The Toronto Youth Shorts festival is a great platform for aspiring filmmakers and for storytellers with a lot on their mind. I can usually count on the selections to cover themes from cultural reflections to personal discoveries, with an occasional fluffy piece to break up the weight of these programmes.
Assholes: A Theory (DIR. John Walker) After being inspired by Aaron James’ book Assholes: A Theory, documentarian/cinematographer John Walker set out to make a movie of the same name that would explore the lifestyle of the supremely arrogant. The results are fairly satisfying, more or less, but it’s hard to make a case that the film is focused.
For Sama (DIR. Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts) For Sama is one of the heaviest documentaries I’ve ever seen – a true battle about staying hopeful in hopeless circumstances.
Propaganda: The Art of Selling Lies (DIR. Larry Weinstein) Larry Weinstein’s Propaganda: The Art of Selling Lies is a multi-faceted historical study of the use of propaganda for political gain.
Documentarian Rama Rau (The Market, League of Exotique Dancers) takes a break from documentary filmmaking to make Honey Bee, a coming-of-age drama for mature audiences.
Nowhere is difficult to discuss without skimming spoilers, especially since the film deserves to stay a secret for new audiences. What I can safely share is that this thriller is comparable to last year’s winner Searching. But, while both movies are about a parent trying to find their missing child, each movie has its own efficient approach.
In the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district, high-end restaurants hold their own against competition and stress, or so we assume. This facade, however, becomes too much for Daniel, a well-versed chef with a bad reputation and unhealthy work ethic. Over the span of a day in Nose to Tail, Daniel’s life spins out of control as his attitude costs him his staff and his family, and possibly the last chance he’ll get in the business.
In a city oversaturated by film festivals, it is nearly impossible to find a festival that isn’t somehow derivative of others. While many festivals have something to offer to a small, niche audience, it often seems like it’s all been done. And yet, occasionally, you find something wholly unique; something that suggests that, not only is there no similar festival in Toronto, it may well be the only festival of its kind in the world….
The Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (February 15-17) is an essential stop for movie goers who indulge in worldwide animation.
The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Nov. 8 -16) has ended yet another successful run, continuing to offer filmmakers and storytellers an integral platform to connect with audiences. I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of the feature films programmed at this year’s Reel Asian Film Festival but, unfortunately, I was left feeling underwhelmed by my selections.