'Rebelle', 'Laurence Anyways' Lead Quebec's Prix Jutras

Canada's Oscar nominee Rebelle is now being honoured in Quebec.

Félicitations à Rebelle! Our Oscar nominee is being celebrated at home as well as abroad. Kim Nguyen’s powerful drama tied Xavier Dolan’s provocative epic Laurence Anyways for a total of nine nominations for Quebec’s highest film honour, Les Prix Jutras. The films, which faced off to be Canada’s submission to the Academy Awards, lead the nominations. Also nominated for Best Picture are back-to-back winners Luc Déry and Kim McCraw, who hope to follow up their wins for Incendies and Monsieur Lazhar with a win for Inch’Allah. Inch’Allah might be in a tough spot to triumph, though, since it missed two major nominations, Best Direct (Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette) and Best Lead Actress (Evelyne Brochu), the latter of which is an especially surprising omission. Also surprisingly absent is the leading man of Laurence Anyways, Melvin Poupaud. Thankfully, though, Les Jutras acknowledged the powerhouse performance of Poupard’s co-star Suzanne Clément and supporting players Nathalie Baye and Monia Chokri. I’m disappointed, too, that les Québécois didn’t have more love for All That You Possess, which gives one of the most poignant depictions of French Canadian life this year. Overall, though, the slate for the Jutras is strong and a reminder of why so many film buffs point to Quebec as proof of our robust national cinema.

Les nominations sont:

Meilleur film:
Camion ­– Stéphanie Morisette
Inch’Allah – Luc Déry, Kim McCraw
Laurence Anyways –Charles Gillibert, Nathanaël Karmitz
Rebelle – Pierre Even, Marie-Claude Poulin
Roméo Onze – Paul Barbeau


The Cameraman

5 Broken Cameras
(France/Israel/Palestine, 90 min.)
Dir. Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
Co-director Emad Burnat with his five broken cameras.
Courtesy of Kino Lorber Inc.
Long live the cameraman. The person at the front lines of documentary filmmaking, the cameraman gets right into the thick of the action. Standing with the subjects, or slightly behind them for a better angle, the cameraman captures the details and the emotional urgency of events as they unfold. Footage of the towers’ collapse on 9/11 is a good example of the cameraman’s power. At first static and observational, the camerawork became shaky when the towers collapsed and the cameraman ran for his life with the other citizens of New York’s panic-ridden streets. Just as footage of 9/11 gave a point-of-view role to audiences both national and international, a good cameraman turns a story into a lived experience.


Come to Mama!

(Spain/Canada, 100 min.)
Dir. Andrés Muschietti; Writ. Niel Cross and Andrés Muschietti & Barbara Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse.
Jessica Chastain stars in Mama.
Courtesy of the eOne Films.
Toot toot! All aboard the Chastain Train! Jessica continues her roll of impressive credits with Mama, her first foray into the horror genre. Mama is also Jessica’s first Canadian credit, as this Canuck-Spanish co-pro, executive produced by horror master Guillermo del Toro, was shot in and around Toronto and Quebec City. As a filmgoer who shamelessly champions Canadian content, but is often sceptical of scary films, I’m pleased to announce that Mama is not the caboose of the Chastain Train. It’s a highly entertaining film and a stylish, atmospheric entry into the horror genre.

'Legend of a Warrior' on Home Video from the NFB

Corey and Frank Lee star in Legend of a Warrior.
Photo credit: Colin Smith. Courtesy of the NFB.

