Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Nine Nine Four - Everything you ever wanted to know about punk rock

...Well, maybe not everything, but a decent rundown nonetheless.

One Nine Nine Four premiered yesterday f0r the first time outside Oz, the director's original stomping grounds. Following a brief intro to punk rock history, the film delved into interviews with key figures from those awkward few years that were the early '90s. As punk yet again solidified its identity and kept a healthy distance from all other forms of personal expression, an interesting phenomenon occured. A few punk bands went big, almost over night. The likes of Green Day, Offspring and Blink-182 burst onto the stage, reclaiming rock from a one-way street to fakeness. Sure, true punk never made it big, but as the film points out, it made a sizeable infiltration that still affects the music we hear today.

In addition to a great film, the director Jai Al-Attas was in attendence to answer any question our whim could come up with. It was interesting to hear how easy some key people were to get along with (Tony Hawk immediately agreed to narrate and NOFX gave their music for free), and how others outright refused to be interviewed. Copyrights for some of the music were hard to come by as well, but in true punk form, Jai used those songs anyway. And that's probably why he didn't premier his film in SoCal, instead choosing us lucky Calgarians to figure out what to keep and what to chuck from this director's cut of One Nine Nine Four.

Happily, the film stayed largely clear of the gossip-style talk that can easily ensue in such a touchy and somewhat subjective topic that is punk rock history. For a 25-year-old director to shoot a doc using interviews from the people who made it happen, but himself probably only vaguely remembering some of the earlier events talked about in the film, One Nine Nine Four is certainly a brave move. But as the director himself pointed out, it was really just a good excuse to hang with Fat Mike, Tim Armstrong, Billie Joe Armstrong, Brett Gurewitz and the like.

The Music on Film series continues with two more quality films: Who Killed Nancy on Thursday night and All Tomorrow's Parties this Friday.

Deathly shorts

Last night's shorts on death were not for everyone. But really, since we all have limited time on this planet, it's not that disturbing to contemplate all the emotions that go along with it.
Setting the bar for the evening, if not the whole festival, was Pedro Pires' Danse Macabre. If death has beauty, you will find it in between each riveting 35 mm frame of Danse Macabre. Taking a modern twist on the medieval tale intended to remind us of how fragile our lives are, Danse Macabre is a stunning and morbid ballet set to opera where a poetic, flowing and graceful body moves postmortem. It offers paralyzing feelings of sorrow, awe, shock and self-reflection. This film is such a masterpiece it won best Canadian short ($10,000) at the Toronto Film Festival on September 19.
Each film approached the subject differently and many toyed with the way children think about death, or rather, how they frequently ignore it: Gone Fishing and Miracle Fish.
The two funniest films about death were the U.K.'s animated Surprise Demise of Francis Cooper's Mother and The Funeral from the U.S., which nearly laughed me right out my squeaking Globe cinema chair.

Dinner and a Movie Recommendation: Flight Night at FARM followed by Unmade Beds

Last night, I had the pleasure of temporarily escaping the grim gray skies of what now seems to be a full-blown Calgary Autumn to catch a cozy dinner and a movie (actually, it ended up being a movie, then dinner) with my mom. We started at the Globe for Cairo Time, a melodic, sensual film that seemed to cross between a grown-up (read: complicated) version of a summer romance, and an ambivalent - part adoring, part critical - commentary on a city changed from the filmmaker's nostalgic view of how it was.

Following the film, we made the short trip over to FARM (1006 17 Ave SW/ P: 403-245-2276), which ended up being the perfect stop for a few solid hours of great conversation about the film. At a cozy tea-lit table decorated with fine bone china the same pattern as my grandmother had, our server brought us the Flight Night pairing (Flight Night is every Wednesday...what better way to end -- or begin -- hump night than a perfectly paired meal?): three glasses of wine, a selection of meat, pate, and cheese, accompanied by tomato chili jam (my absolute favorite, and available for sale in the shop), onion relish, and Saskatoon berry spread.


As we worked our way through the pairings -- first, as we were supposed to in the order suggested by FARM, and then in a more free-flowing, experimental way -- we listened to those around us. The place was packed for a Tuesday night, filled with young and not-so-young, several languages being spoken that we could overhear from our little table: those at the 30th birthday party praised the food and the atmosphere; a newcomer came in and was helped along by a knowledgeable waiter; and a collection of small groups and couples added to the general hum of in-depth and intimate conversations that lasted as long as we did.

It truly was the perfect place to while the time away, ask each other questions about the film, and fill our bellies with scrumptious morsels of this and that. If you're heading to the Globe to see Unmade Beds tonight, I'd suggest starting at FARM to taste a flight of wine, cheese, and meats yourself.

In celebration of the Festival, FARM is offering American Express Cardholders a special offer until October 31: If you spend at least $60 before taxes (and pay with your American Express card), you and a guest will each receive a free dessert. FARM's sister, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, is also in on the action: 10% off a minimum $25 (pre-tax) purchase when you pay with your American Express Card. These and other similar offers are featured in A Guide to Great Food in Calgary, a beautiful publication produced by American Express and our friends at Avenue Magazine. Pick one up at CIFF's Festival Central Box Office for more information, or check out details online.All offers in the guide are valid until October 31, 2009!

Love in Strange Places!


I believe that a collection of shorts has the ability to capture every succinct precept of human emotion considering their expansive and inventive approaches to a single topic. Cohesively, these shorts all circulate around the topic of relationships; but, the mass amounts of variation that heartily circumvents your typical love story are vast and outrageously exciting. This series delineates intrinsic questions essential to the basis of friendship, relationships and the love (or hate) that can spawn from each.
The series starts of with the compelling French short Lost Paradise. In the mere 11 minutes that this short screens, it hooks you immediately. The examination of social conscious, and the barriers and condemnation that love can have deeply resonates in the burgeoning emotions of our volatile worldly environment.
Now, I don’t want to recite everything I enjoy from each movie (as we would be here for eternity and you would clearly miss the film), but each short brings a unique perspective; gripped with comedy, lust, dissatisfaction, and (un?)fortunate pornographic interactions. From films that range from Canada to Ireland to Indonesia, there is always a new interpretation of profound and insufferable aspects of relationships.
Go see these films. Take your date, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the absolutely engaging yet shameless narrations in these 10 shorts. You never know, starting a late night discussion about love, passion, and a hulahoop may start some of your own (hopefully not too short) adventures!
Love In Strange Places at the Globe Upstairs, 9:30PM.

No Heart Feelings!


