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Showing posts from May, 2009

Two Unique Film Festivals: Mark Them In Your Calendar

The Women of the Toronto International Deaf Film & Arts Festival(left to right): Jill Andrew (publicist), Tracey Salaway (dir. The Story of Ch'ien-niang), Catherine MacKinnon (Festival Director), Catherine Miller (producer) and partner Ann Calamia (writer/director)of the Opening Night film, Universal Signs.

With the over-abundance of film festivals that Toronto has to offer, I want to shine the spotlight briefly on two that occur in the merry month of May: Toronto's Inside Out LGBTT Film Festival and Toronto International Film & Arts Festival (TIDFAF). Both festivals outreach to specific audiences as well as their allies.

Inside Out has come a long way in its 19 years, and I wanted to see what my listeners would think of the festival. I offered up a pass to the festival and invited Gyles (pass winner and lead vocalist for JamesKing) to share her thoughts on the festival. Gyles is a gay-positive, Black woman, and a major fan of the Black gay comedy series, Noah's …

Inside Out: Scott Ferguson(Exec. Dir.) Talks About the Children's Program

donna g: There is a little gem of a program at Inside Out that many people may not be aware of. I’m talking about your Children’s Program. How many years has Inside Out been programming films for younger viewers and how did the festival realize there was a need for this special program?

Scott Ferguson: We have been programming Children’s films for the past six or so years. We have seen a increase in the number of parents within the LGBT communities over the past decade and it was really important to try to provide opportunities for entire families to come to the Festival and enjoy screenings together.

donna g: How are films selected for this program? You have 3 films in this year’s program, two of which have LGBT content and one that does not. What is the priority (if any) in choosing children’s films for an LGBTT festival?

Scott Ferguson: We look for films with queer content or a queer sensibility. In the past we have screened works like Charlotte’s Web, which isn’t specifically que…

Inside Out 09: Artistic Matters

I created The More the Merrier radio show so that you and I could learn more about various aspects of the arts. Well, ever heard of Wolfgang Tillmans? Yes? Great! No? Great! On Sunday, May 17th at 2:30 pm Inside Out is presenting a documentary of German photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street). So, whether or not you are familiar with this art star, here is your opportunity to see IF ONE THING MATTERS: A FILM ABOUT WOLFGANG TILLMANS (Germany/USA). The film also screens with shorts UNITED FILM STILL (Australia) and TAKING PICTURES (Canada).

Festival details at

Photo courtesy ofInside Out

Inside Out: Why Not Try A Little Something Spanish?

It's not my sole intention to send you to subtitled films at Inside Out, but how could I resist telling you about CHEF'S SPECIAL (Fuera de carta), a Spanish comedy that has two actors from films by Pedro Almodóvar: Javier Cámara (Talk to Her, Bad Education) and Lola Dueñas (Talk to Her, Volver). Like last night´s Opening Night Swedish film, PATRIK AGE 1.5, this film also deals with the paternal instinct. In this case, however, there is a lack of fatherly nurturing on the part of restaurant manager Maxi (Cámara) towards his two children. Meanwhile, Maxi's maitre d', Alex (Dueñas) develops a fascination with neighbourhood hunk. I'm not expecting Almodóvar, but this film has won some Spanish awards, and I don't think Almodóvar is the type of director to rehire actors if they aren't good. I've also seen these actors in these films and liked their performances. Vamanos! See you at the Bader Saturday night at 9:45 PM!

Photo courtesy of

Inside Out '09: Paternal Instincts

Never been to Inside Out? Tonight's Gala screening of PATRIK AGE 1.5 is a film that I can highly recommend. I saw this film at TIFF last September, and am going to see it again, I loved it so much. The basic premise is this: a gay couple think they have adopted a baby aged 1.5 year; instead, a mix-up occurs and they end up with a rebellious, straight, homophobic 15 year-old.

What I absolutely loved about this film is the way in which it handles the topic of paternal instincts. There is a scene in which one of the characters is on a bus and we see him watching a mother interacting with her baby. He looks at the scene with such yearning that it makes your heart ache. In Swedish with English subtitles. Don't even think of being scared off by the subtitles!