“In China, or Hong Kong, the practice of Kung Fu is just like Canada hockey,” says Frank Lee to his son, Corey, in a scene towards the middle of the documentary Legend of a Warrior. If hockey is the national pastime in Canada, or the sport that most often brings people together, then it’s fitting that Corey uses a return to Kung Fu to reconnect with his father and his Chinese roots. Corey was born in Canada after Frank left China, settled in the wintry North American nation, and had a family. Frank didn’t really participate in the raising of his family, though, as he brought to Canada his true love from China: Kung Fu. Frank Lee is a Kung Fu legend (he was inducted into the Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame in May 2012), but his road to success led him away from his family, which is a bridge that Corey hopes to repair by becoming Frank’s student once again. Legend of a Warrior, now available on DVD and download to own from the National Film Board of Canada, follows Corey’s journey as the learns the art of Kung Fu from Frank and, in turn, gives Frank the opportunity to learn the role of a father.


Win Tickets to 'Side Effects' (Closed)

A free movie is just what the doctor ordered. Thanks to our friends at eOne Films, Cinemablographer can write 5 prescriptions for double passes to the Ottawa sneak peek of Side Effects. Side Effects is a provocative thriller about Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law) – intended to treat anxiety – had unexpected side effects. The film is directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) and written by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion). (Watch the trailer here.)


Hal Hartley at the CFI

Hal Hartley presents his films at the Canadian Film Institute Feb 1-3

The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) has a stacked line-up of screenings and director Q&As next week. Following The Boxing Girls of Kabul on Wednesday and The End of Time on Thursday, the CFI will celebrate acclaimed American independent filmmaker Hal Hartley in a six night retrospective. Hartley will be on hand to present and discuss his work on the first three nights of the series, which begins Friday, February 1st. Known for his quirky and satirical films, Hal Hartley is a forerunner of contemporary independent filmmaking and his films have launched the careers of numerous stars including Adrienne Shelley, Edie Falco, Martin Donovan, Michael Imperioli, and one of my favourite actresses, Parker Posey. “Hal Hartley is one of the most impressive and idiosyncratic contemporary American film artists,” says CFI Executive Director, Tom McSorley. “The CFI is proud to be bringing this critically acclaimed, internationally renowned American independent filmmaker to Ottawa.”

Celebrity Penis Game

Movie 43
(USA, 90 min.)
Dir. Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, Jonathan van Tulleken.
Writ. Steve Baker, Will Carlough, Jacob Fleisher, Patrik Forsberg, Matthew Alec Portenov, Greg Pritikin, Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko, Elizabeth Wright Shapiro.
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Halle Berry, Leslie Bibb, Kate Bosworth, Gerard Butler, Bobby Cannavale, Kieran Culkin, Josh Duhamel, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, John Hodgman, Terrence Howard, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, Justin Long, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Chris Pratt, Liev Schreiber, Seann William Scott, Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, and Snooki.
Forget all those artsy-fartsy anthology films – Paris, je t’aime and the like. Sure, they gave Juliette Binoche something to do before she made Dan in Real Life, but nobody has ever taken these segments of shorts to their full potential. What the anthology film needs is some balls.


Review: The Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival

The Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival
(Various, 150 min.)
The Gimp Monkeys
“I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of these mountains,” my sister once exclaimed. We were driving into Banff National Park for a family ski trip. It was our first trip to the Rocky Mountains, so the view was admittedly rather awe-inspiring. Nevertheless, I’ve never let my sister live down her silly attempt at proverbiage. Think before you speak, I always say.


Oscar Predictions: Round 7 - The SAG Awards (Plus the PGA)

Richard Parker, like Uggie, received no love from the SAG.

I am completely directionless this Oscar season and I kind of like the feeling. Like Pi, I am stranded, hopelessly adrift with little more than a prayer and a hungry feline in my lifeboat as we float towards the Oscars. Life of Pi could very well be the film to beat now that Argo may not be the front-runner. On the other hand, an all-important precursor—The Screen Actors’ Guild Awards—can give a boost to virtually any of the top contenders except for Pi when the awards are handed out on Sunday night. Pi, however, isn’t really an actors’ showcase. The best performance in the film comes from a motion capture tiger, and since awards bodies emphasized that they would not throw Uggie a bone last year for his award-worthy work in The Artist, Richard Parker can’t help Life of Pi get a boost from the actors.

