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Showing posts from June, 2009

It's a Wrap! for the ReelHeART International Film Festival

Had a great time at the ReelHeART International Film Festival. It was my first time attending the festival and I must say it was like going to a fantastic summer camp, with director, Shannon Kelly as the den mother. The mid-size scale of the festival allows for an intimacy that is incomparable with any other festival I've covered in Toronto.

The festival really is international in scope. I met filmmakers from Ireland, Switzerland, and the USA, all with a variety of visions representing their homelands and their own particular styles. Canadian filmmakers held their own among this crowd, presenting films and scripts to make us proud.

I didn't get to the Closing Night Party until late in the evening, but I felt as if I was re-joining a group of friends with so many familiar faces in the crowd. It was as if it was a continuation of the Opening Night. Whoo-hoo!

Some pics from Closing Night:

ReelHeART director, Shannon Kelly (left) and actor/producer Paul J. Alessi (Knuckle Draggers)


The Harder They Come Screens at Bloor Cinema

Thanks to Mirvish Productions, a packed audience was able to see the 1970's Jamaican classic, The Harder They Come at the Bloor Cinema on Saturday, June 27th. With Mirvish underwriting the costs of the screening, the admission price was only $5.00. The brand new print of the gangster film was crisp and the soundtrack, featuring many reggae hits, was a pleasure to listen and groove to.

The screening started with and introduction by director Clement Virgo and the London cast promo of the play, including rave reviews from theatre audiences (many admitting that they had seen the prodcution several times). It will be interesting to see how the UK production fares in Toronto. Mirvish has broght the play to our city for the summer (July 21-August 23). Maybe the 25% off coupon/mock Harder They Come 45 single will help them make up their minds.

Poster #2 courtesy of

ReelHeART Film Festival: The Daring Seniors of "Courthouse Girls of Farmland"

This sweet-looking woman handing out taffy at the ReelHeART Opening Party is the notorius Wanda Grove from Farmland, Indiana. Wanda and six of her bridge club friends posed for a calendar that got some people in and around the small town a bit hot under the collar. While some applauded their move to pose for the calendar to aid in the preservation of an historic courthouse, others saw it as exploitation of seniors and/or immoral. I'm on the side that saw their actions as empowering and community-minded. What great role models for me to follow when I reach my senior years. Go Girls!

The "girls" were a ReelHeART hit, earning a special Spirit award from Festival organizers and adoration from everyone who encountered them and saw their documentary, Courthouse Girls of Farmland. It's been reported that the girls had to be coralled by their handlers to leave a party at midnight. The girls left, but reluctantly.

Partners in life and in film: Producer, Jerome Herron (left) an…

ReelHeART International Film Festival: June 22 - June 27

Sistah Lois and actor, Jason G. Butler, a cast member of THE NOTORIUS NEWMAN BROTHERS

Had a wonderful time at the ReelHeART International Film Festival launch tonight at Southern Accent Restaurant. Met some very excited filmmakers and interesting non-filmmakers (but film lovers). The combined flavours of the "Indie" spirit, flowing Denison's beer, and amazing food made for a very relaxed comfortable and fun evening. The hostess with the most-ess, Shannon Kelly kept the evenings events rolling along smoothly.
I couldn't tell you the last time I went to a festival event that didn't have sinkholes of boredom scattered throughout the evening. Unlike some opening parties I've been to that look fabulous on television or in "on the town" photo ops in the papers, ReelHeART had, dare I say it? Yeah, I will. It had HEART. No one was stuck up, you could actually engage someone in conversation who wasn't looking for someone "bigger" than you to tal…

Toronto Fringe Festival 09

Thanks to all my guests who participated in TmTm's 5-MINUTE FRINGE show today. Big THANK YOU to LISE for keeping me sane.  Only having 5 minutes to sell their performances to the listening audience doesn't give Fringe participants a lot of time to go into the "where/when" details, so here they are:

by Liesl Lafferty
presented by Chaos Collective from Vancouver, BC

Canary is a comedy about Lily. Struck by a debilitating aversion to artificial light, our hero turns to medicine, but the results are fruitless. Inadvertently, Lily evokes the spirit of Marie Curie, who discovered radium and ironically, died from radiation poisoning. Lily strives to warn humanity about our toxic world and her journey culminates with the question, ‘Are you next?

Director: Liesl Lafferty
Cast: Tasha Lawrence, Kathryn Haggis and Heidi Waters
Audience: General Audience
60 min.

Venue 8: Tarragon Theatre Extra Space
Thu, July 2 10:00 PM
Sat, July 4 8:00 PM
Sun, July 5 Noon
Mon, Ju…

Talented Youth: Sir Sanford Fleming's First Annual "Fleming Idol" Competition

Babies are cute and kids are precocious, but teenagers are often dismissed or thought of as trouble-makers. June 5th's Fleming Idol competition at Sir Sanford Fleming Academy showed us all that if you get teenagers engaged in activities they enjoy, you will be more than pleased by their skills.

The First Annual Fleming Idol Talent Competition was produced and promoted by Canadian Reggae Music Award-winner, Jannett Scott (a.k.a Lady Luscious), who also works at the school. More than 20 teens took part in the competition which was divided into several categories: Singing, Drama, Rap, Dancing and Music (instrumental/vocal).

