Blog

28June

Q&A with Elan Mastai, screenwriter, The F Word


The road to getting a film made is never easy, but if you've got a great script, then you've got a jump start. Or so you'd think.

Elan Mastai's much buzzed about script forThe F Word has traveled in many circles, getting picked up by indie producers, and even Fox Searchlight along the way. Nothing quite stuck, until the right people got involved.

When the "right" people include director Michael Dowse, and actor Daniel Radcliffe, projects tend to go places.

The romantic comedy, which also stars Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, and Megan Park, is set to open in August in both Canada and the U.S. (titled What If stateside).


First Weekend Club caught up with the busy scribe, recently named one of Variety's 10 Screenwriters to Watch:

How did you come to write the F Word? What was the inspiration?

I'd been screenwriting professionally for several years and had a few movies made, but I felt like I hadn't really written anything that had my distinct voice, point of view, and sense of humour. I'd mostly been doing work-for-hire gigs for various producers and directors. So the inspiration was to take what I'd learned working for other people and write something more personal, even if it never got made.

The project went through a long process in terms of finding a studio home, and casting... Did you always feel like, yes, it will eventually get made? What kept you going?

Actually, the project found homes quite quickly, it was getting it made that took some time. It started with Sheep Noir Films as a low-budget Canadian indie. But then the script caught heat in the US, landing on the annual Black List of Hollywood’s best screenplays and got acquired by Fox Searchlight. Where it came agonizingly close to being made as a studio movie but fell apart for various reasons. Which turned out to be very good for the movie because then director Michael Dowse and the producers from No Tracing Camping got involved and we put it together as an international co-production — and actually made it.

Which is all to say, I was fortunate that there was never a lack of people who wanted to make the movie over the years. It just took a while to cross the finish line. The other thing is, as a working screenwriter, the script for THE F WORD became my main writing sample. So while I was trying to get it made, it was also helping me get hired on other projects.

Why was Michael Dowse the right person to direct, did you know right away?

I was a big fan of Michael's films before we ever met to discuss THE F WORD. I knew with him at the helm the movie would be as hilarious as I wrote it to be, but that he'd also pull rich character work and genuine emotion from our cast, which he definitely did. I'll admit that in light of his movies like FUBAR and GOON, I didn't expect Michael to want to make a romantic comedy, but that's also why THE F WORD turned out to be much more than just another throw-away rom-com.

How do you feel about writing a so-called “Rom-Com”?

I love the genre. When done well, romantic comedies are funny and moving and speak to a universal longing for genuine connection that we all share. When done poorly, well, they can be painful. And I think that comes down to the simple fact that basically everyone is an expert in this stuff. Love, romance, flirtation, heartbreak, infatuation, bittersweet longing, everyone has real, honest life experience in these things. Unlike almost every other movie genre, everyone is an expert in romantic comedy. So that means everyone intuitively knows when it's phony.

What do you find often doesn’t work in “Rom-Coms”?

Being phony. Having characters act in ways no real human being ever would just to make some plot contrivance work. Like a character concocting a ridiculous and borderline sociopathic scheme to trick a person they supposedly love into doing something they don't and shouldn't want to do. All the crap. I believe most of us are more than capable of making a colossal mess of our love-lives while still behaving like normal people. Because at some point in our lives, all of us do. The more real a romantic comedy, the funnier and more moving it is.

Any favourites in the genre?

THE APARTMENT. HIS GIRL FRIDAY. ANNIE HALL. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL. SAY ANYTHING. KNOCKED UP. And the trilogy of BEFORE SUNRISE, BEFORE SUNSET, and BEFORE MIDNIGHT.

How much of what you write tends to be autobiographical? How much of yourself do you put in writing something like The F-Word, which is a more personal seeming story?

I write a lot of autobiography but then I mischievously cloak it in fiction. Everything I write comes from personal questions, some issue or conflict I'm trying to work through in my own life. Writing the movie is my way of working out my personal dilemmas through the vivid conflicts of drama.

What was it like to see it with the great cast? Did the actors fit the roles how you thought they would?