Beyond Repair

Broken City
(USA, 109 min.)
Dir. Allen Hughes, Writ. Brian Tucker
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler.
Mark Wahlberg stars in Broken City
Courtesy of eOne Films / Photo: Barry Wetcher

2013 is off to a terrible start. I’ve taken in only a couple of new releases in these first three weeks of the year, but the only film worth seeing features a 66-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping lead alongside a grandmother. This year’s latest offender, Broken City, joins Gangster Squad in defining the perils of “January releases”. Distributors dump such expensive duds amongst the crowded award-season box office in hopes that the names of bankable stars might fool people into thinking they’re seeing an Academy contender. Unlike Arnold’s The Last Stand, however, however, Broken City can’t even pass as an amusing diversion. This film is a yawner. The only award to which Broken City can aspire is a little golden raspberry, but the berry field might be crowded if these past three weeks of winter are any prognosis for the year ahead.


Screening: 'The Boxing Girls of Kabul'

Two of the girls sparring.
Courtesy of the NFB / Photo: Rafaela Persson

Coming to Canadian Film Institute (CFI) next week is a special screening of The Boxing Girls of Kabul with director Ariel Nasr in attendance for a Q&A. The Boxing Girls of Kabul, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, is a powerful documentary about a trio of young Afghan women who pursue their passion for the sport in hopes of becoming world-class boxers. The girls’ success is especially noteworthy, as cultural mores discourage them from training for a sport that many in their country deem too aggressive for women. I caught The Boxing Girls of Kabul when it had its world premiere at Hot Docs last May and gave the film four stars, calling it a “well-done observation of how change begins at the personal level.” Following its success at Hot Docs and other festivals, The Boxing Girl of Kabul received a nomination for Best Short Film – Documentary from the Canadian Screen Awards. Nasr was also nominated for an Oscar this year for producing the Live Action Short Buzkashi Boys. Please join the CFI and welcome Nasr when The Boxing Girls of Kabul screens Wednesday, January 30th, at 7:00PM.

Details from the CFI and trailer after the jump:


The Enlightened Screen: Peter Mettler

Director Peter Mettler. Courtesy of Grimthorpe Film.

The Canadian Film Institute’s series “The Enlightened Screen” continues with its celebration of Canada’s top independent filmmakers. The second part of “The Enlightened Screen” offers a showing of Peter Mettler’s documentary The End of Time, which was recently named one of “Canada’s Top Ten” by the Toronto International Film Festival. Produced by Ingrid Veninger, who appeared at the CFI last June for a screening of i am a good person/ i am a bad person, The End of Time is the follow-up to their Genie-winning documentary Gambling, Gods and LSD.


Retirement is for Sissies

The Last Stand
(USA, 107 min.)
Dir. Jee-woon Kim, Writ. Andrew Knauer, Jeffery Nachmanoff
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Rodrigo Santoro, Jaimie Alexander, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzmán, Peter Stormare.
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Ray Owens in The Last Stand.
Courtesy of Alliance Films / Photo: Merrick Morton
“Wham!” “Bang!” “Pam!” “Kablammo!” Somewhere at Rolling Stone magazine Peter Travers is churning out a series of one-word pull-quotes for The Last Stand. The Last Stand, a riotous action/comedy/western, is an inspiration for the old guys. Arnold Schwarzenegger proves that retirement is for sissies as he gets back to pumping lead after his stint in political office. Arnold still packs a mean punch and proves his years of public service haven’t made him soft. At 66 years old, Arnold is as comfortable behind the machine gun as Helen Mirren is. Whether The Last Stand is a vacation full of beans or an audition tape for Red 3, Arnold has a lot of fun and provides good old action movie escapism.


Sparta 72 Hour Film Challenge

-@Terruns_Malick: 72 Hours! I have only 72 hours to make a film?  This is madness!
-@Michael_Haneke: This isn't madness! This is SPARTA!

