Canada

Night Raiders (Danis Goulet, Canada/New Zealand)

apocalyptic cityscape backdrops an anti-authoritarian alliance between two characters from traditional Cree stories (Wesakechak and Weetigo). Goulet’s first feature, Night Raiders, not only returns to the realm of dystopia, but also shows the degree to which its creator’s interest in the genre goes beyond the use of futuristic settings as a mere aesthetic surface.
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Blood Quantum (Jeff Barnaby, Canada)

The hook is intriguingly straightforward: in Blood Quantum, an infectious zombie disease spreads through the world, save for the residents of a Mi’kmaq community along the Québec-New Brunswick border who appear to be immune to the undeadly virus. In the post-apocalyptic remnants of their town, Sheriff Traylor (Michael Greyeyes) and his deputies guard the boundaries of their land against the violent hordes of “Zeds.”
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Long Live the New Flesh: The Decade in Canadian Cinema

Let’s get it right out of the way: by any non-subjective metric—which is to say in spite of my own personal opinion—the Canadian filmmaker of the decade is Xavier Dolan, who placed six features (including two major Competition prizewinners) at Cannes between 2009 (let’s give him a one-year head start) and 2019, all before turning 30. Prodigies are as prodigies do, and debating Dolan’s gifts as a transnational melodramatist and zeitgeist-tapperis a mug’s game, one that I’ve already played in these pages.
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Cinema Scope 82: Editor’s Note — Best of the Decade

And so goes the decade, and perhaps all of humanity as we know it—it was fun while it lasted. As a supplement to the Top Ten lists published here, which semi-scientifically summarize the privately expressed preferences of our regular contributors, I decided to do something a little different to glance back at the past ten years. By the time of publication you can find numerous examples of excellent writing on all of the films in our decade-end list, both in previous issues of Cinema Scope and also in other publications, in print and online, on the occasion of revisiting the past ten bountiful years in cinema.
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Global Discoveries on DVD: Second Thoughts & Double Takes

I find it astonishing, really jaw-dropping, that Midge Costin’s mainly enjoyable Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (2019),available on aUK DVD on the Dogwoof label, can seemingly base much of its film history around a ridiculous falsehood: the notion that stereophonic, multi-track cinema wasinvented in the ’70s by the Movie Brats—basically Walter Murch, in concert with his chums George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola—finally allowing the film industry to raise itself technically and aesthetically to the level already attained by The Beatles in music recording.
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Cinema Scope 81 Table of Contents

Interviews Anything Is Possible: Josh and Benny Safdie on Uncut Gems by Adam Nayman A Concept of Reality: Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral by Daniel Kasman Fairytales and Freudian Females: A Conversation with Jessica Hausner by Jordan Cronk Features They Are All Equal Now: The Irishman’s Epic of Sadness by Robert Koehler I Shall Be Released: Amazing…
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The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin, Canada)

By Josh Cabrita William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s tenth and longest-serving prime minister, is an emblem of our nation’s repressed, ineffectual masculinity. A staunch centrist and bureaucrat, Mackenzie King accomplished little during his 22 years in office: his main contributions were his ability to win elections despite his apparent lack of charisma, and his power…
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The Song of Names (François Girard, Canada) — Gala Presentations

By Josh Cabrita  Though the designation of a “late work” is usually reserved for revered masters who in their twilight years distil their style down to its supposedly purified essence, I see no reason why that term couldn’t also apply to a decidedly mediocre (and rarely brilliant) filmmaker like François Girard. Adapted from a book…
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The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers & Kathleen Hepburn, Canada/Norway) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Josh Cabrita The sad, slow, melancholy words of Joni Mithcell’s “Little Green” feature prominently in a mournful scene from the latest by Vancouver filmmakers Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. While East Vancouver hipster Áila (Tailfeathers) speaks over the phone with a female crisis centre, the “extremely pregnant” Rosie (Violet Nelson)—whom the former happened upon…
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The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin, Canada) — Midnight Madness

By Michael Sicinski  Hats off to Midnight Madness programmer Peter Kuplowsky for selecting this singular, albeit somewhat counterintuitive, homegrown oddity. Certainly a cult item in the making, The Twentieth Century represents the sort of Freudian-perverse take on national mythmaking that one finds in the work of Jim Finn, combined with the stark Futurist abstraction of…
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Easy Land (Sanja Zivkovic, Canada) — Discovery

