Wednesday, 29 May 2013

FREE Concerts at Luminato 2013

photo courtesy of
It's outdoors, it goes rain or shine, but it's FREE! Luminato 2013 (June 14–23, 2013) will be providing you with some sweet sights and sounds in June with their lineup at the Festival Hub. The Hub is located at David Pecaut Square (west of Roy Thomson Hall, across from the Royal Alex Theatre). Afternoon, evening, and late night concerts will feature artists such as Amadou and Miriam, Maxi Priest, Rosane Cash, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Space Cadet, and our own Lady Son, to name a few. Aptly entitled, "A Bittersweet Tribute", this dance showcase shines a light on Peruvian-born dancer/singer/actress Patricia Cano and singer, Lhasa de Sela, whose life will be celebrated in Danse Lhasa Dance, choreographed by Pierre-Paul Savoie. If you listen on and off to my radio show,  The More the Merrier, you will know that Lhasa's music is a favourite of mine, and I was saddened to hear of her passing in 2011 from breast cancer at age 38. She was an incredible talent, whose haunting voice, whether in Spanish, French, or English will survive, thanks to her recordings. One of my favourite tracks, "De Cara a la Pared", can be heard on her first CD La Llorona.

For more information about the free events, please check out The Hub, or for the complete Luminato lineup.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Animals at Inside Out LGBT Film Festival (May 23 - June 2)

After chatting with Inside Out's Andrew Murphy last Saturday, I was sold on the dark humour in his description of  Animals.

Description: A well-worn, adorable teddy bear named Deerhoof is best friend to 17-year-old Pol. This is no ordinary stuffed animal, however. Deerhoof plays a mean set of drums, and dishes out advice to his companion in a voice reminiscent of Stephen Hawking... -Inside Out

Wed May. 29, 2013
At 7:15 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox
350 King Street West (corner of King and John)

D: Marçal Forés
Language: English and Spanish
Runtime: 102:00


Inside Out LGBT Film Festival
May 23 - June 2, 2013

By Phone:
10am to 7pm daily
416.599.TIFF (8433)
Toll free: 1.888.599.8433

In Person: 10am to 10pm daily
TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square,
350 King Street West (at John Street)

On Line:

Friday, 17 May 2013

Inside Out Shines International Spotlight on LGBT Rights

 Dir: Debalina Majumder (India)
International Premiere                                                     
In a small village in India, two young women, Swapna and Sucheta, fall in love. When faced with the prospect of Sucheta’s marriage to a man who forbids her to see Swapna, the women decide to die in each other’s arms. Director Debalina Majumber makes this heartbreaking event a starting point for her portrait of a diverse group of queer women in India who come from various backgrounds, define their sexuality in distinct ways and have diverse stories, but who share pressures and often outright rejection by their families amid the isolation of being different.

Dir: Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann (Cameroon/USA)
Canadian Premiere
Meet Gertrude and Cédric, two young people fighting for gay rights in Cameroon where those convicted of same-sex relations face up to five years imprisonment. Fearing rejection from their families and dealing with threats of violence, Cédric and Gertrude nevertheless remain optimistic, believing that through their work they can help build a more accepting and safer Cameroon for LGBT people.

Dir: Roger Ross Williams (USA/Uganda)
Canadian Premiere
This documentary uncovers the role of the American evangelical movement in Uganda, where American missionaries have been credited with both creating schools and hospitals and promoting dangerous religious bigotry. The film follows evangelical leaders in America and Uganda along with politicians and missionaries as they attempt to eliminate the “sin of homosexuality” through the introduction of the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill and to convert Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity.

Dir: Subarna Thapa (Nepal/France)
Katmandu-born, France-based writer/director, Subarna Thapa, has made waves with his inaugural feature-length film, SOONGAVA, a tenderly told girl-meets-girl story. Diya (Deeya Maskey) is a teacher and dancer who falls for Kiran (Nisha Adhikari) just when Diya’s family have found her a suitable boy to marry. But when the women’s relationship comes to light, we see how unwilling their tightly knit families—and Nepalese society—are to accept their choice.