Emerging Ottawa filmmakers should enter the upcoming Sparta 72 Hour Film Challenge. The task is simple: filmmakers will be assigned unique criteria and they then have 72 hours to complete a film that incorporates said criteria. Then, in the 73rd hour, all films will be screened at Ottawa’s historic Mayfair Theatre. (How cool is that?) All films will be assessed by a jury (I’m one of the members!) and prizes will be awarded.

NFB Doc 'Bear 71' Named Site of the Year

On the heels of the nominations for the Canadian Screen Awards, Bear 71, an interactive documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada, has been named Site of the Year by the Favourite Website Awards (FWA). The FWA is one of the highest honours for Web-based content. Bear 71 was created by Jeremy Mendes, Leanne Allison and the NFB’s Loc Dao. As noted by one of the FWA jurors, "Bear 71 is masterful blending of documentary-style video and information graphics, which combine together to make the site deeply engaging and informative.” The FWA marks another win for Bear 71, as the interactive project was a recent recipient of the Digi Award for Best Web Series (Non-Fiction). Congrats! Have you checked out Bear 71 yet?

Press notes after the jump:


A Bullet to the Brain

Gangster Squad
(USA, 113 min.)
Dir. Ruben Fleischer, Writ. Will Beale
Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Mirielle Enos, Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick, Nick Nolte
I have a theory. The whole torture debate with Zero Dark Thirty was a diversion crafted by Warner Bros. in order to create an effective smokescreen for Gangster Squad as it opened on the same weekend that the Kathryn Bigelow film went into wide release. Gangster Squad, which was initially delayed following the shooting at an Aurora theatre showing The Dark Knight Rises, offers a far more tangible endorsement of violence as the mighty tool of the law. Unlike Zero Dark Thirty, violence sees no grey area in Gangster Squad. This genre-pic is a “live by the sword, die by the sword” exaltation of violence.

Canadian Screen Awards Nominations

Rebelle leads the Canadian Screen Awards with 12 noms.

And I thought the Ben Affleck snub was big news! The Canadian Academy gave a big cold shoulder to director David Cronenberg and his film Cosmopolis this morning by shutting out the film in all major categories except for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Music (both score and song). I'm very disappointed, since Cosmopolis is arguably Cronenberg's best Canadian film in over a decade. It's a divisive film to be sure, but what happened? The performances certainly deserved recognition, especially Twilight star Robert Pattinson, who proved he deserves more consideration as an actor, and Sarah Gadon, Canada's newest 'it girl'. It was a great year for Canadian films, though, so Cosmopolis made room for films that will benefit from the exposure.


The Strong, Silent Type

Not Fade Away
(USA, 112 min.)
Written and directed by David Chase
Starring: John Magaro, Bella Heathcote, Jack Huston, Will Brill, James Gandolfini, Christopher McDonald, Molly Price.
Bada Bing! “Sopranos” creator David Chase has finally made the transition to feature films. Chase has quite a legacy to live up to since his last project became the greatest television series in the history of the medium. Not Fade Away might not hit the same height as the mob-family drama, but it proves a worthy first feature nonetheless.

Canadian Screen Awards Predictions

Sarah Polley, Best Director of 2012?

The Oscar nominations stunned us by snubbing Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, the perceived frontrunners of the Best Director race, but awards fans are in for a shocker come Tuesday’s announcement of the nominees for the Canadian Screen Awards. One highly touted Canadian name of 2012 is guaranteed to be absent from the Best Director line-up. That name is Sarah Polley, who recently nabbed the $100 000 prize for Best Canadian Film at the Toronto Film Critics’ awards for her brilliant documentary Stories We Tell. Unlike Bigelow and Affleck, however, Polley won’t be the victim of a baffling cold shoulder, although rumours abound that Academy members were put off by a graphic scene in which Polley waterboards one of her subjects in order to learn her family secrets. Stories We Tell simply isn’t eligible for the top prizes because it is a documentary. Under the rules and regulations for the Canadian Screen Awards, only feature length dramas can compete for arts and crafts awards. (See page 13.) I’m disappointed that the best Canadian film of 2012 can’t receive the recognition it deserves due to a technicality, but at least it has a strong chance in the feature documentary category, which boasts some of the strongest Canadian contenders of the year.

