Thursday, September 30, 2004

Tarnation Web Site

The web site for Tarnation has launched. It looks as though they are trying to build the word-of-mouth of the film. There is also a trailer (in Windows Media format with QuickTime to come) up now.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Documentary Master Class With Peter Wintonick

Passion is the essential ingredient for documentary filmmakers.

I'm in the middle of the Documentary Master Class with Peter Wintonick at the Atlantic Film Festival. We're on a break and my head is starting to fill up with information, insights and ideas. It's a great, loose, free-ranging workshop that is filling out lots of the questions about what it means to share the "documentary impulse." One of the great side benefits is that I'm compiling a list of documentaries to check out. A new thing that I also learned was that Wintonick worked on the editing of one of my favourite documentaries, Ron Mann's Poetry in Motion. It's a small world in filmmaking in Canada.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Machssomim (Checkpoint)

Machssomim (Checkpoint) is a documentary from Israel that tells a simple story through checkpoints in the occupied territories around Israel. It is structured and feels like a play by Samuel Beckett. There is an inherent absurdity to the whole situation and everyone seems to realize it. Yet another great documentary at the Atlantic Film Festival.

Control Room

Control Room is an amazing documentary about the Al Jazeera television network. It screens tonight at 9:30 as part of the Atlantic Film Festival and on Sunday, September 26 and Friday, October 1st at 11pm Atlantic Time on CBC Newsworld and it's a fascinating look inside a television news operation that happens to be the most popular and most controversial station in the Middle East. What is great about the documentary is that it is a very human story that shows the reaction of people involved in reporting and shaping the news as the War in Iraq began. Fairly subtle and very human.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Watershed

The Watershed documents the breakup of a family, the Trunks. It's a surprisingly gentle portrait of a large family and how they relate to each other. It was made by Mary Trunk, who made the film about her own family.


Childstar (2004) is the latest film from Don McKellar. It tells the story of a child star, his mother and Rick, the driver (played by McKellar). It's a film that moves around in tone as we follow the intersecting lives of an independent filmmaker, Hollywood stars in Toronto and a stage mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who are connected by a young actor.

Monday, September 20, 2004

International Shorts II

The International Shorts II program was a great collection of films that consisted of Nine 1/2 Minutes, Bye Child, Brown Paper Bag, Burst, Does God Play Football?, The Last Client, and Shooting Blanks. It was a great program that ranged from the tragic to the comedic with a range in between.

Exile & Empire: 20 Shorts on Iraq

Exile & Empire: 20 Shorts on Iraq is a personal documentary by Duraid Munajim that has a range of visual styles and content from home movies to stylized footage to time lapse to documents and still photographs. Understated and quite moving at times, it started out as a film about Iraqi exiles, but then the war in Iraq happened and the filmmaker was in Bagdad days after it fell. It's a fascinating glimpse of Iraq on a very personal level.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


pssst is a beautiful experimental animated 35mm film by New Brunswick artist Anne-Marie Sirois that consists of a series of over 2,900 individually painted images that form an amazing rhythmic pattern accompanied by a musical score by Michel Deschênes. It was the highlight of the animated films that I've seen and I also got to chat a bit with Anne-Marie after the film.

Forbidden Forest

Forbidden Forest is a documentary by Kevin Matthews about Jean Guy Comeau and Francis Wishart and their struggle to sustain the forestry industry in New Brunswick. Matthews follows the unlikely allies as they go from New Brunswick to Finland and back to New Brunswick as they bring their message to government, corporations and the people as they discover how Crown lands that are entrusted to the people of New Brunswick are used by corporations.


Tarnation is a remarkable personal documentary by Jonathan Caouette that tells the story of his life and his family in an incredibly compelling way. Caouette had been recording parts of his life for 20 years and when he auditioned for a part in the short film Shortbus by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig & the Angry Inch) he used some of his person footage in his audition tape. John Cameron Mitchell was impressed with what he saw and then encouraged Caouette to finish his film. He took 160 hours of recorded materials over 20 years and assembled it all with iMovie and a 2 1/2 hour rough cut was prepared for MIX Festival in New York in November of 2003. Caouette spent $218.32 on a recreation of a high-school play that he directed and a pair of angel wings. Then Mitchell became an executive producer and sent a tape to Gus Van Sant, who also signed on. The film was selected for the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and co-editor Brian A. Kates was brought on for a 3 week editing session that resulted in the 88 minute version that screened at Sundance. The film is an amazing achievement that is unforgettable.

Friday, September 17, 2004 is your one stop for reviews from Roger Ebert, who has become one of the film critics that I rely on for advice about what films to see and what is interesting out there. It's a well-done site that is packed with reviews and other film-related information and opinion.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Dandelion is the debut feature by Mark Milgard. It's a beautifully shot film that places the landscape in contrast with the somewhat dysfunctional lives of the characters. It's an interesting independent film with a solid cast that is playing at the Oxford on Sunday night at 7pm as part of the Atlantic Film Festival which gets underway this Friday in Halifax.