I think what sparked my interest in this film was the line in the program, “Her break-up throws her easy life into mild existential crisis”. With an attraction to the philosophical entanglement of love and loss, I pursued further and realized the definite genius behind this film. When the main character, 29 year-old Melanie, breaks up with her long-distance boyfriend, and with the help of the sassy-cyclist-enthusiast Lewis, Melanie and viewers alike become savvy to the jovial events that life, love, and a summer spent bicycling can obtain.

Whilst researching further (I use the term researching lightly as facebook merits no truly scholarly source), I found that this film was largely improvised, intimately shot, and honestly adapted from the script written by Sarah Lazarovic, Geoff Morrison, Ryan J. Noth, and Luke Byrant. Furthermore, the Directors Geoff Morrisson & Sarah Lazarovic will be in attendance for this world premier of the film.

This Canadian film circumvents the normative break-up/make-up ideals of larger Hollywood productions as the affectionate narrative and small cast garner an incredible intimate community feeling in the film. With the ‘gang of young, witty friends’, including an appearance by Ron Sexsmith, the characters narrate the viewers through pain, angst, essence, and freedoms, all cast in the pseudo-urban-chic lifestyle of city cycling.

For some excellent behind the scenes photographs, as well as peruse the discussions and watch the trailer of the film, visit www.facebook.com/pages/No-Heart-Feelings/112809527877, and come down to the Globe Upstairs at 7:15PM to view this incredible film.

Who's Excited for Hump Night?!

Although Wednesday night is the night people usually make love (there’s nothing good on TV and one hasn’t had there after work social sports team practice so there not too tired) make a change and throw down a night on the town. Every year, the Calgary international Film Festival gets rowdy and features one of the best nights to screen some amazing films. Hump Night showcases the more ‘intimate’ side of interaction, love, dating, and relationships (the good and the bad, I might add). This year, we have a pantheon of excellent films for viewing at all the participating theatres around town.
In this years selection, The Auteur at Eau Claire, Cyborg She at the Plaza, No Heart Feelings at the Globe (upstairs), and the Year of the Carnivore at the Globe (downstairs) are all definite hits. Other films being screened include the shorts Love in Strange Places at the Globe (upstairs).
Join us for a night of risqué theatre: full of double entrendres, licentious puns, and an incredible amount of loving. See you at the theatre!

Hump Nights Quirky Comedy: The Year of the Carnivore

Ah yes at last it is Wednesday and the long awaited “Hump Night” has arrived! What is hump night you ask? Well mid week is often referred to as hump day, and therefore the night, “Hump Night” is when the fearless predators come out to play a little dirtier. Well at least they do in Sook Yin Lee’s directorial debut The Year of the Carnivore.
This is a quirky comedy about 21 year old Sammy Smalls who works a dead end job as a detective at a local grocery store, capturing shop lifters while entertaining us in her amusing under cover disguises. Sammy finds her self smitten for her musician friend Eugene Zasalavsky. As they take their relationship to a new level, Eugene tells Sammy that she lacks experience, and should get some more when it comes to getting down and dirty. So begins Sammy’s predatory hunt for intimate experiences that are quite out of the ordinary. Sammy’s comedic journey definitely teaches her a thing or two about what to do in the when the lights are out.
Wondering about your own inexperience, and looking for tips? I would not recommend experimenting with Sammy’s suggested schemes, as they may get you into trouble, unless off course you like that kind of trouble. However, I’m pretty sure you could learn a thing or two from Christina Aguilera’s lets get “Dirty” video, none the less you should definitely checkout Year of the Carnivore!

Catch Year of the Carnivore at 7:00pm tonight at the Globe Theatre.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Maverick Series starts Wednesday

The day has finally arrived. 7 minutes into Wednesday and I am ready. I do not know what to blog about these films at this point. None were available to me to preview and the advance coverage of them has been fantastic. So, I will just remind you that everyone involved is very proud of the series that has been put together. I think the effects of launching this program can be seen throughout the festival. It is likely a large contributor to Movie Maker magazine selecting CIFF as one of the top 25 film festivals worth paying the entry fee. The quality and quantity of films submitted to the festival were very high this year. Especially strong were the submissions from first or second time feature filmmakers. I think it is quite reasonable to credit the Maverick Award with these advancements. Have you seen a great film from a first or second time filmmaker this year? Want to see the ten films judged to be even better? Then grab a schedule and look for the grey boxes. If you plan it out, you could probably manage to see six of them. I think I am seeing four Wednesday and Thursday and Mel will cover the two playing Friday while I am covering the Smash Cut gala.
If you see one of the Maverick films and want to let us know what you think, e-mail calgaryfilmmaverick@gmail.com
I have been hearing especially great reviews of Unmade Beds. I may not be able to make it to the Globe from Eau Claire between shows. Please let me know if it really is as good as everyone says.
As a bonus, if you notice something odd about EVERYTHING ELSE, send me an e-mail at that address. There is something specific I have in mind that could be strange about the presentation of this film. Do not go searching for it as I do not want you distracted from what I hear is a terrific film. I am just curious if it is even noticeable.

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl: Oh, the Woes of High School...

I don't know about any of you, but when I was in high school the only fight I ever got into was a floor hockey brawl with a boy named Mark who crosschecked me into the gymnasium wall.  That was pretty much the extent of my adolescent violence.  I don't ever remember having to flex my Franken-muscles against the local vampiress in order to keep my boyfriend.  But then again, I have a bad memory.

The title Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl pretty much speaks for itself. 




VS.



This ain't no Sex in the City cat-fight.  This is Monami (the teenage vampire) and Keiko (the re-animated Frankenstein) duking it out for the love of Mizushima (the high school heartthrob).  Boy, did this guy get dealt a bad hand - no matter who he ends up with, he's going to be dealing with some serious baggage.  Don't let the charm of these pretty pictorials fool you; all the charming faces, long legs, and ample bosoms in the world can't negate the heinous attitudes these psychotic suitress' possess.  I've been trying to come up with an illustrative analogy for this film, but all comparisons fail me.  A cross between Mean Girls and Hostel, perhaps?  Twilight meets Dead Alive?  I'm still unconvinced that there is any combination of cinematic allegories that will do this film justice.  You just have to see it for yourself! 

Set to 60's Go-Go music and full of gratuitous violence, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is the latest film from the minds that brought you last year's sold-out Tokyo Gore Police.  This movie is not for the squeamish or the faint of heart, so if you can't stomach torn limbs, split skulls, and copious amounts of blood - stay at home.  For everyone else, get your tickets quick -  before they sell out!!  It's playing Thursday, Oct. 1st at The Plaza at 11:15PM, and again on Saturday, Oct. 3rd at the Plaza at 1:00PM.  Rated R. (Obviously.)

