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Worldwide Short Film Festival - Preview #5

Worldwide Short Film Festival Preview #5
Comedy Without Borders

The Fest runs June 1 - 6 and you can check out full details here.


A funny crop of shorts with everything from social commentary to romantic comedy.

Customer Support (Brukerstøtte)
André Øvredal Norway (2009)
5 minutes DigiBeta Fiction - North American Premiere

It's a bit deadpan in the effect, but a cute idea in a blow by blow help desk kind of support for a woman attempting to open a door.

Dinner Date

Tom Antos Canada (2009)
4 minutes DigiBeta Fiction - World Premiere

It doesn't cover any new ground conceptually, but it's a clever look at two dates - and four points of view.

Instead of Abracadabra (Istället för Abrakadabra)
Patrik Eklund Sweden (2008)
22 minutes 35mm Fiction - Toronto Premiere

An inept magician practices for his parents and languishes in their house until he meets the beautiful blonde next door and wows them all with his magical prowess at his father's birthday - or does he? It's a nicel…

Worldwide Short Film Festival - Preview #4

Midnight Mania: CREEPY Programme


The Fest runs June 1 - 6 and you can check out full details here.

This is a particularly strong group of films that do all embody their own version of creepiness.

Everybody
Jessie Mott, Steve Reinke USA (2009)
4 minutes Beta Animation - Canadian Premiere

Beautifully watercoloured animations of animals offer poetic meditations on sexuality and general weirdness like You smell like diapers and sausage and You are a delight - if only I could remove your head all together!

Jardin Dead End
Stéphane Lapointe Canada (2009)
11 minutes Beta Fiction - Toronto Premiere

You know evil's afoot when a film begins with a dog being run over. A man meets a woman with a strange problem in a bar, and finds that demonic possession can have its ups and downs.

The Elemental
Robert Sproul-Cran UK (2009)
12 minutes 35mm Fiction - Canadian Premiere

Very creepy and atmospheric, it tells the nightmarish Tale of a woman's visit to parents in the most dismal of Council housing …

Worldwide Short Film Festival - Preview #3

Worldwide Short Film Festival Preview #3
Alternative Comedy Showcase


The Fest runs June 1 - 6 and you can check out full details here.

The laughs are mild rather than raucous from this quirky group of mostly very shorts.

Morning Walk
Chris Locke, Nathan Fielder Canada (2008)
2 minutes - Fiction

Follows to rapping friends who lip synch their way around Bathurst and Bloor in Toronto. The fun lies in their delivery.

Good Pals
Nathan Fielder Canada (2008)
3 minutes - Fiction

A chance meeting on the sidewalk proves awkward for a couple of old friends. I thought it dragged on a bit over a one note joke.

Once a Year
Levi MacDougall Canada (2007)
5 minutes - Fiction

A winsome word gamed played in a park and a kind of test to see if you're cool enough to party with an enigmatic stranger...

No Nose Nelson
Kathleen Phillips Canada (2009)
2 minutes - Animation

A cute, funny short that tells and old West flavoured story of how Nelson's nose was stolen by one Squeekie Muhguggins. It also has a ti…

The Corpse Bride - Q&A with playwright Niki Landau

An interview with Niki Landau, writer of
The Corpse Bride
The Young Centre, Toronto
June 4th at 8pm and June 5th at 2pm and 8pm


I have two tickets to give away to the June 5 matinee (2pm) performance of this original show - contact me via Twitter (link to the left of this story).

Toronto's premiere of The Corpse Bride is an original production of  Theatre Panik. It's described as a darkly comedic Canadian interpretation of the famous Yiddish folktale that follows a young bridegroom, who, on the way to his bride’s village, accidentally weds a corpse bride. Theatre PANIK reclaims the intent of the traditional tale through Yiddish theatrical tradition using rhetorical gestures and a silent film style mixed with projections.

Of special note is the fact that former prima ballerina extraordinaire Evelyn Hart will be appearing in the play - her first appearance on stage in years.

Here's a bit of a Q&A with playwright Niki Landau (pictured below):

Q: How did the idea of doing thi…

dance Immersion 16th Anniversary Showcase

dance Immersion Showcase
Harbourfront Centre Toronto
To May 29 (tonight!)

There were more than a couple of interesting things about the dance Immersion 16th Anniversary Showcase. One was that each of the choreographers had the chance to work with a mentor, which included people like Debbie Wilson and Danny Grossman. Second was the opportunity to work with talented lighting designer Sharon DiGenova, whose imaginative creations added depth to the evening as a whole. A starlit sky, mottled colours and shadows, directional spots , colour washes - she had a formidable arnsenal of effects that highlighted both mood and meaning.

South African born dancer/choreographer Mafa Makhubalo began the evening with his solo piece Colour of my soul: RED. I've seen him perform in other productions, and as a very strong and athletic dancer, I would imagine he's most often given roles that take advantage of those qualities. Perhaps it's no surprise then to find that, as a choreographer, his tende…

Worldwide Short Film Festival - Preview #2

Worldwide Short Film Festival
Toronto - June 1 to 6, 2010
Film School Spotlight - Mexico's Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica

The Worldwide Short Film Festival fires up soon - from Jun 1 to 6 - here's the second in a series of previews I'll be running of some of their programmes. For a full listing and more details, please check out their link.