Our cast isn't just great, it's AMAZING. It was a thrill, every day, to be on set watching my words come to life with such a killer ensemble. I tend to write with no particular actor in mind because I don't want my preconceptions of some specific actor to limit where the character might need to go on the page. So, sure, I wasn't imagining Daniel Radcliffe as the lead because at most points in the development process it would've been insane to imagine a movie star of his stature playing the part. But once we cast him and he so effortlessly embodied the role, it became impossible to imagine anyone else. And that's the same for the rest of our cast, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Megan Park, Rafe Spall, everyone.

Did anything surprise you (in terms of what the cast brought to the roles)?

Of course. All the time. Because they're all fantastic actors bringing the scenes to life. As opposed to, you know, black ink on a white page.

As a writer, what was your involvement in the production process?

I was on set every day. I was fortunate to work with a director like Michael Dowse, who has a very strong vision and is commanding leader on set but is also a genuine collaborator. So, I was at the monitors for the whole shoot, giving my input when necessary, talking through whatever challenges we faced on set that day. When we improvised, I was part of that process, contributing ideas and riffing with Michael and the actors. Michael's an immensely talented director, so I knew my script was in good hands. But I couldn't have asked for a more inclusive role in actually making the movie, not just in production but also in post-production and leading up to the release.

You’ve worked in LA as a writer, as well as Canada... What are some of the major differences in how the industry operates in these different geographical areas?

Well, on the one hand, you're still just writing movies. Three acts, 100 or so pages, courier font. On the other hand, they're basically the opposite in nearly every way. When I'm writing a movie for one of the Hollywood studios, there are vast financial resources but they come with rigid commercial necessities. And that's not a criticism. If you want someone to spend a hundred million dollars on some funny little idea you came up with, they'd better make their money back. In Canada, the resources are much more limited but that lack of money buys you creative freedom. Which I think sometimes our filmmakers don't always appreciate, because not having experienced working in the studio system and what that entails, they can't help but focus on all the resources we don't have here.

In LA, they're also a lot hungrier for new voices. Nobody wants to be the person who missed out on the hot next thing. My career in the US took off because people I don't know, all these nameless execs working for dozens, even hundreds of different companies, passed my script around and talked me up without ever having met me. That's kind of crazy when you think about it. That's a lot less likely to happen in Canada. On the other hand, there's a real sense of community in Canadian filmmaking, because it's tough and you have to be scrappy and everyone needs help. I think Canada is a way more supportive environment in terms of how filmmakers relate to one another.

Let’s talk a bit about your writing process... 

Where do you write?
In my home office.

Is there music playing the background? If so, what kind?
I think of a movie like an album, and the various sequences are like individual songs. So I’ll often make a playlist of songs that “feel” like the sequence should. And then I’ll listen to that same song over and over and over again while I’m writing the sequence. By the end of it, I’m pretty sick of the song, but everything I loved about it is hopefully now in the sequence.

How many hours a day?
I write 10-5 every weekday with an hour for lunch. I treat it like a job, not a hobby, because it is my job.

How disciplined are you?
Very. Nobody owes me a screenwriting career. I have to earn it one word at a time.

Do you wait for inspiration or deadlines?
There's a W. Somerset Maugham quote I like: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

I’m a big believer in just sitting down at my desk and writing through the suck. I’d rather get something crappy written than nothing at all, because I can rewrite something crappy, but I can’t rewrite a scene that doesn’t exist.

How many rewrites do you usually go through?
A lot. It depends on the project. Rule of thumb, I write three drafts for every draft I show anyone.

Do you read your script out-loud as your characters?
Yes. I also like to do regular live table-reads with a cast of actors to help fine-tune the script.

How do you make sure that a screenplay has your own “voice”?  
You think to yourself — what’s the version of this that nobody else could write? And then you do your best to write that version. And you never stop challenging yourself, even on the umpteenth rewrite, to make it better, more unique and specific and true. It seems like the easiest thing in the world, write it your way. But it's hard. And it's normal for it to take a while to close that mental gap between what it sounds like in your head and what's coming out on the page. You just have to keep writing until you close that gap.

What makes you different than any other writer?
My DNA. Literally and figuratively. I am different, physically, biologically, genetically. But also in terms of my influences, my history, my experiences, my cultural background, my taste, my point of view. All of that goes in the mix. I try to write to specificity, because every universal experience is also hyper-specific. Your personality makes you different than everyone else. Your writing should feel like that too. It should be you.