Wednesday's Hump Night: Year Of The Carnivore

The film's unlikely heroine, Sammy Smalls (Christin Milioti), has a host of insecurities. She walks with a limp, survived cancer as a child, and can't seem to let anyone touch her without breaking into fits of laughter. While on the job as a supermarket security guard, Sammy falls for a street musician named Eugene Zaslavsky (Mark Rendall). The two become quick friends; and, when it seems that their relationship might finally reach that next step, they spend an awkward night together that causes Eugene to rethink their relationship. But, Sammy is determined to win him back, and sets off on a journey of sexual exploration in the hopes of proving her love-making prowess. What follows is a series of incredibly awkward, often uncomfortable, but always hilarious moments as Sammy enlists both both and women to "teach" her about sex. Year of the Carnivore is a refreshing, and sometimes shocking, take on the classic romantic comedy.

The film was written and directed by Sook-Yin Lee. Lee is a former MuchMusic VJ, current CBC Radio host, and general woman-about-town Canadian who has amassed an impressive lists of accomplishments in the media industry. According to Lee, the title of this witty film "refers to the year Sammy takes a bite out of life and has her heart bitten", and what a year it is. Sammy's transformation from timid tomboy to confident sex kitten is what makes this film a sure bet during Hump Night.

Year of the Carnivore plays at 7:00pm on Wednesday Sept. 30th at the Globe.

Just a little behind the scenes...

You might not think about it but a lot of work goes into making sure there's a picture up on the screen. UVS is providing projection services in selected venues, namely through the use of digital projectors and in turn, those projectors are being provided by Christie. The films that you see arrive in many different formats including 35mm, 16mm and in some cases through digital means including digital video tape.

We get those prints and tapes shipped out to us during the course of the festival. Our transport team is kept very busy throughout the festival both receiving and sending out films. Big thanks to UPS and to each of our venues, The Plaza, The Globe Cinema and Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Market for putting up with us this week and allowing us to deliver 10 days worth of great films.

The Mavericks program is starting up tomorrow (Wednesday) and along with American Express, we'd also like to acknowledge and thank some of the other sponsors of The Mavericks Program. Nuvo Hotel Suites, The Calgary Foundation, Alberta Film, Calgary Economic Development, Alberta Lottery Fund, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Arts Development, the City of Calgary and Avenue Magazine.


Avenue Magazine has also partnered with American Express to produce a Dining Guide - more on that in this post. Avenue Magazine can be picked up at many locations across the city or during the course of the festival, at any of our venues and downtown at our box office located at 207 - 8th Avenue S.W. All we ask is that you don't take the big poster boards. They do look great though on almost anywhere.

Cairo Time - Painstakingly Slow

Recently named the Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF, Cairo Time is a cinematic change of pace. It is a decidedly thoughtful film. The characters are quiet, polite and considerate with refined performances from Patricia Clarkson (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Alexander Siddig (Syriana).

This
may be a difficult film for a Type A personality to sit through. If you are, on the other hand, patient, relaxed, easy-going and generally lacking any sense of urgency - in other words, Type B - you will welcome this movie with a sigh of relief!

Another reason not to attend if you are time-conscious, concerned about your status, highly competitive or have difficulty relaxing is, technically,
this film is sold out; there will only be a limited number of seats available at the door for the lucky few in the rush line.

So,
don't fret if you're a Type A and you get turned away at the doors tonight, Cairo Time will have a wider release. It opens in Theatres across Canada on Friday October 9th. You can rush out and see it then (because you know you're right and I'm wrong about whether this is a film for you.)

Type B, you can relax in the line-up tonight, even if you don't have tickets but want to take a chance on seeing it anyway.
Cairo Time is playing at 7:00 pm in the Globe Theatre - Upstairs. No worries if you don't get one of the few remaining seats though, just pencil it into your book for something to do on Thanksgiving weekend.

If you want a sneak peek, check out this link:

http://www.cairotime.ca/html/trailer/

(Diane Bennett is covering Events, Headliners & Music On Film)

1994 - The Year Grunge Died & Punk Was Revived

Green Day circa 1994

One Nine Nine Four is about the year Curt Cobain killed himself and the grunge music scene died along with him. Pearl Jam, Bush, Alice In Chains and others evolved out of the post-grunge era, which was then relabeled Alternative. But when one door closes another opens, as the saying goes, and new life was breathed into the Punk scene.

Many called it Pop Punk or Punk Revival. The 70's and 80's Punk movement started with The Ramones, Clash and Sex Pistols influencing the next wave of Punk Rockers (or No Wave as some called it) with bands like the Pixies and Sonic Youth feeding the grunge scene - from Nirvana and Pearl Jam to The Smashing Pumpkins and even The Red Hot Chili Peppers. After Green Day released Dokie in 1994, a new sound emerged with the likes of The Offspring, Bad Religion and Blink 182 rising to the top of the charts.

Australian Director Jai Al-Attas was so inspired by post-punk he started his own label, Below Par Records, as a 16-year old in 2000 (while still in high school) and this film sprang from that passion. He'll be in attendance for the showing of One Nine Nine Four tonight at 7:15 (Eau Claire Market - Cineplex Odeon - Screen 2) to talk about the making of the film, the genre, or how he and Skateboard guru Tony Hawk (narrator) hooked up. Stay for the Q & A.

(Diane Bennett is covering Events, Headliners & Music On Film)


Dead Snow: Zombies and Nazis and Chainsaws - OH MY!


In case that isn't enough to send you scrambling for tickets to this highly anticipated Norwegian horror flick, here's the deal:


The premise of Dead Snow goes a little something like this:  A group of med students decide to spend their Easter Break in the mountains -  skiing, drinking, and partying.  They head out to a cabin owned by Sara (one of the students, who is supposed to meet them there) and get right to it.  What they don't know (yet) is that the surrounding area was the site of a macabre WWII battle between Norwegian civilians and Nazi soldiers.  
The civilians managed to
 kill many of the soldiers, running the remaining survivors off into the cold terrain to freeze to death.  Or at least, that was their intention.  Unfortunately for our group of hapless students, the Nazis return with a vengeance - as murderous ZOMBIES.  Now, the clan of kids must wield whatever defenses they can (chainsaws, guns, hammers, axes, etc.) to battle the undead army.

Allow me to speak frankly for a moment.  Horror movies set in the winter are AWESOME.  Why?  Seriously, what could be a better backdrop for crimson blood and gore than a blank canvas of pearly-white snow? Oh, and speaking of blood - the special effects department for this film used A LOT.  Like, 475 quarts of it.  Winter also creates a great sense of isolation, hopelessness, and desperation - all essential motivations in a horror movie.  This promises to be a gruesome, hilarious, and epic bloodbath.  If for some reason you choose not to go to the screening, at least view the trailer.  At 1:53, when the zombies emerge over the hill, well - that's just great filmmaking.      
  