Dir: Selena Blake (USA)
Canadian Premiere
Selena Blake’s TABOO YARDIES is a riveting documentary that smashes the façade of Jamaica’s tourist-attracting One Love sentiment by giving voice to the LGBT community who dare to speak up and speak out against the oppression and violence they face on the island. Profoundly candid, heart-wrenching interviews featuring the legendary poet/activist Stacey Ann Chin, author Thomas Glave, former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, and other members of the Jamaican community offer a deeper analysis of how the country’s general ideology against homosexuality developed and is perpetuated.

Dir: Marta Cunningham (USA)
This powerful, thoughtful and tragic documentary tells the story of the 2008 killing of Lawrence “Larry” King, a diminutive grade eight student who wore makeup and heels to his southern California middle school. After Larry publicly declared a Valentine’s crush on 14-year-old classmate Brandon McInerney, Brandon shot Larry point-blank in the back of the head in the school’s computer lab.


May 23 -  June 2, 2013 416.599.TIFF (8433) Toll free: 1.888.599.8433 10am to 7pm daily In Person: 10am to 10pm daily TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West (at John Street)

Source: Touchwood PR, Inside Out LGBT Film Festival

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My Hot Docs 2013 Faves: Thanks Hot Docs programmers!

Now that Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival is over, people have been asking how many films I saw and what were my favourites. Well, here is is folks: a list of the films I saw (arranged alphabetically) with photos and descriptions of my Top 5 Favourites. A few films might have been a wee bit longer than need be, but I can say honestly that enjoyed ALL of the films I saw. I don't think this has ever happened before! Thanks Hot Docs programmers!

Read on, and don't forget to share your faves by posting a comment. Please note that by favourites, I do mean exactly that. Sometimes the films that impact you are not the ones that check all the "best picture" buttons.

1) 15 Reasons to Live
D: Alan Zweig 83 minutes | Canada | English | World Premiere | Rating: PG

2) Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys
D: Jessica Oreck | 85 minutes | Finland USA | (Subtitled) Finnish | International Premiere | Rating: 14A

Brothers Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki are cowboys of the Arctic, quiet but good-natured, daring but humble, rugged but gentle and exceptionally knowledgeable when it comes to their little slice of wilderness. Together with their wives and children, the brothers live well north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, where they are the leaders of a collective of traditional reindeer herders who manage the last group of wild reindeer in all of Finland. - Hot Docs

My Thoughts: A noticeable number of people walked out at the beginning of this film because there are scenes of reindeer being culled for slaughter.  If they had only stayed a few minutes more they would have been in awe of the beautiful scene pictured above, as well as the fact that every part of the reindeer is used for consumption, for clothing, for tools, and even eating vessels. They also missed the way in which the Aasinki brothers relate to each other and their families. Scenes of the brothers with their children are precious ones familiar to anyone who has children in their lives. I especially appreciated how one brother engaged his daughters in the family business. The girls are eager participants, one even boasting of reindeer catches as she helps with the tagging of the animals. The director's observational style allows you to sit back and soak in the nuances of the brothers' lives, taking note of the way they have had to adapt the business to survive, be it through machinery or the organized tours they lead for tourists as far away as Spain. Lovely.

