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Toronto's Hot Docs Divvies Awards

During its 11-day swing, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (April 29 to May 9, 2010) screened 166 films from more than 40 countries. North America’s largest non-fiction film festival, conference and market, reconvened in Toronto for the 17th year as an essential passage for the international doc community.

A Film Unfinished, Yael Hersonski's look at an incompleted Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw Ghetto, was anointed Best International Feature at the May 7th awards bash in the Isabel Bader Theatre. Already an award-winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the production has Hot Docs to thank for its $10,000 cash prize.

Nine other trophies were dispensed at the Hot Docs Awards Presentation emcee'd by CBC's Jian Ghomeshi.

Leave Them Laughing  took the Special Jury Prize / Canadian Feature Award. And it could be the motto for the annual fest, which played to packed audiences even as business slackened at its companion market. So the $72,000 worth of cash infusions administered at the fest is Rx that went down especially easy with its recipients.

Directed by Oscar-winner John Zaritsky, the film is about laughing in the face of terminal illness as seen through the eyes of 46-year-old writer, singer and smart-ass comedian Carla Zilbersmith. How to live despite tough odds is a challenge the documentary community knows all too well. For his part, Zaritsky scored a $10,000 hit, courtesy of the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation

The Special Jury Prize - International Feature went to The Oath, Laura Poitras's layered essay about Osama bin Laden's former driver and his Guantanamo Bay-held brother-in-law, which, per the jury statement, "challenges our preconceived notions about radical Islam." The Ontario Media Development Corporation sponsored the award, involving a $5,000 shot of cash given by Hot Docs.

Shelley Saywell walked away with Best Canadian Feature Award for her expose of honor killing in North America, In The Name Of The Family. "We were all moved by the young teenage Muslim women struggling to figure out their own identities, caught between two opposing worlds, to whom it gave voice," went the jury statement. The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation sprang for the $15,000 prize, which is sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada.

Tomer Haymann's I Shot My Love earned top honor in the Mid-Length Documentary category. The film follows the Israeli filmmaker's relationship with the German lover he met when presenting his film, Paper Dolls, at the Berlin Film Festival. Awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the $3,000 prize comes courtesy of Hot Docs.

Tussilago, by Swedish director Jonas Odell, was triaged as Best Short Documentary Award. The jury commended this hybrid live action/animation about the former girlfriend of West German terrorist Norbert Kröcher for its "innovative and ever-evolving use of animation to recreate a historical era." Playback is behind the award, which carries a $3,000 sum accorded by Hot Docs.

Jeff Malmberg, director of Marwencol, bagged the HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award. The film tracks unfolding dramas in the miniature WW II-era town that beating victim Mark Hogencamp constructed as art therapy. In its statement, the jury acknowledged that "Hogencamp, robbed of his memory, creates a fantasy world through which he rediscovers his identity and realizes his true self." HBO Documentary Films proffered the award.

This year's Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to acclaimed UK filmmaker Kim Longinotto. The Hot Docs Board of Directors did the honors. Spanning such award-heavy, female-centric portraits as Rough Aunties, Divorce Iranian Style and Sisters in Law, Longinotto's globally minded work commanded a retrospective at the 2010 Hot Docs.

Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji snared the Don Haig Award, set up by documentary to encourage emerging Canadian documentarians. Lyall and Mukerji are the makers of Hot Docs' 2009 official selection and audience pick, 65_RedRoses. Awarded by the Don Haig Foundation, the prize packs a $20,000 cash bounty underwritten by documentary.

Director  Kim LonginottoTwenty-year-old director Ayanie Mohamed went home with the Lindalee Tracey Award, which gives props to an emerging Canadian filmmaker with "a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour."  As part of the accolade, Mohamed will pocket $6,000 in cash prize and $3,000 in film stock donated by Kodak Canada.

Jurors of the Canadian features were Now magazine CEO Alice Klein; Liz Mermin, director of Horses; and IDFA's Martijn te Pas. The international features jury brought together Gonzalo Arijón, director of Eyes Wide Open - Exploring Today’s South America; Directors Guild of Canada president Sturla Gunnarsson; and Chris Hegedus, co-director of Kings of Pastry. Serving on the short and mid-length films jury were CPH:DOX festival director Tine Fischer; Judy Gladstone, executive director of Canada's Bravo!FACT foundation; and Havana Film Festival programmer and film critic Alberto Ramos Ruiz.

With the Rooftop Docs: Shorts Film Program now scheduled for Sunday, May 9, at the Citipark Cumberland Garage, across from the Cumberland Cinemas, there's one more chance to experience the fest's quality programming. This selection of shorts will screen with the award-winning Marwencol

Stay tuned May 10, when the winners of the Hot Docs Audience Award and audience top 10 favorites will be revealed.