Golden Globe Winners

Jennifer Lawrence beats Meryl. (A worthy winner!)

"What does it say? ‘I beat Meryl!'" At least we know that Jennifer Lawrence, winner of Best Actress (Comedy) for Silver Linings Playbook has a sense of humor. T-Bone Streep is quite the chameleon, though, so Katniss might want to watch her back come Hunger Games 2. Streep can act, but you should see her in the field: she puts Jessica Chastain's waterboarding skills to shame. 


Golden Globe Picks and Predictions

Rooting for Meryl at the Golden Globes Sunday night! (As should you.)

Sunday marks the only award show of the season that allows me to root for Meryl Streep. Streep deserves to win her ninth Golden Globe come Sunday night for her great performance in Hope Springs, but she probably won’t since she is competing against Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence. Like many of the other nominees at this year’s Golden Globes, Streep can probably just be content with enjoying an open bar to celebrate that the campaigning is over.


Bigelow was Robbed!

Zero Dark Thirty
(USA, 157 min.)
Dir. Kathryn Bigelow, Writ. Mark Boal
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfini, Edgar Ramirez, Joel Edgerton.
Now that the hunt for Osama Bin Laden is complete, Jessica Chastain should be sent on a mission to smoke out all members of the Academy who failed to nominate Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director. Yesterday’s snub makes absolutely no sense, since Bigelow displays a vanguard’s hand behind the camera with Zero Dark Thirty. Like her 2009 Oscar winner The Hurt Locker or her 1995 sci-fi thriller Strange Days, Bigelow offers an enthralling, if not ground-breaking, feat of cinema with Zero Dark Thirty.


Contest: Win Tickets to 'The Last Stand' (Closed)

“Retirement is for sissies.” I can’t think of a better tagline to follow up the post for our last contest, Quartet. (There’s still time to enter that one, too!) Arnold Schwarzenegger proves that he’s not going to retire after ending his term as Governor of California. He’s back to kicking butt.

Oscar Nominations: 'Lincoln', 'Life of Pi', Silver Linings Playbook' Dominate

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, an Alliance Films release

Well, it turned out to be an unpredictable morning after all. Two of Oscar’s biggest frontrunners, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, took a bizarre hit this morning when Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow failed to make the Best Director slot. The other top contender, Steven Spielberg, was nominated although he was snubbed yesterday by the British Academy. Does this mean Life of Pi is the one to beat? I guess it could come down to Lincoln and Life of Pi, as the former earned 12 nominations while the latter earned 11, which is impressive since Pi scored zero acting noms while Lincoln got three. Joining Spielberg and Lee in the Best Director category are David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, Michael Haneke for Amour, and Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild, the latter of which is perhaps the biggest—and most pleasant—surprise of the morning. Lincoln, Life of Pi, Amour, SLP, and Beasts are probably the top five films in the running for Best Picture. Also nominated for the big prize are Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained and Les Misérables. It was an especially good morning for Silver Linings Playbook as the TIFF winner was essentially nominated in every category in which it was a contender (its score was disqualified), including nominations in all four acting categories, which hasn’t happened, I think, since 1981’s Reds. The Best Supporting Actress nomination for Jacki Weaver (who should have won for 2010’s Animal Kingdom) is a pleasant surprise.


Contest: Win Tickets to see 'Quartet' (Closed)

Are there any Maggie Smith fans in Ottawa? Smith had a banner year playing the Dowager Countess of Grantham on “Downton Abbey” and everyone’s favourite cranky resident of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but my favourite performance of Smith’s was her funny turn as Jean, the reigning diva of Beecham House in Quartet.