CONGRATULATIONS to Fleming Idol Winner, RAELENE BAILEY(Baby Jill Scott as we judges called her).
FLEMING IDOL TOP TENAmber Ing-Ducreay (Winner, Music (instrumental/vocal)Deniqua Gerson-Dixon (Winner, Drama n/a CIUT interview)
Deshaya Luong-Rose (singer)
John Chikezie (singer)
Kevin Graham (Winner, Dance)
Michael Rose (singer)
Phillip Prince Jr. a.k.a “Hazzard” (Winner, Ra…

The Right "Formula" for Pride Weekend

Looking for something to do Pride Weekend? Go see THE BABY FORMULA on JUNE 19th. Bring all of your LGBTTQ friends and allies with you. Stars Angela Vint and Megan Fahlenbock have such great chemistry and the documentary style of the films makes you really believe they are a couple.

If you like such Canadian shows such as This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Rick Mercer Report or the British version of The Office, you are bound to enjoy the mock documentary style of this film. There is a scene in the film where the characters have told the filmmakers to turn the camera off, but the director motions to the crew to run and follow the women--it's hilarious!

The plot is outrageously funny, but will be close to home for a lot of people. The film deals with the issue of what lengths people will go to in order to satisfy the primal human instinct to have a baby. Characters Athena (Angela Vint) and Lillith (Megan Fahlenbock) are a couple who decide to undergo a hush, hush, experiment in order to h…

Worldwide Short Film Festival 09: They're Baaa-aaack!


They're back! Wallace and Gromit, two very recognizable faces on the screen at the WORLDWIDE SHORT FILM FESTIVAL (WWSFF)and for lovers of the Academy Award-winning Aardman Animation Studio, star in a tasty murder mystery. Someone has been systematically killing off bakers one by one. A dozen are dead, but 13 makes a bakers dozen. As a baker whose mission it is to deliver "dough to door", will Wallace be unlucky number 13? What of his trusty sidekick, Gromit? Will man's best friend nose out the details? Hmmmm....

The program may be called SHORTS for SHORTIES, and recommended for ages 6+, but funny is funny and I had a great time screening this section of WWSFF . This year, the festival is celebrating animation, and Shorts for Shorties has animated films for children from Canada and around the world: Cuba, France, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Two of my favourites come from the Jungle Beat serie…

Worldwide Short Film Festival 09: I Knew It Was You

I enjoyed the variety of films in the Picture is Up! program; however, the gem in this collection is I Know It Was You, the piece on actor, John Cazale. Who? John Cazele. Who? Okay, the mousy guy from Gene Hackman's film, The Conversation. He was in the Deer Hunter with Robert De Niro... Still doesn't ring a bell? Let me try again... He was Al Pacino's nervous boyfriend in Dog Day Afternoon and...he first worked with Pacino in The Godfather...Pacino's older brother. Fredo. Fredo Corleone. Yea. That guy. I'm not going to say anything else about this film because I want you to get to know this incredibly talented actor through clips of his work (on screen and stage), and recollections by some of Hollywood's major talent.

What lies behind these images of an idyllic summer at the beach? The mystery methodically unfolds before us as we watch these recorded memories and play detective with the narrator. The film is US (NOUS).


Worldwide Short Film Festival 09: Oh! CANADA

Amidst the sections of Celebrity Shorts, Award Winners from Around the World, Slap 'n' Tickle and Midnight Mania (to name a few) at the CFC WORLDWIDE SHORT FILM FESTIVAL (WWSFF), there are a couple of short film programs that I wanted listeners to know about. I had a chance to touch on some of these sections with festival director, Eileen Arandiga. Below are some of the Canadian shorts we either discussed or that were highlights for me.

Oh! Canada: CANADIAN COMEDY SHORTS is a program I never miss seeing. There is something about what we choose to laugh about that always interests me. I think it's the fact that we know how to laugh at ourselves.

What can be more Canadian than curling? "Burnt rock", and "hurry hard" are terms I picked up from MEN WITH BROOMS, but hearing these terms during DEADSPIEL's zombie vs. human curling match just made me want to reach for the Tim Hortens. The attitudes were still just so Canadian! .

The quintessential Canadia…

Poets Corner w/ Professor Tim Conley

Back for a second term on TMTM, Professor Tim Conley joined me on May 31st to talk poetry. Having a professor in the house, I could ask him to define line metres and sonnets, but we also talked about the fact that we don't want people to continue to think of poetry as something that's elitist, snobby or inaccessible. There is a poet out there for everyone. Go ahead and discover a favourite poet this summer. Take a poet to the beach or into your own backyard/balcony, put your feet up and ENJOY!

Marianne Moore's work reminded me too much of my English courses back in the day at UWO. I played a track of her reading her poem, "Bird-witted", and appreciated her talent with words (she is a constant editor), but didn't fall in love. Moore had an amazing life as a 20th century poet, and I am not dismissing her work, just saying that she isn't for me at this time. She may be for you, though. If you connect with her, drop a comment/email my way.

On the other hand, …