Press Release: Francophone Cinema of the World Comes to Ottawa

OTTAWA (February 28, 2013) РFilms from across the French-speaking world are coming to Ottawa at the 11th annual DiverCinĩ Рles ĩcrans de la Francophonie du monde film festival running from March 8th to March 17th.

Organized by the Embassy of France to Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage, in partnership with the Canadian Film Institute and the ByTowne Cinema, this year’s festival will feature eleven first-release films from Africa (Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal), Asia (Vietnam), Europe (Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Romania and Switzerland), the Middle East (Egypt and Qatar) and Canada.

Award-winning films from the past year are being screened for the first time in Ottawa, including: La Pirogue, a Senegalese entry, which competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Rebelle, a Canadian film that competed in the Best Foreign Language Film category at this year’s Oscars and L’enfant d’en haut, which received a special mention from the jury at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival.

A special Canadian Short Film Program, featuring a diverse body of French-Canadian works is also scheduled for Tuesday, March 12th at Club Saw. This special program is being offered free of charge. This year’s festival also includes English subtitles in the majority of the films while also catering to a young audience with family friendly screenings.

“Francophone cinema explores contemporary issues in French-speaking societies around the globe in thought provoking ways, says Canadian Film Institute Director Tom McSorley. “We’re excited to be bringing eleven of this year’s most captivating releases to Ottawa.

“The DiverCinƒ© festival offers us once more an opportunity to pay homage to the talent and the creativity of filmmakers in Canada and in the other countries of the Francophonie, says French Ambassador Philippe Zeller. For the 11th year in a row, Canadian Heritage and the Embassy of France have come together around DiverCinƒ© to celebrate the cultural diversity of all the French-speaking countries of the world through cinema.

With the help of its media partners, TV5 and Radio-Canada, DiverCinƒ© aims to express the identities, imaginings and cultures of the French-speaking world in all its diversity. Its programming gives prominence to films selected for major international festivals and gives Canadian audiences an opportunity to see first-rate movies created by filmmakers from a variety of the world’s French-speaking countries that are rarely screened in Canada.

For complete details visit www.divercine.com and visit our Facebook page for interactive content, trailers and updates at http://www.facebook.com/DiverCineFestival.


Download the Festival’s electronic press kit:
http://www.cfi-icf.ca/media/guides/divercine_2013_brochure.pdf

 

Chatting With American Filmmaker, Hal Hartley


Earlier this month, I was able to meet and interview American Independent filmmaker Hal Hartley. He was in town as part of a special retrospective celebrating his remarkable career.

A quick summary: Hal Hartley burst onto the film circuit in the late eighties and early nineties, with films that helped launch the careers of stars such as Edie Falco, Parker Posey, Martin Donovan, and Michael Imperioli. In mid 2000s, he moved to Berlin where he made some short films (one of which you can watch below) and now he’s back in the US. I was able to catch his latest work, the 2011 release, Meanwhile.

Hartley is a very “under the radar kind of guy. He makes movies, and that’s all there is to it. No need for any fanfare. He scores his own films, but uses the name Ned Rifle instead of his own.

He had some good answers during the Q&A session he had with audience members following the Meanwhile screening and in his short on-camera appearance when I interviewed him. Check it out!

Hal Hartley Berlin Short Film Accomplice.

Meanwhile Trailer

Check out Hal Hartley’s website at‚ http://www.possiblefilms.com/

Press Release – Bright Nights: The Baltic-Nordic Film Fest Celebrates Winter On The Big Screen

CANADIAN FILM INSTITUTE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA (February 6th, 2013) €œ The Canadian Film Institute (CFI), in collaboration with the Embassies of the Baltic and Nordic nations, is proud to present the 3rd annual Bright Nights: The Baltic-Nordic Film Festival running on select dates from February 8th through March 1st.

Featuring some of the world’s most exciting contemporary cinema, this year’s Festival features entries from eight Baltic and Nordic nations (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden), presented in their original languages with English subtitles. All films will be Ottawa premieres.

Each screening will take place at the Auditorium at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for members, seniors, and students. All tickets can be purchased on-site each night of the Festival starting on February 8th. A festival pass to all eight screenings is also available for $40. Visit www.cfi-icf.ca for complete listings.

Screening Schedule:

  • February 8th: Simon and the Oaks (Sweden), 7pm

  • February 15th: Soundbreaker (Finland), 7pm and INUK (Denmark), 9pm*

  • February 22nd: Mama Gƒ³gƒ³ (Iceland), 7pm and Mushrooming (Estonia), 9pm

  • February 28th: Monsieur Taurins (Latvia), 7pm and Low Lights (Lithuania), 9pm

  • March 1st: King Curling (Norway), 7pm.**

*On February 15th, the Danish director of INUK, Mike Magidson will be in attendance to introduce and discuss his film with the audience.