By Anna Swanson For the mother-daughter pair of Sanja Zivkovic’s directorial debut Easy Land, the old sentiment that the grass is always greener on the other side resolutely rings true. Jasna (Mirjana Jokovic) is a Serbian immigrant committed to her dream of giving the teenage Nina (Nina Kiri) a better life in Canada. She’s an…
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Collective (Alexander Nanau, Romania) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Scoular There’s nothing that can do justice to the terror of the footage that plays near the start of Alexander Nanau’s Colectiv: a fire, breaking out in the middle of a packed album-release show for metal-core band Goodbye to Gravity, destroys a venue with no sprinklers or fire exits, and what we see…
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Paris Stalingrad (Hind Meddeb, France) — TIFF Docs

By Madeleine Wall The only static aspect  of Hind Meddeb’s documentary Paris Stalingrad is the area from which the film takes its name. Beginning with this eponymous space, Meddeb expands to the treatment of the refugees who must stay there, focusing as much on the newcomers  as the Parisians and their varying levels of aid.…
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Clifton Hill (Albert Shin, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman Good thrillers live or die by their specifics, and Clifton Hill is nothing if not precise about its tourist-trap environment (the Canadian side of Niagara Falls) and its inhabitants, including trashy gambling addicts, possibly psychopathic land developers, French-Canadian husband-and-wife tiger-trainers, and—if you hadn’t already heard—David Cronenberg emerging like Ursula Andress (except fully…
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Coppers (Alan Zweig, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Angelo Muredda “Cops are by far the biggest liars,” a subject admits early in Alan Zweig’s Coppers, which brings the filmmaker’s signature conversational style to bear on a profile of retired Toronto police officers, about a dozen of whom are interviewed at rest and in ride-alongs to the scenes of past arrests and disaster…
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This is Not a Movie (Yung Chang, Canada/Germany) — TIFF Docs

By Steve Macfarlane “The person who denies the genocide in Armenia will deny the Jewish holocaust in Europe, and will deny any other kind of massacre that comes to hand.” That’s Robert Fisk, among the most celebrated war correspondents of the last quarter-century, getting the bio-doc treatment in Yung Chang’s documentary This is Not a…
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Tammy’s Always Dying (Amy Jo Johnson, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman Tammy’s also always yelling—and cursing, and drinking, and threatening suicide, and making a messy spectacle of herself in public and private. That’s just who Tammy is, and it’s also just the sort of movie that Tammy’s Always Dying is trying to be: a smile-through-tears comedy-drama about the need to hold our loved…
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The Australian Dream (Daniel Gordon, Australia/UK) — TIFF Docs

By Beatrice Loayza It’s no coincidence that the title of Daniel Gordon’s documentary portrait of Australian footballer Adam Goodes echoes the concept of the “American Dream”: after all, the history of Australia, like that of the United States, is a story of colonization and of the violence and racism that both fuelled it and still…
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My English Cousin (Karim Sayad, Switzerland/Qatar) — TIFF Docs

By Meg Shields My English Cousin is probably what it would actually feel like to be a fly on the wall: people scratch their asses, bicker harmlessly with loved ones, and pack and repack their bags. It’s a hard truth: most people just aren’t that interesting. The documentary follows director Karim Sayad’s cousin Fahed, who…
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Guest of Honour (Atom Egoyan, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman The subtext of Atom Egoyan’s latest mid-late-career work is that you shouldn’t be mean to people online—a plaint that looks retrospectively prophetic in light of the film’s Venice reception, which included an attempted murder in the pages of Variety. Suffice it to say that Guest of Honour is not nearly so bad…
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I Am Not Alone (Garin Hovannisian, Armenia/US) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski  An up-close, day-by-day chronicle of the 2018 Armenian revolution that deposed autocrat Serzh Sargsyan and brought reform-minded activist Niko Pashinyan to power, I Am Not Alone is a fascinating look at the contemporary structure of power and protest. While unabashedly pro-Pashinyan, the film reveals a bit more than it probably intends to…
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American Woman (Semi Chellas, Canada) — Gala Presentations

By Angelo Muredda  TV-to-feature transitions are always a fraught jump for writers of sparkling, monologue-heavy prose, and Mad Men writer Semi Chellas’ American Woman is no exception. Faring a bit better than Chellas’ former boss Matthew Weiner’s dispiriting Are You Here but falling well short of the intimacy and idiosyncrasy of David Chase’s Not Fade…
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Castle in the Ground (Joey Klein, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman The swift, ruinous descent from normalcy into substance abuse is hardly a subject lacking for cinematic treatment, and Joey Klein’s Castle in the Ground offers one more. In terms of casting, this Sudbury-set feature is above reproach, juxtaposing sad-eyed Henry (Alex Wolff, already an old hand at being put through the physical…
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Anne at 13,000 ft (Kazik Radwanski, Canada/US) — Platform