This film was released January 9th, 2009 in Norway, and has since gained global interest.  It was nominated for 4 "Scream Awards" (including Best Fight-To-The-Death scene!), and was featured as an official selection for both the Sundance, and Fantasia film festivals.  Horror fans (and those curious about the genre), I urge you to get your tickets for this one - it plays Wednesday Night at The Plaza Theater at 11:15PM.  It is swedish audio with english subtitles, and is rated R.
   Ein! Zwei! Die!

Tuesday World Cinema: "Miao Miao" and "Daytime Drinking"

My favourite films showing on Tuesday are a couple of Asian imports. “Miao Miao” is set in Taiwan. It’s a charming story of two young students in Taipan experiencing love for the first time. The film is very watchable and well executed. If you’re looking for good performances and production values and a generally lighter tone, this could be a good film for catch. It has played at several other festivals, including Hong Kong, Berlin, and Seattle. See “Miao Miao” on Tuesday night at 7:15pm at the Globe. An encore screening will occur on Sunday, October 4 at 12:15pm, also at the Globe.

“Daytime Drinking” is considered a breakthrough in independent filmmaking in South Korea. Shot on a miniscule budget, we get a chance to see parts of rural South Korea in winter that looks more like a location in Canada than in Asia. This film focuses on the concept of Korean drinking courtesies. These encounters result in our lead character being put into strange and often humourous situations. “Daytime Drinking” plays at the Globe on Tuesday at 9:15pm with an encore showing on Saturday, October 3 at 12:30 (Eau Claire Cineplex Odeon).

Philosopher Kings

The word 'philosopher' conjures up images of great thinkers and scholars. What about the word 'janitor'. What preconceived notions do you hold of janitors? If you're like most people, you probably pass by janitors in the halls of work and never give them a second thought. There is a strong link in our society between profession and intellect/wisdom. The documentary Philosopher Kings successfully shatters that notion by exposing the lives and minds of eight janitors who have a lot to teach us.

The stars of this film have overcome personal tragedies and social stigmas. They have persevered through difficult times to discover that happiness doesn't come from wealth or material possessions. It comes from love, hard work, a positive attitude, and fishing.

The Philosopher Kings had its Canadian premiere last night, to a packed theatre. As an added bonus, producers Patrick Shen and Greg Bennick made a surprise appearance at the screening and stayed for a Q&A afterwards. Obviously very passionate about this documentary and the message it's trying to convey, they seemed pleased by the turn out and even commented on Calgary being a city of thinkers. The audience chuckled, and if you've lived in Calgary long enough, you'd understand why.

Philosopher king has an encore showing at Eau Claire on Sunday, October 4th at 12:30. Don't miss this documentary. It's insightful and uplifting and a good reminder of what's really important.

Paris 1919

I have to admit, when it comes to history, my knowledge of facts and figures is limited. For this reason, I need to watch more films like Paris 1919. The documentary covers the events that took place in Paris in 1919, at the end of the first world war. Leaders from all over the world gathered to craft a peace treaty with hopes of rebuilding and putting the war behind them. They all arrived with their own agendas and what was supposed to take a couple weeks turned into months of discussion and debate. This film really gave me a sense of the difficulties these leaders faced and the selfish intentions that drove their decisions.

Could the attrocities of Nazi Germany been avoided or what about world war two all together? Or would history tell a more horrific story if not for the Treaty of Versailles. Our decisions have consequences and Paris 1919 left me thinking about how the decisions of a handful of individuals decided the fate of millions of people.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Zooey and Adam


Trying to conceive can be a consuming act for many couples filled with a lot of ups and downs. This film centers around a thirty something couple have been trying to get pregnant for several months. But when a trip out to the lake ends up with Zooey being raped by a group of rowdy drunk guys who come across their campsite, things change dramatically. The rape seen, although shot in the dark, with little to actually see was quite terrifying. More so than having to actually watch a rape scene in a film. My sister and I were both quite impacted by this scene, especially since the locale was West Hawk Lake in Manitoba, a place where out family frequently camped.

Adam ends up deeply tormented by the incident, and the inability to do anything to help Zooey. He desperately wants to deal with the situation, which is made worse by an unexpected pregnancy that may be a result of the rape, but is unable to because of Zooey’s complete denial of the plausible possibility. Tom Keenan's character (Adam) becomes obsessed with the fact that the child they end up raising may not be his. When Adam decides to play the “Meteor Game” with Carl (his supposed son), things take a turn for the worst. Sean Garrity takes us on a journey through the decline of Zooey and Adam's relationship as a result of a life changing event.

Here’s some geography for you; Geological investigations during the 1960s determined that West Hawk Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park was created by a meteor impact. Hence the “Meteor Game” reference in the film.

Strong Romanian films screened in Calgary

Each year, the Calgary International Film Festival features great films from around the world. Some years there is a specific focus on a country, such as last year when Icelandic movies were featured. But even without a specifically announced spotlight, a country or two usually jumps out as delivering a solid group of films. Perhaps it is because I was just in Romania a few months ago, but I did notice that this Eastern European nation had three solid films programmed this year: “Katalin Varga,” “The Happiest Girl in the World,” and “Police, Adjective.” I had the chance to see the first two and I found them to be among the best of this year’s slate. I blogged about “Varga” last weekend, but I didn’t get a chance to see “Happiest” until it screened tonight. From the location in downtown Bucharest, we see signature signs of the city such as the numerous stray dogs and the ever present Fornetti pastries (it would be the Romanian Tim Horton's). This film oozes modern Romania. In the remaining days of the festival, make sure to take the opportunity to sample the best of cinema from all over the world.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle



The awkwardly titled "The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle" opens with such a perfectly executed gag that I was willing to follow the movie anywhere for the rest of its runtime.

As the opening credits roll, we see a bottle (message included) tossed into water; a montage follows the bottle on its epic journey. It ends up in the waters off Seattle, where it is retrieved by a computer guy named Dory (Marshall Allman). Dory is struggling with his own faith -- could the bottle be a message from a higher power? I won't spoil the punchline, but the answer to the question is, "Unlikely."

The rest of the movie follows Dory into a job as a janitor, and into some shenanigans with testing new food products. Playfully directed by David Russo (who also wrote the script), the movie takes some bizarre, surreal turns and remains entertaining throughout.

