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Three ACTRA Toronto Committees Host Studio District Film Party

In celebration of TIFF 2015, three ACTRA Toronto committees and HangLoose Media hosted an invitation-only Studio District Film Party. Held at HangLoose Media Studios at 28 Logan Ave. in the heart of Toronto’s studio district, guests and press enjoyed stunning film projections while aerialists performed 20 feet above the crowd. Entertainment included a live orchestra plus a DJ spinning in an elevated booth later in the evening.

The VIP red carpet kicked off with the cast and creative team of Fire Song. A dynamic group of diverse, female and young performing artists celebrated their achievements in film and television, including award-winning actors, directors, writers and producers – an exclusive crowd with an inclusive vibe.

Amid the celebratory atmosphere, the party aimed to draw attention to the under-representation and misrepresentation of female, young emerging and diverse performers in the media. Living this reality, a growing collective of creators are fighting back, creating their own work.

“Under-heard voices are increasingly writing and producing their own stories,” say event organizers Sarena Parmar and Jackie English. “It is an important step in the development of roles for diverse, young and female actors.”

“It’s so exciting to witness the passion and stories coming out of these vibrant ACTRA Toronto committees,” said ACTRA Toronto President David Sparrow.

Netflix takes ‘Beasts of No Nation’ to TIFF in effort to shake up film industry

One of Netflix’s hottest new titles has its Canadian premiere on Sunday — but won’t be streaming in your home.

After tearing down how we watch television shows — and helping make binge watching the new channel surfing — Netflix is now aiming squarely at the world of film. In October, the video streaming service will premiere the feature film “Beasts of No Nation” on the same online platform where it delivers its hit TV shows “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”

And just like those two Emmy-winning series, Netflix hopes its first major film release will also rack up a few gold statues. Anticipation for “Beasts of No Nation” has been simmering ever since Netflix acquired the movie earlier this year. The film will hit the big screen at the Toronto International Film festival on Sunday and has two other public screenings.

Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who helped bring HBO’s “True Detective” to TV screens last year, the film stars Idris Elba as an African warlord who takes a young orphan under his wing and trains him to fight in a guerilla war.

Elba is already considered a possible contender for a best actor Oscar nomination, while the film could land nominations in other categories too. Netflix has previously been in Oscar races — in the lower-profile documentary feature category — with “The Square” and “Virunga.”

At this year’s Toronto film festival, Netflix and its U.S. streaming competitors are expected to poke around for acquisitions to bolster their slates of content, alongside the usual roster of Hollywood distributors chasing movies with commercial potential.

Among some of the hotter Canadian films up for grabs this year are “Closet Monster,” the debut feature from Toronto-based filmmaker Stephen Dunn, Ellen Page’s drama “Into the Forest,” and fugitive thriller “River,” from Timmins, Ont.-native Jamie Dagg.

Heightened competition for festival movies is a boon for filmmakers, said Aaron Gilbert, a managing director at Bron Studios, based in Burnaby, B.C.

His production house paired with Netflix for the Ricky Gervais comedy “Special Correspondents,” which shot in Toronto over the summer. The film is scheduled to arrive on the streaming service next year.

“There are a lot more avenues for independent films than in the past, which is great,” he said.

“For years, there was that fearful time when the DVD market evaporated.”

Netflix is just one of the many players who have swooped in to capitalize on the downturn of physical media.
In recent years, cable companies have expanded their selections of video-on-demand content, while Apple’s iTunes and Google’s Play store offer a wide array of digital downloads and rentals, which are sometimes available simultaneously with the theatrical release.

The shift has put movie exhibitors like Cineplex Entertainment in a tough spot, since most of their revenue hangs on people leaving their homes to watch the latest movies.

Cineplex says it won’t screen “Beasts of No Nation” in its theatres, nor will it show other upcoming Netflix films, which include the Imax release of a sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

However, the movie chain is still looking for ways to keep pace with changing viewer habits.

Next month it will pair with Hollywood movie studio Paramount to experiment with a shorter window between theatrical and home release of two low-budget horror films.

“The lines are becoming so blurred now because of the myriad of ways that content is being delivered on various platforms,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office firm Rentrak.
“It’s new rules that everyone is playing by.”