What’s next for you? What are you working on?
I sold a TV series to the FX network in the US, so I’m writing the pilot. And I’m adapting an episode of the Peabody-winning radio show “This American Life” into a movie.


(Photo credit - Caitlin Cronenberg)

Posted in Blog

02June

Q&A with Liane Balaban on 'The Great Seduction'



(photo credit: Entertainment One Films-Max Films-Marlène Gélineau Payette)


In Don McKellar's The Grand Seduction actress Liane Balaban has to work hard to resist the charms of a certain young doctor, played by Taylor Kitsch.

First Weekend Club caught up with the busy actress for a quick Q&A about her latest film:

Have you seen Seducing Dr. Lewis? Why do you think that story needed to be told another way? (And this time in English)
It was a great film with universal themes that resonate perhaps even more strongly 10 years later: chronic long-term unemployment, loss of rural ways of life, and how communities need to band together in times of strife.

What seduced you most about the project?
Everything! I was already a fan of the original. Working with Don Mckellar was a career dream, and also the stellar cast: Taylor kitsch, Brendan Gleason, Gordon Pinsent, Mark lcritch, Mary Walsh who played my mother in my first film, New Waterford Girl.

What did you enjoy most about shooting in Newfoundland?

The breathtaking landscapes of Trinity bite & the warmth of the Newfoundlanders.

Don McKellar directed this film, but he’s also very well known to audiences as an actor. How is it different working with a director who comes with this deep understanding of acting, not just filmmaking?

It's the best! I think actor directors are more intuitive and understanding of the best approach for each actor. He also understands how naked and vulnerable we all feel - how a confident actor with a sense of freedom and play is a better actor.

Did anything surprise you about the response to the movie from audiences so far?

I'm just happy they are loving it as much as I do! (And also the fact that it's still laugh out loud funny to those who have seen the French version and know what to expect next).

What’s next for you? Any exciting projects, film or otherwise?

I'll be appearing on Rookie Blue in a few weeks and just got back from Paris shooting a secret project!

Posted in Blog

27May

Win a Pass to The Grand Seduction

This Friday, The Grand Seduction opens across the country. This charmer from the Rock stars Taylor Kitsch as a new doctor in small town Newfoundland. The film also stars Canadian icon Gordon Pinsent, as well as Brendan Gleeson and Liane Balaban.

Based on the French film Seducing Dr. Lewis, this Canadian remake is directed by Don McKellar and written by Ken Scott (Starbuck) and Michael Dowse (Goon) -- a Canadian comedy heavyweight team. A hit at TIFF where it premiered, the film was also well received at the Atlantic Film Festival and the Calgary International Film Festival. 

How can a film set in a place called Tickle Cove not warm your heart?  


Win a pass to the film by entering our CAPTION THIS campaign on our Facebook Page and add your wittiest caption to the still from the film.  

Join the game on our Facebook Page here and see you at the cinema! 

Posted in Blog

24May

Xavier Dolan Awarded Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival

Canadian director Xavier Dolan was awarded the Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Mommy, a French-language drama about a mother looking after a teenage son with ADHD, shot in 1:1 aspect ratio (a square). It is the remarkable 25-year-old filmmaker's fifth full-length feature. He is the first Canadian to win the coveted award since 1989.

Dolan made an emotional speech thanking his family and the jury president, Jane Campion, whose film The Piano was one of the first he saw: "She made me want to write roles for women, beautiful women with souls and will."

The jury also included directors Sofia Coppola and Nicolas Winding Refn, as well as actors Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal.

He shares the award with legendary filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard for his film Goodbye to Language.

David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars was also recognized by the jury on Saturday with the best actress award going to Julianne Moore.

The Palme D'Or was awarded to Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Turkish epic, Winter Sleep.

Posted in Blog

14May

Alan Thicke to Receive Canadian Award of Distinction at this year's BANFF Festival

Alan Thicke

Canadian actor Alan Thicke will be this year's recipient of the Canadian Award of Distinction at the Banff World Media Festival, which takes place at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel from June 8-11th.
 
The award is handed out each year to a Canadian whose body of work illustrates outstanding achievement and is presented in partnership with Entertainment One (eOne). Past recipients include Will Arnett, Howie Mandel, Eric McCormack, and Martin Short. 

