Author Alfonso Espina

Ryerson University Journalism student, Muggle, Gleek, Career Tribute and film enthusiast.

Special Edition
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My number one pick is a documentary film which profiles Lesley Slowley. An artist and environmentalist, Slowley lives his life differently from the rest of us. He travels using his bicycle…backwards. The term he uses is “backwards rider.” The film shows Slowley on a day in his life during the Occupy movement in Toronto last year, where he taught people courses on how to recycle papers to create art.

The camera follows him as he travels backwards on his bicycle through the streets of Toronto. As he travels, you can relate to the reaction on the faces of pedestrians. It’s not exactly what we could consider normal behaviour. But Slowley claims there are “billions of backwards riders.” The climax of the story occurs when Slowley is confronted by the police for his dangerous way of traveling. The tension is palpable. As a viewer, you feel as if you are present in the scene.

Special Edition
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Audiences are expected to be active participants when immersive cinema is introduced to Toronto by 360 Screenings on May 25, 2012. Created by Ned Loach and Robert Gontier, this film screening merges the worlds of cinema and immersive theatre to produce a truly unique experience.

Special Edition
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A positive buzz is in the air this week as Canadian independent filmmakers get ready to showcase their talents. Hollywood studio films may attract general audiences, but Canadian indie filmmakers are hoping to make a change. The spotlight will be placed on films made by hometown talents, with the revival of the Canadian Film Fest from March 28 to 31st. The festival, which was created by Toronto film enthusiast Bern Euler, originally began in 2004 but ended temporarily in 2008 because of the economic crisis, resulting in lack of sponsorship money. Its return this year provides a great platform for Canadian filmmakers who continuously struggle to share their stories with an audience.

Festival Circuit
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What can 15 teams of filmmakers accomplish in the time frame of 24 hours with one singular theme? This was the challenge called the T24 Project hosted by the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival on Feb. 10, 2012. Of the 15 participating teams, 12 were eligible, after completing their films on time. This year’s theme is about the representation of the city of Toronto in a cinematic genre. The filmmakers were challenged to show the ideologies of the city and lives of people in it. Some films managed to be subtle in the dialogue with the references to the city’s neighbourhoods, while others were more obvious.The best films made you forget the intended theme because the characters and stories were so captivating and told in a unique way. They managed to showcase stories set in Toronto without it being forced into the viewer as a film about the city.