Thursday, 27 March 2008

Canadian Film Fest 08 Day 2 - March 26/08

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Day 2 at the Canadian Film Fest brought delights and discoveries. One of the most anticipated screenings for me was for Maple Flavour Films and the panel following the screening to discuss the current state of Canadian English-language films. First up, the film!

Maple Flavour Films
Dir: Michael Sparaga
Documentary of the cross Canada tour to promote the film Sidekick, as well as talk to Canadians on the street on about Canadian Film.

Impressions: This is a fantastic documentary about Canadian film. Not only does it tell the personal journey of the film Sidekick and its cross country tour but also talks to regular Canadians as well as film industry professional to give a multi angled view of what is happening to Canadian films. It is humorous as well as insightful and overall hopeful, as it shows that although people in general aren't necessarily aware of Canadian film, they are not only open to it but also want to see and like it.

For more on Maple Flavour Films check out their website

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left to right: Michael Sparaga (filmmaker), Rob Cousins (Cineplex Entertainment), Peter Vamos (Playback) Dan Lyon (Telefilm), Anna Stratton (Triptych), Brad Pelman (Maple)

Panel Discussion on the state of Canadian English-language film industry
Moderated by Richard Crouse
Many ideas in the film and the panel were discussed revolved around how to get Canadians to see Canadian film. There are many barriers including the proximity to the US who are a major producer in terms of film overall, also people don't hear about the films (through ads, articles or word of mouth) so don't go to the films. It was also noted that recently we have had some great successes in Canadian film with films like Away From Her and Eastern Promises. There are also initiatives like the Film Circuit which bring Canadian Films to communities. Also, for filmmakers there incubators like the Canadian Film Centre and the National Screen Institute.

This screening and panel was so popular that they had to turn people away, and it's great to see that much interest in Canadian Film.

If you are looking for where to find out about Canadian Film Releases, here at Movie Moxie I always highlight the Canadian films released in Toronto in every edition of Film Fan Fridays.

Your Beautiful Cul de Sac Home
Writer/Dir: Cameron Kirkwood
Starring: Jeff Geddis, Charles Officer, Ennis Esmer, Terra Vnesa, Scott Beaudin

Impressions: A tale of subversively controlling suburbia... through lawn care. One part comedy and one part drama, two concurrent stories are told in the same local of suburbia. The path of least resistance, or the path of no resistance due to no choices - which one will we chose, or be chosen for us? Innovative ideas of manifestos, locked rooms and water balloons this film will keep you engaged throughout.

For more on Your Beautiful Cul de Sac Home check out their website

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(Bern Euler, Christopher Warre Smets director of The Last Hit Man)

The Last Hit Man
Writer/Dir: Christopher Warre Smets
Cast: Joe Mantegna, Elizabeth Whitmere, Romano Orzari, Michael Majeski

Impressions: A highly energetic crowd was present for this film, which is the second of the festival to include Joe Mantegna in the cast. It is a family centred crime drama (new genre alert!), but of a job gone wrong. The performances were the clear delight of this film. Joe Mantegna stars as not only a hit man as well as a pitch perfect protective father of tough as nails Elizabeth Whitmere. The supporting cast was very strong with Romano Orzari as the replacement killer and Michael Majeski's performance as the perfect boyfriend had me in stitches. I have to admit that overall I was surprized at the numerous American references (license plates, location references, paying for healthcare, etc) considering the context of the viewing.

Highlights from Q&A with director Christopher Warre Smets
Although the main actors couldn't make the screening, we know they were there in spirit. Romano Orzari wrote a letter which included thanking not only the festival but all the volunteers as well. The film was preceded by a message from Joe Mantegna, and it was clear that working with him was a positive experience for the entire cast and crew.

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(Brett Sullivan director of The Chair)

The Chair
Dir: Brett Sullivan
Cast: Allana Chisholm, Lauren Roy

Impressions: This film knocked my socks off. I was expecting it to be a gratuitous horror film when in fact it's a ghost story. Is it scary? Hell ya. Is there horror? Yep, it's got that too. Does it all work? You bet. I was very impressed with the performance by Allana Chisholm, as there were so many moments that could have been terrible clique and she pulled them all off. The director Brett Sullivan mentioned that he wanted a film that would be creep out, not gross out for which I say three cheers to you! It is great to hear that that was the intention, and even more so the experience of the film was creepy indeed.

Highlights from Q&A with director Brett Sullivan:
The house in the film is actually his house.
From idea to completed project it took 6 months.
The 'Chair' was often taken on tour with the film and people could check it out/sit in it.

For more on The Chair check out their website

Learning to Love the Front Row:
I will admit I'm not used to non-stadium seating with sold out shows. For most folk, this might not be an issue but a wee 4'9" me it was. The great news for the festival is that films are being very well attended. That being the case, it's front row from now on baby!

The Canadian Film Fest runs from March 25-29/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

4 comments:

Marina said...

I'm thrilled to hear that "The Chair" is good! YEY!!!

And it looks like sitting in the front row has a few other advantages! :)

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Very true Marina, very true!

Sacred Suzie said...

Me too! That is exactly what I was hoping for when the trailer started and then they turned it into a rip off Hostel.

I heard about Maple Flavour Films on CBC and really LOVED the idea. I wonder if they talked to people who weren't in the big city? Even where I am, they never show Canadian movies. It sucks.

Overall, I thought the writing of this post was fantastic. You really told me about the experience of the movie without giving away the plot, thoroughly communicating whether or not I would probably like it. Bravo Movie Moxie!

josh said...

Little disappointed with The Last Hitman-- seriously great cast-- "Fat" Tony lovingly portrayed... but...

... So sick of the hard-as-nails daughter (see: Die Hard 4); it's a cliche unto itself now.

I found the writing contrived.

The direction was competent in a made-for-tv manner.

The dialogue was... I dunno... lame...

I see what the filmmakers were going for- something sentimental in a hard "hitting" (don't bother to excuse my pun- it's not worth it...) enviornment... and poor research--

-- the writer doesn't know alot about medicare in the States-- just what he's spoon fed by corporate media in Canada.

Once again- loved "Fat" Tony-- hoped for a lot more from the flick...

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