When one thinks of a gypsy, one thinks of the stereotyped romantic, mysterious, nomadic wanderer portrayed in film and television. The Romani are an ethnic group who trace back their roots to the Indian Subcontinent and then spread about Europe. Roma are a subgroup of the Romani people who live throughout Europe and…
Browsing: Made in Canada
A problem arises early on in Sex After Kids because of its instant quality of shooting. Digital may be the future but cinematographers often speak about how they have to use filters to dim down the quality of the shots otherwise they look too colourful, too crude, almost cartoonish. That problem is apparent here. The camera’s cleanliness and all too polished look makes it seem amateur, with no colour palette used for a consistency throughout the shoot. There seems to be no colouring, no grading, instead the lights are on full and every detail is on show in a sadly distracting fashion.
Empire of Dirt tackles issues that haunt many First Nations communities across Canada. A few issues that are taken head-on: substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and broken homes. You can find these issues in any region and culture but these issues are not uncommon on “the rez.” The film opens with Lena (Cara Gee) working as a maid. She’s fired shortly after bringing her daughter Peeka (Shay Eyre) to work. There’s an unspoken history of poor work habits and/or tardy issues. Lena also works at a youth centre as a support worker. She does everything she can to support her daughter but not all is well at home. Peeka runs with the wrong crowd and is hospitalized after inhaling spray paint fumes. The audience learns that Lena had substance abuse problems and was an under age prostitute. Under the threat of a social worker, the two flee to Lena’s hometown, an unnamed rural town in Ontario.
Antisocial is a well-made little thriller that keeps its thriller tone throughout the entirety of the film until abandoning it for a more stock horror ending. The story is simple: five college students gather at a house for a New Year’s Eve party. Three of the five are constantly updating their statuses on The Social Redroom, this film’s version of Facebook of FriendFace or whatever. Sam (Michelle Mylett), the main protagonist, deleted her account earlier in the day when her boyfriend broke up with her. She makes her way over to Mark (Cody Thompson)’s house for the party at dusk after her cram-session class ended (apparently she did poorly on her mid-term or final and had to continue to go to class to improve her grade). When she arrives, she encounters Steve (Romaine Waite) and his girlfriend (and new acquaintance of Sam’s) Kaitlin (Ana Alic) along with Jed (Adam Christie). Jed gets excited when he learns Sam deleted her Social Redroom account, because he had done so months ago, giving him a small amount of company since everyone on campus and around the world is on the thing.
Made in Canada Interview: Gail Harvey, Katie Boland, and Maria del Mar on Looking Is The Original Sin
Award winning director Gail Harvey is a photographer and filmmaker. Her latest film, Looking Is The Original Sin is the story of a young daughter’s journey to understand her photographer mother’s life. It’s an intriguing tale, most of all, because it’s an almost invisible topic in film: a mother with depression.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Gail, her daughter (and actress in her own right), Katie Boland, and actress Maria del Mar.
Meeting them at a café on Queen Street West, I was suddenly transported into the setting of the film. As they took their seats around me, I was comforted by the fact that their characters were as real as the people seated before me.
Greatness can be a gift as well as a curse. To be truly great, one must invest oneself fully in their work, must give up a large part of their soul for what they do. Selfishness is a negative trait, but in many ways it is an inherent aspect of greatness. The annals of cinema are full to the brim of “great man” stories that focus on the triumphs and downplay the collateral damage left in the wake of titanic achievements. Looking Is The Original Sin is a rare gem then, distinct in two ways: This is a story of a “great woman” and one focused intently, almost exclusively on the damage that strive for excellence can cause. Based heavily on the life of Diane Arbus, the film follows Helene (Maria Del Mar), a photographer dealing with depression and instability, and her tumultuous relationship with her daughter Anna (Katie Boland, Del Mar’s real-life daughter), who also finds herself adrift. The two ruin each other even as they strive to save each other, and the film is smart about the compromises they make and the validity of their choices.
Television is overrun with so-called reality shows. Finding an interesting quirk in a person, or an industry, or a subculture and then documenting and producing a story built around that quirk is what it’s all about. It’s an easy way for the media to produce content, and to be fair, sometimes it’s interesting. Sean Cisterna’s documentary 30 Ghosts follows the same model. He joins Kim Hadfield as she takes her troupe of ghost hunters on a series of investigations searching for proof of the paranormal. It’s familiar territory, but there’s an interesting balance between the superficial world of ghost hunting and the internal struggle that Hadfield is clearly experiencing.
The year is 1986. 15-year-old Lisa has been doomed to repeat the same day of her life as long as she can remember. Every day she eats the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She washes the same laundry and tells her mother she doesn’t know where the missing clothes went. Every night is capped off with the same episode of Murder, She Wrote, and there is little hope of a change in this monotonous routine. But when things start to go bump in the night, Lisa launches an investigation to determine the cause of this madness.
John Kastner is an award winning Canadian documentarian and if you haven’t seen any of his films, this is a call saying that you should. After acting at a very young age, Kastner took on directing documentaries and went on to win four Emmys, and five Emmy nominations for his films Four Women, Fighting Back, Life With Murder, and The Lifer And The Lady.
I recently had a Kastner film marathon and it was a hard watch. With tissues on one side and a notebook in the other, I found myself crying and engaging in ideas that were once unapproachable to me. The subjects he takes on are hard hitting and are sensitive in nature. Take for example, Fighting Back, the tale of children struggling with leukemia, fighting for their lives with the heart-wrenching support of their parents. Then there’s Life With Murder, the story of a family who deals with the consequences of their daughter’s murder while supporting the son who killed her. In The Lifer And The Lady a man with a violent past, tries to reform, and get parole to be with the love of his life.
There’s a certain stigma attached to Canadian films. Despite being home to such brilliant filmmakers as David Cronenberg, Norman Jewison, James Cameron, and Ivan and Jason Reitman, our film industry is still looked on as being an amateur operation. The general impression remains that we don’t make great films. Having watched Greg White’s Separation, it’s crystal clear why this impression exists.
Separation is stylized as a taught psychological thriller that focuses on the relationship between a husband and wife. The title refers to the impending end of their marriage, but also works as a double entendre describing the loss the two have experienced.