Thicke will be presented with the award at the annual Rockie Awards Gala.
 
Thicke is a seven-time Emmy® nominee, most famous for his role on Growing Pains. He also composed and performed the themes for Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes, and is the father of musician Robin Thicke.
 
“I’m truly honored to have been chosen for this year’s Canadian Award of Distinction at BANFF. Both as an actor and a proud Canadian, I am humbled to be joining such a prestigious and talented group of individuals,” said Thicke.
 

Posted in Blog

29April

Canada goes to Cannes!

Getting into the prestigious Cannes Film Festival is no small feat, but three Canadian filmmakers accomplished just that-- with a record three Canadian films in competition for the Palme d’Or. (In contrast, Americans only have two films in competition!)

The three filmmakers are familiar names. The films competing include David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, Atom Egoyan’s The Captive, and Xavier Dolan’s Mommy.  

We, at First Weekend Club, already know and love Canadian cinema, but being part of Cannes means that our talented filmmakers will get to stand in the international spotlight. It also means that Canada is being recognized as a major cinematic powerhouse -- all good reasons to celebrate.

There are three more films screening at Cannes, just not in competition for the Palme d'Or. 
Tu dors Nicole, a dark comedy by Stéphane Lafleur is part of Director's Fortnight, as well as two other short films from Quebec.

Although not technically a Canadian film, Ryan Gosling, who is Ontario-born, will make his directorial debut with Lost River in the Un Certain Regard sidebar program.

The 67th annual Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera takes place May 15-25.

Will you be keeping an eye on Cannes this year? Leave us a comment!

Posted in Blog

02April

Win a Run-of-Engagement Pass for Cas & Dylan

First Weekend Club has 10 double passes to giveaway to Vancouver members and 10 double passes for Toronto members to see Cas & Dylan (valid starting Monday April 7th)

Winners will be notified by Friday April 4th and contacted by email.
Must be 19 years of age or older.

Here's How to Enter

Option A: Via Email

Step 1) If you are a registered FirstWeekendClub.ca member (you get our newsletters and e-mails regularly) simply send your first and last name, and email address to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. The subject line of your email must say: "Cas & Dylan contest - Vancouver" or "Cas & Dylan contest - Toronto" If chosen you will be contacted at the email address you provide.

Not a firstweekendclub.ca member? Click on the link and sign-up to become a member. It's free, and you'll receive our monthly newsletter, and email alerts when a great Canadian Film is coming to your city!

Link:   http://www.firstweekendclub.ca/site12/join


Step 2) When you receive your membership confirmation email, simply forward it to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  , if you are a chosen winner, you will be contacted at the email address you forwarded it from.

 
Option B: Social Sharing Please

Like us on Facebook.com/FirstWeekendClub and share the link to this contest, tag @1stWeekendClub #CasDylanMovie

Or Tweet the link to this blog-contest and mention both @1stWeekendClub and @CasDylanMovie

Winners will be notified by Friday evening, April 4th.
Once again, please note the passes are only valid after the opening weekend.

About Cas & Dylan:
When 61-year-old self-proclaimed loner and terminally ill, Dr. Cas Pepper, reluctantly agrees to give 22-year-old social misfit, Dylan Morgan, a very short lift home, the last thing he anticipates is that he will strike her angry boyfriend with his car, find himself on the lam, and ultimately drive across the country with an aspiring young writer determined to help him overcome his own bizarre case of suicide note writer’s block. But as fate would have it, that is exactly what happens. Suddenly Cas’s solo one-way trip out West isn’t so solo. With Dylan at his side, the two take off on an adventure that will open their eyes to some of life’s lessons – both big and small.

Watch Trailer


 

Posted in Blog

25February

Vancouver Win A Pair Of Tickets To Crazy 8s Film Gala Screening and Afterparty March 1st

First Weekend Club wants to help you  WIN 2 TICKETS to attend Vancouver's Favorite Film Event of the Year, #Crazy8sFilms14 Gala Screening and Afterparty March 1st

Details below, 
Winners will be notified by the evening of Thursday, February 28th!  
Prize = 2 Tickets to Crazy 8s Gala Screening and Afterparty.
Must be 19 years of age or older, with Valid ID.