'Twilight' Leads Razzie Nominations

Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

Not to be missed among this award season is the annual event that precedes the Oscar nominations, The Golden Raspberry Awards aka The Razzies. Honouring the “berry worst” since 1980, The Razzies are annual gong to Hollywood’s finest as they are in the midst of handing out awards to themselves. It was an especially good year for berry picking, as the Academy noted that there were plenty of clunkers in 2012, including “movies based on recycled premises, re-working concepts that were already tired a decade or more ago, and which were the cinematic equivalent of re-treaded tires. Those are the films The Golden Raspberry Awards have been annually dis-honoring since 1980.” Adam Sandler, the Meryl Streep of the Razzies, is back after his unprecedented 10-category sweep last year for Jack & Jill. The perennial nominee is in the running for That’s My Boy! However, Sandler might not wear the dunce cap this year, since everyone’s least favourite series, Twilight, scored a whopping 11 nominations across 10 categories. It’s a franchise record. Twi-hards can also be on Team Edward and Team Jacob since Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are not going head to head, but are nominated as Worst Actor and Worst Supporting Actor, respectively. Kristin Stewart vies for worst actress and she’ll compete with Katherine Heigl and Barbra Streisand. Also among the “honourees” are Liam Neeson and singer turned “actress” Rihanna. Lindsay Lohan was robbed!

Worst Picture
-Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure
-That's My Boy!
-A Thousand Words
-Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2


'Stories We Tell' Named Best Canadian Film by Toronto Critics

Photo credit: Ken Woroner, courtesy of the NFB.

Today is Sarah Polley’s birthday. As a lovely birthday gift, the Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA) has awarded Polley’s documentary Stories We Tell, produced by Anita Lee of the National Film Board of Canada, with the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award for 2012. The well-deserved honour rewards the talented Canuck filmmaker with a cash prize of $100 000, which we hope Polley will put towards another exciting new project. Also nominated for the Rogers prize were Goon and Bestaire, for which directors Michael Dowse and Denis Côté each receive $5000. In addition to the Rogers prize, Stories We Tell was previously honoured with the Allan King Award for Best Documentary from the TFCA. Well done, Toronto Film Critics! It’s nice to see one critics’ group get things right. And a very happy birthday to you, Miss Polley!

Press release from the National Board of Canada follows:

Oscar Predictions: Round 6 - 'And We Will Stand Tall and Face It All Together.'

Oscar nominations: 'We will stand tall / and face it all together.' (With Skyfall?)
"This is the end
Hold your breath and count to one
Feel the the earth move and then
Hear my heart burst again.."

The Oscar nominations are just a few days away! Are we in for a surprise? There is bound to be some excitement of who’s in/who’s out come the morning of January 10th. Some level of clapping and grumbling can almost be guaranteed with the Academy’s wonky voting system. (It’s still better than the arcane model used by the New York Film Critics, if you ask me.) It’s hard to tell what will happen this year since a few variables make Oscar predictions especially tricky: an early announcement date, a crop of late releases, and an unusually strong field of contenders. Additionally, the group of Best Picture candidates has rarely been so financially successful. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, some of the ever-vital bellwethers—the guilds—have never been so unreliable due to announcement dates that mute their influence or due to a high level of ineligible contenders that shaped their nominees. With all these things in mind, though, something unexpected is bound to ride a wave of #1 votes to the Dolby Theatre.