3) Alcan Highway
D: Aleksi Salmenperä | 86 minutes | Finland | English Finnish | International Premiere | Rating: 14A
(see my review)

4) Anita
D:Freida Mock | 84 minutes | USA | International Premiere | Rating: PG

5) Ballerina
D: Maja Friis | 50 minutes | Denmark | (Subtitled) Swedish | International Premiere | Rating: G
(watch the trailer)

Inspired by world-famous Swedish ballerina Elsa Marianne von Rosen’s autobiography, filmmaker Maja Friis uses beautifully choreographed contemporary dance scenes to reveal the dancer’s impossible balancing act between consuming human love and an all-encompassing artistic passion. Connecting unique archival material and new recordings of the now 89-year-old legend, the film portrays dance as a lover, a partner, a support and a shadow. - Angie Driscoll

My Thoughts: This is a gorgeous film! Shot in sumptuous black and white by cinematographer, Brian Curt Petersen, and directed and very well-edited by Maja Friis. Friis along with company partner and producer, Mille Haynes, are on a mission to create poetic cinema piece that spotlights engaging subjects. Their portrait of prima ballerina, Elsa Marianne von Rosen, gave me a new way of thinking about the dancer and dance. It is often said that the two cannot be separated, and this is film demonstrates to pull between artistic and human passion in a way I had never seen previously. As someone who knows many artists who are consumed by the fire of their passion, the message of the film was quite familiar, but the combination of theme and cinematic artistry of the film left me with memories and visions that I will not soon forget. Breathtaking in its depiction of the artist's soul.

6) Bà nội
D: Khoa Lê | 85 minutes | Canada | (Subtitled) Vietnamese | North American Premiere | Rating: G
WINNER - Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize, Hot Docs 2013

7) Brothers Hypnotic
D: Reuben Atlas | 80 minutes | USA Netherlands | English | International Premiere | Rating: 14A

8) The Circle
D: Bram Conjaerts | 47 minutes | Belgium | (Subtitled) French English | World Premiere | Rating: PG
WINNER - Best Mid-Length Documentary, Hot Docs 2013

9) Da Vinci (short film)
D: Yuri Ancarani 25 minutes | Italy | Canadian Premiere | Rating: 14A

10) Derby & Groma (short film)
D: Kara Blake 17 minutes | Canada | (Subtitled) Spanish | World Premiere | Rating: G
After a collection of photographs of a vaudeville couple in Buenos Aires are found scattered across a street, their story is imaginatively pieced together with archival footage, performance, interviews and animation. Derby & Groma reveals a vibrant cabaret world in Argentina during the 1920s and ‘30s, and attests to the value of cultural artifacts that not only recover a forgotten past but also enliven our imaginations. - Jane Kim

My Thoughts: This film was a fitting complement to Ballerina, but it can stand on its own two feet exceedingly well. I love history and the arts so I connected with this film from the start. Discarded pictures of a caberet duo (whether they were a couple or just partners is unknown), and photos of other such entertainers paint a picture of Argentina's past that made me wonder about Derby and Groma's families and about other cities where the past can be discarded without a thought. How many digital cameras will be lost in the 21st Century, their frozen pictures of people disconnected from their place and significance? I enjoyed the cultural investigation pursued by director, Kara Blake, as she allows memorablia stores, historians and the finder of the Derby and Groma photos to speak to the past and share their speculations of who the two were. The cinematography warmly cherishes the photos used in the documentary, adding a lustre and patina to the mysterious images.

11) Dragon Girls
D: Inigo Westmeier | 90 minutes | Germany | (Subtitled) Chinese | North American Premiere | Rating: PG
WINNER - Best International Feature Documentary Award, Hot Docs 2013

12) Felix Austria!
D: Christine Beebe | 76 minutes | USA Austria | (Subtitled) English German | World Premiere | Rating: PG (see my review)

13) Gangster of Love
D: Nebojsa Slijepcevic | 80 minutes | Croatia Germany Romania | (Subtitled) Croatian German | International Premiere | Rating: PG
(see my review)

14) Good Ol' Freda
D: Ryan White | 86 minutes | USA | English | International Premiere | Rating: PG
(see my review)

15) Hill of Pleasures
D: Maria Ramos | 90 minutes | Netherlands Brazil | (Subtitled) Portuguese | North American Premiere | Rating: 14A

