WEEKEND FILM FESTS: The Toronto Palestinian Film Festival & Ottawa’s One World Film Festival

One World Film Festival opens at the Library & Archives this weekend in Ottawa. 

This weekend whether you are in the Capital of Ontario or the Capital of Canada, both cities are hosting independent film festivals with programming that offers critique to current issues, like Oil and Occupation as well as Occupation because of Oil.

In Ottawa the One World Film Festival is in it’s 25th year. It runs from Thursday September 25th to Saturday, September 27th.

THURSDAY: Above All Else @ 6:30 pm

(Includes Panel Discussion with filmmakers John Fiege and Anita Grabowski and Ben Powless of Ecology Ottawa after screening)

“an intimate portrait of a group of landowners and activists in East Texas who tried to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion dollar project slated to carry tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. They risk financial ruin, personal safety, and the security of their families as they attempt to protect their land and defend their rights. The film is both an exploration of the human spirit and a window into how social change happens in America.” More info…

FRIDAY: Virunga @ 6:30 pm (Includes Panel Discussion after the screening)

“Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the last natural habitat for the endangered mountain gorilla. None of that will stop the business interests and rebel insurgencies lurking at the park’s doorstep. Orlando von Einsiedel pairs gorgeous natural scenes from Virunga with riveting footage of the Congolese crisis, raising an ardent call for conservation as a vital human enterprise. Along the way, he spotlights the incredibly dangerous work that is often required to safeguard the environment.” More info…

SATURDAY: Watchers of the Sky @ 6:00 pm & On The Side of the Road @ 8:45 pm

WATCHERS OF THE SKY interweaves four stories of remarkable courage, compassion, and determination, while setting out to uncover the forgotten life of Raphael Lemkin – the man who created the word “genocide,” and believed the law could protect the world from mass atrocities. Inspired by Samantha Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem From Hell, WATCHERS OF THE SKY takes you on a provocative journey from Nuremberg to The Hague, from Bosnia to Darfur, from criminality to justice, and from apathy to action.” More info…

&

“Former West Bank settler Lia Tarachansky looks at Israelis’ collective amnesia of the fateful events of 1948 when the state of Israel was born and most of the Palestinians became refugees. She follows the transformation of Israeli veterans trying uncover their denial of the war that changed the region forever. Tarachansky then turns the camera on herself and travels back to her settlement where that historical erasure gave birth to a new generation, blind and isolated from its surroundings. Attempting to shed a light on the country’s biggest taboo, she is met with outrage and violence.” More info…

Full schedule on One World Film Festival’s website.

All screenings take place at the Library & Archives, Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa. View map.

black stroke

The Toronto Palestinian Film Festival opens this Saturday in Toronto. 

The Toronto Palestinian Film Festival (TPFF) runs from Saturday, September 27th to Friday, October 3rd (so in theory, you could attend both!)

Sunday includes a screening of Omar, one of my favourite movies of 2013. Along with dramas and shorts by Palestinian filmmakers, the festival also includes films about Palestine from the perspective of non-Palestinians. One example is Village Under the Forest.

“The Village Under the Forest explores the hidden remains of the destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya, which lies under South Africa Forest. During the 1948 Nabka, more than 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed. The Jewish National Fund raised money from around the world under the guise of ‘greening the desert’ and built forests and parks named after different countries on the remains of these villages in an attempt to erase their dark history. Writer/narrator Heidi Grunebaum revisits South Africa Forest, the forest she helped finance with the pennies she collected as a child twenty year ago. Using the forest and the ruins of Lubya as representative of a much wider process, this compelling film explores central themes of the Nakba – forced exile, erasure of memory, creating ‘facts on the ground’, and the Palestinian Right of Return.” More info…

“Making its debut at TIFF 2013, Giraffada is a light-hearted drama inspired by a true story. Ziad, a ten-year-old boy from the West Bank, spends all his free time at the Qalqilya zoo where his father Yacine (Saleh Bakri) works as the zoo’s veterinarian. In particular, Ziad has a special bond with the zoo’s two giraffes who he helps care for. Yacine, recently widowed, is determined to preserve the zoo as a haven for animals and for the local children who play there, temporarily escaping the hardships under occupation. One night, after an air strike on the city, one of Ziad’s beloved giraffes dies. The surviving giraffe stops eating due to the loss of her mate. Yacine is determined to save her by bringing in a new giraffe but the only zoo that can help him is in Tel Aviv. Yacine and Ziad are committed to doing whatever it takes to save their giraffe, even if it means breaking the law. Giraffada, which stars Mohammad Bakri (In Attendance), is a unique portrayal of childhood under occupation.”