By Josh Cabrita Published in Cinema Scope #80 (Fall 2019) With his first two features, Tower (2012) and How Heavy This Hammer (2015), Toronto-based director and MDFF co-founder Kazik Radwanski established something of a recurring archetype: sad, lonely, and horny men whose unpleasant or uninteresting qualities are accentuated by the director’s unrelenting approach of shooting…
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Murmur (Heather Young, Canada) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews Almost any movie featuring an animal doubles as a documentary about an animal that doesn’t know it’s in a movie—that is perhaps not the intended animating conflict of Murmur, but it’s the thought that most entered my mind most when watching the canine star of Heather Young’s docufiction first feature. Donna (Shan…
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Antigone (Sophie Deraspe, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Jaclyn Bruneau  Sophie Deraspe has picked up Sophocles’ eponymous tragedy and hurled it headlong into the present. Our orphaned heroine (Nahéma Ricci) immigrated to Montréal (from a home country never stated, in what is, I suppose, an attempt to level all Canadian immigrant experiences) as a child, along with her grandmother Ménécée, sister Ismène,…
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White Lie (Calvin Thomas & Yonah Lewis, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Madeleine Wall Taking place during a barren Hamilton winter, Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis’ White Lie is as intimate as it is claustrophobic. Katie (Kacey Rohl) is a cancer poster child, a star of local fundraisers and surrounded by supporters. But Katie begins her day shaving her head, her chemo appointments involve getting empty…
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It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman, France/Qatar/Germany/Canada/Palestine/Turkey) — Masters

By Richard Porton Published in Cinema Scope #79 (Summer 2019) In conversations addressing the plight of what was once known as the “Third World,” one of the central debates still involves the inevitable tension between nationalism—as well as the quest for national identity—and the rather amorphous concept known as “cosmopolitanism.” In the Palestinian intellectual milieu,…
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Black Conflux (Nicole Dorsey, Canada) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews A “conflux” or confluence is the juncture where two rivers meet, seamlessly connecting into a single body. This convergence becomes a recurring visual motif in Nicole Dorsey’s small-town coming-of-age story set in 1980s Newfoundland, a portent of the coming collision between its two main characters, teenage Jackie (Ella Ballentine) and intense loner…
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Cinema Scope 79 Table of Contents

Cinema Scope Issue 79 with Features including .. Truth and Method: The Films of Thomas Heise by Michael Sicinski, Thinking in Images: Scott Walker and Cinema by Christoph Huber, 58th Venice Biennale, Cannes and DVD Reviews.
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The Hottest August (Brett Story, Canada/US)

It is, it seems, the End of the World as We Know It. Forty-two years after R.E.M. wrote the West’s definitive apocalypse-now anthem, the song’s essentially optimistic subtext has become even more sharply double-edged; its parenthetical proviso can be interpreted as much as a sign of denial as resignation, a means of keeping any anticipatory psychic torment at bay.
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Cinema Scope 78 Table of Contents

*The Land of the Unknown: Roberto Minervini on What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? By Jordan Cronk. “Poetry floats up in my memory like sailboats in the fog”:Alexei German’s Khrustalyov, My Car! By Daniel Witkin. With Forever Presence: Jonathan Schwartz (1973-2018). By Max Goldberg. *Soft and Hard: Claire Denis on High Life. By Adam Nayman.
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Répertoire des villes disparues (Denis Côté, Canada)

To appreciate the historical scope and layered references of Denis Côté’s Répertoire des villes disparues, we would do well to begin before the film does, at a time when some of the apparitions that haunt Irénée-les-Neiges, the film’s fictional northern Québec setting, would have existed as flesh and bone.
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Mothers of Invention: Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother and Rolla Tahir’s Sira

By Ela Bittencourt Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother and Rolla Tahir’s Sira screen at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Thursday, February 14 as part of MDFF Selects: Presented by Cinema Scope and TIFF. A tense, seemingly “realistic” family drama that, in its absurdist, uncanny accents, betrays an affinity to more fantastical storytelling and existentialist literature (particularly Franz…
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On the Outskirts: Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s Interchange

By Madeleine Wall Signs of progress involve mobility, whether in the form of a shorter commute, or simply the ability to go farther, faster. As a city grows, its populations move from one point to another, and some spaces only exist as transitory places. Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s Interchange focuses on the spaces…
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Issue 76 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson.  The night that Mariano Llinás arrived in Locarno, I ran into him drinking with his producer Laura Citarella and a few friends, occupying a few tables in a streetside café. Soon after I joined them, I asked Llinás the most pressing question in my mind about his 14-hour La Flor: “What’s the…
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Roads in February (Katherine Jerkovic, Canada/Uruguay) — Contemporary World Cinema