This observational doc, beautifully shot against one of the world’s most stunning views, reveals a community living in the midst of uncertainty at a time of pivotal change. - Hot Docs

My Thoughts: (see my review)

16) In the Shadow of the Sun
D: Harry Freeland | 85 minutes | UK | (Subtitled) Swahilli | Canadian Premiere | Rating: PG

Albinos living in Tanzania fear for their lives. Ostracized for their albinism, the disorder that robs their skin, hair and eyes of pigmentation, they are widely hated, particularly in rural areas where they are labeled “white devils.” Witch doctors spread wild rumours that albino bones and blood can summon riches, spurring strangers and even fellow villagers to savagely hunt them. In the midst of an outbreak of brutal killings, filmmaker Harry Freeland meets two albino men leading very different lives. Teenaged Vedastus is isolated at home with his mother, shunned by friends. Confident Josephat campaigns against anti-albino discrimination, travelling from one community to another to educate and even confront attackers with their deeds. An audience favourite at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, this powerful film exposes the injustices of a little known crisis and shines a light on the courageous few whose inexhaustible hope is a beacon for us all. - Myrocia Watamaniuk

My Thoughts: My Number 1 Favourite!  (see my review)

17) The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne
D: Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina | 73 minutes | USA | English | World Premiere | Rating: PG
(see my review)

18) Menstrual Man (honourable mention on my list)
D: Amit Virmani | 63 minutes | Singapore India | (Subtitled) Hindi Tamil English | Canadian Premiere | Rating: PG
NUMBER 8 - Audience  Top Ten Favourite, Hot Docs 2013
This film almost made my Top 5 Faves  for its inspirational hero, but lost out to In the Shadow of the Sun.  (see my review)

19) Mistaken for Strangers
D: Tom Berninger | 80 minutes | USA | English | International Premiere | Rating: 14A

20) Muscle Shoals
D: Greg 'Freddy' Camalier | 111 minutes | USA | English | International Premiere | Rating: PG
NUMBER 1 - Audience  Top Ten Favourite, Hot Docs 2013

21) Rent a Family
D: Kaspar Astrup Schröder | 77 minutes | Denmark | (Subtitled) English Japanese | North American Premiere | Rating: PG (see my review)

22) The Women and the Passenger
D: Patricia Correa and Valentina Mac-Pherson | 45 minutes | Chile | (Subtitled) Spanish | North American Premiere | Rating: PG
(see my review)

El Passajero is a motel that rents its uniquely decorated rooms by the hour. With customers coming regularly throughout the day, the chambermaids are quite busy changing sheets, polishing mirrors and cleaning ominous-looking sex chairs—all in a day’s work.
- Heather Haynes
My Thoughts: (see my review)

23) Yellow Sticky Notes | Canadian Anijam (short film)
D: Jeff Chiba Stearns | 8 minutes | Canada | English | Canadian Premiere | Rating: G

Images/Descriptions courtesy of Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Hot Docs Top Ten Audience Favourites

The top ten audience favourites as determined by audience vote are:
  1. MUSCLE SHOALS (D: Greg “Freddy” Camalier, USA)
  2. BLOOD BROTHER (D: Steve Hoover, USA)
  3. A WHOLE LOTT MORE (D: Victor Buhler, UK)
  4. THE PUNK SINGER (D: Sini Anderson, USA)
  5. LAST WOMAN STANDING (D: Lorraine Price, Juliet Lammers; Canada)
  6. SPRING & ARNAUD (D: Katherine Knight, Marcia Connolly; Canada)
  7. THIS AIN’T NO MOUSE MUSIC! (D: Chris Simon, Maureen Gosling, USA)
  8. MENSTRUAL MAN (D: Amit Virmani, Singapore, India)
  9. THE CRASH REEL (D: Lucy Walker, USA)
  10. THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE (D: Liz Marshall, Canada)
For other award winners please visit:

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...