Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Nordic Charmers: May I Recommend Olga and Love & Engineering

You know I love Nordic films, and I'm happy to direct you to Olga--To My Friends, and Love & Engineering screening at Hot Docs 2014.

Olga--To My Friends
Want me to watch a film? Show me a picture of reindeer. So, why have I chosen to show you this picture of Olga instead? Because, Olga--To My Friends is an intimate portrait of a fascinating young woman who deserves your attention. Yes, there are reindeer in the film because she works at a station guarding provisions used by the reindeer herdsmen in the summer; but what I found absolutely fascinating about this documentary is Olga and her quiet will to keep surviving whatever life dispenses. Director, Paul Aders-Simma and cinematographer, Elen Lotman have framed and lit Olga in a style that references Old Masters, while at the same time managing to capture the vastness and icy-stillness of the tundra.

At the opening of the film, Olga tells us that she has spent 177 days alone at the outpost with only her cat as her companion. Upon learning this I felt an automatic sorrow for her until she began summarizing her life: being abruptly separated from her childhood friend at at orphanage, reunited and briefly raised with a family whose Sami roots she knew nothing about, and as an adult, dealing with her sisters' alcoholism and dysfunctional lifestyle. After hearing Olga talk about her life, I understand why this job is so suited to her, and why she is able to function with a sense of freedom and contentment in what you and I would consider destitute conditions. Later, my heart skipped a beat when, it's revealed that Olga's job at the outpost is in jeopardy because the cooperative wants to sell it. How will Olga meet this next challenge in her life?  

TWO SCREENINGS ONLY!
OLGA-- TO MY FRIENDS
Scotiabank Theatre 7 
Wed, Apr 30 7:30 PM

 
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 
Fri, May 2 7:30 PM


Olga--To My Friends
 Is there a perfect formula for finding the perfect mate? Well, in Love & Engineering, Atantas, a Bulgarian scientist living in Finland, seems to think he can help his mates find a wife using the data he used to find his bride. He can't promise them a Claudia Schiffer, but they will be able to find someone they can put up with for life.  To put it in contemporary terms, it's like watching the character, Leonard from The Big Bang Theory leading seminars and conducting scientific tests on how he "hacked" his way into being Penny's boyfriend. Yes, "hacked".  According to Atanas, women have a relationship system that his fellow scientists should be able to hack so that they can find true love.  Atanas's heart is in the right place, but I wanted to yell at one scientist to stop talking about gaming when his date has already told him she is not into games and doesn't know the one he is so excited about has been released! Dude, you already know from the smell testing that she found your scent appealing, and then you go and shoot yourself in the foot? Arggh! 

Love & Engineering is a straight up funny documentary in which you can't help but root for the brilliant, inept, charming subject matters to find their perfect partners.

SCREENING DATES/TIMES
LOVE & ENGINEERING
Scotiabank Theatre 3 
Thu, May 1 9:00 PM

 
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 
Fri, May 2 8:30 PM

 
Revue Cinema 
Sun, May 4 1:30 PM

HOT DOCS
Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 24 - May 4, 2014
www.hotdocs.ca 
416.637.5150  



 


Saturday, 26 April 2014

Hot Docs Day 3: May I Recommend


THE MALAGASY WAY

TODAY
ROM Theatre 
Sat, Apr 26 3:30 PM

This film gives you a look at poverty, not from the perspective of having nothing, but from the Malagasy people themselves speaking of how their sense of community, culture and fortitude has enabled them to maintain their sense of pride and fortitude.


OTHER SCREENING DATES
Scotiabank Theatre 4 
Sun, Apr 27 4:00 PM
Scotiabank Theatre 3 
Sat, May 3 9:15 PM


PINE RIDGE 
 

TODAY
Scotiabank Theatre 7 
Sat, Apr 26 6:00 PM 

This is not an easy film to watch, but it is an interesting look at poverty that is a direct result of historical conditioning. The Pine Ridge reservation is just above Haiti in terms of its lack of economic development. This South Dakota reservation brings to light the generational effects of the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890) and references the impact of the Wounded Knee Incident (1973). Seen through the eyes of several youth, the film asks the question: why are such dire conditions allowed to continue in one of the richest countries on earth.

OTHER SCREENING DATES
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 
Sun, Apr 27 1:00 PM  
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4
 Sun, May 4 4:30 PM 



HOT DOCS
Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 24 - May 4, 2014
www.hotdocs.ca 
416.637.5150 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Hot Docs Day 2: May I Recommend

LOOKING FOR SOME MUSIC IN THE AFTERNOON?

Then I suggest a screening of Que Caramba Es la Vida by renowned German director, Doris Dörrie. Her take on mariachi music is refreshing in that it follows the lives of several female musicians who perform in Mexico's Garibaldi Square. Mariachi can be a macho business, but these women, some of whom are daughters of mariachi fathers, have inherited the love of the music and their passion drives them to perform despite some of the negative side effects of their chosen profession. In the square they perform for families or couples who are out for an evening of social activity, but they also have to put up with the drunks and drug users (as well as some men) who hurl slurs at them. As one woman puts it, she has often had to tell men she is a singer, not a prostitute. Dörrie also delves into a bit of the history of female mariachas through interviews with members of Las Estrellas de Mexico and Las Coronelas, some of the first mariachas in Mexico. While the women of today have to deal with leaving their children at home to perform, these women, tell how once they started getting married and the children came along, they had to give up singing professionally. Some also speak of husbands getting jealous because they were performing in bars and their mates would have thoughts that cigarette/cigar smoke on their clothes meant more was going on with their evenings than just singing.

I'm a women through and through
If they try to lasso me
I'll shoot them down
If they shout at me
I'll clear them out of the way

TODAY'S SCREENING
Que Caramba Es la Vida
Scotiabank Theatre 7 
Fri, Apr 25 3:30 PM
For additional screening dates/times click HERE

CURIOUS ABOUT ADHD?

Denmark's Erland E. Mo's documentary, Four Letters Apart,  takes an interesting look at Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by introducing us to an alternative school that uses methods other than drugs in the treatment of children with the condition. The children are very much aware of their disorder and talk about ways in which they would like to be treated by society. They are also taught to take responsibility for their actions by talking about how they treat each other. Following the journey of three of the school's students broadens our perspective and understanding of children with ADHD and leads us to ponder where we stand on the grounds of giving Ritalin to every child with the disorder. Does and should one treatment fit all?


TODAY'S SCREENING
Four Letters Apart
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
 Fri, Apr 25 3:45 PM
For additional screening dates/times click HERE


HOW ABOUT A GOOD GHOST STORY TONIGHT?

A woman and her family see a young girl in a white dress along the way to Cober Pedy, another feels a hand pressing her face into the floor...these and other tales of Warkwick Thornton's The Darkside are related with fascinating detail. Set in Australia, Thornton's stories are told with backdrops by campfires, in rooms glowing in orange, green, by docks, the ocean, and even while we watch an artist at work on his over-sized canvas. In this film, the cinematography is as important as the storytelling. For viewers this means that we are never bored, and our eyes become captivated by each scene whether we listen to people directly speaking to us about their encounters with the spirit world, or whether we are hear their voice as we watch an image presented to us. By keeping the eye and the brain focused, Thornton delivers a documentary that with each subject makes us think the childlike phrase, "tell us another one!"


TODAY'S SCREENING
The Dark Side
ROM Theatre
 Fri, Apr 25 9:00 PM
For additional screening dates/times click HERE

HOT DOCS
Canadian and International Documentary Festival
April 24 - May 4, 2014
www.hotdocs.ca