Canada

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Interview with Atom Egoyan

GreenCine has a nice interview with Atom Egoyan about his new film ADORATION (which opens in Boston on Friday.) There's a really neat exchange about why Atom gives Arsinee roles that are difficult to empathize with. I especially like what he says about seeing her in other people's films.

Scot Dicovers "Hirsute" Filmmaker

scolford's picture

It's amazing what you'll find, Googling mindlessley on a Saturday morning. (Don't ask what I Googled, by the way.) I was unexpectedly redirected to Logo Online where I watched "Hirsute", a 14-minute short film by A.J. Bond. Bond, a Canadian (go figure) actor and film editor, apparently has launched his directing career with this fascinating low-tech sci-fi short and the results are fantastic. I've always been a fan of really smart time travel stories and this film reminds me of one of my favorite books in the genre, The Man Who Folded Himself by the legendary David Gerrold. (Yeah, the guy who wrote the Star Trek "Trouble With Tribbles" episode.) Only "Hirsute" is more cynical. And that's not a bad thing.

Bond seems like a pretty intelligent guy and I'm pleased to see that he was in Chlotrudis friend Gary Burns' Kitchen Party, not to mention providing the voice of "Bad Hat" Pepito in the Madeleine cartoon. I wonder if we should have him down for the awards to speak about editing. Did I mention that he's Canadian?

I don't usually watch much Logo, as films set out to be "gay films" are usually pretty disappointing. But maybe I'll have to start flipping past that channel more often.

Check out the trailer below, and if you like it, watch the whole thing at Logo Online or on IMDB.

TIFF Opening Night Film Announced

Beth, you picked the right movie, but not the right night! Paul Gross' PASSCHENDAELE will open this year's Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, September 4. Gross, well-known to American audiences for his roles on television's "Slings & Arrows" and "Due South," and to Chlotrudis members for his roles in the films WILBY WONDERFUL and MEN WITH BROOMS, directed, produced, and stars in this historical romantic drama set during World War I. Gross plays Michael Dunne -- a man injured in France who comes home to Calgary. However, a romance with a nurse inspires him to go back to France to protect her younger brother, who is embroiled in the third battle of Ypres, otherwise known as Passchendaele.

TIFF traditionally opens with a high-profile Canadian film. Last year Jeremy Podeswa took the coveted spot with his FUGITIVE PIECES. Gross' PASSCHENDAELE will make it two historical drama in a row. Beth had pegged this film as the festival closer, with Egoyan's ADORATION as a possible opener. This is the first announcement for this year's festival which runs September 4 - 13. The official website for this year's festival will go live on June 27th. Thanks to Cinematical for the tip!

Cannes 2008 Line-Up Announced

Twitch has the first official line-up announcement for the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, and there are some interesting films from the Chlotrudis point-of-view. ADORATION is Atom Egoyan's first film since 2005's WHERE THE TRUTH LIES. In his latest work, Atom shifts his attention to high schoolers and in a logical progression from his fascination with video, he looks at how kids' relationships are affected by the Internet. ADORATION stars Scott Speedman, Rachel Blancard, and Arsinée Khanjian. Charlie Kaufman, writer of such mind-bending films as ADAPTATION and BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, will be screening his directorial debut, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK. Other Chlotrudis-worthy directors include Nuri Blige Ceylan (CLIMATES), Arnaud Desplechin (KINGS & QUEEN), Lucretia Martel (THE HOLY GIRL), Wim Wenders (WINGS OF DESIRE), Ji-Woon Kim (A TALE OF TWO SISTERS), Jia Zhangke (THE WORLD) and Stephen Soderbergh (BUBBLE).

