Hello, Mike! I'm not even sure we should have this chat -- or any other this Oscar season -- since the Best Picture winner at the 86th annual Academy Awards is "12 Years A Slave."
Within its creative chaos and subtle but critical balances lie not only the clues to Abu-Assad's genius, but many of the answers that could help us navigate today's hyper-divided world.
Nazareth is infectious. From the moment I set foot in town, I knew why the filmmaker had moved back to "the ghetto," as Abu-Assad affectionately calls it -- to his family's building, where he's now surrounded by uncles, aunts, and his amazing mother who lives just upstairs.
This week saw the kickoff of the Toronto International Film Festival and all the line-ups, cameras, parties, celeb sightings (and stalkings), road closures, red carpet poses, and chaos that go with it. TIFF usually makes me cranky. The whole lining up for tickets you've already bought thing makes no sense. And why the herding of audience members outdoors in inclement weather? Enter HuffPost's Spotlight on TIFF blog series. Hearing from directors such as Atom Egoyan and Alanis Obomsawin has been a refreshing reminder of what the festival is really about. It's not just a venue for waiting around and celeb stalking. It's the place an incredibly creative, hardworking group of people choose to share their deeply felt visions with an audience for the first time. Looked at that way, TIFF feels more like a privilege than a hassle.
The interviewers, who were all women, all asked me the same two questions with a grimace: "So did you have a scene where you had to... be physical...with a 14-year-old?" And I tried to explain, to make light, to assure them that it was... obviously uncomfortable but really honestly it was...fine. But I didn't have the time to explain myself; the interview moved on. Judgment was passed. My character in the film doesn't have a good defense.
Francois Ozon is interested in sex, and Young and Beautiful doesn't let him stray far from his favourite subject. However, his latest film -- a year in the life of a teenage prostitute -- is empty where it should be haunting, and baffling where it should be enigmatic, leading to a confusing misfire from an otherwise thoughtful director.
So much for all the buzz around The Fifth Estate, Bill Condon's frustratingly flat dramatization of the formation, triumphs, and sundering of WikiLeaks, the anarchist information-sharing website. Relying on tight close-ups and lengthy speeches, there is a distinctly made-for-TV feel to the proceedings which even great performances couldn't have overcome. But sadly, the biggest misstep falls on the shoulders of Benedict Cumberbatch.
A middle-aged man arrives at a seaside cottage. He closes the doors, hangs heavy black curtains over all of the windows, and then opens a duffle bag to reveal a little brown mutt. Soon thereafter, we learn that in his (unnamed) Islamic Republic, dogs have been banned. This is just the start of a thrilling, complex journey directed by infamous Iranian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi. It may be the biggest film I saw at TIFF.
Critics haven't been very kind to the Wikileaks/Julian Assange movie The Fifth Estate thus far. But ignoring the way the movie addresses the issue, and instead focusing on its message, might be the best way to look at it.
While it's always dangerous to draw universal lessons from anything as spectacularly evil as American slavery, "12 Years a Slave" is a film that challenges us to ask ourselves what dehumanizing systems we are part of. Not just our ancestors, but us, today.
In her latest project My Love Awaits Me by the Sea, Palestinian filmmaker Mais Darwazah decides to fall in love, and through that love, show the homeland she also discovers for the first time.
Candy is a short film that I wrote, directed, produced and acted in. It is eight minutes and 34 seconds. I am beyond thrilled for Candy to have its World Premiere at TIFF 2013!
I'd describe my own school experience as "hell." I'm 81 years old now, so you can imagine how bad it was back then. Canadian history, as taught in school, was really anti-First Nations people, depicting us as savages and really designed as a campaign of hate.
In director Yorgos Servetas' poignant film, a young woman goes back to a village she knows, and encounters both friends who are suffering direct hits of the crisis, but also a mafia-like system in place, which destroys bodies and souls.
I realize the film is already notorious for its lengthy and explicit lesbian sex scenes between stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. But I truly hope the furor doesn't overshadow the incredible performance by Exarchopoulos, whose name I'm already learning to pronounce and spell in hopes that we'll be talking about her from now until Oscar night.
Metalhead is a personal film. I grew up in a small community in the remote part of Iceland and as a teenager sought refuge and inspiration in heavy metal music. With this film I want to celebrate the music and the impact and influence it has had on me and millions of others around the world.