For more info, award winners and wrap-up, go to:

Hot Docs
April 29 - May 9, 2010
55 Avenue Road
Hazelton Lanes
Toronto, Canada
416 637 5150

As Seen on TV (or Not) – Turner Classic Movies Live!

For the first time, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is presenting their TCM Classic Film Festival live in Hollywood, California, from April 22 through 25, 2010, at four premiere film venues in downtown Hollywood:  The Egyptian Theater, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Mann’s Chinese 6 cineplex and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

This unique occasion by the channel that is all about the film history of classic Hollywood is a golden opportunity to watch great movies the way our forebears saw them (i.e., as they were meant to be seen), introduced by the people (or their relatives) who made them, listen to behind-the-scenes stories, enjoy newly restored films, and share enthusiasm for classic cinema with other devotees.  

The official host of the festival, of course, is TCM’s own Robert Osborne, along with film historian Leonard Maltin and other hosts.

Events slated for the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel include a book signing and display of original art by Tony Curtis; a special screening of Joan Crawford’s home movies, hosted by her grandson, Casey LaLonde; a presentation by special effects artist Douglas Trumbull; and numerous scheduled conversations with festival guests.

Special individual screenings are being featured, including several beautifully restored films, rare gems and celebrity introductions.

The Opening Night film is George Cukor’s A Star is Born (1954), digitally restored by scanning original negatives, resulting in much better picture quality with deeper and richer color than ever before.

Two of the oldest living Oscar® winners of Best Actor and Best Actress will be introducing their best restored films:

Luise Rainer
(who turned 100 in January) introduces The Good Earth, directed by Sidney Franklin (1937). This film won Rainer her second Oscar® for her portrayal of a hard-scrabble Chinese peasant.

Ernest Borgnine introduces Jubal, directed by Delmer Daves (1956). Borgnine starred with Glenn Ford and Rod Steiger in this quasi-noir Western that retooled Shakespeare’s Othello for the Old West. “Extraordinary scenery and an intense, intelligent script highlight this underrated drama.” This screening is the North American premiere of the restored print, with “a new 35mm digitally corrected negative which  reproduces the original Cinemascope aspect ratio for the first time since the movie’s initial release. The original stereo soundtrack has also been restored.” A Q&A with Ernest Borgnine follows.

Other classics being dusted off and newly improved include:

Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960), the 50th anniversary screening and North American premiere of the newly restored print, introduced by Jean-Paul Belmondo

Fritz Lang
’s Metropolis (1927) TCM’s screening of the North American premiere of the new restoration, which includes lost footage. 

Dirigible (1931) Newly restored print introduced by Tom Capra (son) and Frank Capra III (grandson) of director Frank Capra.

The Day of the Triffids (1963), directed by Steve Sekely, the world-premiere midnight screening of the restored print. Restoration expert Michael Hyatt worked directly on the negative rather than a digital copy. He painstakingly removed more than 20,000 specks of dirt, using his own techniques, and adjusted the color timing on the film.

The Story of Temple Drake, directed by Stephen Roberts (1933), starring Miriam Hopkins. Based on the William Faulkner novel Sanctuary, this rarely screened Pre-Code film is a “steamy tale of a society girl brutalized by an impotent, murderous gangster."  The film “triggered an uproar, inspiring church boycotts of the movies and leading to stricter Production Code enforcement starting in 1934. One of the first things the new Hays Office demanded was that The Story of Temple Drake be pulled from release, [after which] it was kept off the screen by censors for decades.” This print is a restoration work-in-progress by MOMA (funded in part by Turner Classic Movies).

Other screenings include:

Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), introduced by Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau

Martin Scorsese
’s foray into comedy, The King of Comedy (1983), starring Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis, followed by a Q&A with Jerry Lewis

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), featuring a discussion with visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull

Other tracks include:

Panels discussions
  • “Casting Secrets: The Knack of Finding the Right Actor”
  • “A Remake to Remember: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Updating Movie Classics”
  • “The Greatest Movies Ever Sold: Classic Movie Marketing Campaigns”

Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood – TCM is partnering with Vanity Fair magazine, creator of the Penguin book, Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood, edited by Graydon Carter. Vanity Fair’s Sam Kashner, Peter Biskind and David Kamp, each of whom has essays included in the Vanity Fair book, will conduct the discussions.

Hollywood on Hollywood –  stories about Hollywood by Hollywood, which include such perennial fare as Singing in the Rain

Special Programs

"Festival Shorts"  –  presented by Leonard Maltin, who curates a special program of notable shorts.

"Removed from Circulation: A Cartoon Collection" – Donald Bogle, author of Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: A History of Black Hollywood, presents cartoons that have been kept from the public eye because of negative racial or cultural stereotypes.

"Fragments" – a compilation of surviving pieces from lost films from two of the world’s top film archives, the Academy Film Archive and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Titles  to be announced.

