Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Canadian Films Coming to New York's MoMA

New York's Museum of Modern Arts (MoMA), in association with Telefilm Canada, will organize the seventh annual Canadian Front. This event will be held from March 17 to March 24, 2010. Moreover, New Yorkers will have the chance to see nine Canadian films.

Obviously, this event should help Canadian films to find a U.S. distributor and allow New Yorkers to see Canadian films that were completed over the last 18 months. As a matter of fact, it was the Canadian Front event that allowed Bruce McDonald's brilliant zombie film Pontypool to be distributed in the USA by IFC Films for instance.

This year, the Canadian Front has in store two comedies, two dramas, two coming-of-age stories, two documentaries and an old classic. Speaking about that classic, the film in question was directed by Allan King, a Canadian director who left us in June 2009 and whose work was the subject of a MoMA retrospective in 2007. So, here's the list of films, ladies and gentlemen:


De père en flic (Fathers and Guns) – Directed by Émile Gaudreault. Written by Gaudreault, Ian Lauzon. With Louis-José Houde, Michel Côté, Rémy Girard, Patrick Drolet, Caroline Dhavernas. From the whizz-bang opening credits to the happily satisfying ending, Fathers and Guns is a comic delight. A box office phenomenon in Quebec, the film is packed with Montreal cops, slimy gangsters and mob lawyers, and, last but not least, fathers and sons who (supposedly) hate one another. A Hollywood remake is in the works, and this is a rare chance to see the hilarious original.

Suck – Written and directed by Rob Stefaniuk. With Stefaniuk, Jessica Paré, Iggy Pop, Malcolm McDowell, Henry Rollins, Alice Cooper, Paul Anthony, Mike Lobel. Stefaniuk, whose first feature, Phil the Alien, was shown in Canadian Front, 2005, returns with his newest genre mashup. Suck follows the curious journey of a Canadian rock band who achieve celebrity by becoming vampires, a move that seriously complicates the musicians‘ itinerary. How can they travel by day? And how can the undead get past the U.S. Department of Homeland Security? Laden with super-cool rock n‘roll cameos, Suck is as peppy and lively as a recently nourished creature of the night.



La donation (The Legacy) – Written and directed by Bernard Émond. With Élise Guilbault, Éric Hoziel, Françoise Graton. Émond, a Canadian Front veteran, set his moving new work in a Quebec town whose primary source of employment disappeared a generation ago. When an aging country doctor who cares deeply about his patients needs to leave his post temporarily, he advertises for a substitute caregiver. A woman from the city, frustrated by life in a busy emergency ward, answers his call. This quietly beautiful film chronicles how a newcomer becomes deeply involved in the lives—and deaths—of a community.

Polytechnique – Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Screenplay by Villeneuve, Jacques Davidts, Éric Leca. With Sébastien Huberdeau, Karine Vanasse, Evelyne Brochu, Maxim Gaudette. In 1989, a decade before Columbine, the unthinkable happened in Montreal: a twenty-five-year-old gunman, who claimed feminists had destroyed his life, entered the École Polytechnique with a rifle and killed fourteen female students. This compellingly dispassionate black-and-white film, Villeneuve‘s third, serves as a memorial of sorts for the victims, and describes what followed for the survivors. The film was named Best Canadian Film of 2009 by the Toronto Film Critics.


Coming-of-age stories

Crackie – Written and directed by Sherry White. With Mary Walsh, Meghan Greeley, Cheryl Wells, Joel Thomas Hynes, Kristin Booth. Mitsy, a teenager enduring a hardscrabble adolescence with her grandmother, discovers a dog she wants to love; contemplates sex with a local boy; and, despite her grandmother‘s wish never to see her own daughter again, hopes her estranged mother will return to Newfoundland. Be careful what you wish for. White‘s debut film sensitively illuminates the confusion of youth and the dramatic collision of three generations of women.

Only – Written and directed by Ingrid Veninger, Simon Reynolds. With Veninger, Reynolds, Jacob Switzer, Elena Hudgins Lyle. ONLY is a modest, luminous jewel of a film. Made on a ridiculously low budget and starring family and friends, the film follows a sweet, openhearted relationship that develops between two lonely tweens in a backwater Ontario town. The filmmakers are both actors, and Veninger co-wrote the script to Nurse. Fighter.Boy, which was featured in last year‘s Canadian Front.



Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel – Directed by Brigitte Berman. With Hugh Hefner, Gene Simmons, Mike Wallace, Reverend Jesse Jackson. The film, whose title says it all, argues that Hefner not only rebelled against pervasive social norms when he self-financed the first issues of Playboy, but also took an active role in the fight for racial integration and abortion rights. Berman, who has made many documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, won a 1985 Academy Award for Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got.

Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands – Directed by Peter Mettler. Made for Greenpeace Canada. Located beneath 4.3 million hectares of boreal forest in Alberta, Canada, the tar sands are a mixture of sand, clay, and a heavy crude oil called bitumen that is either mined in open pits or extracted from underground by injecting superheated water. Mettler, one of Canada‘s leading media artists, aerially filmed a mining area the size of England, and his images speak far louder than words.


Allan King Tribute

Who Has Seen the Wind – Directed by Allan King. Screenplay by Patricia Watson, based on the novel by W.O. Mitchell. With Brian Painchaud, Helen Shaver, Gordon Pinsent, José Ferrer. Based on the pivotal 1947 Canadian novel by W.O. Mitchell, the book W.P. Kinsella called "Canada’s Catcher in the Rye", King’s first feature and loving adaptation of life in a Depression-era Saskatchewan town and the boy who struggles to understand the mysteries of the world around him plays as fresh today as it did when it became the most popular homegrown film of 1977 and an enduring classic of Canadian cinema.

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