Source: CTV

Johnny Depp charms TIFF press event as he talks of playing Boston gangster

Johnny Depp was in jovial spirits at a TIFF press conference for his new movie Black Mass on Monday, but he emphasised the “tremendous responsibility” of playing a real person, not fictional, larger-than-life characters of the kind he has taken on before.

Before the media event began, Depp was captivating photographers with his charisma, provoking roars of laughter matching the flurry of camera clicks on his arrival.

The reaction continued from the first question at the press conference, where he joked about “gagging” for box office approval.

“It’s been the thrust of my interest since day one when I was about 19. It’s all I care about . . . 20 years of failures will do that to you,” Depp said, laughing.

Asked about playing a real character, notorious criminal James “Whitey” Bulger, not fictitious ones, he continued: “You mean that the Mad Hatter never existed? Or Willy Wonka? You going to tell me there’s no Santa Claus? What about the Easter bunny, seriously?

“With a fictional character, you can stretch it out to all sorts of strange places, which I’ve taken a lot of heat for,” he said with a smile.

The director, Scott Cooper, spoke about the transformation he saw in Depp on set from a “very soulful, kind and gentle” man to a “cold, cunning, chilling . . . some say ‘diabolical’ character.”

At the media event, the actor turned from fun-loving to pensive, especially to discuss the “tremendous responsibility” of playing a living man. There was a responsibility, he said, to history, truth and to that person, “no matter who they are . . . good or bad.”

Depp’s character, Bulger, is a renowned Boston Irish mobster turned FBI informant (according to the FBI), who successfully evaded capture for 16 years while on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.

The role required Depp to master the intricacies of a South Boston accent, and director Cooper to struggle with finding “his” facts about Bulger while avoiding the “fools errand” of trying to make a film in the same crime and gangster genre as his movie-making heroes, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

“The truth proved very elusive,” Cooper said. “I’m not making a documentary. People don’t come to narratives for facts; they come for psychological truth, deep emotion and humanity.”

Depp paid tribute to Cooper, a “magnificent filmmaker.

“It’s amazing to step into the ring with someone like Scott; it’s a whole new ball game,” he said.
“I was joking about Scott reviving my career . . . but he’s revived my career,” Depp added, to more laughter from the crowd.

The praise was reciprocal. Cooper told a story about Bulger’s lawyer who apparently commented upon arriving on set: ‘Scott, that man is Bulger. I thought a ghost had returned, the way he moves, the way he talks, his accent, the way he holds himself. He’s channelling exactly who that man was.”

The conference also included actors Julianne Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, David Harbour, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson and Peter Sarsgaard.

Edgerton raised a laugh when he spoke about the difficulty of trying to research his character, John Connolly.

“He’s alive and with us, albeit in federal prison and a little hard to reach,” he said, before adding: “I guess there’s one way to get in there.”

Black Mass premieres Monday at 9 p.m. at the Elgin and Winter Garden theatres.

Source: Toronto Star

Play Days at Vistek feature new Sony, DJI and Atomos gear

What a way to wind down summer. Two overlapping events recently held at Vistek Toronto were a total and complete buzz.

“Like the CNE midway” was one way to describe the excitement.

“Like kids in a candy store” was another way to put it. And when you consider what toys were there, probably the most accurate!

The stars of the show? Only the most exciting tools available to filmmakers today on display and showcased in a way never shown before: DJI Phantom quadcopters, Sony alpha cameras including the a7RII and A7S, plus Ronin and Ronin M stabilizers from DJI.

It’s safe to say that both events were by far the most excitement ever generated in a Vistek parking lot.

The DJI New Pilot Training

New pilots were taught the mechanics to capably and safely pilot a DJI Phantom. Then outside, under the watchful eye of a DJI instructor, candidates got a chance to get behind the controls and pilot a Phantom.
Special Highlight! Along with the Phantom 3, the DJI S900 hexacopter – designed for the more demanding filmmaker who requires a bigger payload – also made the scene.