  By Josh Cabrita When Sarah (Arlen Aguayo Stewart) arrives in South America during the month of February there is a natural contrast between her original location and eventual destination—for just as her home in Montreal is being lambasted by the flurries of Quebec winter, her grandmother’s village in Uruguay is enjoying the blistering heat…
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The Stone Speakers (Igor Drljaca, Canada/Bosnia & Herzegovina) — Wavelengths

By Pedro Segura As in Krivina and The Waiting Room, Igor Drljaca explores identity concerns and still-dormant wounds inherited from the Yugoslavian Civil War in The Stone Speakers, his first documentary feature, in which the observational analysis of tourism allows him to explore nationalism by its manipulative fictional bases. With a clinical and distant approach…
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Reason (Anand Patwardhan, India) — TIFF Docs

By Steve Macfarlane Every TIFF features at least one epic-length historical documentary whose subject matter is way too depressing to penetrate the fog of cinephile and awards-season discussions encircling the neighbouring Town Crier, but kicks around in the back of the mind as probably advisable viewing anyway. Once I realized it was on the lineup,…
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Mouthpiece (Patricia Rozema, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Girish Shambu One idea has persisted in film culture for nearly 75 years: that of the “auteur” as a lone genius who not only directs his [sic] films, but also conceives of and writes them himself. The results on the ground of this notion have been, shall we say, mixed. Take, for example, Olivier…
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Angels Are Made of Light (James Longley, US/Afghanistan) — TIFF Docs

By Steve Macfarlane James Longley’s unfortunately titled Afghanistan documentary Angels Are Made of Light spans three years in the lives of a handful of schoolchildren (all boys) in Kabul. It’s a significant achievement in the gathering of footage, shot by the filmmaker himself, who manages to give ordinary day-to-day moments a sheen that’s elegant to the point…
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The Truth About Killer Robots (Maxim Pozdorovkin, US) — TIFF Docs

By Robert Koehler In the span of eight months, nonfiction filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin has produced two features on what are, on paper, vital topics: Our New President, which premiered at Sundance, addresses his native Russia’s gullible openness to the Putin propaganda machine’s relentless promotion of Donald Trump before and after his US election; now, with…
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The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (Xavier Dolan, Canada/UK) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman It’s a bittersweet symphony, this life: that’s the thesis (and arguably the most expensive-to-license hook, assuming friend-of-the-director Adele offered hers for free) in Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. A famously troubled production that fired one of its two biggest stars via Instagram and betrays scars of that…
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What is Democracy? (Astra Taylor, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski The latest philosophical documentary by Astra Taylor (Examined Life, Zizek!) takes on a very timely question, one she can’t be faulted for failing to answer in just under two hours. However, What is Democracy? does suffer from a rather scattershot approach, as though the sheer monumentality of the problem undermined the clear…
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Meeting Gorbachev (Werner Herzog & André Singer, Germany/UK/US) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski While Errol Morris is busy sitting down with unrepentant fascists, Werner Herzog is making time with one of the key figures of the 20th century, a leader so visionary that he essentially reformed himself right out of a job. This is not to say that Meeting Gorbachev is a free meeting of…
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Clara (Akash Sherman, Canada) — Discovery

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr Crumbling under the grief of a lost child and subsequent divorce, astronomer Isaac (Patrick J. Adams) throws himself into searching for extraterrestrial life, with research assistant Clara (the actor’s real-life wife Troian Bellisario) slowly opening him up to new possibilities. Characters question what could be more important than finding alien life, while…
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Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier & Edward Burtynsky, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Steve Macfarlane Coined by scientist Paul Crutzen in the early 2000s but popularized by the Iraq War veteran cum essayist Roy Scranton’s 2015 book Learning to Live and Die in the Anthropocene, the phrase “anthropocene” (wildly popular among totebag-wielding anarchists, autonomists and accelerationists in New York City) refers to the era of Earth’s history…
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Through Black Spruce (Don McKellar, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda You almost have to admire the chutzpah of Through Black Spruce, which hits TIFF with an inscrutable mix of sheepishness and self-confidence. Don McKellar’s adaptation of Joseph Boyden’s Giller Prize-winning novel couldn’t be arriving at a worse time, a cultural moment where writers like Jen Sookfong Lee and Alicia Elliott have proclaimed…
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Freaks (Zach Lipovsky & Adam Stein, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman Too grim for a straight-up YA audience and too goofy to be taken too seriously, Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein’s Freaks at leads owns its curious at-oddsness: it’s a weird, scrappy, palpably Canadian mutant that’s actually more likeable for not quite passing as mainstream fare. That earnest-misfit ethos begins with its seven-year-old…
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Heartbound (Janus Metz & Sine Plambech, Denmark/Netherlands/ Sweden) — TIFF Docs