Here's the full list:

Competition
Nuri Bilge Ceylan - Three Monkeys (Turkey-France-Italy)
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne - Le Silence De Lorna (France-Belgium)
Arnaud Desplechin - A Christmas Story (France)
Clint Eastwood - Changeling (US)
Atom Egoyan - Adoration (Canada)
Ari Folman - Waltz With Bashir (Israel)
Philippe Garrel - La Frontiere De L’Aube (France)
Matteo Garrone - Gomorra (Italy)
Charlie Kaufman - Synecdoche, New York (US)
Eric Khoo - My Magic (Singapore)
Lucretia Martel - La Mujer Sin Cabeza (Argentina-Spain)
Brillante Mendoza - Serbis (The Philippines)
Kornel Mondruczo - Delta (Hungary-Germany)
Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas - Linha De Passe (Brazil)
Paolo Sorrentino - Il Divo (Italy)
Pablo Trapero - Leonera (Argentina-South Korea)
Wim Wenders - The Palermo Shooting (Germany)
Jia Zhangke - 24 City (China)
Steven Soderbergh - Che (US-Spain-France)—one four-hour competion title comprised of Guerrilla and The Argentine

Out of competition
Steven Spielberg - Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (US)
Mark Osborne and John Stevenson - Kung Fu Panda (US)
Ji-Woon Kim - The Good, The Bad, The Weird (South Korean)
Woody Allen - Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Spain-US)

Special screenings
Marina Zenovich - Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (US)
Wong Kar-wai - Ashes Of Time Redux (Hong Kong-China-Taiwan)
Daniel Leconte - C’est Dur D’etre Aime Par Des Cons (France)
Marco Tullio Giordana - Sangue Pazzo (Italy-France)
Terence Davies - Of Time And The City (UK)

Midnight Screenings
Emir Kusturica - Maradona (Spain)
Jennifer Lynch - Surveillance (US)
Hong-Jin Na - The Chaser (South Korea)

Take a look at the trailer for BLINDNESS

So a lot has already been said here and here about BLINDNESS, the new film due out this year by Fernando Meirelles, adapted from a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Jose Saramago. Lots of people are looking forward to Meirelles' follow-up to CITY OF GOD. Others are excited about Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, or Gael Garcia Bernal, three of the more well-known cast members. Of course, Chlotrudis is all over BLINDNESS because it was adapted for the screen by our pal, and Chlotrudis Advisory Board member, Don McKellar, who also appears in the film, as does our other Canadian pal, Tracy Wright!(And to sweeten the Chlotrudis punch just that much more, it also features appearances by Sandra Oh, Maury Chaykin, Martha Burns (form "Slings & Arrows"), AFTER LIFE's Yusuke Iseya, Susan Coyne (also from "Slings & Arrows"), and Chlotrudis Award winner Nadia Litz! What more could you possibly ask for?

How about a creepy trailer? While you're vibrating with anticipation about everything I just told you, take a peek at the trailer for this film which is due to open this fall in the U.S. Originally we had thought the film would premiere at Cannes (and it still might) but it sure looks like they're setting it up for Toronto as well. Whooee! Wouldn't that be fun?

An Eerie Pre-Chlotrudis Calm

It's the day before the 14th Annual Chlotrudis Awards, and aside from waking up earlier than I'd hoped, I'm strangely calm about the whole affair. (Okay, maybe I'm still a little concerned about the two musical numbers which will have final rehearsals tomorrow afternoon before the show.) Perhaps now having done this for nine years (publicly) things just move pretty smoothly. The voting is done (for the most part) and we've got our winners. The speeches are written, the multi-media is wrapped up, and the guests will start arriving today.

I'm very excited about our Career-so-far Award winner this year. One of the joys of honoring a deserving and often under-appreciated actor or filmmaker at the Awards is in preparation for their arrival I go through their body of work and get reminded of the reasons we are honoring them in the first place. Such was the case with this year's guest, Alberta Watson. I knew Alberta Watson was a good choice for this year's award just from the several films that immediately sprang to mind when we considered her. What I discovered was those films were just a small sampling of the terrific work this actress has shared with us over the years. Alberta enjoys an extensive film and television career, and she seems like she's going to be a lot of fun as well. You can find out for yourself by joining us tomorrow night at the Ceremony.