**On March 1st, Bright Nights is encouraging local curlers to attend the screening of King Curling by offering a $2 discount to those who come dressed in their curling team jackets or uniforms.

The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) was incorporated in 1935 as a federally-chartered, non-governmental, non-profit cultural organization. It is the oldest film institution in Canada and the second oldest film institute in the world. More information can be found online at www.cfi-icf.ca.

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Audio Workarounds For Your Videos: iPhones and Shotgun Microphones

audio4503354-3d-illustration-of-spectrogram-and-audio-equalizer

I shoot video using a Canon DSLR. The Rebel T3 to be precise. It’s a great camera to get started with when new to the DSLR game. I had a lot of experience shooting video with TV cameras and camcorders, but didn’t know much about photography and DSLRs so I got one knowing I’d need to learn as I go along.

Now that I’ve gotten comfortable with the lens and made a few mistakes along the way, I’m really happy that I’ve gone down the DSLR route for video. The flexibility you get from a simple lens really helps craft a nice shot. It’s also forced me to become a better photographer. I now know how to shoot some pretty nice nighttime photos.

Unlike more expensive Canon DSLRs, the T3 doesn’t have an audio input. I guess this is a drawback, but it’s forced me to become more creative in my video shooting. While my Canon does have an onboard microphone, it’s very limited and tinny sounding.

Depending on where I’m shooting and how mobile I want to be, I have two workarounds I use for Audio.

iPhone as a Microphone

The Microphone on the bottom of the iPhone is actually remarkably powerful. It picks up a lot and is pretty warm sounding when compared to what an on-board mic will give you. I’ll hold it with the bottom facing my interview subject, much like a normal microphone. I use the iTalk app, you can see your levels and name your clips when you save them. I’ll then synchronize the iPhone audio with the picture. This is especially useful when you need to be mobile, for example in a scrum setting. This is what I did for the Jose Canseco media scrum in Ottawa. I held my camera on a tripod with one hand and held my iPhone microphone with the other. You can see it here:


I’ve also used the iPhone in more controlled environments such as this one.

Shotgun Microphone

For shoots with a lot more background noise, I recently ordered a shotgun microphone from Amazon.ca. You can buy one and see all the specs by clicking here if you’re interested. It cost $40. For the price, you can’t be wrong. The kit includes:

  • Windsock
  • Two microphone stands
  • Stereo 0.25in (6.35mm) jack to mini 0.14in (3.5mm) jack adaptor
  • A lengthy cable: 26.05ft (8m) 0.25in (6.35mm) jack – XLR cable
  • A nice storage box (Black)
  • And, of course, the actual microphone (14.37in / 36.5cm long / metal body)

I’ll plug this microphone into a little Olympus voice recorder I have, which records the audio as an mp3 file. It also has a separate jack for me to plug in some headphones so that I can monitor the audio as it records, which is really useful.

Shotgun microphones are really useful in crowded, noisy areas such as bars and pubs. Check out this video from a recent shoot, where the difference is clear.

If I hadn’t had a shotgun mic, an interview from that location would have been unwatchable. I would have had to move to a quiet room in the back of the restaurant. Having a shotgun mic allowed me to clearly hear my interview subject, while still catching some of the ambiance in the background.

So there you have my two workarounds for audio. As anyone with even a bit of experience with video can tell you: viewers on the internet will forgive poor video quality, but if the audio on your video is terrible, it makes the video unwatchable. So make sure you pay attention to your audio situation when shooting.

Press Release: CFI Celebrates Acclaimed American Indie Filmmaker, Hal Hartley

OTTAWA (January 24, 2013) €œ The Canadian Film Institute (CFI), in collaboration with the Embassy of the United States of America, is pleased to present American Possibility: The Cinema of Hal Hartley, a special retrospective celebrating the career of one of America’s greatest independent filmmakers of the past quarter century. Hal Hartley will be in Ottawa for the first three nights of the retrospective, February 1-3, to introduce and discuss his films with Ottawa audiences.

Renowned for his witty, articulate, sharp, often satirical and always compassionate films, Hal Hartley’s films have been showcased at film festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Rotterdam, Melbourne and Sydney. His films have helped launch the careers of some of today’s biggest stars, including Edie Falco, Parker Posey, Martin Donovan, and Michael Imperioli.