Here's a look at the trailer:

CLICK HERE for ticket information or call 416-967-1528. For all things Inside Out please visit

Getting By In Life

I love doing my show, but there are just some Saturdays where I wish I could just call in to the studio from home. Not possible, when you are the host as well as the technical operator. Don't get me wrong, I book my own guests and they are always people I want to talk to and introduce to listeners, but every once in a while I just want a lazy day. Every time I feel this way, and go in to the studio, my mood is instantly elevated by my guests. Every time.

On today's show I spoke to director, Aron Gaudet (he called in from Boston) about his film, THE WAY WE GET BY, and the three seniors (one of whom is his mother) who greet troops as they come in and depart from Bangor International Airport in Maine. When I heard about this film, I kept wondering why it wasn't called The Troop Greeters, and I kept forgetting the name of the film. After seeing the film, I realize that it was really about how to get by in life, how to give your life meaning when you have lived a long time, ex…

Hot Docs 09: Not Loving LOVE IN INDIA

LOVE IN INDIA was a disappointment for me. I had been expecting a revealing discussion of why, in the land of the Kama Sutra, public displays of affection and talking about sex was such a social taboo. Director Q has discussions about the issue with several people, from philosophers to friends, but the way the film is pieced together is sloppy and rambling. There are scenes that go nowhere, too many shots of his beautiful girlfriend, Rii (did I need to see her rolling around in the rain or see the two of them watch a video of themselves making love?), and not enough thoughts of how the documentary should unfold in a cohesive manner.

I appreciated scenes of Q's family, especially the female members, talking about their views of love and sex. A widowed aunt is full of emotion as she talks about the oppressive nature of India, and how she didn't dare go against society by having another relationship after her husband's death. I would have welcomed the inclusion of a women'…

Hot Docs 09: Questions Raised and (some) Answered

Acclaimed documentarian, Jean-Marie Teno, doesn't disappoint his fans with his this latest film. SACRED PLACES that tackles the subject of African film. Who are African directors making films for if the average African cannot afford to see the films in the theatre? Cine Clubs are popping up all over Africa, but the locals do not see a lot of recent African films because they are too expensive; instead, they are consuming the American action films and Bollywood movies. Like the Djembe and its griots, African cinema is supposed to spread the history of the Africa to successive generations, but how can it do this if Africans are not seeing themselves on screen? According to Jean-Marie, these questions are only the beginning of a dialogue that must occur.

SACRED PLACES has its final screening at the Cumberland on Saturday, May 9th @ 1:00 PM

Ticket line for The Jazz Baroness at the Isabel Bader Theatre began almost an hour early for the 1:45 screening of the film, while the rush lin…

Hot Docs 09: Director Heddy Honigmann Honours Ordinary Peruvians

Award-winning director, Heddy Honigmann's new work, EL OLVIDO (OBLIVION) reminds me of an earlier film of hers, THE UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA. In that 1997 documentary, Honigmann followed the lives of a diverse group of immigrants sharing their respective musical talents with users of the Parisian subway system; Her camera also managed to capture the human will to survive. This same human struggle and sharing of talent is reflected in the street scenes of El Olvido, where the children and adults of Lima, Peru ply whatever skills they have in order to subsist--a child does flips between traffic signals and gets coins that she gives to her infirm mother; a blind woman sings on the sidewalk; a vendor sells memory-boosting frog juice; and another takes pride in repairing anything that is broken.

I have never met Honigmann, but it seems to me that she has the documentarian's gift of getting people to reveal their truths, allowing us the privilege of a shared intimacy. Though Honigmann…

Hot Docs 09: Aspects of Love

There's one more screening of ROUGH AUNTIES on Wednesday, May 6th, 11am at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St.). I'm still too full of emotion to write about these women and the sexually abused children that they help. See the movie if you can, if not visit the film's website to learn more about these women and their dedication to showing children love. Website: Also visit the Bobbi Bear organization at

Love shines through every frame of this film, and I'm glad my day ended with this screening. The aunties have had to become "rough" in order to stand up for the children, but they are also there to support each other when difficult times impact the lives of one of their circle. Like her work in Sisters in Law, director, Kim Longinotto succeeds in bringing to the screen stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things.

