French film is in the spotlight at the TIFF Bell Lightbox beginning Friday (March 23 thru April 1) when the annual Cinefranco festival touches down for 10 days of movies from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Morocco and Canada. The homegrown entries don’t hail solely from Quebec this year; the festival opener is that rarest of birds, a Franco-Ontarian comedy, in this case about a loveable con man who revives a small northern town’s fortunes while desperately trying to save his own skin.
From director Dominic Desjardins, La Sacrée (Holy Brew) is a delightful romp featuring a cast of mostly Ontario-based francophones including the wonderfully convincing Marc Marans, above, as the charming scoundrel at the centre of the action. READ MORE
Singer/songwriter Luanda Jones never imagined she’d leave Brazil. She was born in Ipanema, she lived one block from the world-famous beach, the rhythms of Rio bubble in her veins. And yet here she is as the snow threatens to fly for what will be her sixth winter in Toronto.
Much to her surprise, the singer fell in love with her adopted city, and even though the relationship that brought her to Canada has since ended, Jones chooses to remain in the Great White North. She plays the Uma Nota Festival at Lula Lounge this weekend, sharing the stage with musicians from around the globe in a celebration of Latin, Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian funk, soul and jazz.
Because he’s not aboriginal, filmmaker Neil Christopher, left, is a little nervous about what kind of reception he’ll receive at the ImagineNATIVE film festival Wednesday. Christopher’s animated short, Amaqqut Nunaat: The Country of Wolves, kicks off the opening night gala program ahead of On the Ice, a first feature from US director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean.
Christopher’s professional partner and producer, Louise Flaherty, is Inuk so there won’t be any question about why the film is screening at ImagineNATIVE. And although questions of race and cultural appropriation irk Christopher just a little, he’s tremendously proud of his contribution on this and other projects.
“In the North, in Nunavut, I have no insecurity about not being aboriginal,” he tells me over coffee in Toronto. “I’m Nunavummiut, I have hunting rights, I contribute to my community, I served two terms on town council in Resolute Bay. I would NEVER be invited to be part of a band council down South, it’s a totally different mindset.”
Christopher has lived in the Nunavut for 15 years; he went up on a one year contract to help establish a high school and never looked back. He jokes about that first trip being like Gilligan’s Island, a three-hour tour that never seemed to end but he’s immensely happy in the North (presently calling Iqaluit home). “Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do down South that has as much meaning for me in terms of being part of a community and working hard on something that’s needed.” READ MORE
With Thanksgiving upon us and Halloween dead ahead, this weekend’s HarbourKIDS festival at Harbourfront Centre is dedicated to the scary, funny and exciting potential of monsters. A wide range of family focused activities and performances explore ideas about monsters including an exciting headline program from Mammalian Diving Reflex.
Toronto’s Helen Yung, left, will be in the Studio Theatre most of the weekend with Gulliver, a larger than life puppet she developed for Montreal’s Festival Acces Asie. Yung’s highly interactive presentation, dubbed Playtime with Gulliver, is a blend of puppetry, new media and improv.
Like the Wizard of Oz, Yung is perched behind her creation, operating him with her feet and typing as fast as she can to put words in his mouth via text-to-speech software.
David Pecaut Square was humming yesterday with a musical festival celebrating Franco Ontarians or more properly, le Jour des Franco-Ontariens et des Franco-Ontariennes. These photos were taken near the end of the celebration as choruses of young singers joined arms to sing “Notre Place.” It was a very welcoming, family-oriented event.
Photos by Christopher Jones