Here are the top ten films to watch if you’re in Kingston this weekend for the Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF)
1/ THE STAIRS – Call this film by Hugh Gibson the Moonlight of documentaries. This completely non-judgmental look at substance users in Toronto’s Regent Park area is filled with unexpected heart, soul and warmth. Sure, its tragic on some level – but you can’t walk away from this movie and not feel a bit changed by the experience. Gibson will be on hand for a Q&A with critic and programmer Jason Anderson. Read my interview with Hugh.
2/ WE CAN’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE – A documentary about the brutality and lack of foresight of residential schools that stole indigenous children from their homes in order to assimilate them into western culture. Award winning director Alanis Obomsawin (now in her 80s) continues to make huge strides as a filmmaker, and as an activist raising awareness to indigenous issues. I have the honour of introducing her film, and moderating a brief Q&A following the movie.
3/ OPERATION AVALANCHE – Director Matt Johnson, whose previous film THE DIRTIES just about knocked every critic off their feet, is back with a film filled with humour, suspense and even a car chase. This is a conspiracy theory film – the kind of conspiracy theory that when heard outside of a fictitious film would send me over the moon with frustration. But Johnson’s solid direction and constant wit makes for solid storytelling. This is Kubrick as a young man – but a Kubrick that can also act.
4/ LOCKPICKER – Randal Okita has directed one of the best short films ever to win an award at TIFF. Now he has transferred his talents to a longer format and the result is stunning. A young man on the edge of violence considers what kind of life lies ahead of him following the suicide of a close friend. Read Derek Jacobs review.
6/SEARCHERS (MALIGLUTIT) – Okay, so I haven’t seen it but damn – I want to. This is director Zacharias Kunuk’s (THE FAST RUNNER) take on John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS, probably one of the most celebrated but anti-indigenous film existing. The story is of an Inuit man tracking down the men who kidnapped his wife and daughter. I love a good western – especially the ones without cowboys.
7/ RIVER OF MY DREAMS – A biography of one of the greatest Canadian icons in film; Mr. Gordon Pinsent. Watching Pinsent playing any role is a treat – watching Gordon Pinsent as himself is pure joy.
8/BITTER HARVEST – A Ukrainian war movie, but yes…this is a Canadian film. Set in the time of Stalin’s rise, a young man attempts to save his lover from a Kremlin sanctioned program to starve Ukrainians.
9/SIR JOHN A & THE CURSE OF THE ANTI-QUENCHED – This film won the big prize at the first KCFF Awards ceremony for best short. This haunting comedic-tale that falls between LANDS END and SEAN OF THE DEAD was hilarious as a short and it ended with the audience wanting more. As Samuel Goldwyn once said – “give the audience what they want.” Can director Adam Kirkey keep the laughs and thrills going for a full feature? I have faith. Besides, the film takes place in Kingston – so what better place to premiere the film.
10/ I’m leaving this one blank for the rest of the films I haven’t mention. Fill this one in yourself. Let me know what KCFF film you’re looking forward to seeing (or have seen).