My day began with a screening of Orgasm Inc, a documentary that explores the…

Hot Docs '09: Pussycat, Pussycat...Are You Visually Illiterate?

I was disgusted and fascinated by the 4 women who are the subject of Christie Callan-Jones's documentary, CAT LADIES. I was born in Jamaica, where cats and dogs were kept outside in the yard. We loved our pets, but we didn't exchange kisses with them, have them crawl all over our furniture, or save their whiskers in a little tin. Pet hair on clothes? YUCK! So, now that you know where I'm coming from you can imagine the grimaces that rearranged my face as I watched this film. In Toronto you are only allowed 6 cats per home. Only 1 cat lady in the documentary is living within the law (she has four). Of the other women, one has 16 and the other two have over 100 each.

Moving past my disgust and onto fascination: I marvelled at how open the women were about being "cat ladies". They more than live up to the stereotype, are very aware of this fact, and I admired their confessions about being lonely as children and as adults. How do you travel or have people come to…

Hot Docs 09: And Then There Was One

If you have time on the morning of Monday, May 4th at 11:30 AM, then drop into the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St) and buy a ticket to ONE MAN VILLAGE. This will be you last chance to see the Lebanese doc about Semaan El Harbe at Hot Docs. Director, Simon El Habre (Semaan's nephew) tells a simple story, revealing the complexities one by one as the film unfolds.

Semaan is the only resident of a village that used to be inhabited by 45 families (civil war drove the residents to Beiruit). Tired of the crowds and pollution of the city life, Semaan returns to Ain el-Halazoun where he lives very contentedly with his cows--I liked Rabiaa, the Stubburn. There is snow on the ground when we first meet Semaan, and the morning sounds of the animals and the dark, cold morning was enough to make want to run to my corner coffee shop.

As the film progresses, we move from the silence of Semaan's solitude into the history of the village, and come to the realization that he is never really a…

Hot Docs 09: What's Hot, What's Not

I have screened 4 films playing at Hot Docs this year, and the reggae documentary, RiseUp, if by far my favourite. I had the opportunity to interview the film's Argentinian director, Luciano Blotta today (he called in from L.A.). Blotta followed 3 subjects from various economic strata of Jamaican life, as they try to break onto the Reggae scene. The 3 year journey is well-documented and each subject is fascinating in their own way: Hungry Town's Turbulence dreams of having his face painted on street walls and buildings along with other reggae superstars but is stuck in the ghetto; Uptown Kingston's Ice has all the money and women he needs but is hungry to make it big in the reggae business; and country girl, Kemoy, loves composing and singing songs, but Clarendon is hardly the place to become a reggae queen. Throughout the film we get introduced to a variety of music industry players including the legendary Sly and Robbie and Lee Scratch Perry. For someone who didn't…

Rhoma Spencer Directs "Our Lady of Spills"

The closed set of Our Lady of Spills (designed by Sylvia Temis and Monika Geresz) Photo by donna g

Rhoma Spencer founded Theatre Archipelago (she is also its Artistic Director) in 2004 in order to present plays from the Caribbean and its Diaspora to Canadian audiences. Playing until May 10th, Edwige Jean-Pierre’s OUR LADY OF SPILLS, a two-hander with Jean-Pierre and Lorna Wilson. According to Spencer, the new home of Theatre Archipelago is Toronto’s “best kept secret”. Situated inside the Todmorden Mills Museum and Art Centre, the Papermill Theatre is the pleasant surprise at the end of a gallery showcasing some very lovely artwork. (Left: Spencer poses for me in front of one of my favourite pieces.)

Getting to the Papermill takes a bit of work if you don’t drive. Walking down Pottery Road’s decline to number 67 takes about 5 minutes (walking back up you’ll strengthen your thighs), but it’s well worth walk to see Jean-Pierre and Wilson’s duke it out in the boxing ring of a stage. Wil…