I have my own ideas about what it means to control your own life and the right a person should have to end that life if they choose. But I'm not writing this to spout my opinion on suicide. I'm writing this to tell a story I'll never have the chance to tell Robin Williams, as if I would've had a chance of ever meeting the man.
Canadian governments and broadcasters have been quietly withdrawing all support for documentary. Commercial television, now concentrated in the hands of a few megacorps, does its shareholder diligence by playing strictly to the cheap seats; its screens are filled with sporting fights, gun-toting men, bouncing breasts and dancing cats. Federal governments, increasingly influenced by neo-liberal doctrine, have been shrinking the NFB and CBC for a generation now while refusing to enforce license conditions which might force TV to create a little public parkland within the malling of our mindscapes.
This VIFF, the vast preponderance of films were projected digitally (only four out of 340 films at the fest were actually shown on film). Every film I saw looked and sounded great, insofar as there were no scratches, missing chunks, stutters, mis-projections, or glitches. It's hard to argue with perfection. That said, a new 35mm print of a film like Tarkovsky's Nostalghia is a cause for great excitement, and more than merited a talk with the Cinematheque's Jim Sinclair about film vs. digital, Tarkovsky, and other upcoming film fare.
The story of Rhymes for Young Ghouls is well-told, well-paced and nicely poised between moments of tension and tenderness. The frames are well-lit and well composed and the music -- a good portion of which is old-school Delta blues -- perfectly complements the rawness of the film's visual character.
I love film. Foreign and documentary, quirky and Indie; I even enjoy the occasional Hollywood Box Office buster or blunder. But my favorite films are the ones you don't see coming; the ones you have to pay attention to; the ones that force you outside of a black-and-white comfort zone and into the "grey area". Films like The Attack.
CG lulls us. Characters are too shallow? Put them in 3D! Conclusion is unsatisfying? How about 53 artists work on exploding a planet at the end of the movie? What do you mean the leads have no chemistry when they kiss? Reconstruct their lips. CG is the Pepto Bismol at the end, middle and beginning of a Hollywood meal. My theory? Computer Graphics are to movies as the synthesizer is to music.
It's no wonder that studios, videogame companies, and large brand-holders are beginning to realize that an investment in an intellectual property must have a return from multiple media platforms. Hollywood's most influential players have taken notice with directors like Peter Jackson and James Cameron embracing transmedia.
Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children humanizes the global struggle to end the use of children in armed conflict. Pushing aside the morass of international norms and NGO reports -- important and useful as they are -- Dallaire asks a simple yet harrowing question: how is it that we can go "apeshit" -- to use his word -- when our own children's rights are violated, but passively accept the reality of child soldiers throughout the world?
A few weeks ago, my newsfeed was filled with stories from this year's Sundance Film Festival: "Record Number of Female Directors!" However, what little information I could find about the films centering around women with sexual storylines led to utter disappointment -- did they all just happen to be really dark, or is the female perspective on sex an utter failure?
Cloud Atlas' trailers, TV ads and web banners not only feature heavy-hitters Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in the film, but showcase creepy images of non-Asian actors wearing "slanty eyes." If felt weirded out or was reminded of the times you may have heard someone yell, "Hey, chinky eyes!" from across the street -- you are not alone.
Canadian actress and emerging playwright, Sarena Parmar, has performed in film, television and on the stage. In this in-depth interview on Extraordinary Women TV with Shannon Skinner, Parmar discusses her rapid rise in her acting career, how her South Asian background has influenced her work, her interest in human rights and advocacy, and also her involvement with Plan Canada's "I Am A Girl" campaign.
I've been attending the Toronto International Film Festival in various permutations over the last decade. This year was especially interesting as it was my inaugural TIFF season on Twitter -- adding a virtual blizzard of information into the mix. My coverage this year was a pu-pu platter of events, lounges, pop-ups and charitable causes and with most of it being re-tweeted in real-time, I quickly learned that I could not "dance at every wedding."