The Film Foundation, celebrating its 20th year of preserving and restoring classic films, was founded by Martin Scorsese and a distinguished group of fellow filmmakers. The organization is dedicated to protecting motion pictures and the rights of the artists who create them, educating the public about the importance of film preservation, and raising the necessary funds to save the endangered cinematic treasures.

For more details and information, see

TCM Classic Film Festival
April 22-25, 2010

In Downtown Hollywood:

Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Blvd.

Mann's Chinese 6
6801 Hollywood Blvd.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre
6925 Hollywood Blvd.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd.

Nashville Film Festival Is Music to the Eyes

The Nashville Film Festival turned 40 last year, and while "41" doesn't cut the same dash, the South's oldest film festival shouAdrien Grenierld keep crowds plenty fortified over the next eight days: Running April 15 to 22, 2010, at the Regal Green Hills Cinemas, NaFF has a lineup of 230 films.

Naturally, music themes bloom brightly among these. Titles in the popular "Music Films/Music City" competition include several non-fiction films. There's The Bass Player, Niall McKay's road trip with his Irish jazz-performer dad, and Clark Stiles' Don't Quit Your Daydream. The latter, produced by Adrian Grenier, follows two musicians crisscrossing America in an RV and jamming with folks they encounter along the way.

The Entourage star directed another buzz-making film, Teenage Paparazzo. Closing the Festival with it is a bit of programming mischief that NaFF artistic director Brian Owens calls "almost deliciously subversive … in a town full of celebrities" where fame is downplayed. Bolded names from Alec Baldwin to Noam Chomsky bob up in this documentary about celebrity obsession.

Grenier will make the scene together with country music artist Brad Paisley, whose short film, When Mom's Away, opens the April 22 event.

Robert Patton-Spruill's Do It Again is surely the hoot of the tune tales. The documentary tracks a middlescent journalist's mission to reunite '60s rockers The Kinks. As sad sack as he and his profession may be, America comes off as sorrier still.

NaFF's Opening Night film, Nowhere Boy, cocks a snook at the British Invasion from the other side of the pond. UK director Sam Taylor-Wood dramatizes the young John Lennon's coming of age in post-war Liverpool with his mother, caretaker aunt and the US culture that helped raise him.

Other music-flavored events at the Festival are a "One On One" with composer Carter Burwell. The Coen Brothers staple will take this year's Mike Curb Career Achievement Award For Film Music.

A chat is also scheduled with Mario Van Peebles and the cast of his latest drama, Black, White and Blues. Shot in Nashville, this tale of spiritual redemption and the Memphis blues is one of nine films that will have its world premiere at NaFF.

One of the most hotly anticipated screenings is Radu Mihaileanu's The Concert. It centers on Bolshoi orchestra conductor Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, who was fired during the Brezhnev era for hiring Jewish musicians and who now seeks to reunite them for a Paris concert that the current Bolshoi was slated to perform. French screen veteran Miou-Miou co-stars with Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds).

Like The Concert, Provinces of Night comes to Nashville as a "Special Presentation." Set in rural Tennessee, Shane Dax Taylor's work in progress stars Grammy Award winner Kris Kristofferson as a musician, womanizer and drunk. Character actor W. Earl Brown scripted this translation of William Gay's novel, featuring music by T Bone Burnett. You'd think Crazy Heart might have exhausted the field, but judging by Provinces' reception at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where extra screenings were added, the film co-starring Val Kilmer, Dwight Yoakam and Hilary Duff will garner its share of kudos at Nashville.

For the rest of the international lineup that NaFF artistic director Owens either invited or winnowed down from 2,000 submissions, see

The Regal Green Hills Stadium 16
Apr. 15 – 22, 2010
3815 Green Hills Village Drive

Nashville, TN 37215

If You're Going to San Francisco ... International Film Festival

Four thousand film festivals populate the globe. But more than many, the San Francisco International Film Festival may satisfy a collective hunch of what such a gathering should be. Perhaps age has something to do with it; at 53 years old, SFIFF, held this year from April 22 to May 6, 2010, is the oldest film festival in the Americas.

Then there's the topography of San Francisco, which rises, falls and yields vistas that themselves cop filmic metaphors. Or maybe it's because San Francisco natives form a cultured urban tribe. And if not all that, then its timing — following the previous year's key festivals and preceding mighty Cannes — is enough to drive any fest into compensation mode. Graham Leggett's four years as head of the San Francisco Film Society have spread the enterprise's sticky tentacles in ambitious and effective ways.

Whatever the reason, the Festival styles itself with distinctive flair for its 80,000 or so annual attendees. This year's spin will set in motion some 150 films and live events. By Festival's end, it will have pinned more than 20 ribbons on industry worthies.