Last week at Beit Zatoun TPFF hosted a talk on New Directions in Indigenous Cinema with Jesse Wente (Director of Film Programmes & curator of TIFF’s 2012 program First Peoples Cinema: 1500 Nations, One Tradition) and Rasha Salti (TIFF Programmer for African and Middle Eastern Cinema). Rasha discussed the historical and contemporary context of Palestinian cinema. There is a lot to be learned! The documentary Cinema Palestine offers more insight.

“Cinema Palestine is a poetic documentary which explores the life and work of multiple generations of Palestinian filmmakers and media artists. Based on in-depth interviews with a wide range of Palestinian artists living in the Middle East, as well as North American and Europe, the film documents the emergence of a Palestinian narrative through film, the relevance of film to the Palestinian national struggle and the relationship between art, personal experience and politics in one of the most contested landscapes in the world. The film features interviews with numerous filmmakers screened at TPFF including: Annemarie Jacir, Rashid Masharawi, Mohammad Bakri, Najwa Najjar, Hany Abu-Asad, Nasri Hajjaj and Mai Masri. A post-Screening Panel featuring Tim Schwab, Mohammad Bakri and Mais Darwazah will follow the film, with our guests further exploring the role of Palestinian cinema in the emergence of the Palestinian narrative.”

Screenings for the TPFF take place at TIFF and the AGO’s Jackman Hall. For full schedule details click here.

Also find TPFF info on Facebook and Twitter.

 

A MUST SEE: Rhymes for Young Ghouls Opening Today in Toronto @ Cineplex

As more information comes to light about the past as well as the present impact of the Residential School System on First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Canada more ways of telling the story will manifest.

This year Toronto’s amazing Indigenous film festival ImagineNATIVE screened two important films – Empire of Dirt and Rhymes for Young Ghouls –  that although speaking to the same issues, such as intergenerational violence, stylistically differ. This makes for a deeper reach as each film has the potential to draw upon an alternate audience.

Mi’kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Young Ghouls is sleek but not without some grit. The soundtrack of obscure Blues tracks adds even more sexiness. I wondered if I would find this distracting from the character development and the weight of the subject matter. In the end I felt this movie fleshed out the varying perspectives that films like Empire of Dirt and docs on the program of assimilation of Canada’s First Peoples bring to the table. The heroine, Aila, is stunningly played by Mohawk actress Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs who roots the movie with her intensity. It is through her coming-of-age eyes we see the horror that is hard to breathe through but we also see the possibility of magic and hope expressed in her ability not to give up on the wonder of life.

During a Q & A with Jeff Burnaby after RFYG’s screening as part of TIFF Top 10 of Canadian Films a comment was made by a woman in the audience who had grown up on a reserve. She appreciated that despite the painful realities Jeff didn’t shy away from including humour in the film. She expressed that often that side is missing, that the portrayal of First Nations people doesn’t include showing anyone as having a sense of humour. Mi’kmaq actor Glen Gould, Aila’s father in the film, answered by saying that it is humour that has allowed Aboriginal people to live on despite hundreds of years of attempted genocide. Jeff replies that “humour is an important part of surviving through this as Aboriginal people” and because documentaries miss this element it was with intent that he made sure to add comic relief.

Jeff wrapped up his Q & A by stating that “it is up to all of us now, not just Native people, to carry the the torch.”

Hopefully with such films like Rhymes for Young Ghouls non-Indigenous Canadians will be inspired to share in the grace as well as the humour of their Indigenous brothers and sisters and work towards lightening the burden of the past as we all move forward into the future.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls re-opens today in Toronto at the Cineplex at Yonge and Dundas and plays throughout the weekend into next week.

Toronto screening times Today: 1:50pm, 4:05, 6:20 and 8:35.

Following the 8:35 screening there will be a Q&A hosted by First Weekend Club and conducted by Anna Hardwick, followed by a casual cocktail/meet/greet at the Imperial Pub (54 Dundas St. E) with writer/director Jeff Barnaby, producer John Christou and actors Glen Gould, Brandon Oakes and Roseanne Supernault.

Read more about director Jeff Barnaby in his interview with NOW Magazine and the Globe & Mail.

And don’t forget to ‘Like’ RFYG’s on Facebook!

THE MIX IN TORONTO THIS WEEK: Ichimaru, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Fatoumata Diawara, Jon Blak & Jean-Luc Godard

Black grafitti wall with faces outlined in white Corner of Richmond & John St. Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Are we in a new time and place?