By Kelley Dong Hidden in the grassy seaside of northwestern Jutland, the matronly Sommai has arranged for hundreds of marriages between Thai women and Danish men for more than 30 years. Between 2007 and 2018, documentarian Janus Metz (Borg vs McEnroe) and anthropologist Sine Plambech (Trafficking) closely followed Sommai and her construction of a migration…
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Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman, US) — TIFF Docs

By Lorenzo Esposito At the end of the screening of Monrovia, Indiana in Venice, a young man approached Fred Wiseman and told him, “Maestro, your films will be understood in 20 years.” Wiseman, laughing, replied: “I wanna be there!” It is not a joke, but maybe the closest thing to Wiseman’s idea of ​​cinema that…
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Edge of the Knife (Gwaii Edenshaw & Helen Haig-Brown, Canada) — Discovery

By Michael Sicinski The first feature film produced in the Haida language, currently spoken by upwards of 20 individuals, Edge of the Knife is notable simply as a cultural survivance project. If there should come a time when Haida is no longer a living language, the film may serve as a kind of Rosetta Stone…
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Graves Without a Name (Rithy Panh, France/Cambodia) — TIFF Docs

By Angelo Muredda Late in Rithy Panh’s elegant successor to The Missing Picture, which more squarely faces his own family losses in the Cambodian genocide of the late ’70s, the filmmaker’s longtime surrogate narrator Randal Douc wonders if he has shot so many images of death in order to forget that he himself is dead.…
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American Dharma (Errol Morris, US) — TIFF Docs

By Clara Miranda Scherffig Many viewers “only” know Steve Bannon as the bad-skinned evil plotter behind Donald Trump: a racist, a fascist, an occasional movie producer, a failed media mogul—in other words, not exactly a cinephile. Errol Morris’ documentary about Bannon, American Dharma, includes excerpts of classic American films picked by Bannon to illustrate his…
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Splinters (Thom Fitzgerald, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Michael Sicinski From its lingering focus on silent theatrical gestures that are ill-suited to the screen, to its narrative that’s structured entirely around an elevator pitch, to its irksome reliance on sub-coffee house white-boy folk music that’s woven right into the diegesis, Splinters could very well serve as Exhibit A for why English Canadian…
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Kingsway (Bruce Sweeney, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Mallory Andrews Are there citizens of any other nation who have as strained a relationship with their national cinema than Canadians? This may well be one of the only countries in the world to call its own cinematic output by name: they’re not just movies, they’re Canadian movies, an unofficial shorthand to denote a…
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The Great Darkened Days (Maxime Giroux, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Elena Lazic It’s a testament to French-Canadian director Maxime Giroux’s control over his material that, as seemingly random or absurd as the events and imagery in The Great Darkened Days may appear, they all feel ruled by a genuine and moving emotion at their core. Giroux’s film centres on Philippe (Martin Dubreuil), a Québécois…
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Giant Little Ones (Keith Behrman, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda From its YA market-friendly nonsense title to its insistent poptimist score and tired elevator pitch—it’s about that One Moment Everything Changes for a sensitive, good-looking teen who has the whole world on his plate—Giant Little Ones has a lot of strikes against it. It’s a bit of a surprise, then, that Keith…
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Ghost Fleet (Shannon Service & Jeffrey Waldron, US) — TIFF Docs

By Jay Kuehner Apparently they aren’t watching much Errol Morris over at Paul Allen’s Vulcan (the woke producers here), or else The Thin Blue Line has become neglected in documentary programs, lest a telejournalistic “exposé” such as Ghost Fleet, unwittingly indulging its own spurious methodology while attempting to uncover another, be mistaken as meta. Fulminating…
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Firecrackers (Jasmin Mozzafari, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman It’s a town full of losers and they’re pulling out of there to win: that’s the premise of Jasmin Mozzafari’s Firecrackers, which expands the director’s 2013 short of the same name into a conspicuously stylish, intermittently impressive debut that feels very much of the moment in young Canadian cinema, like a faster,…
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Carmine Street Guitars (Ron Mann, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Shelly Kraicer Electric craft becomes a stand-in for analogue’s humanity in Ron Mann’s elegiac Carmine Street Guitars. Rick Kelly is the master guitar maker of the beloved, eponymous Greenwich Village guitar shop. He’s been scavenging wood from historic, mostly demolished 19th-century NYC buildings and turning them into lovingly handcrafted electric musical instruments for decades.…
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Putin’s Witnesses (Vitaly Mansky, Latvia/Switerland/ Czech Republic) — TIFF Docs