Here's How to Enter

Option A: Via Email

Step 1) If you are a registered FirstWeekendClub.ca member (you get our newsletters and e-mails regularly) simply send your first and last name, and email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  if chosen you will be contacted at the email address you provide.

Not a firstweekendclub.ca member? Click on the link and sign-up to become a member. It's free, and you'll receive our monthly newsletter, and email alerts when a great Canadian Film is coming to your city!

Link:   http://www.firstweekendclub.ca/site12/join


Step 2) When you receive your membership confirmation email, simply forward it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  , if you are a chosen winner, you will be contacted at the email address you forwarded it from.

 
Option B: Social Sharing Please

Like us on Facebook.com/FirstWeekendClub and share the link to this contest, tag @1stWeekendClub #Crazy8sFilms14 in your post :) 

Or Tweet the link to this blog-contest and mention us both @1stWeekendClub @Crazy8sFilm #Crazy8sFilms14

Winners will be notified by Thursday evening, February 27th.



About Crazy 8's Film 2014


"Crazy8s is truly the single best way in BC to launch your career."
-Zach Lipovsky, Crazy8s alumni, whose film “Crazy Late” helped him secure a spot on the  Steven Spielberg show "On The Lot", where he placed in the top 5.

 
Now 15 years strong, Crazy8s is an 8 day filmmaking challenge that provides funding and support to emerging filmmakers to help them produce a short film. Crazy8s is run by the Crazy8s Film Society, a not-for-profit society.  It was created to foster support for emerging filmmakers who have little or no access to funding for short films.  
Since 1999, Crazy8s has given opportunities to 79 filmmakers and their teams of producers, writers, cinematographers, art directors, editors, composers, and cast, to produce fully funded, professional short films, and present them to an audience of film professionals in Vancouver (as well as non-professionals), and around the globe.  It has become the place to discover new talent, provide valuable on set training, and give opportunities for filmmakers to create work that can be used to launch their careers in the film industry.
Including crew and performers, Crazy8s has provided working opportunities for over 1,650 people in the last 14 years.
 
 
In addition to supporting directors, Crazy8s has provided opportunities for producers, writers, performers, cinematographers, editors, and a host of other crew members who gain valuable experience and build working relationships that often continue for many years to come.
 
Over the past 14 years, approximately 10,000 people have attended Crazy8s screenings, and the films have appeared in over 250 international films festivals with many being broadcast on national television.


HOW CRAZY8S WORKS

Aspiring filmmakers are invited to present their short film idea in a 5-minute video. Every year over one hundred teams apply.
-40 semi-finalists are chosen to pitch in person to a jury of industry professionals, 12 finalists workshop their script with a professional story editor, and 6 winners receive $1,000 and a production package provided by sponsors in the local production community with everything they need to make their short film in just 8 days. Finished films are screened at the gala event March 1st to the who's who of the Vancouver film industry.

2014 CRAZY 8s' SCREENING GALA, AFTERPARTY & TICKET DETAILS
The 2014 Crazy8s filmmakers certainly seem to like a challenge. Ignoring most, if not all, of the low-budget rules of thumb (no animals, no children, no special effects, no period pieces, etc.) The teams this year find themselves in the midst of some pretty interesting scenarios, such as:

• Director Matthew Kowalchuk and the team from Bed Bugs: A Musical Love Story are working with master puppeteer Mauri Bernstein to craft multi-limbed bed bug puppets with distinct personalities (and accessories!) who will sing and dance their way down Commercial Street.

• Director Maéva Thibeault and producer Jon Warne from Body Language have been spending an awful lot of time in local funeral homes lately. They’ll be working with Dallas Harvey from Vancouver Makeup Effects to make their young actress look suitably corpse-like.

• Director Greg Crompton and the team from Dial Y For Yesterday are facing the not-small challenge of how to get a very real dog (Ruckus, from Canine Co-stars) to not only talk but also do some other top-secret, very un-doglike things. 

• Director Tony Mirza and the sexy intergalactic Goddesses of Earthlickers are breaking all the no-budget rules by creating an entire other world for their film. Think Ed Wood Jr. meets Barbarella, and don’t spare the sequins.