In a Ali Baba franchise off Richmond Street in Toronto I sat with two friends eating falafel. It was time for the sunset call to prayer. The voice of an imam sang Bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim out from the owner’s laptop.

One friend was explaining Métis history to the other friend originally from Paris. Mon ami parisien paused. With a growing look of elation on his face he declared how beautiful this moment was – the Arabic praise to Allah here in Toronto, traditional Anishinaabe territory, on a busy urban street while speaking of the Métis, a word that is rooted in the French for ‘mix’.

It was a beautiful moment that we, in this hyper-hybrid context of Canada in the 21st Century, can easily take for granted. But these conversations are powerful because they are the wards that support us moving forward towards deep and empathetic inclusivity. The power of storytelling!

And what is happening this week in the Toronto culture scene is storytelling from a multiplicity of viewpoints using various artistic mediums.

It’s going to be a great week!

Portrait of Geisha in black and white

From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru opens today at the Textile Museum, tomorrow evening is Anishinaabe writer / activist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson launch of “Islands of Decolonial Love”, Saturday Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara will be performing at Koerner Hall and “Home: Photographs of Jon Blak” opens at The Gladstone Hotel. Finally the French connection – the films of Jean-Luc Godard are being featured at TIFF this week until mid-February.

(left image of Geisha Ichimaru provided by the Textile Museum)

 

From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru

“The fascinating life of Ichimaru (1906-1997), one of the most famous geishas of the 20th century due to her exceptional singing voice, is told through this collection of her magnificent kimonos and other personal effects. In the 1930s, Ichimaru left geishahood to pursue an illustrious career as a full-time recording artist, but even as a diva, she continued to perform in full geisha regalia.” Read more…

Runs through to May 25, 2014
Hours Daily 11 am – 5 pm
Wednesdays 11 am – 8 pm
$15 General Admission
Pay What You Can Wednesdays from 5 – 8 pm

Woman speaking and holding beaded wampum belt with other panelists
Leanne Simpson speaking on a panel at Niigaan Gala. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

The Catalyst Café featuring Leanne Simpson, Tara Williamson, Sean Conway & Nick Ferrio

“Leanne teamed up with Indigenous musicians including Tara Williamson, Nick Ferrio, Sean Conway, Sarah Decarlo, Melody McKiver, Cris Derksen & A Tribe Called Red, to record writings from her book Islands of Decolonial Love as a spoken word/musical performance.

Renowned writer and activist Leanne Simpson vividly explores the lives of contemporary Indigenous Peoples and communities, especially those of her own Nishnaabeg nation in her debut collection of short stories in Islands of Decolonial Love.” Read more…

Thursday January 30
8-10pm @ The Music Gallery, Toronto’s Centre For Creative Music
197 John St.
Doors Open @ 7pm
$15 | $10 students Purchase Tickets Here

Image of female singer in African and western style outfitFatourmata Diawara performing at Luminato 2012. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Fatoumata Diawara with Bassekou Kouyate

“Named by TIME magazine in late 2012 as one of the next 10 artists poised for stardom, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara originally moved to France to study acting, and appeared in several films before picking up the guitar and writing her own songs. “Enchanting and blissful. Her well-crafted songs are often light and breezy, but her soulful voice brings a bluesy depth and potency that can stop you in your tracks.” Read more…

Saturday, February 1
8 pm @ Koerner Hall
Purchase Tickets Here

HOME: Photographs by Jon Blak

“Home presents photographs by Jon Blak that explore Caribbean Canadian history, culture, art and music with a particular focus on youth culture. Toronto-based photographer Jon Blak works as an artist and educational outreach mentor. Much of his work addresses racism, stereotypes, and role-modelling for young people. Blak’s images reflect the changing contemporary cultural milieu in both Jamaica and Canada as he examines issues around class, race and cultural production to celebrate the impact of community. Home will include an interactive installation, and a short documentary film by Matthew Mulholland.” Read more…

Opening Saturday, February 1
10 pm – 1 am @ The Gladstone Hotel
Runs until February 28
12 – 5pm Daily 2nd Floor Gallery

PRESENTED BY WEDGE CURATORIAL WITH THE GLADSTONE HOTEL AS PART OF TD THEN & NOW SERIES 2014

Godard Forever: Part One

“The first part of our massive, two-season Jean-Luc Godard retrospective — spanning the French New Wave master’s “Golden Age” from his epochal debut Breathless to the apocalyptic nightmare of Weekend — comprises perhaps the most innovative, influential and revolutionary body of work in all of cinema.”More info & full schedule…

Runs until February 13 at TIFF Bell Lightbox on King St. W.