Short Film: 'Stronghearted'

Fans of Canada’s Oscar finalist Rebelle with surely want to watch Stronghearted, the new short film released by the National Film Board of Canada. Like the tale of Komona in Rebelle, Stornghearted is the story of a young girl named Evelyn Amony who was born into a militant life at a young age. At twelve years old, Evelyn was kidnapped by Joseph Kony, the leader of Uganada’s militant Lord’s Resistance Army. She was then raped by Kony and forced to become one of his wives. Evelyn endured her abuser for eleven years until she escaped. Evelyn’s story is now the subject of a documentary, directed by Jodie Martinson, which pairs Evelyn’s testimony with unique animation by Kunal Sen to visualize the horror she endured. Stronghearted is a beautiful, moving story about finding hope and meaning from a brutal chapter of history. Martinson hopes to continue Evelyn’s story into a feature-length documentary. You can hear Martinson’s radio documentary “To Have and to Hold” on CBC’s The Current.

Stronghearted streams for free from the NFB:



What is the Price of Oil and Gas, You Ask?

Promised Land
(USA, 107 min.)
Dir. Gus Van Sant, Writ. John Krasinski & Matt Damon, story by Dave Eggers
Starring: Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook.
What is the price of oil? You might recall the question appearing as the ad line for another Matt Damon movie, Syriana, 2005’s provocative look at the global ripple effects of the oil industry. Damon’s character in Promised Land, Steve Butler, a salesman for the corporation of Global Gas, asks the audience what cost they’re willing to pay to escape their reliance on oil. “If you’re not for this, then you are for oil,” Steve says while trying to convince the townsfolk of McKinley, Pennsylvania, that natural gas is smart viable solution. The question is one of several bold queries raised in Promised Land, the new film by Damon’s Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant.


Music to the Ears!

A Late Quartet
(USA, 105 min.)
Dir. Yaron Zilberman, Writ. Yaron Zilberman, Seth Grossman.
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots.
A Late Quartet is not to be confused with Quartet. The latter, which made my list of the top ten films of 2012, has much in common with the former: chords of anger and infidelity ripple through a quartet of friends/musicians as their life’s work culminates in a single performance. Both films reveal the difficulties that aging brings when the inevitable hiccups of growing old force unwanted decrescendos on the talents of a great musician. In spite of their similarities, though, the two Quartets could not be more different. For one thing, A Late Quartet is all about strings while Quartet (no Late) is about a troupe of opera singers. Likewise, one film is American and one film is British. Finally, and most notably, A Late Quartet is a modest, mature drama while Quartet is a sprightly, crowd-pleasing comedy. If Quartet is a fine glass of well-aged bubbly, then A Late Quartet is like a good round of ten-year-old scotch. It’s great if you’re in the mood to work out all its tastes and textures.

Contest: Win Tickets to 'Zero Dark Thirty'

The Oscar nominations are just days away! In fact, the Academy is set to unveil the nominees on January 10th and, in an exciting coincidence, Alliance Films is having an Ottawa sneak peek of Zero Dark Thirty, which is bound to be among the films honored at this year’s Academy Awards. Zero Dark Thirty is the timely new film from Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow about the ten-year manhunt for Osama bin Laden. For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar® winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man.


Most Anticipated Films of 2013

Will 2013 be as good a year for movies as 2013 was? I hope so. There might be the usual bunch of sequels, reboots, and redundant superhero origins stories, but there are also lots of goodies that await. Here, in no particular order, are Cinemablographer's most anticipated films of 2013. The list started at ten, although it kept expanding. Keep it growing by sharing your 'must-sees' of 2013!

The most anticipated films of 2013:

The Legend of Sarila, an Alliance Films release.
The Legend of Sarila
Dir. Nancy Florence Savard
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Rachelle Lefevre, Geneviève Bujold, Natar Ungalaaq.
The Legend of Sarila promises to be a landmark Canadian film for 2013. Animated features are rare in this country (aside from the Genie-winner The Triplets of Belleville), so it’s a major feat that The Legend of Sarila is a completely Canadian 3D animated film. In addition to the beautiful animation, which looks quite striking from the film’s trailer, Sarila offers a notable look into Canada’s Inuit culture. Take the whole family and enjoy action, adventure, drama, mystery, and magic Canadian style. And it's in 3D! (Feb. 22)