CCC is considered to be Mexico's premiere film school, and this selection of mostly dramatic shorts was put together to commemorate the bicentennial of Mexican independence.

A Trip (Un Viaje)
Gabriela Monroy Mexico - 2004
10 minutes  Beta
Fiction - Toronto Premiere
A bit of a gut wrencher about a single father looking after a special needs little boy. It's a nice piece of visual storytelling, effectively conveying the father's tireless vigilence - tireless until a moment of weakness lets him contemplate an escape from the task that consumes his life. A neat series of close ups on bubbles and other objects gi…

Worldwide Short Film Festival - Preview #1

Worldwide Short Film Festival
Toronto - June 1 to 6, 2010
Midnight Mania - Freaky Programme


The Worldwide Short Film Festival fires up soon - from Jun 1 to 6 - here's the first in a series of previews I'll be running of some of their programmes. For a full listing and more details, please check out their link.

From animated weirdness to stop motion to live action and experimental treatments, this crop of shorts covers nearly all the bases in its quest to bring you midnight freakishness.

The Little Dragon (Le Petit Dragon)
Bruno Collet  France - 2009
8 minutes 35mm
Animation - Toronto Premiere
A martial arts themed combination of stop motion animatino and live action in a cute meditation on what would happen if magic incense brought a Bruce Lee figure to life. Cute and fun, if slightly melancholy in parts.


Still Birds (Alle Fugler)
Sara Eliassen Norway - 2009
13 minutes 35mm
Fiction - Canadian Premiere
Weird and atmospheric, this live action short explores an off kilter apocalyptic worl…

6th NFB Online Short Film Contest – Cannes 2010

Crash! Bang! Wallow?
Winnerof the 6th NFB Online Short Film Contest – Cannes 2010
Over 2 million views in 14 days

Check it out here

Montreal, May 20, 2010 – The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) announced today in Cannes the winner of the 6th NFB Online Short Film Contest: Crash! Bang! Wallow? by Jon Dunleavy and Keith Wilson-Singer of the United Kingdom. The award ceremony was held this afternoon at the Short Film Corner in the presence of Claude Joli-Cœur, Assistant Commissioner of the NFB.

This year, the 10 shortlisted films generated more than 2 million views in 14 days – an increase of over 1000 percent compared to last year – on the NFB’s English and French YouTube channels. This sixth edition was organized by the NFB in collaboration with the Short Film Corner, the meeting place in Cannes for short filmmakers from around the world, and in association with YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing site. In partnering the contest, the NFB continues to encourage the creators of…

dance Immersion 16th Anniversary Show

I'll be checking it out Friday night - more to come.

dance Immersion Celebrates 16th Anniversary at
Annual Showcase Highlighting Emerging Dancers
featuring up-and-coming dancers from across Canada
Part of Harbourfront Centre's NextSteps
Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West
Thursday, May 27 - Saturday, May 29, 2010 | 8PM

Toronto, May 4, 2010- dance Immersion, a Toronto-based organization that provides guidance and opportunities to Canadian dancers of the African diaspora, celebrates its 16th anniversary with a Showcase Presentation of up-and-coming dancers of African descent, running Thursday, May 27 to Saturday, May 29 at Harbourfront Centre's Fleck Dance Theatre. A Talk-Back follows the performance on Friday night (May 28), giving audience members a chance to interact with the dancers and get a glimpse behind the process of dance creation.

Performers in this edition of the Annual Showcase Presentation include the Aya Dance Collective (Toronto), Ghislane Dote (Montreal), Sha…

9 Parts of Desire - Interview with Heather Raffo

9 Parts of Desire
an interview with Writer/Actor Heather Raffo

Continues at Toronto's Theatre Centre to May 23

As an American whose father was born in Iraq, Heather Raffo naturally felt torn by this generation's conflicts in the area, beginning with Bush Sr's Gulf War. It led her to question much, and to wonder how to make sense of both sides of the story. Luckily for the theatre world, it also led to 9 Parts of Desire, a one woman show that has her taking on the personas of various Iraqi women living in times of war.

"I would say the research was multi-pronged," Heather says. "Some was done in Iraq in 1993 when I was there visiting family - before I thought about doing a play. I was curious about my Iraqi roots." The initial spark led to a continued interest in the women she'd spoken with, who'd taken her into their trust, and she kept in touch over the years. "It was a decade's worth of phone calls, just out of interest, not because I had…

Inside Out LGBT Film Festival - Previews Part II

Here's another trio of reviews you'll find in the programme at the 20th annual Inside Out LGBT Film Festival:
(screening times at the links)

Beautiful Darling (2010)
Directed by James Rasin

Canadian Premiere

Check out the trailer here

The film begins and ends with scenes of the preparation for the funeral of one James L. Slattery, AKA Candy Darling, who died in 1974 but whose ashes were finally put to rest by longtime friends Jeremiah Newton, right beside those of his mother, in 1991. It's a sad but appropriate frame for this ultimately melancholy story of an Andy Warhol-era icon.