“Hal Hartley is one of the most impressive and idiosyncratic contemporary American film artists, says CFI Executive Director, Tom McSorley. “The CFI is proud to be bringing this critically acclaimed, internationally renowned American independent filmmaker to Ottawa. In total, the CFI will devote six nights of screenings throughout February and early March to this special retrospective:

  • February 1st: Meanwhile (2012) 7:00pm and Trust (1991), 9:00pm *

  • February 2nd: Possible Films: Hal Hartley Short Film Programme, 3:00pm *

  • February 3rd: Amateur (1994), 7:00pm *

  • February 27th: Henry Fool (1997), 7pm

  • March 1st: The Girl From Monday (2005), 8:30pm

  • March 2nd: Fay Grim (2006), 7pm

*Hal Hartley will be in attendance on dates marked with an asterisk (February 1, 2, 3).

All screenings will take place at the Auditorium at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, except for the ËœHal Hartley Short Film Programme,’ which will be presented at Club SAW, 67 Nicholas Street. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for CFI members, seniors, and students and can be purchased on-site with the box office opening half an hour before the start of the film.

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Press Release: CFI Welcomes Acclaimed Canadian Director Peter Mettler to Ottawa

OTTAWA (January 22nd, 2013) €œ The Canadian Film Institute (CFI), is pleased to present The Enlightened Screen: Peter Mettler, the latest installment of an ongoing screening and guest artist series which profiles Canada’s leading independent filmmakers.

On January 31st, the CFI will celebrate the career of the acclaimed Canadian filmmaker, by screening his 2012 release, The End of Time. Tackling mankind’s perception of time, The End of Time takes viewers on a journey around the globe, with visits to the particle accelerator in Switzerland, lava flows in Hawaii, inner city Detroit and to a Hindu funeral rite. It has been selected as one of Canada’s Top Ten films of 2012.

Peter Mettler will be in attendance to introduce The End of Time and following the screening, he’ll participate in a discussion with CFI executive director Tom McSorley as well as a question and answer session with the audience.

“Mettler’s provocative films explore unique ideas and feature breathtaking images, says McSorley. “The Canadian Film Institute is honoured to have him in Ottawa, showcasing his most recent production. He is one of the most important and influential figures in contemporary Canadian cinema, having worked with Atom Egoyan, Robert Lepage, and others, in addition to his own remarkable films.

This special screening will take place at the Auditorium at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for CFI members, seniors, and students and can be purchased on-site with the box office opening half an hour before the start of the film. Showtime is 7:00pm.

The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) was incorporated in 1935 as a federally-chartered, non-governmental, non-profit cultural organization. It is the oldest film institution in Canada and the second oldest film institute in the world. More information can be found online at http://www.cfi-icf.ca.

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Press Release: CFI to Screen Boxing Documentary Directed by Oscar-Nominated Canadian

Press Release I authored for an upcoming event

CANADIAN FILM INSTITUTE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

‚ 

CFI to Screen Boxing Documentary Directed by Oscar-Nominated Canadian

‚ 

OTTAWA (January 16th, 2013) €œ The Canadian Film Institute (CFI), is pleased to present ‚ a special screening of The Boxing Girls of Kabul on Wednesday, January 30th, at 7:00PM.

Directed by independent Afghan-Canadian filmmaker, Ariel Nasr, this powerful documentary follows three young Afghan women, who risk everything in their pursuit to become world-class boxers, despite training without even the most basic facilities.

Led by their trainer, an ex-boxer who once dreamed of competing in the Olympics, the film follows his proteges as they travel to boxing competitions in Vietnam and Kazakhstan. The film also reveals the life-threatening risks these athletes and their families face by participating in a sport that many in their country believe is inappropriate for women.

A National Film Board production, The Boxing Girls of Kabul was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award while Nasr, the film’s director who makes his home in Montreal, was nominated for an Oscar in the Short Film – Live Action category for his work as a producer on the film Buzkashi Boys.

‚ Nasr will be in attendance to introduce The Boxing Girls of Kabul and, following the screening, will participate in a discussion with CFI executive director Tom McSorley, as well as a question and answer session with the audience.

This special screening will take place at the Auditorium at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for CFI members, seniors, and students and can be purchased on-site with the box office opening half an hour before the start of the film. Showtime is 7pm.

The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) was incorporated in 1935 as a federally-chartered, non-governmental, non-profit cultural organization. It is the oldest film institution in Canada and the second oldest film institute in the world. More information can be found online at http://www.cfi-icf.ca.

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Checking Out The Winterlude Press Launch

Winterlude Launch at Ottawa City Hall
Winterlude Launch at Ottawa City Hall

I made sure to bring my warmest hat to work when I headed out the door this morning, because I knew I’d be attending the media launch event for the 2013 edition of Winterlude at City Hall.

The organization where I work, The Canadian Film Institute, is one of 75 programming partners for this year’s winter festival. We’ll be chipping in by screening Bright Nights, our Baltic-Nordic film festival on select dates during Winterlude. Films from Lithuania, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Iceland, Estonia, and Norway are featured.

