Fantasia 2017: Oscar (Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre, Canada)



The short animated film, Oscar by Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre begins without beating around the bush. There is no flowery intro or slow lead-in. Oscar Peterson’s voice appears in the opening sequence with assurance and purpose, announcing, “I love what I do.”

There is nothing revolutionary here in terms of ‘plot’. Instead it feels more like a glimpse of the musician for audiences who may already know a bit about him. In just 12 minutes, however, we learn about loneliness on the road and the melancholy of having great news to share about last night’s performance, with family not physically present to hear about it. It is with regret that Peterson speaks Continue reading


Fantasia 2017: Skin for Skin (Beecher, Kurytnik, Canada)



With neither narration nor dialogue, Skin for Skin tells the tale of the fur trading industry. Described as “a tale of profit and loss”, the events take place during a brutal animal harvest in 1823.

Warning: cute animals are suddenly gutted across the screen. Although stylistically so, this might frighten young children and sadden animal lovers. It may be gruesome, but it portrays the reality of the fur trade, and certainly sets up the plot finale, where good vanquishes evil.

Though Carol Beecher and Kevin D. A. Kurytnik have created a very violent short film, it is also teeming with visual excellence. The close attention to details in Continue reading

Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (Canada – 2016)



Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (that’s the title) won Best Canadian Feature Award at TIFF in 2016. Directors Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie imagined a follow up to 2012 real life massive student protests in the Canadian province of Quebec by focusing on a radical group of four tempted by terrorist activities in the aftermath of their bitter experience. The three hours work has been described by some critics as ambitious and radical.

Note: The 2012 Quebec students protest was purely a workout exercise in basic democracy with added confrontations with the  police and issuing abuse. Some people in Quebec compared it to the real thing, the Middle East and Ukrainian (countries who have an epic mythology) deadly uprisings of the period, but let’s be honest, at times this comparison is a bit embarrassing.

An American director you probably heard of (he’s called Martin Scorsese) once said Continue reading

A Women Warriors Film Event


Some directors are as fascinating as their film. Zaynê Akyol and Gulîstan – Land of Roses, her film about a group of all female Warriors of the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) fighting ISIS, fall into that category. Both are impressive.

** (You can see our Fest screening short review of the film here:

The meeting with Zaynê Akyol was set right toward the end of a promotional tour for Gulîstan. The tour seemed more intimidating to her than all her trips into real life combat zone. Her press agent with the National Film Board of Canada, a gold medalist in efficiency, obviously briefed her about the media circus even going through her wardrobe (she had some TV promo prior to our meeting). And classy she was. But there is more than meets the eye. She is a class act.

We talked about her childhood in Turkey at the end of the 1980’s:  the crushing of her culture by the Turkish state Continue reading