Her story's told in images and interviews with people like John Waters, Fran Lebowitz, actor Paul Ambrose, and others who'd spent time in Warhol's inner circle. Sometimes we hear Jeremiah's diary, sometimes excerpts from Candy's diaries. James, as he began his life, grew up in a sterile new subdivision just as ugly and uniform as they knew how to make in the 1950's, and into an a…

Inside Out LGBT Film Festival - Previews Part I

Inside Out LGBT Film Festival
Preview/Reviews Part I

Here's a trio of reviews, more to come tomorrow - screening times at the links:

Communication (2009)
Directed by Christopher Banks
Starring Rudi Vodanovich, Alexander Campbell, Richard Lambeth & Rita Lefau Ryan
Short - 19 minutes

The success of a short relies on an economy of filmmaking - how quickly can you establish the story, the mood, the characters? Director Christopher Banks does a beautiful job of it in Communication, revealing a tragic twist to the story of how a young, handsome man inherits a lavish estate from a former professor and lover.

He walks through the house, and various objects bring back memories of his half tentative encounters with the older man, and a dinner party where a boorish former love (of the prof's) shows up to spoil the idyllic mood. Every scene reveals a little more, and Banks is aided by the lush and lovely New Zealand countryside in this nicely realized story of love gone awry.

Oy Vey! My Son Is…

The Jazz Loft Project

The Jazz Loft Project
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10023-7498
Phone: (212) 870-1630

Closing May 22, 2010

If you're in the big (big) city, and whether your interest is primarily in photography or in the music itself, you'll want to try and catch the Jazz Loft Project exhibition before it leaves NYC. The exhibition, using material compiled at The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, includes displays, audio and video stations, and photographs - just a small fraction of the 1,447 rolls of film (or about 40,000 pictures) taken by W. Eugene Smith during the 8 years or so he spent at 821 Sixth Avenue.

In 1957, Smith, a well known professional photographer who'd worked for the likes of Life magazine, walked out on his wife and four children, (as the brochure tells us,) away from his mistress (that part's left out of the official documentation,) and into a life of artistic freedom in a rundown loft building a…

Whitney Biennial 2010 (Better Late Than Never)

Whitney Biennial 2010
(better late than never)
continues to May 30

The world would be a duller place without the Whitney Biennial to kick around every two years. - Roberta Smith, New York Times February 28, 1993

It's easy not to like contemporary art, it's true. Notions of classical beauty and of creating things that are pleasing to the eye went the way of the dodo decades ago. So what are we left with? The Whitney Biennial gives you a good snapshot of the contemporary American art scene - and in this global village of ours, I think, a notion of current visual arts in general. As the nice young man at the desk suggested, I began at the 5th floor, which is a retrospective of artists in previous Biennales, and worked my way down. It's a mind boggling multiplicity of pieces, to be sure, but here's what stood out for me.

Actually, just to back up a touch, I got there before the 1pm opening, so I browsed the giftshop and highly recommend the literary and visual works of the Guer…

9 Parts of Desire Comes to Toronto

9 Parts of Desire

It got rave reviews and played to sold out houses for 9 months Off Broadway.

Heather Raffo's hit one woman play about Iraqi women living in wartime comes to Toronto May 19-23.

I'll have an interview with Ms Raffo sometime soon, but in the meantime you might want to get your tickets - check out the details at the link.

Music by Prudence - Academy Award Winning Doc

If you get HBO2, you can check out this inspiring documentary, which recently won an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short. With material from releases and other media documents that were provided to me:

Music by Prudence
Airing May 20 (8:45 a.m.) and May 24 (7:45 p.m.) ET/PT on HBO2
(it also just aired on May 12)

Check out the trailer here

In Zimbabwe, there is a traditional belief that children who are born disabled are a result of witchcraft and, as a result, physically challenged children are often neglected and rejected by their families. This documentary film tells the story of a young woman named Prudence Mabhena, who has a rare congenital disorder called anthrogryposis, and her Afro-fusion band "Liyana"- made up entirely of physically challenged musicians. Abandoned by her parents, she was raised by her maternal grandmother until the age of 7, when she was sent to live with her father and his new wife, where she was belittled and neglected for 2 years.

Her luck changed…

We Are One: South Sudan Culture Fest

Batuki Music Society, in conjunction with the Sudanese Settlement & Community Services Presents:
We Are One: South Sudan Culture Fest
May 15, Toronto
(see details at the link)

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed on January 9, 2005, ended the Second Sudanese Civil War, which, together with and largely considered a continuation of the First Sudanese Civil War, engulfed the region in deadly fighting from 1955 right up to its signing. The violent clash between between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (formed in 1983) and the Afro-Arab and Muslim dominated northern regions killed an estimated 1.9 million civilians and displaced another 4 million in one of Africa's longest and bloodiest wars.

The good news is that left in its wake is the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, whose capital is Juba. The region, home to more than 60 ethnic groups and extending east and west along the White Nile River (or Bahr el Jebel) south of Egypt and the northern capital of Khartoum, has b…