Guide to Final Day of Calgary International Film Festival 2011

Sunday, 2 October, 2011

Sun, Oct 2nd

12:00pm Becoming Santa (Eau Claire) Watch my video interview with ”Becoming Santa”‘s Santa/producer Jack Sanderson & director/producer Jeff Myers

2:30pm, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

4:30pm Almanya – Welcome to Germany (Eau Claire)

7:00pm The Salt of Life (Eau Claire)


Made in Dagenham – CIFF Review

Monday, 11 October, 2010

Made in Dagenham, starring the award winning actors Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins, is one of the film I watched and enjoyed at 2010 Calgary International Film Festival.

Here is an excerpt of the polit at Wikipedia.

“The film is a dramatisation of the 1968 Ford sewing machinists strike at the Ford Dagenham assembly plant, where female workers walked out in protest against sexual discrimination and the desire for equal pay. The walkout was instrumental in the Equal Pay Act 1970.”

It was fun for me to see what lead to the the Equal Pay Act 1970, and I think you will have fun watching the film as well. I especially love one scene between the characters played by the beautiful Rosamund Pike and Sally HawkinsRosamund, playing a Cambridge/Oxford educated smart woman who was reduced to a “supportive wife” role by her husband and partly by herself, encouraged Sally to keep up the fight as Sally was doing what Rosamund dreamt of doing but never had a chance of doing much after her university education.

Here is a film trailer.

One Big Hapa Family review & Jeff Chiba Stearns CIFF Film Talk

Monday, 11 October, 2010

One Big Hapa Family posterOne Big Hapa Family - Jeff & Grandpa

I interviewed Jeff Chiba Stearns in advance of the world premiere screening his first feature-length documentary One Big Hapa Family at the 2010 Calgary International Film Festival.

In Jeff’s live action and animated documentary One Big Hapa Family, he insightfully and in a fun way explores “why almost 100% of all Japanese-Canadians are marrying interracially, the highest out of any other ethnicity in Canada, and how their mixed children perceive their unique multiracial identities.” Jeff explored the subject with insightful interviews and observations.

One Big Hapa Family - Koga Reunion 2009

Jeff has also blended animation nicely into his documentary so the film can also reach the younger audiences and students easier. If you have a chance, I highly recommend you check out the film. Look out for the film as it will be coming to your local OMNI TV channel in 2011.

The following animated frames are examples of Jeff skillfully using animation to tell the story in a more fun and informative manner. Sushi may now be loved by many North Americans, but the first frame illustrates the younger Jeff having the unfortunate experience of his home-made sushi being unloved and rejected by his fellow classmates. The worst thing was even his teacher didn’t even break the ice by trying one piece!

One Big Hapa Family - Sushi

One Big Hapa Family - Ben

One Big Hapa Family - Chalk Hapas

Here is a movie trailer,

Here is a clip of Jeff talking about One Big Hapa Family at a post screening film chat.

Photo of Jeff at world premiere of One Big Hapa Family.

Jeff Chiba Stearns, One Big Hapa Family, 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film FestivalJeff Chiba Stearns, One Big Hapa Family, 2010 CIFF Calgary International Film Festival

Jeff giving a film talk and Q&A at Calgary Japanese Community Association.

Calgary Japanese Community AssociationJeff Chiba Stearns, "One Big Hapa Family" film talk at Calgary Japanese Community Association

2010 CIFF Picks: Me, Too (Yo, Tambien)

Saturday, 2 October, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Me, Too (Yo, Tambien) (CIFF screening info: Globe, Saturday, Oct 2, 2:45pm) (film website).

This is a drama/romantic comedy with a twist. Here is the CIFF film synopsis (with emphasis added),

ME, TOO is the story of Daniel (Pablo Pineda), the first European with Down syndrome to graduate university. Raised in a highly academic home environment, the 34-year-old Daniel is constantly caught between two worlds, without quite fitting in on either side. He is more intellectual than the average person with Down syndrome, but not “normal” enough to fit in with much of “normal” society. Because of his loneliness, his relationships are the most important part of his life. When Daniel starts a new job, he soon forms a close friendship with one of his co-workers, Laura (Lola Dueñas). The friendship advances quickly into something more all consuming, and soon Daniel falls in love.