"... Dizzle" is another fine entry in this year's American Indie series; there are still a number of movies in this series to screen before the fest ends. Check the festival website for remaining American Indie movies.

I do have to pick one nit with this movie: its title. The proper definition of "immaculate conception" does not relate to how Jesus was born, but rather that his mother Mary was born without original sin. But that's a common misconception. Ahem.

Hey, who likes movie tickets? And food?

With the first weekend of the 10th Annual Calgary International Film Festival behind us, we still have another week of festival to go!

At this point, we'd like to take a moment to thank our presenting sponsor, American Express.

While American Express has provided immense support to the festival itself, you might be able to get some usage out of this partnership if you're planning on going out for a nice meal - and seeing a film. Food, movies, I think everybody loves those..

Our friends at Avenue Magazine have partnered with American Express to produce a guide to dining out during the festival. The guides can be found at our box office at 207 - 8th Avenue S.W. or if you click
here, you can see what there is to offer. The gist is that if you pay with your American Express card at any of the participating locations in the guide/website you get a really great deal on your food and are available to purchase 2 for 1 general admission tickets - only til October 4th of course. After that, just bring your tickets and receipt to the box office and exchange it up and you're good to go.

The Mavericks are coming. American Express has furnished the $25,000 grand prize for the winner of the new Maverick's competition. 10 exciting films are up for this prize and it should be an amazing time for the theatre-goers, the filmmakers themselves and everyone involved in the festival, many thanks to American Express once again.

I wanted to get a few shots of cardholders with their cards - but something told me that wouldn't be appropriate for an internet picture. So instead I have that one above which is just as nice, again it's the safest photo I could get because putting credit cards numbers on the net is definitely not cool. We love privacy! Also, those chairs are really comfy.


I grabbed this shot on Monday night, some volunteers were taking some well deserved R&R between shows. They just filled up The Plaza full of eager attendees for the screening of I Killed My Mother. The important thing, they didn't show me their American Express cards either.

Tonight: 45365

45365 is indeed the title of one of tonight's documentaries. It's like the ZipUSA features in National Geographic: an intimate glimpse into a random corner of the nation to our South. There's something truly fascinating about small-town America, a particular mixture of county fairs, high school football, the police officers that know everyone individually, and the local radio station. Filmed fly-on-the-wall style from summer until winter, 45365 manages to keep track of a small town on its many scales, providing a depth of vision that is truly captivating! Screening tonight at the Plaza, 9pm.

I Killed My Mother

I Killed My Mother (J'ai tué ma mère), is a French film with a title that makes you wonder what is going on inside the head of someone who would want to commit such an act? When you meet Hubert Minel (Xavier Dolan), you are taken into his world and begin to see and understand why he feels such contempt for his mother. His feelings are not uncommon when it comes to being a 16 year old. It is the other issues that Hubert struggles with that are at the core of who he is and his ability to express himself that leads to his distaste for his mother. Hubert is like many teenage boys, experimenting with drugs, exploring his artistic ability, and discovering his sexuality. Anne Dorval, Hubert’s mother in the film is always preventing him from doing what he wants. As a teenager, restrictions on our lives feel unfair, and we can not understand the rationale behind them. Teenagers often rebel against such restrictions, and Hubert’s mode of rebelling amidst all his personal discoveries is portrayed through the cinematographic visual glimpses into his psyche, and his spoken collection of conscious thoughts. A must see at the Calgary Film Festival! The talented Xavier Dolan not only portrays Hubert’s volatile essence in this film beautifully, but also directed and produced this intimate look into the mother son relationship.

You can snag a peek of the trailer for J'ai tué ma mere, and be sure to check out the screenings for this much talked film at 7:00pm on September 28th at the Plaza Theatre, and 2:45 pm Saturday October 3rd at the Globe Theatre.

I Killed My Mother


"When I say it, I mean it. It's true, I love her. But it's not the love of a son. It's strange...if someone hurt her, I want to kill him. I'd kill him. And yet, I think of a hundred people I love more than my mother."
What follows is a fascinating film that highlights the complex relationship between a single mother, Chantale, and her 16-year-old son, Hubert. While Hubert's attitude toward his mother is often frustrating to watch, his angry outbursts are highly relatable and the audience is sure to remember their own self-centered teenage years spent loathing their parents. I Killed My Mother was a huge hit at Cannes this year where it won the CICAE Award, the Prix Regards Jeune, and the SACD Prize (Director's Fortnight). The buzz surrounding this film has carried it to numerous film festivals worldwide and has (luckily!) been brought to CIFF this year for your viewing pleasure.

Although you don't really need another reason to attend tonight's screening, I Killed My Mother's executive producer, Carole Mondrello, will be in attendance. From my personal experiences with the festival in years past, screenings in which the filmmakers are present are always enjoyable and provide an opportunity to learn more about the film and filmmaking process. With a film as highly acclaimed as this one, the conversation following the film is likely to be a memorable one.

I Killed My Mother screens tonight at 7:00pm at The Plaza and Saturday Oct. 3 at 12:45pm at the Globe.

Tonight: Can Go Through Skin


What is it that the mind lets us experience?
What gets through to us; what gets shut out;
what resides in the subconscious; how do we fool ourselves?
- "Can Go Through Skin" director Esther Rots

"Can Go Through Skin" is a fascinating, absorbing film. Its central character, Marieke, suffers a brutal attack; the movie follows her attempt to deal with and move beyond her terror. Rots asks intriguing questions, and these concerns are often better handled in a written work than in a visual one; she uses the techniques of cinema to address these questions in evocative ways. And although not everything on the screen can be interpreted as being "real", the emotions at play most assuredly are.

The movie is anchored by the terrific performance by Rifka Lodeizen; in a mostly wordless, often internalized performance, Lodeizen makes Marieke's fear and struggle palpable. It's a difficult task, and in combination with Rots' jagged direction evoking the character's PTSD, Lodeizen makes Marieke a fully-formed person.

"Can Go Through Skin" screens Monday at 9:15 pm at the Globe.

Winnebago Man


Pssst fellow CIFFaholics, I have a confession to make. I have to admit right off the bat, that I never intended to see Winnebago Man. In fact, up until last night I hadn't even seen the compilation of outtakes that became an overnight viral video sensation that has maintained it's appeal for two decades. You see, I have a yearly ritual that before the film festival kicks off I draw up a schedule for myself. The goal is to maximize the amount of films I see and keep track of which theater I'm commuting to at what time. Well, on a whim last night I decided to take a look at what was playing after the indie flick Made in China and noticed the title "Winnebago Man." To make a long story short, after a quick scan of the film synopsis and re-watching the viral video on YouTube 5 or 6 times, I was hooked. (For those of you who like me were uneducated on the Winnebago Man - please, go look up the video immediately. Any description I provide here of the video starring Jack Rebney aka the World's Angriest RV Salesman aka the Winnebago Man - simply won't do it justice.)