By Celluloid Liberation Front Almost 20 years after having filmed a promotional campaign movie on Putin and his inner circle during Putin’s first run for president, Vitaly Mansky has returned to this material to look back at the early stages of Putin’s rise to power. The intimacy of the footage paradoxically reveals little of the…
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Walking on Water (Andrey Paounov, Italy/US) — TIFF Docs

By Mark Peranson In June 2016 on Lake Iseo in Italy, the Bulgarian-born artist Christo at last realized The Floating Piers, an orange-coloured, three-kilometre walkway on top of the lake that allowed people the experience of metaphorically becoming Jesus. The rollicking documentary Walking on Water takes us through the process of the execution of The…
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Fausto (Andrea Bussmann, Mexico/Canada) — Wavelengths

By Josh Cabrita and Adam Cook Published in Cinema Scope 76 (Fall 2018)   “Most people want to be kings and queens, but not enough want to be Faust.” —Jean-Luc Godard, Le livre d’image When Goethe wrote his Faust, adapting the German legend about a scholar who makes a pact with the Devil to attain…
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Maria by Callas (Tom Volf, France) — TIFF Docs

By Madeleine Wall Compiled from archival footage of Maria Callas’ stage performances, interviews with the press, Super 8 home movies and the occasional letter, Maria by Callas attempts to create a portrait of a woman using as many angles as possible. Tom Volf’s film is more interested in Callas’ personal life than the professional career…
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Les Salopes, or The Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin (Renée Beaulieu, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Angelo Muredda What can be said about Renée Beaulieu’s Les Salopes, or The Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin that isn’t already conveyed in the title? The Québécois filmmaker and University of Montréal film professor’s second feature—which concers a biologist whose research on the potentially scandalous connection between desire and dermatology—sits at an awkward juncture…
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Exchange Rate: The Silent Partner at 40

By Adam Nayman “I think Toronto is a wonderful town, smart and up to date, just like a good American city…makes me feel like I’m back home in Cleveland.” These words, spoken by a “Mr. Chester Vanderwick” (an apparently authentic Midwesterner, although I’ve always thought he looks and sounds like a bad actor) sum up…
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Issue 75 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson Believe me or don’t, but it wasn’t until we started to lay out this issue maybe a week or so prior to my typing this that I realized, hey, we’ve reached Issue 75, three-quarters of the way to a century. I guess some people might consider 75 to be a kind of…
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Inbetweeners: The 2018 Images Festival

By Michael Sicinski If you happen to frequent experimental film festivals (and, if you’re reading this, there’s a better-than-average chance that you do), you know that each of them has its own unique ambiance. Part of it, of course, has to do with the types of films shown, which in turn affects the community of…
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Canadiana | Hometown Horror: Robin Aubert’s Les affamés

By Lydia Ogwang It’s an epidemic: the populist appeal of genre cinema is undeniable, even here at home. In a bit of a surprise, Robin Aubert’s Les affamés won Best Canadian Feature at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and then the Temps Ø People’s Choice Award at the Festival du nouveau cinéma in Montréal.…
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The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson, US/Canada)

By Lawrence Garcia That Guy Maddin’s feature-length follow-up to his most monumental work to date—the staggering mise en abyme of The Forbidden Room (2013)—would be The Green Fog, a 63-minute, found-footage video reimagining of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), is entirely apropos (and a rather Maddin-esque sleight-of-hand) when one considers the fanfare with which The Green…
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Issue 73 Table of Contents

Interviews Sightsurf and Brainwave: Blake Williams’ PROTOTYPE by Michael Sicinski In the Shadow of the Magic Kingdom: Sean Baker on The Florida Project by Adam Cook Giving Credibility to the Universe: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani on Laissez bronzer les cadavres by Christoph Huber Features The Uses of Disenchantment: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of…
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Ephraim Asili’s Immeasurable Equations

By Jesse Cumming If it is not here It must be there For somewhere and nowhere Parallels In versions of each other …. where Or even before something came to be —Sun Ra, “Parallels” (1970) Described as “A Video Film on Space and the Music of the Omniverse,” Ephraim Asili’s Points on a Space Age (2009)…
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The New Workout Plan: Denis Côté’s Ta peau si lisse

By Adam Nayman William K.L. Dickson’s Sandow (1894) is a three-part documentary study of the Prussian muscleman Friedrich Wilhelm Muller, who adopted the more flamboyant nom de plume after he dodged the draft and joined the circus. Sandow’s placement on undergraduate film studies curriculums the world over owes to its unique historical value: it was…
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Mañana a esta hora (Lina Rodriguez, Canada)