Sony a7RII Experience

Seeing the a7RII in action was reason enough to attend. The live model and motorcycle prop made shooting really exciting. And there were more toys to play with. Way more! Including a wide range of E-mount lenses from Sony and Zeiss, and 3rd party accessories including the Atomos 4K Ninja Assassin, well as the revolutionary Ronin and Ronin M stabilizers from DJI. Lots of stuff to try out. Plenty of Sony people to answer questions. All in all, a fantastic experience

A Buying Opportunity. Attendees at the event enjoyed the golden opportunity to purchase equipment, including the show-stopping DJI Phantom 3, S900 8-rotor copter, Ronin rigs, Sony alpha cameras, as well as Zeiss lenses and Atomos gear.

Quebec filmmakers have a home at Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has become the go-to event for Quebec directors to launch new work, offering unparalleled visibility, as well as access to distributors and media from around the world.

The preponderance of Quebec filmmakers at TIFF (which runs from Thursday to Sept. 20) has risen alongside the skyrocketing prominence of Quebec directors in the film world. And while this year’s crop of Quebec-related productions heading to TIFF is smaller than usual (seven features, as opposed to the dozen or so that graced the festival in both 2013 and 2014), there will be no lack of fireworks.

Highlights range from the latest high-profile American releases by Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallée to a political satire by Philippe Falardeau, mature Bond girl Monica Bellucci in a drama by Guy Édoin, and the debut documentary from Geneviève Dulude-De Celles.

Here’s a closer look at this year’s Quebec contingent at TIFF.

Demolition, by Jean-Marc Vallée

Vallée’s latest film has the honour of opening this year’s festival with a gala presentation. The director follows his Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club (best actor, best supporting actor) and Reese Witherspoon-carried soul-searcher Wild with another emotionally fraught portrait of a character in crisis.

Last year, he and Falardeau (with The Good Lie) both had Witherspoon star-powering their films. This time, Vallée borrows Villeneuve’s go-to guy, Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays a distressed investment banker reeling from the death of his wife. The man finds a kindred spirit in a complete stranger (played by Naomi Watts) via an unlikely correspondence.

Vallée has established himself as an actor’s director, able to extract maximum emotional impact from his charges. Expect no less from Gyllenhaal, who is always up for a little psychological turbulence, and from the versatile Watts, who recently showed her lighter side in Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young and last year’s Oscar-winner Birdman.

Sicario, by Denis Villeneuve

Though he had been nominated for an Oscar (best foreign-language film, for Incendies) and broken into Hollywood (with his 2013 thriller Prisoners), Villeneuve received an overdue acknowledgment of his artistry when Sicario premièred in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

It’s quite a feat for a police drama set in the world of North American drug cartels. Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent and Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro are government operatives plotting the takedown of a Mexican drug lord.

Cinematography is again handled by Coen brothers ringer Roger Deakins (who shot Prisoners). Mark this as another notch in Villeneuve’s belt as he cements his reputation as a master of murky, haunting cinema that sits squarely between auteur and mainstream fare — and as another reason he has been selected to helm the highly anticipated Blade Runner sequel, starring Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, again with Deakins behind the camera.

Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre (My Internship in Canada), by Philippe Falardeau

After dipping into the U.S. for last year’s Sudanese refugee drama The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon, Falardeau returns to Quebec with this French-language political satire, which premièred at the Locarno Film Festival.

It stars Patrick Huard (Starbuck) as an independent member of Parliament in northern Quebec who ends up with the deciding vote to determine whether Canada will go to war in the Middle East.

“It’s certainly less of a sure shot, internationally, than Monsieur Lazhar, which had a universal theme,” said Kim McCraw, who co-produced the film with her micro_scope partner Luc Déry. (The two are also handling André Turpin’s Endorphine.) “We were nervous (in Locarno), presenting the film to over 5,000 people, hoping they would understand the humour and the politics.

“People reacted super well. It was great to hear them laugh at all the right places, and where we didn’t expect. It reassured us that the film is a success.”

Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre has been sold in Switzerland, France and Germany, McCraw noted, emphasizing TIFF’s importance in expanding a movie’s reach.

“Everyone is there,” she said. “We’ll try to have the trade magazines see our film and provide the first reviews; and it’s where international distributors seal their deals. Toronto is where it happens.”

Source: Montreal Gazette

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