The idea for Winnebago Man was born a few years ago when filmmaker Ben Steinbauer decided that he wanted to learn more about the short-tempered and colorful star of one the world's most-watched viral videos. After hiring a private investigator, Steinbauer learned that Jack Rebney was now living on top of a mountain in northern California working as a caretaker at a remote fishing resort. Now more intrigued than ever, Ben set off to California to learn more about the story behind the Winnebago Man and to learn how Rebney felt about his established notoriety and growing fan base. What ensued was a hilarious yet thought-provoking adventure for both the documentary crew and Rebney himself.

I found myself exceptionally lucky to be in the audience at tonight's screening for as the house lights went up, we were informed that the filmmaker Ben and producer Malcolm had come for an impromptu Q&A. To add to the experience further, Ben even called Jack Rebney (they have remained close friends since filming wrapped) and had him on speakerphone for the majority of the session. I was delighted to witness firsthand Jack's colorful bluntness and uncanny way with words. His response to every question asked quickly turned into a long winded commentary on topics ranging from politics to the internet. Despite the rambling nature of Jack's answers, not a peep was uttered by a single member of the audience while he spoke. Never before have I seen someone be given such undivided attention when they weren't even standing in the room to witness it. I was also fortunate enough to speak with Ben Steinbauer some more after the session carried on for so long we were booted out of the theater to make way for the next screening.

Overall, I found Winnebago Man to be a breath of fresh air for the documentary genre which is often engulfed in heavy subject matter. If you ever get the chance, please do me a kindness (I had to find a family friendly Jack Rebney quote to include!) and see this film.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Made in China


This afternoon I had the pleasure of catching the American Indie flick Made in China. Walking into the theater I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but when the lights went up, I left the theater with my sides sore from laughing and a goofy grin on my face. The film revolves around a novelty inventor named Johnson who dreams of worldwide success. What is a novelty inventor exactly? Well, these men and women have been responsible for such gems as: the Slinkey, the rubber chicken, Sea Monkeys, the classic snake in a can... the list goes on and on. Johnson dreams of joining the ranks of these novelty invention greats who came before him - but first he has to move out of his mother's basement in small-town Texas.

Frustrated with his life, Johnson decides to embark on a trip to China - the world's mecca for manufacturing and mass production. Chaos and hilarity ensue as the naive yet eager Johnson navigates through the streets of Shanghai attempting to generate interest and find a backer for his "needful and novelty hygiene product." (I don't want to give away the identity of his invention - the scene in the movie where his idea is revealed is absolutely hilarious!)

The film is beautifully executed and Jackson Kuehn shines in the role of Johnson, but for me the true star of the movie was the backdrop the movie took place in. Fittingly enough, Made in China was in fact made in China, and some of my favorite scenes involved Johnson stumbling through the side streets of Shanghai, or joining in an outdoor Tai Chi class with some locals. Overall, Made in China is a visually breathtaking and compelling story of self discovery that succeeds without oozing cheese and cliche.

If you missed the screening today, you still have a chance to catch this hidden gem next week. An encore screening of Made in China is being shown on Sunday October 4th at Eau Claire Market at 3:15pm.

VW, Rock and Roll, Free Cars...

Sorry, no free cars, just wanted to grab your attention.
Volkswagon sure knows how to put on a good party. Last night's VW Rock-and-Roll Party following the Rock Prophecies screening also served as one of the unofficial Canadian launch party for Volkwagon's newest vehicle, the Golf Wagon. The red carpet was rolled out for their newest model which was parked just outside the Barley Mill in Eau Claire.


In addition to the party last night, Volkswagon is once again providing the Calgary International Film Festival with vehicles which are used for a variety of purposes. Transporting delegates, supplies, staff and most importantly the actual film prints themselves. Big props to them.

Inside the Barley Mill, it was a packed house full of delegates, guests, staff and more as everyone enjoyed the music alongside the sodas courtesy of Stella Artois. Those looking for that extra kick, Jagermeister. In case you're wondering, that is not a real glass of Stella, there's a type of gel in there. Can't recall what kind but what's inside the glass isn't real Stella.

I snapped some shots of people enjoying the party, the beverages. Even I got into the act at one point.

Sorry for the late post...

Summerhood

Summerhood played earlier this afternoon at Eau Claire Market and proved to be one of the funniest films of this year's festival. The film follows Fetus, an awkward, intelligent, and highly endearing 9-year-old, during one adventure filled summer spent at camp. This entertaining coming-of-age tale had the packed theatre laughing from beginning to end and was a definite crowd pleaser. Prior to the film's screening, theatregoers were treated to a special appearance by Scott Beaudin, one of the film's leading cast members, who provided a quick introduction. While Summerhood is about a group of young kids, it appeals mainly to an adult sense of humour, and reminded me of a cross between Meatballs, Stand By Me, and (because of John Cusack's fantastic narration) The Wonder Years.

If you missed out on today's screening you can still check it out on Saturday Oct. 3 at 3:00pm at The Plaza. You want want to miss it! To view the trailer click here.

Encore Screening of "Tetro" Not To Be Missed


The first original screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola in two decades, Tetro introduces us to Alden Ehrenreich (who is like a young Leonardo DiCaprio) in the pivotal role of Bennie, younger brother to the enigmatic Tetro, (Vincent Gallo.)

Originally, Coppola wanted Matt Dillon in the title role, whom he had directed in Rumble Fish and The Outsiders - two films in which teen angst and the bonds of brotherhood were central themes - however, the casting of Gallo and Ehrenreich is a perfect pairing.

Set in Beunos Aires, Argentina the film is shot beautifully in black and white. It is predominantly in English with subtitles when Spanish or Italian is spoken. The editor was Walter Murch who has collaborated with Coppola on many occasions including the Oscar winning film Apocalypse Now in which Murch won an Oscar for Best Editor, often awarded in tandem with the Best Picture, although the film didn't win any Oscar's for Coppola's Screenplay or Direction. (It lost to Kramer vs. Kramer in 1979. Also nominated was All That Jazz, a film with the same kind of feel as Tetro has with an artsy edge.)

Tetro is loosely based on the life of Coppola who, like the title character in the film, is the son of a famous Composer and conductor. He has been quoted as saying his own father-son relationship was complicated but loving, unlike the one Tetro had with his father. Carmine Coppola had a strong working relationship with his son and scored the music for Apocalypse Now and the Godfather Trilogy, winning Best Music, Original Dramatic Score for Part II. Also, unlike the film's namesake, Coppola keeps close family ties. Sister, Talia Shire and daughter, Sophia Coppola, were cast in the Godfather.