The intimate journey of Daniel, Laura and their friends and family captures the intense emotions each of them experiences. ME, TOO is a fascinating and emotional first feature film written and directed by the team of Álvaro Pastor and Antonio Naharro.”

“Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn” documentary review & film talk

Tuesday, 28 September, 2010

"Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn" documentary review

Good documentary is a great way to get to know someone. In the 2010 Calgary International Film Festival, the wonderfully made Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn introduced me to Michi Weglyn.

Here is an excerpt from Huffington Post’s detailed and insightful review of the film,

In Out of Infamy, Sharon and Nancy, using archival film footage and stills, tell the story of the camps by focusing on one particular detainee, Michi Nishiura Weglyn, who spent an impressionable part of her youth during World War II in the Gila River War Relocation Center near Phoenix, Arizona. Her story is especially interesting because she later became a successful fashion designer, probably best known for doing the costumes for The Perry Como Show on network TV during the 1960s. Several years after leaving the Como show, Weglyn took a bold turn in life and did extensive research on the concentration camps and wrote a definitive history called Years of Infamy that exposed this shameful stain on America’s recent past. The book’s road to publication was fraught with resistance from American publishers who didn’t want to touch the story. Weglyn should be known as a hero to all Americans for her tireless struggle to reveal such an unpopular truth.

Watching Michi in Out of Infamy reminded me of Audrey Hepburn as I think both ladies shared the same sense of grace and beauty and both did wonderful work for the greater good. If you have a chance, go watch Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn.

Here is Sharon Yamato, co-director of Out of Infamy, giving a film talk and doing Q&A in Calgary. Also check out the film synopsis and trailer.

Sharon Yamato, "Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn" and Jeff Chiba Stearns, "One Big Hapa Family" film talk at Calgary Japanese Community Association

2010 CIFF Picks: Sweetgrass

Sunday, 26 September, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Sweetgrass (CIFF screening info: Globe, Sunday, Sept 26, 4:45pm) (film website).

I am going to sit back and enjoy the beauty of this documentary film, a film that the husband and wife filmmaking team spent 10 years in making.

Here is the film’s synopsis from CIFF (emphasis added),

An unsentimental elegy to the American West, SWEETGRASS follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s Absaroka Beartooth Mountains for summer pasture. This astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed. The colourful characters and beautiful mountain scenery will at once feel familiar to Albertans who are acquainted with “Big Sky Country” and the lives of “real” cowboys—individuals who are distinctly a breed apart from the ones usually seen on the big screen at a multiplex. The husband and wife team of Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor spent 10 years filming the 150-mile trek into the mountains; of the nine films composed from hundreds of hours of footage shot, SWEETGRASS is the only one intended for theatrical exhibition.

Here is the film’s trailer.

2010 CIFF Picks: Leave Them Laughing

Sunday, 26 September, 2010

Here is a new addition to my 2010 Calgary International Film Festival Picks: Leave Them Laughing (CIFF screening info: Eau Claire, Sunday, Sept 26, 12:30pm) (film website). Here is the film’s synopsis from CIFF (emphasis added),

“When comedians get huge laughs from an audience, it’s referred to as having “killed it;” when a comedian tanks, they “die” on stage. When Canadian comedian Carla Zilbersmith is diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease), she kills it while dying. Academy Award-winning Canadian filmmaker John Zaritsky (JUST ANOTHER MISSING KID) aims his lens directly into the abyss of death again, as he did in THE SUICIDE TOURIST, only this time it isn’t about the right to die—it’s about dying right. Films from her final tours abroad are intercut with interviews, confessionals and skits that form a portrait of a brave woman prepared to drink deep from the cup of life, savour every moment and, when the curtain falls, leave them laughing.”

Here is the film’s trailer. Warning: Coarse Language & Mature Subject Matter

*** Spoiler alert. *** Please skip the following if you want to watch the film without knowing how things turn out.

As part of the research I’ve done, I went to check out Carla’s blog and I was sad to find that she has passed on. Her final blog video is a funny must see and her her son Mac’s eulogy is loving and very touching.

A good documentary will touch us and sometimes change how we see the world and live our lives. I look forward to watching this film even though I expect the audio quality of the film might not be the best at places.

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