So I hope to see many of you local readers at the Brattle Theatre tomorrow, Sunday, March 30, 5 p.m. Chlotrudis Awards is a decidedly unique experience, one that most movie buffs know not to miss. Tickets are $20/$15 for members of the Brattle or Chlotrudis. Hope to see you there!

Great Interview with Ellen Page on NPR

Ellen Page... Ellen Page... Are we tired of reading/hearing about Ellen Page? No! As many people south of the 54'40 don't know, Chlotrudis discovered Ellen Page in the U.S, awarding her with the Breakout Award in 2005, before HARD CANDY or X-MEN: THE LAST STAND were released. We co-presented the still-unreleased AMERICAN CRIME with the Provincetown International Film Festival which starred Ellen and Catherine Keener earlier this year. Now with the imminent release of the terrific Ivan Reitman comedy JUNO, Page is poised to really break out to a wider audience. Take a listen to this wonderful NPR interview with this talented actress.

THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS Official Trailer

So I haven't seen a U.S. distributor pick this one up yet (what are you waiting for?), but my hope is that if JUNO is a smash, THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS might have a shot. This was my top film of the Toronto International Film Festival. It stars the amazingly talented Ellen Page, who is about to become a star, and who I told in Toronto Chlotrudis was totally taking credit for her success in the States (which she was completely cool about). I don't know when you'll get to see THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS in the States (hopefully when we co-present it at the IFFB? Brian? Nancy? Adam?) but here's the nifty trailer. Oh, it's directed by that talented Canadian director, Bruce McDonald.

A couple more words (and you know they're not the last) on BLINDNESS

So filming on Fernando Meirelles' BLINDNESS continues in Uruguay and Brazil next week. We got the inside scoop from Don McKellar (who adapted the screenplay) last week in Toronto. As you probably know from reading this earlier blog post (or this one), I'm very excited about BLINDNESS, having read the book, and loving the terrific international (and fairly heavily Canadian) cast. BLINDNESS became even more of a can't wait for me last week when I found out from Tracy Wright (pictured left) that she is scheduled scheduled to appear in the film as originally reported, despite not appearing on the Internet Movie Database's cast list. What's more (and I hope this isn't a trade secret) but Tracy is going to appear as a blonde! That's right... she decided she wants to bleach her hair for the role! I. Can't. Wait.

So anyway, Fernando Meirelles has a blog and he's talking about the shooting of BLINDNESS. Unfortunatley, it's all in Portuguese. Fortunately, Twitch has posted Fernando's latest post translated into English! Fernando talks about how Sandra Oh (yep, another great Canadian) got involved in the production. Go read it!

And could someone please add Tracy Wright to the cast list on imdb?

TIFF Starts off with 2 Docs... sort of

As promised, here's a look at the first two films I caught at the Toronto International Film Festival on day 1. I'm just back from my first early morning box office run and things ran smoothly. I was 9th in line, and most of the people in front of me were a little too... energetic for my sleep-addled senses. Ah, the enthusiasm and uncertainty of the young. I've got three movies lined up for today, and the last one is a 9:15 p.m. show, so I probably won't review them until tomorrow (gotta get to bed so I can make the sunrise trip tomorrow morning!) Still, my schedule is filling in. While I don't have tickets for anything yet tomorrow, I've got most of my other tickets!

