwell had me tearing up with the dolorous, Essex last good-night. The rousing applause she received was well and truly deserved, and was a memorable highlight of tonight's programme. Brava!

You have one more opportunity to hear Toronto Consort perform, The Tudors, tonight at 8:00 pm at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre.

The Toronto Consort
Trinity-St. Paul's Centre
427 Bloor St. West (1 block west of Spadina)
Toronto, ON  M5S 1X7
Box Office:
Phone Number: (416) 964-6337
In person (subject to availability)
info@torontoconsort.org
http://torontoconsort.org/index.html


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Donating to The More the Merrier: What's In It For You?


Me with writer/director, Ruba Nadda
 (Inescapable, Cairo Time, Sabah).
I love supporting Canadian Talent!
CIUT's Fall Fundraising Campaign is in full effect and I've got a few goodies to sweeten the pot if you donate to The More the Merrier on or before October 20th.

Ways to Donate:
Call: 416-946-700 Toll Free 1-888-204-8976
On line (secure server): http://www.ciut.fm/ (be sure to include The More the Merrier)
In Person at 7 Hart House Circle (3rd Floor



What You Could Win by Donating to The More the Merrier!

BOND, JAMES BOND! I've got several pairs film of tickets to Shaken, Not Stirred: Bond on Film. See Classic Bond films on the big screen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox at King and John Street. Value $24/pair (courtesy of www.tiff.net).
    image courtsey of www.tiff.net


    1 pair of tickets to The Spy Who Loved Me  (Sunday, November 4 at 12:00pm)

    2) 1 pair of tickets to For Your Eyes Only (Tuesday, November 6 at 9:00 PM)

    3) 1 pair of tickets to Live and Let Die (Saturday, November 10 at 12:00pm)



    Art Gallery of Ontario Passes
    image courtesy of
    http://www.ago.net/4854
    Value $50.00 (anonymous donation






      Why You Should Donate?
      • I called my show The More the Merrier to INclude not EXclude people. 
      • As a child I couldn't afford to go to a lot of arts events. I relied on radio and television shows to take me to places I couldn't attend, and to introduce me to things I wouldn't have the opportunity to learn about. I'm paying that forward with The More the Merrier. Every show that I do, I'm talking directly to listeners so that we ALL learn and, most importantly, feel included in what's happening on the arts scene. 
      • I also enjoy giving air time to guests who have no marketing/publicity budget. Air time for the arts has steady disappeared over the years. Many of the shows I used to watch/listen to as a kid are GONE! It's harder and harder for emerging as well as established artists to get air time to showcase their talent/work.
      • Whenever possible, I try to get giveaways to foster audience participation. Sometimes, all we need is someone to say, here are some tickets, try something new/different for us to step out of the house and experience the arts. 

      I listen for free, so...
      Like Big Bird, The More the Merrier can be killed if there isn't enough community support (aka donations) to justify having a time slot on CIUT. If feathers fly, are you okay with less talk on CIUT, and no talk about the arts on community radio?

      If you've read this far, thank you so much for hearing me out. Fundraising is a necessity that CIUT does only twice a year, the other 50 weeks are for YOU!

      Walk Good,
      donna g

      Friday, 12 October 2012

      Movie Review: Stories We Tell

      Image courtesy of www.mongrel.ca
      In Stories We Tell, director, Sarah Polley interviews her family and friends to learn more about her mother, Diane, who died of cancer when Sarah was eleven years old. Polley plays cinematic detective, drawing forth stories from each subject and tracking down information about Diane's roles as wife, mother, and actor. Through these stories, a portrait develops of a charming, vivacious, hummingbird of a woman with an infectious laugh and personality. As the interviews ripple beyond Sarah's relatives to friends and acquaintances, a mysterious side of Diane also surfaces. What is the real "truth" about Diane?

      Just as you can never really see yourself from the back, you can never really see the truth. Others might tell you what you look like, and you can see yourself in mirrors, but a constant 360 is never possible, and that is simply how life manifests itself--especially when trying to understand the truth about someone else's reality. In searching to understand her mother, Sarah Polley reveals to herself, and to us, that every family has secrets, and that no matter how deep we dig, the truth of whatever is unearthed is always subject to interpretation.