  By Angelo Muredda The first image we see in Lina Rodriguez’s deceptively modest second feature Mañana a esta hora (This Time Tomorrow) is something of a puzzle: a gradually lightening shot of a tree in a leafy park in Bogotá, standing sturdy and still. While this depopulated, evergreen overture might seem to promise an…
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Never Steady, Never Still (Kathleen Hepburn, Canada)—Discovery

By Lydia Ogwang Determining the sum total of Kathleen Hepburn’s formally accomplished feature debut is daunting arithmetic. Protagonist Judy, a longtime sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, lives with her husband and 18-year-old son in warm domesticity. The film’s opening moments deliver a soft, rose-coloured naturalism, but a prologue delivered in voiceover establishes loss and vulnerability as…
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BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (Sara Driver, USA) — TIFF Docs

By Phil Coldiron GELDZAHLER: So they’re kinds [sic] of indexes to encyclopedias that don’t exist? BASQUIAT: I just like the names. Given that this exchange between curator and artist is typical of the latter’s saintly tendency towards terseness, Sara Driver’s decision to render her portrait of the five years before Basquiat exploded onto the art…
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Living Proof (Matt Embry, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Aurélie Godet Canadian filmmaker Matt Embry is living proof that one can do well despite being stuck with multiple sclerosis, provided that one circumvents the medical establishment’s augur of incurability by diversifying sources of information on the causes and treatment of the disease. This is the main takeaway of Living Proof, a documentary that…
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Cocaine Prison (Violeta Ayala, Australia/Bolivia/France/US) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski There’s a scene early on in Cocaine Prison where we see several of the little brothers of Deisy Torrez, one of the film’s main subjects, rolling around in dried coca leaves, playing in the foliage like so many New Englanders have at the height of autumn. This is beautiful and sad, since…
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Alias Grace (Mary Harron, Canada/USA) — Primetime

By Angelo Muredda Margaret Atwood’s most genre-bending, postmodern novel gets a mostly straightforward Victorian adaptation in Mary Harron’s CBC-bound miniseries Alias Grace, at least on the basis of its first two episodes. Atwood has a lot of fun with the lurid rubbernecking appeal of the story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), the maid turned prisoner…
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Black Cop (Cory Bowles, Canada) — Discovery

By Josh Cabrita The inciting central incident in Cory Bowles’ debut feature is an all-too-recognizable altercation between two belligerent, white Toronto PD officers and a hoodie-wearing black man (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) leaving a convenience store mid-run. Starting with the officers’ quasi-congenial attempts to get the jogger’s attention while his earbuds blare, a tumult of racially…
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Azmaish: A Journey Through the Subcontinent (Sabiha Sumar, Pakistan) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski While certainly informative and laudably humanist in intent, Azmaish poses a certain problem for this reviewer, simply from the standpoint of context. This new documentary/road movie from Sabiha Sumar (Dinner with the President) is a kind of primer on the conflicts between India and Pakistan, offering a crash course that starts with…
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Cardinals (Grayson Moore & Aidan Shipley, Canada) — Discovery

By Lydia Ogwang Canadian newcomers Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley strike gold with veteran Sheila McCarthy in the lead role of Cardinals. McCarthy is masterful as the damningly self-convicted Valerie, a mother of two recalibrating to free civilian life after serving time for apparent alcohol-induced vehicular manslaughter. While her daughters (played by Grace Glowicki and…
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The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (Simon Lavoie, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Josh Cabrita A tale of a reclusive, degenerate family in rural Quebec in the 1930s, Simon Lavoie’s follow-up to Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (winner of last year’s Best Canadian Feature prize at TIFF) wastes no time shoving our noses into some truly vile shit: an abusive patriarchy, incest,…
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Les Affamés (Robin Aubert, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema)

By Michael Sicinski While it could be said that the last thing the world needs is another zombie movie, Québécois director Robin Aubert has managed to offer a solid and at times even original survey of this well-trod terrain. Where so many other genre filmmakers make the mistake of trying to add their unique spin…
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The Crescent (Seth A. Smith, Canada) — Midnight Madness

By Josh Cabrita Seth A. Smith’s perplexing and propulsive The Crescent strips away nearly all exuberance from its mise en scène and presents Nova Scotia’s naturally picturesque vistas in bleak hues. Using the anxieties of a survivalist psyche to radically realign our perception of specific tropes, Smith capitalizes on fears of economic isolation within the…
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A Worthy Companion (Carlos Sanchez & Jason Sanchez, Canada) — Discovery