HOLLYWOOD CHINESE (USA; 89 min.) directed by Arthur Dong

Accomplished documentarian Dong has won acclaim for his earlier films, COMING OUT UNDER FIRE, LICENSED TO KILL, and FAMILY FUNDAMENTALS. He's back with a film that he's been working on for 7 - 8 years, HOLLYWOOD CHINESE, a look at the portrayal of the Chinese, and the opportunities for Chinese American actors and filmmakers in Hollywood films from the earliest days to today. Dong taps a wide array of Chiense-Americans to discuss this topic, from actor/filmmaker Joan Chen to author Amy Tan. The list of notables keeps coming: Nancy Kwan, Ang Lee, Justin Lin, Wayne Wang, B. D. Wong and Henry David Hwang. He also talks to non-Chinese actors who played Chinese like Christopher Lee and Luise Rainer who won an Oscar for her performance in THE GOOD EARTH. Rainer, who looked to be in her 90's, commented on the fact that in today's Hollywood, everything has to be so exact: if you're playing Chinese, you must be Chinese, if you're playing a tall man, you must be a tall man, but it wasn't like that in her day. You were playing a part, it didn't matter their nationality.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Dong's film was a look at the earliest days of Hollywood and the lost work of actress/filmmaker Marion Wong and her 1916 silent film THE CURSE OF QUON GWON. Dong speaks to Wong's three daughters and they tell the tale of her secret success that had become lost in history. Now fortunately, more people will hear of it. Nancy Kwan tells of her breakout success in THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG, and her sudden celebrity after appearing in the film adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's THE FLOWER DRUM SONG. Joan Chen discusses the difficulty of capitalizing on t her success in Bertolucci's Oscar-winning THE LAST EMPEROR, and how she had to leave Hollywood to make her directorial debut, XIU XIU: THE SENT DOWN GIRL. Justin Lin tells how his slightly controversial directorial debut, BETTER LUCK TOMORROW spun into a Hollywood foray directing THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT.

While Dong does a fine job exploring his topic, the pacing seems a little bit off, and this genre of film has been done so many times with women in Hollywood, gays in Hollywood, African-Americans in Hollywood, etc., that it's very difficult to do something new and original. A delightful, post-film Q&A featured the director and special guest Nancy Kwan who is in town for a discussions screening of THE FLOWER DRUM SONG.

MY WINNIPEG (Canada; 2007) directed by Guy Maddin
starring: Ann Savage, Louis Negin, Darcy Fehr, Amy Stewart

What a delightful evening in the Wintergarden theatre spent enjoying the world premiere of Guy Maddin's pseudo-documentary MY WINNIPEG. Maddin was challenged by the Documentary channel to make a doc on his hometown of Winnipeg, and Maddin being Maddin utilized his considerable talents to transform the story of the heart of the heart of Canada into one of his fantastic, surreal signature films. While telling the tale of this cold, northern city, Maddin leans heavily on nostalgia, both his own and the the collective population's, delving into the personal to explore how growing up with his family in this city shaped his psyche.

In addition to the exploration of the personal, Maddin brings in two other threads to flesh out his tale. In dreamlike sequences reminiscent of early Russian films, Winnipeg likens the peopls of Winnipeg to sleepwalkers, focusing on one particular man standing in for himself, on a train trying to escape the city but ever being drawn back. He also touches on some of the key moments of the city's history giving the non-Winnipegger a strong if perhaps skewed look at its origins and upbringing.

Looking at Maddin's upbringing in the context of MY WINNIPEG, it becomes clear where the themes for his movie come from. The loneliness and isolation of THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD, the bizarre beauty parlor and hockey shenanigans of COWARDS BEND THE KNEE and the watchful mother and distant father of BRAND UPON THE BRAIN are all in strong evidence in MY WINNIPEG. Classic film noir star Ann Savage provides a delightful turn as Maddin's mother, adding both camp humor and a sense of danger to Maddin's memories. As an added treat, the premiere featured live narration from Maddin himself, an experience that will not be repeated if the filmmaker has anything to say about it.

On a side note, it's great to see Canadian filmmakers out in force to support their fellows. In the audience were Chlotrudis Advisory Board member Patricia Rozema, and many other Chlotrudis pals, including Don McKellar, Tracy Wright, Nadia Litz, and Reg Harkema. I chatted with Tracy and Nadia post-film and can attest to high marks all around.