      Stories We Tell could easily have been derailed by bad writing and editing, but this hybrid gem of a docu-film with its blend of period re-enactments and home movies,  its one-on-one sessions and studio-recorded text, has been reigned in so that only the beauty of family brilliantly shines through, complete with occlusions, passion, and clarity. A marvellous contribution to cinema.

      Cotton, Flying Men and Narwhal Meat: Friday at Planet in Focus Film Festival

      $5 Screening!!!*
      Bitter Seeds
      Friday, Oct. 12 - 5:00 pm
      TIFF Bell Lightbox
      Run Time: 88 minutes

      According to this revealing documentary, "every 30 minutes, a farmer in India kills himself". What is behind this epidemic of suicides in the largest farmer community in the world? Director, Micha X. Peled investigates this growing crisis by taking us into the world of cotton farmer Ram Krishna Kopulwar, forced into debt buy purchasing genetically modified seeds, and Manjusha Ambarwar, an eighteen year-old budding journalist who has taken the initiative in investigating why farmers in her village continue to kill themselves. Monsanto, the name behind the Bt cotton now growing in many Indian villages, has their point view represented in the film, but as scientist Dr. Vandana Shiva points out, Monsanto has a gridlock on cotton in India: they have to wealth to advertise the seeds to illiterate farmers, they control the distribution of the seeds in the stores, and they control the foreign trade with countries like China. It's almost impossible for farmers to find conventional seeds, and its even harder for them to get loans for the seeds, leaving many to go to moneylenders as they risk their farms to buy seeds and pray that their crop will be successful in withstanding the mealy bug that has destroyed so much of the Bt cotton plants. By focusing on how this epidemic is affecting one village, Micha X. Peled successfully paints a picture of what is happening across India, and how the seeds impact the social and traditional dynamics of the Indian family, from economic survival and pride to dowries.



      Canícula
      Friday, Oct. 12 - 7:30 pm
      TIFF Bell Lightbox
      Run Time: 65 minutes

      Director, Jose Alvarez and his crew capture the rituals that are being preserved by the Totanic community in Mexico. With minimal dialogue and music we watch as ancient cultural traditions are practiced and passed on to younger generations. The camera patiently captures the rhythm of the festive canicula season, walking with the farmers through their fields, focusing on the patterns of dance steps, and showing the connection of the people to the land through the crafting of clay works that replicate the artists' environment with beautifully made pottery. The Voladores, flying men, or rather boys in this case, and their free fall act was a breathtaking feat that I had never seen before, and which defies description in its simplicity and danger.





      Vanishing Point (Katinngat)
      Friday, Oct. 12 -  9:15 pm
      TIFF Bell Lightbox
      Run Time: 82 minutes

      Have you ever wanted to travel to new lands? Have you ever wanted to meet new people? Then enter the world of Polar Eskimo, Navarana K'avigak as she introduces us to her part of the world in Greenland and then travels to see her Canadian Arctic cousins in Baffin Island. A descendant of the shaman Qitdlarssuag, who made the trek from Canada to Greenland, Navarana might very well be stepping into the footsteps of her ancestor as she travels between the two points. I found it fascinating to see through Navarana's eyes and words the contrasting ways in which each northern community is adapting to climate and cultural changes. The photography is gorgeous, with the blues of the sky and the water, and the white of the snow and the clouds forming a natural backdrop for the living things that inhabit the harsh but beautiful areas. After watching this film by Stephen A. Smith and Julia Szucs, I have a craving for mattak, narwhal meat, fresh from the sea.



      TICKETS
      Regular Screenings: $12
      Student/Senior (with ID): $10
      Closing Night Gala (includes film and party): $22
      Packages also available. Check website/call for details
      http://planetinfocus.org
      416-599-TIFF 98433

      Wednesday, 10 October 2012

      Of Drainers & Daylighting: the Subterranean World of LOST RIVERS

      The 13th Annual Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival kicked off tonight with the world premiere of Lost Rivers at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. In attendance for the introduction and Q & A following the sold-out screening were director Caroline Bâcle, producer Katerina Soukup, and several members of the crew and cast. The film documents the history of buried rivers and shows the environmental benefits of "daylighting"unearthing  and returning these rivers to their previous functions.  Over the course of three years, the filmmakers followed "drainers"  in Brescia, Italy, London, England, Soel, Korea, Yonkers, USA, and Toronto and Montreal, Canada. "Drainers", so-called because they actively and often times, illegally, pry open manhole covers to explore underground river drains and sewers, are unsung navigators and keepers of history.  Only in Brescia, Italy have drainers been legally acknowledged for their mapping of ancient waterways and legitimized by the city as a historic society.  