Don't you wish you'd been a fly on the wall when the SF Film Society chose John Waters as the man to present Ang Lee's writing partner, James Schamus, with the 2010 Kanbar Award for screenwriting? The transgressive cult director and the Focus Features honcho make one odd couple. By all appearances, the Society's sense of humor has survived the lumpy economy intact.

Walter Murch is its pick for this year's trippy address about "cinema and visual arts, culture and society, images and ideas." The film editor, sound designer and nine-time Oscar–nominee will retell cinema's genesis from the 19th century to now, and dip into the legacies of Beethoven, Flaubert and Edison. Asked to play prophet as well, Murch will foretell how cinema's formative milieu will beget future audiovisual expression.

Such inspired vapors should hover over the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas when Walter Salles receives the 2010 Founder’s Directing Award. For his tribute, an hour-long preview of In Search of On the Road will be screened alongside his other clips. Specially cut for the Festival, this work-in-progress chronicles Salles's efforts to shoot a documentary about Jack Kerouac, his seminal road-trip novel On the Road and the post-war artists, poets and pharmaceutical enthusiasts of the Beat Generation.

In another mix of the vintage and the new, SFIFF will once again screen a silent film to the live accompaniment of an original score by a contemporary musician. This year's pairing is Stephin Merritt and his newly unveiled score for the 1916 epic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The event will take place at the landmark Castro Theatre.

A whiff of the quaint surrounds "An Evening with Roger Ebert and Friends," when directors Jason Reitman, Terry Zwigoff and others will gather at the Castro to give the well-known film critic the Mel Novikoff Award. Named for San Francisco's pioneer art-house exhibitor, the award honors those who have made significant contributions to Bay Area filmmaking.

An especially hot ticket is the Midnight Awards, a cocktail toasting an American actor and actress. Taking the cue from late-night talk shows, the witching-hour event features a confab with the two and a sampling of their work. Live music will be performed by Marc and the Casuals.

Each year the Festival heralds an up-and-coming talent via a "Centerpiece" screening of his or her work. The 2010 choice is Josh Radnor and his directorial debut, happythankyoumoreplease. Zoey Kazan, Malin Ackerman and Pablo Schreiber are among the ensemble joining him in front of the camera, where he plays a struggling writer in this Manhattan tableau of Gen Y in post 9/11 Manhattan. Radnor, who also wrote the screenplay, is expected to attend the Kabuki Sundance screening and Centerpiece party at Manor West.

This year's Peter J. Owens Award goes to Robert Duvall at an event featuring an interview with the actor and a look back on his half-century of performing in such standouts as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Great Santini and Tender Mercies, for which he took the Best Actor Oscar. Also screening will be Aaron Schneider's Get Low, in which Duvall plays a pariah from the Tennessee sticks who opts to put on his own funeral while still breathing.

Don Hertzfeld, one of a handful of animators who produces all aspects of his films, is slated to take the Persistence of Vision Award. The Academy Award–nominated shorts filmmaker will be on hand during a rewinding of his career, including such popular titles as I am so proud of you and Intermission in the Third  Dimension.

SFIFF's roster of trophies — which culminates with the Golden Gate Awards — unfolds alongside a vigorous regime of partying. Following the Opening Night film, Micmacs, celebrations will carry on amid the Beaux Arts architecture of the Regency Center. The Closing Night party will feature music inspired by the brash comedian Joan Rivers, who is the subject of Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's documentary, A Piece of Work, which will be screened during the Festival.

Students of the human comedy will have a chance to see Hirokazu Koreeda's newest work, Air Doll. The conceit is flippy, or at least Mannequin-esque: an inflatable "love doll" comes to life and falls in love in present-day Tokyo. Billed as an "anti-fairytale," this meditation on love and loneliness stars Korean leading light Bae Doo-na.

Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthi Jayasundara returns to San Francisco, following his 2008 film, The Forsaken Land, with Between Two Worlds. His new drama about the scars of his country's 20-year civil war will screen in the New Directors category.

Civil war, or at least its gathering clouds, also informs White Material. Claire Denis' somber tale of a French matriarch (Isabelle Huppert) who insists on weathering Africa's political chop marks the director's first film situated in that continent since Beau Travail. White Material will be screened under the World Cinema rubric, as will Around a Small Mountain, by her fellow French auteur, Jacques Rivette. Erring on the lighter side, his newest film follows the love story between a French circus performer and an Italian quester who hopes she'll trapeze over her fears.

The full lowdown on San Francisco's two-week cinema circus is posted at

San Francisco International Film Festival

Apr. 22 - May 6

Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
1881 Post Street

San Francisco

Castro Theatre
429 Castro Street
San Francisco

Pacific Film Archive Theater
2575 Bancroft Way


Clay Theater
2261 Fillmore Street

San Francisco


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