The suffering mind of the writer Tetro is what propels the film's plot, however, writing is more natural for Coppola. In an interview (June 11, 2009) with Carla Hay on the Examiner.com, he is quoted as saying writing still is easy for him, even after all these years:
"I think what surprised me was once you get on the train of writing, so to speak, how much it does it automatically. I have this little rule when I write: Firstly, it’s important to sit down every day, at least six days a week, at least four hours a day, at a time that’s regular for you … So your muse knows where you’ll be, or otherwise they won’t show up."

"I like [writing] in the morning. No one’s hurt my feelings yet with any horrible phone calls. I just like a clean sheet of paper. And then I start. I have a rule not to read any of the pages I do...And then when I have 80 to 100 pages or whatever the story seems to have concluded, I first relax and then I read it."

"I’m always surprised. Usually, there are very good things and very terrible things. I would’ve been discouraged if I read the terrible things [earlier]. That’s when I make note of what I’m going to do with the rewrite, and then I begin the rewrite process."
The encore screening of Tetro is Saturday October 3, 2009 at 9:15 pm at the Eau Claire Market - Cineplex Odeon - Screen 5.

(Diane Bennett is covering Events, Headliners & Music on Film)

Jason's picks for Sunday

I thought I'd steal Brennan's idea to post his picks of the day. Here are a few films to watch for:

Revanche
If you didn't get a chance to see this one yesterday, check it out this afternoon. I did a blog post on it yesterday and Adele also reviewed it on the blog. This is one not to be missed. It's showing at the Globe at 5pm.

Winnebego Man
This doc discusses this famous YouTube clip. If it's half as funny as this clip, we should be in for a good show. It will play at Eau Claire Market at 7pm.

Gigante
Apparently this Uruguayan film might be considered for Best Foreign Language Film at next year's Oscars. The film won several awards at the Berlin Film Festival earlier in the year, and yesterday it won the Horizontes Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain. It plays at Eau Claire at 9pm.

Two great nights of rock docs

Music on Film at the Calgary International Film Festival had a strong start this weekend. On Friday night, a packed audience at Eau Claire Market saw "It Might Get Loud" and on Saturday, another big audience saw "Rock Prophesies."

Both films focused on the guitar. "It Might Get Loud" featured Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2), and Jack White (White Stripes). Each had separate segments discussing their careers and specifically their evolution as guitarists. These clips were mixed in with a "guitar god summit" where all three talked about music and jammed together.

"Rock Prophesies" focused on Robert Knight, a renowned rock photographer. The film showed us career highlights, gave us insight into his personal life and motivations, and how he has now taken it upon himself to help out new rock acts. Director John Chester and subject Robert Knight were in attendance and Knight was greeted with a standing ovation when introduced. After a Q and A session with the guests, the crowd went over to the Barley Mill to continue the rock'n'roll party.

Sunday's Must-See: Police, Adjective



Disappointed that you couldn't get into the screening of Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces"? Don't be: I've got a recommendation for an even better movie!

Romania has produced some notable movies in the last few years: "12:08 East of Bucharest", "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu", and the terrific Palme d'Or winner "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" all achieved success internationally. And now, Corneliu Porumboiu (who also directed "12:08...") adds a terrific movie to this list: "Police, Adjective."

The title "Police, Adjective" is one of my favorite titles of the year: it manages to be both unusual and completely descriptive of the movie itself, since it's about a police investigation and the importance and precision of language. The plot of the movie follows a drug investigation; it's not, however, a typical police procedural. Shot in long, unbroken takes, the movie really gets you into the mindset of the policeman as he follows, watches, waits, gathers evidence.

The movie also features scenes of great conversation about language that are so precise they are practically Tarantinian. How does he take his observations and convert them into something that can be used to press charges? The movie is set in Romania, but it definitely has application to our legal system as well. The movie also raises - and doesn't necessarily answer - many questions about the nature of law (is it better to follow the letter of the law, or the spirit?) that should lead to many interesting conversations after the movie.

Side note: I also want to add my voice to the recommendations for "Revanche" (Adele comments here; Jason comments here), a stunner of a movie from Austria. Catch its encore screening this afternoon at 5:00 at the Globe.

"Police Adjective" screens tonight at 9:15, at the Globe. Don't miss it!

High Life

You may be use to sleek and suave heist operations like Ocean’s Eleven, or the Italian Job, full of sexy, witty criminals who can pull off mind-boggling jobs without a scratch. But, what do you get when your heist crew of four people includes a guy with big dreams, a loose cannon, a hypochondriac, and one pretty boy, who are looking for a quick and easy scam all the while ensuring they get their “fix”? What you get is side - splitting film High Life.

High Life is a humorous film, which has you laughing at the stupid things said and done by 3 ex con’s, one of whom is the articulated leader, Dick followed by Bug who is a loose cannon, and Donnie the hypochondriac. Dick who wants to try and live a normal life knows deep down that the only way he will achieve his dreams is by sticking to what he knows best. Dick proves you truly can become like the company you keep.

Note to self, if I am ever to plan a heist (which would never happen unless of course I was persuaded by Brad Pit, and George Clooney):

1) Don’t do drugs.

2) Choose your accomplices wisely.

3) Make sure your accomplices don’t do drugs either!!!

I can’t stress the part about your accomplices enough! If you don’t believe me you’ll have to check out the trailer. I have to add that I loved that scenes is this film were shot in Winnipeg (my home town)!

This flick is definitely a different type of heist film that you can’t miss!

Catch High Life at 7:00pm Sunday September 27th or 2:45 pm Sunday October 4th at the Plaza Theatre.

Has love got you down?

Are you surrounded by people who just don't get you?  Feeling depressed?  Why not join a support group of homicidal maniacs looking for victims to be in their snuff film!


Or don't.  Seriously, don't. 

But this is exactly the path Must Love Death's main character, Norman, takes.  Depressed over the end of his latest love affair, he seeks out a more creative mode of suicide - one that he can share with others.  The only problem is, the suicide support group he joins turn out not to be suicidal at all - rather, it's a couple of murderous videographers looking for some "expendables".  Can love save the day?  Or will the bloodthirsty sadists have the last laugh?

Finally, a movie where you don't have to decide between a romantic love story, and a bloody hellride - you can have both!  I guess it would kind of be like Elizabethtown..... meets SAW.  You know, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy joins suicide club, boy and girl spend the next 90 minutes trying to escape from psychotic killers.  Not exactly your typical love story is it?