By Angelo Muredda Evan Rachel Wood works hard to put on a tough face in Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s unconvincing debut feature, the kind of miserablist festival fare that has given English Canadian cinema a bad name for too long. Wood stars as Laura, a thirtysomething house cleaner with unsavoury sexual appetites (so a moralizing…
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The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey, Canada/Ireland/Luxembourg) — Special Presentations

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr In its reductive exploration of misogyny in Afghanistan, The Breadwinner is reflective of how a children’s film, with its simplified, toned-down, and easily conveyed ideas, is not conducive to discussions of serious political problems. But equally faulty is the very obvious issue of who is discussing what, and for whom. A film…
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Makala (Emmanuel Gras, France) — TIFF Docs

By James Lattimer For all the recent criticism of Cannes’ reliance on the same big names, perhaps the bigger problem is the festival’s continuing failure to find new ones to replace them, as the chances of making a real discovery on the Croisette seem to dwindle further with each passing year. French director Emmanuel Gras’…
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The Carter Effect (Sean Menard, Canada/USA) — TIFF Docs

By Adam Nayman Filming Drake (billed as a “rapper/actor,” in a nod to his Degrassi stint) in front of some dinosaur skeletons at the Royal Ontario Museum is the wittiest touch in Sean Menard’s barely feature-length, sure-to-be-bought-for-television account of Vince Carter’s tumultuous tenure with the Toronto Raptors, not that said tumultuousness is really given its…
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Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (Chris Smith, USA/Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Pamela Jahn When Jim Carrey auditioned to play Andy Kaufman in Miloš Forman’s 1999 biopic Man on the Moon, he was a man on a roll: Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber (all released in 1994) had made him a star and the best-paid comic actor of his generation, and he exceeded…
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Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (Tracy Heather Strain, USA) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is a TV documentary about the life and work of the late African-American playwright/activist Lorraine Hansberry. Produced for PBS’ American Masters series, Sighted Eyes is meticulously researched, well assembled, and has most of the appropriate expert commentary. It is instructive to remember just how much Hansberry accomplished in her…
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Don’t Talk to Irene (Pat Mills, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Robert Koehler After the dark pleasures of his debut feature Guidance, writer-director Pat Mills wanders into the deep Toronto suburban bush with his considerably less funny follow-up Don’t Talk to Irene. High school seems to be Mills’ bailiwick: Guidance took school counselling to extreme, twisted places, mining good sources of satire; Don’t Talk to…
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Ava (Sadaf Foroughi, Iran/Canada/Qatar) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews “The bird that would soar above the level of plain tradition and prejudice must have strong wings,” the protagonist of Kate Chopin’s 1899 novel The Awakening is advised; “it is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.” Ava (Mahour Jabbari), the teenage title heroine of Sadaf…
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Meditation Park (Mina Shum, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Josh Cabrita Mina Shum’s first narrative feature since 2002 (following a decade-long stint directing Vancouver-based television) is contained within the few blocks surrounding the intersection of Renfrew and Hastings in East Vancouver, a community largely made up of longtime Asian immigrants. One of these residents is the silently resilient Maria (Pei-Pei Cheng), who has…
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The Tesla World Light (Matthew Rankin, Canada) — Short Cuts

By Jason Anderson Published in Cinema Scope 71 (Summer 2017) International devotees of Canuck pop-cultural arcana may pride themselves on knowing every single line that Drake ever uttered on Degrassi: The Next Generation, but there’s another treasure that Canadians thus far have been able to keep for themselves. These are the Heritage Minutes, a series…
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Fluid Frontiers (Ephraim Asili, USA/Canada) — Wavelengths

By Jesse Cumming Published in Cinema Scope 72 (Fall 2017) If it is not here It must be there For somewhere and nowhere Parallels In versions of each other …. where Or even before something came to be —Sun Ra, “Parallels” (1970) Described as “A Video Film on Space and the Music of the Omniverse,”…
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PROTOTYPE (Blake Williams, Canada) — Wavelengths

By Phil Coldiron Early in the autumn of 1900, four months before Edison closed the Black Maria and five years before the Lumière brothers left the cinematograph business altogether for what they supposed to be less trivial concerns, a storm landed at the booming port town of Galveston, Texas and killed perhaps as many as…
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Of Sheep and Men (Karim Sayad, Switzerland/France/Qatar) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski First of all, let me compliment Mr. Sayad’s directorial prowess: I watched Of Sheep and Men with no foreknowledge, and I honestly thought it was a fictional feature. That’s because this documentary is so tightly structured in terms of its focus on two protagonists and their gradually shifting milieu, and even though…
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