“WHERE ARTISTS ARE HEROS”: ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival Opens Today

Comic book style poster for Imaginenative Indigenous Film and Media Festival, female figure in superhero attire stands in front of the CN Tower

“Original. Indigenous.”

ImagineNATIVE, Toronto’s Film Festival focusing on film / new media productions by local and international indigenous artists, starts today!

“The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples at the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio, and new media. Each fall, imagineNATIVE presents a selection of the most compelling and distinctive Indigenous works from around the globe. The Festival’s programming, cultural & social events, and Industry Series attract and connect filmmakers, media artists, programmers, buyers, and industry professionals. The works accepted reflect the diversity of the world’s Indigenous nations and illustrate the vitality and excellence of our art and culture in contemporary media.” Find out more…

This year’s international spotlight is on the Maori Nationhood.

“This year, we are incredibly pleased to spotlight the works of Maori artists from Aotearoa (New Zealand). The Indigenous film industry in Aotearoa has long been the envy of many Indigenous artists living abroad. Critically and commercially successful feature films are joined by award-winning shorts, ground-breaking new media works and an expansive radio network.

The Maori presence is prominent throughout Aotearoa and their population is roughly 673,500 or 15% of the national total. The Maori diaspora is also quite significant as more Maori reportedly now live in Australia than in Aotearoa. We welcome the Maori delegation to imagineNATIVE, to our shared territory with open arms, and invite you to enjoy and reflect on the Maori-made works.” Read more…

 

Catch the full line up of industry talks, master classes, art tours and of course screenings here.

You can also follow along on their Facebook Page or Twitter @imagineNATIVE.

CONTACT CONTINUED: Complete List of the Ongoing Exhibitions

Office door opening to large mounds of small photographs piled for gallery installation
Photography by Ahmed Sirry for Mixed Bag Mag.

TORONTO’S ANNUAL PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL
Missed it? Oops! Well good news is you can still catch a few more exhibits running past the May 31 end date. Here’s Mixed Bag Mag’s comprehensive list of what’s still on for Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.

LOCAL TORONTO PHOTOGRAPHERS

  1. ENDING JUNE 8 – Edith Maybin’s THE GIRL DOCUMENT @ O’born Contemporary
  2. ENDING JUNE 9 – Janieta Eyre’s THE MUTE BOOK @ Katherine Mulherin Art Projects
  3. ENDING JUNE 16 – Sara Angelucci’s PROVENANCE UNKNOWN  @ Art Gallery of York University
  4. ENDING JUNE 16 – Mark Peckmezian PORTRAIT @ Harbourfront Centre
  5. ENDING JUNE 28-  Janieta Eyre CONSTRUCTING MYTHOLOGIES @ University of Toronto Art Centre Lounge
  6. ENDING JULY 7 – Mark Filipiuk SKOLA / SCHOOL @ Art Gallery of Mississauga


CANADIAN PHOTOGRAPHERS

  1. ENDING JUNE 29 – Andrew Wright’s PENUMBRA @ University of Toronto Art Centre


INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS

  1. ENDING JUNE 9 – Chris Marker’s (France) MEMORY OF A CERTAIN TIME @ Tiff
  2. ENDING JUNE 15 – Erik Kessels’ (Holland) 24HRS IN PHOTOGRAPHY @ Contact Gallery
  3. ENDING JUNE 15 – Danny Lyon’s (United States)  THE BIKERIDERS @ Stephen Bulger Gallery
  4. ENDING JUNE 15 – Doug Ischar’s (United States)  UNDERTOW @ Gallery 44 & VTape
  5. ENDING JUNE 29 – Botto + Bruno (Italy) I WAS ALREADY LOST @ Pari Nadimi Gallery
  6. ENDING SEPTEMBER 2 – Sebastião  Salgado’s (Brazil) GENESIS @ The Royal Ontario Museum
  7. ENDING OCTOBER 20 – Various Artists LIGHT MY FIRE @ Art Gallery of Ontario
  8. ENDING JANUARY 2014(India) Raja Deen Dayal’s BETWEEN PRINCELY INDIA AND THE BRITISH RAJ @ The Royal Ontario Museum 


Photography by Ahmed Sirry for Mixed Bag Mag.

DIGIPLAYSPACE: Final Weekend for Digital Play @ TIFF

Young boy playing with interactive screen, ipad and computer

“digiPLAYSPACE is an interactive adventure where kids will engage with emerging creative media technologies and innovative artistic experiences!”