Bright Leaves

Bright Leaves is the latest film by Ross McElwee and it is playing at the Atlantic Film Festival on Saturday, September 18th at the Oxford. McElwee has a trademark, personal and rambling style that sucks you in as you walk along with him and find out more about the Southern United States, McElwee's relatives, tobacco and a connection with Hollywood. I write more about it at bitdepth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

London Film Festival

Fall is film festival season and London runs from October 20 to November 4 and the big news is that documentaries have a more prominent role than ever before. The Guardian reports that the London film festival lineup foregrounds documentaries.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


COLOR IN MOTION is a great way to find out about the connotations and usage of colour. Great for figuring out what a colour means.

Prairie Visionaries

Prairie Visionaries: Guy Maddin and the Winnipeg Film Group is a collection of archival CBC stories about the independent filmmaking scene in Manitoba.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Atlantic Film Festival Schedule

The Atlantic Film Festival Schedule is online and they have a neat grid view that lets you see what is happening in the various venues of the festival for each day. It's going to be a week filled with lots of films!

Apple Motion 1.0 Review

User Review: Apple Motion 1.0 is an article in FXGuide that gives a good overview of Apple's new motion graphics package Motion.

Trailers for Everyday Life

Trailers for Everyday Life is a story on The Morning News that writes trailers for everyday events. Maybe your life and day-to-day experiences can be more exciting if you think of them in these terms.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Venice 2004 Award Winners

Yesterday the Official Awards of the 61st Venice Film Festival were announced. The Golden Lion went to Mike Leigh's film Vera Drake.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Spike Lee's Jury Musings

I'll do the right thing is the name of an essay by Spike Lee in The Independent about being a member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival that I found thanks to the excellent GreenCine Daily.

Final Cut Updates

Today I was asked if there was going to be an update to Final Cut Pro soon and I didn't think so, but now Digit reports that Final Cut Pro to gain IMX, P2 support. The next version of Final Cut will add support for more formats. P2 is an upcoming media format designed by Panasonic that is based around PC cards that can store 2 to 4 GB of data. What this means is that you would not use tape, just the cards and then could plug the card into your laptop or a card-reader and edit without having to digitize footage.


Filmnerd2 is a nerds-eye view of the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival which is currently underway. More of a perspective from someone who doesn't have a pass and gets to go to most of the films that are screening.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

High Noon

High Noon is a collection of daily movie news from the BBC. A bit of a UK perspective on films.

MCN: Toronto Film Festival 2004

MCN: Toronto Film Festival 2004 is the section on Movie City News where they cover the big festival that is Toronto that kicks off today.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

DVD Talk

DVD Talk is a comprehensive site with news and reviews about DVD releases. If you have a large collection of DVDs or want one, this is a good place to find out a lot of information quickly. They also have a cool section about "easter eggs" which are the hidden features that some DVDs have.

Commonwealth Film Festival

The Commonwealth Film Festival first happened in June of 2002 in Manchester in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games, but now it continues on in Manchester. The call for entries for the 2005 festival (happening from April 29th - May 8th) just came out with the deadline of December 31, 2004. There is no entry fee and you can find out more on their site.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The Hot Button

The Hot Button by David Poland features reviews and news of films with Poland's personal style. Find out what's happening and what's coming up here, but for the more up-to-date scoop you can check out his new The Hot Blog which he recently started.


IndieFilmmaker is filled with information about film festivals from around the world. It's a great place to find out news and the call for entries that go out from film festivals. It's a place where you can figure out where you can send your films to make sure that they're seen.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

O'Reilly Digital Media Center

O'Reilly Digital Media Center is a site that collects information and articles from book publisher O'Reilly and Associates. It's all built around the creation, sharing and enjoyment of digital images and sound. It's a one-stop shopping for sound and picture on the computer.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Salon des Refusés Atlantique

Salon des Refusés Atlantique shows films that are rejected by the Atlantic Film Festival. It happens in Halifax, NS at The Khyber Club (1588 Barrington Street) at 7pm on September 16, 2004. The films are chosen randomly and screened in that order. It happens the day before the Atlantic Film Festival kicks off.

Playback Magazine

Playback Magazine is the main publication for information about film, television and interactive media in Canada. It's where you can find out what is going on in the industry and the regions. To access current articles you have to be a subscriber, but if you register for free you can view the older articles on the site.

The Hollywood

The Hollywood is the online presence of The Hollywood Reporter, which is one of the main publications for information about the industry of making films and television.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The man who gave me a slap in the face

The man who gave me a slap in the face is an essay in The Guardian by actor Malcolm McDowell about director Lindsay Anderson. The first worked together in the brilliant allegorical film "if..." in 1968 and collaborated several times later and were also friends.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Capturing Conrad

Capturing Conrad is a story in The Guardian by Debbie Melnyk about her documentary "Citizen Black" which is starting to make the rounds of the festivals.