      The beauty of this documentary is the appeal it has to armchair explorers as well as the more adventurous among us who may be inspired to become "drainers" in their own cities.  The film will also be of interest to the history buff as well as the average urbanite who would love an oasis of natural calm in the middle of the city. As one person in the documentary points out, with so many children now living in cities, where are the future scientists and environmentalist to come from, if they can't reach out easily and interact with nature? With an original score that perfectly complements the theme and vision of the film, Lost Rivers is an offering of hope for future urban and social development, and a must-see for politicians of all levels for solutions to crumbling infrastructure. 



      TICKETS
      Regular Screenings: $12
      Student/Senior (with ID): $10
      Closing Night Gala (includes film and party): $22
      Packages also available. Check website/call for details
      http://planetinfocus.org
      416-599-TIFF 98433

      Saturday, 6 October 2012

      Rocking Out With Musicians in Ordinary

      John Edwards and Hallie Fishel aka Musicians in Ordinary
      You know what I like about Musicians in Ordinary? Everything. They're talented, funny, and they unselfishly share the stage with equally gifted guests. Watching lutenist, John Edwards and soprano, Hallie Fishel perform tonight's programme, His Perfections Like Sunbeams, with guests Christopher Verrette, and Justin Haynes, I remain impressed with their abilities and the intimate mood they continually create at their concerts.

      Tonight's programme was a tribute to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594 - 1612) with music composed by the musicians he welcomed into his household. Hallie has an embracing soprano with spot-on diction, no matter what language she sings in. English pronunciation has changed a lot over the centuries, add the high vocals in the singing mix, and it can be tricky to follow, but not so when listening to Hallie; she's done her homework and it shows. With her, the voice is always charming and captivating without being simpering or too precious, as she with  There is a Garden in Her Face (Robert Jones) and Come My Celia (Ferrabosco). Above all, I adore her clear Italian and  the emotions she expresses in Notari's Ahi, che s'accrease and Vol vedet"il mio mal and Ciaccona (both credited to Notari, but unconfirmed).

      Thankfully taking the starch out of chamber music with his humourous comments and facts about the period and music being played, John Edwards never misses a beat as he effortlessly transitions from the lute to the 6-foot theorbo, from solos (Sturt's Prelude-Mrs. Hoffmans Alman), to duets (Ciprano di Rore's Ben si qui mostra il Ciel), to trios (Ford's Unto the Temple of Thy Beauty), and quartets (Notari? Ciaccona). His casual sure-handedness belies the deftness of fingers and the trained ear needed to play the pieces MIO selects for their concerts. 

      Guests, Christopher Verrette and Justin Haynes were welcome additions to tonight's concert. Verrette is Verrette is a member of Tafelmusik's violin section, and has played with MIO in many concerts. The man is a storyteller on the violin. I don't know how else to put it. Each time I listen to him play, he takes me on a journey. He plays with none of the keening, emotionally manipulative tricks that less talented violinists try to pass off as "feelings". I especially loved the way his playing worked with Hallie's voice on  Romanesca (Notari?) and with John on another possible Nortari's piece, Ruggiero. Complementing Justin Haynes tonight was his very eye-catching dragon-headed viola da gamba (which he made). I found myself rocking out to his three part solo by Ford: Three Lyra Viol Pieces: and if you doe touch me ile crie-Forget me not, A pill to purge melancholie. The spotlight was on him and he shone brilliantly.

      If you are at all intimidated by concert halls, then give Musicians in Ordinary a try, and start with their Helliconian Hall Series. The Hall looks like a tiny church and is situated right behind Hazelton Lanes, on 35 Hazelton Avenue, just north of Yorkville Avenue. No dress code in effect, just come and enjoy some great music with several laughs from John in between selections. Ticket prices are a reasonable $25/$20 students and seniors.

      Want to learn more about Musician in Ordinary (MIO), including why they have such a strange name? Check out their blog: http://musiciansinordinary.blogspot.ca/ and/or http://www.musiciansinordinary.ca/