It’s a great time to be a kid!  Innovative educators are getting it that for children (and adults too) play = learning. The out-dated model of teaching by dictation followed by recitation needs a DNR order – no resuscitation please! Experiential learning is where it is at. And exhibits like TIFF Bell Lightbox’s popular digiPLAYSPACE give kids that chance to do just that by interacting with “emerging creative media technologies.”

Recently TVO’s The Agenda featured a series called Learning 2030 to explore how these digital technologies will impact the classroom of the future.

Children born in 2012 will graduate from high school in 2030. They will grow up in a world dominated by the Internet, smartphones, computers, and tablet computers. They will likely participate in a historically crucial transition — one as significant as the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press — from learning steeped in books and blackboards to learning shaped by the screen.” (cited from www.tvo.org)

In this new world where bits of data come at us from all directions it is essential that the generations coming up understand how to assess and build a framework around information to create relevant meaning. More than ever children need to be taught how to learn rather than just what to learn.

Speaking on the March 1st panel for The Agenda’s The Classroom of 2030 at Kitchener’s Communitech  Mark Federman (Alder Graduate Professional School) says that we should  replace the emphasis on the 3 Rs to the 4 Cs – Connection, Context, Complexity and Connotation  – “we need to become used to ambiguity” and not knowing the outcome before we start. A child who is confident in environments where the outcome can’t be predicted is a child who will be able to navigate new spaces and bridge connections between complex ideas within multiple contexts to make meaning that is relevant to them.

Young boy playing with potatoes acting as conduits for electricity

Something as simple as an app can enable a child to go on a non-linear, exploratory journey of discovery. This New Culture of Learning includes, as The Agenda’s host Steve Paikin says, “very strange concepts like fun, passion, games.”

Panelist Douglas Thomas (author of A New Cultural of Learning) says that teachers shouldn’t be punished for making their classrooms easy and rewarded for making the work hard. When a child comments that their class is easy what he or she is really saying is that they are engaged.  Easy does not mean that the learning is not without challenge. Play + Challenge = Solutions.

Young boy and woman high fiving each other

Two local playmates and advocates of deep learning via the lightness of fun are Zahra Ebrahim (archiTEXT) and Mary Tangelder (Spire Works).

“ Zahra’s design class at Ontario College of Art and Deisgn (OCAD) carried their chairs three blocks to Toronto City Hall and initiated a game of musical chairs with passer-bys — an activity that inevitably led to dialogue about community and public space. With Canadian Federal ministry, she’s facilitated a workshop to illuminate the role of play within bureaucracy; back in Toronto, she’s engaged social entrepreneurs with alternative ways of brainstorming through play. Over in Kenya, Mary regularly leads play activities with post-graduate university students to explore how to design schools and learning spaces in refugee camps and communities affected by war, conflict, and natural disasters.” (cited www.huffingtonpost.com) 

Images of kids playing with toys made by the 3D printer in the backgroundChildren playing with interactive screenDescription of interactive exhibit

And in this new world, Canada’s educational system would benefit from taking cues from older traditions that are tried, tested and true. The Learning 2030 series also included a panel discussion –  “Looking to the Future of Aboriginal Education.” Among the many points raised, David Newhouse (Chair of Indigenous Studies at Trent University) touched on the fact that experiential learning is not some new trend but rather the way indigenous cultures have been passing on knowledge for generations –  long before the first Bible was printed in good ol’ Gutenberg.  (Listen to the Q & A podcast.)

The indigenous way sees the world as the classroom and peer-to-peer learning as foundational. This is not unlike the vision panelist Christine Webb (Director, Academic Programs at University of Waterloo Stratford Campus) has for describing the classroom of the future. She believes that the classroom will become decentralized through online technologies and more emphasis will be placed on the interaction between students learning through each other via chatrooms and blogs as well as creating e-portfolios together. In a virtual space the physical classroom is replaced by a digital “textbook” where students, mentors and educators can co-create and collaborate. It is just the kind of space that affirms play as a valid process for education.

And this style of learning leaves plenty of room for spontaneity and plenty of time for field trips to TIFF!

So treat the 21st Century kids in your life to the final weekend of digiPLAYSPACE. From iPods to potatoes, 3D printers and interactive green screens digiPLAYSPACE offers “an interactive adventure where they will laugh and learn with new media technologies, interactive art installations, learning-centric games, mobile apps, and new digital tools and hands-on production activities. There’s something for everyone!” (cited from www.tiff.net)

Young boy casting a ballot in a box to vote for his favourite exhibit at DigiPlaySpacePhotography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.