Must Love Death is a german-made film, and tied for 2nd in the Best International Film category at the 2009 Fant-Asia Film Festival.  It also came in third place for Most Innovative Film at the same awards.  See this film with reckless abandon, and never lose faith in true love - it may be all that separates you from torturous death.  Rated R.

Must Love Death is playing (again) Sunday, September 27th at The Plaza, at 12:30PM.

   

Breaking Upwards



A Jewish couple in New York considers ending their relationship -- yes, we're in Woody Allen territory here. In "Breaking Upwards", Zoe and Daryl (played by real-life couple Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein) have grown a little comfortable with each other - bored, even - after four years together. They decide to have a few "days off" each week, and each tries to figure out if what they want can be found with the other.

Smartly written, acted, and directed, "Breaking Upwards" is definitely the kind of movie that shows you don't need a budget to make an entertaining, fully realized movie. (It helps, as many filmmakers have previously discovered, to have the great Andrea Martin in a supporting role.) "Breaking Upwards" was written by Peter Duchan and Lister-Jones and Wein, and directed by Wein, and all are talents to watch.

"Breaking Upwards" is part of CIFF's American Indie series, and it's shaping up to be a terrific fest for American Indie movies. (I especially liked "Mississippi Damned", coming up later in the week.) Check the CIFF website for upcoming movies in the series.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

After CIFF: Calgary Cinematheque

Tonight's sold-out screening of Michael Haneke's terrific, gorgeous "The White Ribbon" was sponsored by Calgary Cinematheque. Introducing the movie was well-known Calgary filmmaker, and Calgary Cinematheque board member, Gary Burns. (If you haven't seen his Calgary cult classic "waydowntown", go see it right now.) (Well, right now you should go see a movie at CIFF, but when CIFF is over, you should see "waydowntown".)

Calgary Cinematheque hosts regular screenings of classic movies at The Plaza in Kensington. In its two-year existence, the Cinematheque has screened such great and important movies as "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg", "Killer of Sheep", and "The Earrings of Madame de...", and this fall they've got an exciting programme: The French New Wave at 50, starting soon after CIFF with Louis Malle's "Elevator to the Gallows". Not only that, but they're also introducing a "film school" aspect to the programme: some screenings will also include lectures from film experts about the movie being screened!

The Calgary Cinematheque has quickly become an important resource for any Calgary film fan. CIFF lasts only 10 days -- let the Cinematheque feed your love of film for the rest of the year!

Revenge, accordions, and if you keep reading - candy bars


So, I had an extremely busy day, felt super scatter-brained and generally on-edge (think Ray Liotta towards the end of Goodfellas). I figured that as long as I make it to Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon - my most eagerly anticipated film of the festival - I'd be ok. Well, of course I didn't. Missed it, and instead headed down to Revanche at the Globe.

It was the perfect replacement for The White Ribbon - and a total surprise!

Director Goetz Spielmann has created a riveting story of existential crisis set against Vienna's underworld and the Austrian countryside. Like his countryman Haneke, Spielmann comments on the nature of viewership and revenge. Indeed, the cinematography and pacing of the film are reminiscent of Haneke, Spielmann employs similarly long takes which allow dialogue to unfold in a natural but eery format. A lack of soundtrack adds to the realism of the film, all the while testing the audience's nerves with the sound of a knock, a car approaching, or a creaky accordion.

Revanche was exactly what I wanted to see: European arthouse cinema at it's finest - stylized without bells and whistles, challenging the audience with existential dilemma - then shocking us with the most perfect of comedic moments. The film feels really pure in many aspects of its design, but offers such a rich story, with such engaging characters.

And if you're like me, and you're half-Austrian, the accordion music, ein bissen Deutsch, and throught-provoking commentary on immigration will have some extra appeal!

Make sure you check out the encore screening Sunday September 27th at 5pm at the Globe.

So, a viewing update: Saw Tick'r'Treat last night. Hilarious, but made me jump in my seat! The staff at the Plaza decorated with mummies, bats and spiders, handed out gooey eyeballs to guests, and managed to twist my arm (that's a lie, I happily did this) into purchasing 3 candy bars. Am completely ready for Halloween now - a month early - and had the most scary of all bike rides home (Little Red Riding Hood, anyone?)

At 11:30 tonight, checking out Must Love Death at the Plaza (see you there?) then Prom Night In Mississippi tomorrow at Eau Claire Market at noon with my Mom... so wholesome!

Documentaries: Tibet in Song

This year's CIFF features a total of three Tibetan-Buddhist themed films, one of which I saw today. Tibet in Song was both a tour of Tibetan song and dance, and an extremely personal account of the filmmaker's own seven-year imprisonment in a remote Chinese prison. The film interweaves Tibet's political plight with the struggle to salvage its cultural traditions of the past millennium, one song at a time. Interviews with political prisoners focus on the power that certain songs hold over day-to-day life in prison; from the tortures that prisoners face when refusing to sing the Chinese national anthem to the spiritual strength derived from composing their own politically charged lyrics. Difficult and saddening as it is to watch a documentary on the suffering of a nation, Tibet in Song also shows the resiliency of Tibetan culture as it clings to the high pastures of remote villages and gets carried across borders by refugees whose songs tell not only of the old ways, but now bare the burden of prison cells and foreign oppression.

The remaining Tibetan doc, Tulku, is on tomorrow at 5:15pm at the Globe.

The kids are alright!

There's a certain quirky, nervous and overly-confident sensation one gets from a theatre full of talented filmmakers under the age of majority. The world is their oyster, they don't think about the can'ts, they think about the why nots?
The Youth by Youth cinema competition is a chance for kids from Calgary to submit a short film, have a public screening and enter to win a few awards.
Hosted with comic relief and text message trivia between the shows, YYC exhibited the top 15 films submitted from a total of 100 entries. Many of them featured scenes from the schools they attended and starred friends, teachers or parents anxious to support the budding filmmakers.
Winner of the best short for the elementary and junior high category was A recipe for disaster by Eric Hayes. Hayes painstakingly created a set in his basement for an animation featuring a baker trying to get to work.
The best short for high school went to Sarah Miller for Namaste about her trip to Nepal. This reflective short also picked up the audience favourite award from the 200 or so guests in the theatre.
Experts Say took home the Young Renegades award directed by Bhaveek Makan who brought his whole family along for the screenings. Experts say screened like a polished YouTube video and featured realistic warfare, explosions and soundtracks produced exclusively for the production about a teen who becomes paranoid about scientific studies.
If they can do it, so can you. Go grab that camcorder!