Ashley: Working on a small indie horror film with a huge star like Elijah Wood must make it a surreal experience. How was your experience on set?
Politcally-speaking, the most important Chinese film of the next year or so is probably going to be Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin. The edgy Cannes award-winner has a planned Chinese release date sometime in the fall – but it has been plagued by rumours of censorship and a recut version for domestic audiences.
Perhaps the largest show the young TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto has undertaken, the Century of Chinese Cinema (CCC) is a film programmer’s wet dream. Artistic director Noah Cowan (kind of an interviewer’s wet dream: indulgent with time and tangential questions) appears to have achieved the impossible: a magical meld of mainstream classics drawing in the civilians and obscure masterpieces fulfilling the film nut’s completist fetish.
If you followed my coverage of the deadCenter Film Festival, you know that one of my favorite short films was Paul Avellino’s Un Regalo (A Gift), a gory shock comedy with real chops and dry wit. Mr. Avellino happened to be at the showing, so I had a chance to talk to him for a few minutes afterwards. My curiosity was piqued enough by our discussion that I wanted to follow up with a proper interview. Thanks to the power of the Internet, we were able to have a good discussion about the film.
I arrived at the Lightbox just in time to get my 8 ½ cocktail at the Luma Lounge. It’s the yummiest. The service there is very courteous and I’m always delighted when they recognize me. Either I’m a lush or a cinephile or both, none of which matter at this point since I was there to witness the In Conversation With John Malkovich courtesy of Next Projection and the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Last week, I was privileged to get a chance to ask Morgan White, director of the upcoming documentary The Rep. The Rep is a film about the first year in the life of the Toronto Underground Theater, a repertory theater (or classic movie house if you prefer) in the first year of its existence. The film tracks their ups and downs and also investigates if other rep theaters have as difficult a time as The Underground did. The film brings up the dying industry of rep theaters and calls upon its audience to see movies there, if there is one in your city or town. You can read my full review here.
Uli Gaulke, the director of As Time Goes By in Shanghai, tells stories through images and mood, making jazz music a nice fit for the former film projectionist who grew up in East Germany. “I wanted to bring this kind of storytelling with images in a documentary format… You can tell a story only with words, but this is not a film.”
If Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, last year’s Hot Docs opener, was the fist-pounding celebration of artistic defiance in China, then Chimeras is the prevaricating party-pooper. And I mean that in a good way. Mika Mattila has the courage and the skill to bring us stories of contradictory men who work within the system, without judging their motives or choices.
“It’s just very complicated,” say Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason, multiple times, over the course of our interview on their new documentary on sex work in Canada and abroad. The married couple and filmmaking partnership are premiering Buying Sex on 1 May at Hot Docs.
With her debut feature currently enjoying sold-out screenings at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema, I took the opportunity to talk to writer/director Sara St. Onge about Molly Maxwell, the challenges of a low budget and tight schedule, the influence of experience on the potentially controversial subject matter, and the state of the industry for a first-time filmmaker.