If you think protest music ended with the 1960s then the new rockumentary, Sounds Like a Revolution, should be on your must-see movie list. Made in Toronto by local filmmakers Summer Love and Jane Michener, the film opens at the Royal Cinema this weekend following an emotional world premier at the NXNE music fest last week. The movie examines a new generation of musical activists ranging from Michael Franti and Spearhead to Anti-Flag (left), NOFX, Ministry, Rage Against the Machine, Paris, Blue King Brown and many others.
“Unlike the 1960s, protest music today isn’t restricted to any one genre,” says Love, left (holding the microphone). “The artists who are featured in the film have more in common politically and ideologically than musically. Anti-Flag [a pop/punk band] was actually invited to the Power to the Peaceful festival in San Francisco.”
Sounds Like a Revolution is a rocking good movie featuring 38 songs that keep toes tapping while documenting a new outpouring of musical protest, much of it incited by the rise of the U.S. Republican party under George Bush, et al. The film also details the impact on music of corporate conglomeration by the major labels, Clear Channel and retail bully Walmart.
On Friday afternoon, I was lucky enough to enjoy one of the last guided tours of TIFF Bell Lightbox before the job site is closed for a last big push toward the grand opening on September 12. Designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB), the Toronto International Film Festival’s soon-to-be-christened new home is an architectural riff on the Russian nesting doll, a series of boxes within boxes.
TIFF Bell Lightbox is the last of Toronto’s cultural renaissance projects to be completed and the building is the final piece of what’s being called the John Street cultural corridor, a stretch that includes Rogers Centre, CBC headquarters, Mirvish row (along King Street east from John), the NFB headquarters, CTV and finally OCAD and the AGO.
The North by Northeast Music Festival and Conference (June 14 – 20) isn’t just about rocking out; the program boasts impressive film and interactive (sold out!) components. Today, Toronto-based actor, TV and radio host, Sook-Yin Lee, left, blogs about some of the challenges of directing her first feature film.
Hi, I’m Sook-Yin Lee. My first feature movie — I wrote and directed, Year of the Carnivore — is an offbeat romantic comedy about a girl in love with a boy who thinks she’s bad in bed so she goes out into the world to get better at it. It’s an inverted love story about fallible people making big mistakes on their funny and heartbreaking mission to find love.
Now the thing is, the romantic comedy is one of the hardest genres for a filmmaker to tackle. Often the big studio solution for success is to cast superstars, the Jennifer Annistons and Ryan Reynolds of the world, but these days, even that’s no guarantee of a good flick.
Year of the Carnivore is a small independent Canadian picture, so when it came to casting, the key for me was to find actors with good chemistry, who you root for despite the obstacles they face. If your leads have no chemistry, chances are your romantic comedy will miss the mark.
As summer intern season gears up it’s encouraging to see an example of an industry leader who started as a volunteer, then became an intern and just a few years later, was running the place. Meet Eileen Arandiga, Festival Director of the Worldwide Short Film Festival, who is presently battening the hatches for the 16th annual edition of the fest running June 1 – 6.
When I suggest to Arandiga that she must be a real go-getter to have scaled the ranks so quickly, she demurs saying, “Well, I definitely persevere. I’ve always been an arts administrator and I have a genuine passion for short film. I love the challenge of working for a festival; no two days are ever the same. I also really like that the staff is often quite young, recent graduates who are full of enthusiasm, it’s nice to see them flourish.”
Arandiga was mentored by previous WSFF Director Shane Smith who now works for TIFF, which is where several of the current WSFF staffers came from. Others are at Worldwide Short following stints at Sprockets and Hot Docs. “It’s definitely a training ground,” confirms Arandiga. “The festival world is quite a small community.”
You might expect a local queer filmmaker to be out and about this week feasting on the smorgasbord of films and videos screening thru May 30 as part of the 20th anniversary edition of the InsideOut Festival. Not Mike Hoolboom. I found him earlier this afternoon sequestered in a dark editing suite at Trinity Square Video where he’s hard at work on his next project.
Hoolboom’s sad celebration of the life of his friend Mark Karbusicky screens at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Thursday (5:30 pm), its second local film festival showing in a month. With luck, this week’s InsideOut screening of Mark won’t be quite as funereal as the movie’s premier at Hot Docs in April.
“That was very sombre,” recalls Hoolboom. “It really felt like Mark was there in the room. There were people there from every part of his life, people who knew him as a teenager, or knew him as a kid in Burlington, friends of his parents. It was heavy.”