Seemed like there was a good turnout for the press launch, with all of the major media outlets on hand. Lots of festival partners were on hand and everyone seemed genuinely excited about being a part of Winterlude in their way.

Local mayors from both sides of the river Joseph De Silva (Gatineau) and Jim Watson (City of Ottawa) were on hand to give speeches. The crowd was then entertained by some Cirque de Solei style aerial dancers hanging off the front of city hall (See photo).

The event’s got me excited for Winterlude and the arrival of February, both professionally and personally. Professionally, partnering with Winterlude will give our Bright Nights festival a big boost in visibility. On a personal level, I love the energy around Confederation Park at Winterlude. It’s a much needed shot of energy in the cold days of February.

For more information, check out the Winterlude website or check out the Bright Nights Film Festival Facebook page. It’s pretty quiet now, but it’ll pick up in the new year.

Aerial Dancers
Aerial Dancers

Ottawa Sun Paywall Goes Up Today: Is This Really Going To Work?

Screen-shot-2012-12-04-at-12.25Across the country, newspapers are beginning to set up paywalls to access their online content. They’re all implementing this policy within a few months of each other. Talk about collusion! But that’s a whole other conspiracy.

I’m disappointed to see that Sun Media is implementing this policy starting today. Having moved to Ottawa a year ago, the Ottawa Sun has become my de facto site for local news and a good laugh.

Yes, I realize it’s not exactly a source for hard news and that their columnists often just troll to get a rise out of people, but locally, it’s got the best looking website by a mile. And no, I’m not talking about the Sunshine Girl. The Sun’s main competitor, the Ottawa Citizen’s website, reads like something from 2004.

I typed in “Sun Paywall on Twitter search today, and this blog post from Toronto came up. It’s definitely worth a read, if you’re trying to figure out where the paywall situation stands in this country.

Also interesting, was the comments left on this blog post:

or you can just erase your cookies once you hit your limit¦

and

or¦ select private browsing in your Firefox browser.

Is a work-around really that simple? I hope so. And if it is that simple, is this whole paywall thing really going to work?

As much as I enjoy the Ottawa Sun’s mix of local content and smutty fluff pieces, I don’t see myself paying for it. I can get my news from our public broadcaster, the CBC who do an admirable job covering this city and lead the way in National and International news. Our tax dollars pay for a good news service, no point in paying for it again from a private entity. And I can get my smutty fluff from places like TMZ and blogs.

I’ll leave you with this parting tweet, which I found to sums up the situation nicely.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

What are your thoughts on newspaper paywalls? Do you see them working? Are you planning on paying for your news?


Ottawa: Select City to Participate in Worldwide Launch Party of Sigur Rƒ³s: Valtari Film Experiment

Press release I wrote for an upcoming event featuring Icelandic rock band, Sigur Rƒ³s.

CANADIAN FILM INSTITUTE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

‚ Ottawa chosen as select city to participate in worldwide launch party of Sigur Rƒ³s: Valtari Film Experiment

‚ OTTAWA (November 29, 2012) €œ The Canadian Film Institute (CFI), is pleased to announce that Ottawa will be one of several select cities participating in the worldwide launch party of Sigur Rƒ³s’ latest release, The Valtari Film Experiment on Saturday, December 8th.

The internationally renowned music sensation’s latest album, Valtari, includes a visual element to go along with the Icelandic band’s signature sound. The group gave a dozen filmmakers a modest budget and asked them to create whatever came to mind as they listened to songs from the band’s new album.

This exclusive world premiere program will present the official videos along with added materials. Among the participating filmmakers are Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo, At Any Cost), Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach), and John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus).

Ottawa will be one of several select cities to participate in this worldwide launch on the weekend of December 7th-9th and local Sigur Rƒ³s fans will have a chance to win big. ¨¨At the Ottawa screening, to be held in the Auditorium at 395 Wellington street, fans will be given a unique URL where they can enter to win a deluxe Sigur Rƒ³s Valtari special gift package. One winner will be selected per continent.

Sigur Rƒ³s was formed in 1994 in Reykjavƒ­k, Iceland. The group’s music has been featured in Hollywood films such as Vanilla Sky (2001) and 127 Hours (2010). They also tour extensively, performing at renowned festivals around the world including, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Montreal’s Osheaga festival.

Following the event, the CFI will be throwing a party of its own, by hosting a reception in the foyer at 395 Wellington Street to celebrate the end of its 2012 programming.

‚ The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) was incorporated in 1935 as a federally-chartered, non-governmental, non-profit cultural organization. It is the oldest film institution in Canada and the second oldest film institute in the world. More information can be found online at http://www.cfi-icf.ca.

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