• Director Michelle Kee and the team from Mattress are dealing with the expected complications of trying to stage a mini-riot (complete with Molotov cocktails, flying garbage and an RCMP officer on horseback) in a Strathcona alleyway. 

• Director Ryan Atimoyoo and his team from Sacrifice are, in the words of co-producer Lindy Parker-Vega, “…figuring out how to burn a house down without actually lighting any of our locations on fire.”

Definitely a compelling group of films this year!

For being part of Crazy8s, each team receives $1,000 and a production support package that includes an HD camera, sound recording equipment, a lighting and grip package, production insurance, location permits, on-line editing, a professional sound mix, plus much more. Huge thanks to our wonderful sponsors and supporters for making it all possible.

The finished films will premiere at a Gala Screening at The Centre (777 Homer St) on Saturday, March 1st at 7:00 pm, to be followed by an Afterparty at Science World. After sashaying down the red carpet, guests at the Afterparty will dance to DJ Static of WEFUNK Radio, bop to roving performers The Myrtle Family Band, and be tantalized by the True Heroines live cabaret act. All that, plus food, drink and the chance to interact with the fabulous exhibits at Science World! 

Tickets are $30 advance and $35 at the door. More info and tickets 
on our website at www.crazy8s.cc 
or at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/580495

Posted in Blog

31December

First Weekend Club Supporting Canadian Talent at 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival January 3-13, 2014

First Weekend Club is pleased to support Canadian Talent at the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival January 3-13, 2014


Hello and Happy Holidays Canadian Film Fans!
  
We're so excited to announce that the next two weeks are very exciting for Canadian Film and Talent indeed!

With the prestigious festival shining a special light on Canadian Film this year, First Weekend Club will be alongside Telefilm Canada and the Canadian filmmakers & talent at the star-studded festival, as our screening series producer / host Alexandra Staseson (@MoveThrough) will be on the ground, from the desert, bringing you live coverage, tweets, blogs, photos and more for @1stWeekendClub and FirstWeekendClub.ca. Look for her on-camera and written interviews with the Canadian Filmmakers attending!

Below we've included the special messages from Telefilm Canada about the festival, and of course we've made sure to share the film line up and a bird's eye view of important events and awards during the festival which will feature Canadian Cinema. 

Follow us on Twitter @1stWeekendClub & @MoveThrough and Like us on Facebook .com/FirstWeekendClub to stay up to the minute with this, and other great Canadian Film news and screenings!

Most of all, 

Happy New Year from the FirstWeekendClub.ca team!



Spotlight On Canada at Palm Springs International Film Festival

Telefilm Canada was happy to announce "The new year will open in high style for Canadian cinema as the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) has selected Canada as country of honour for the Festival’s 25th anniversary edition. With a dazzling Canadian presence at the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival with a  spotlight on filmmakers Louise Archambault, Shawney Cohen, Craig Goodwill, Bruce LaBruce, Don McKellar, Richie Mehta, Sébastien Pilote and Wiebke von Carolsfeld."

Telefilm Canada goes on to say,  "This focus on Canada marks the dazzling renewal of the Telefilm Canada-PSIFF partnership launched in 2013, one that promises to be very fruitful for Canada’s film industry. Canadian filmmakers Louise Archambault (Gabrielle), Shawney Cohen (The Manor), Craig Goodwill (Patch Town), Bruce LaBruce (Gerontophilia), Don McKellar (The Grand Seduction), Richie Mehta (Siddharth), Sébastien Pilote (Le Démantèlement) and Wiebke von Carolsfeld (Stay) will be in the spotlight in Palm Springs. 

 The Palm Springs International Film Festival runs from January 3 to 13, 2014. Each year, the Festival pays tribute to a country or region that has made a mark on the international scene. The Festival’s Focus on Canada event will celebrate Canadian cinema on Sunday, January 5, and screenings of Canadian films will also be held throughout the Festival’s run. 

In addition to Canadian producers, Canadian actors such as Marc-André Grondin (Vic+Flo Saw a Bear), Cara Gee (a 2013 TIFF Rising Star) and Shay Eyre (Empire of Dirt), as well as Zoie Palmer and Julian Richings (Patch Town), will be in Palm Springs to help promote their movies.


The Palm Springs International Film Festival is one of the marquee events of the film-festival season in the United States. It draws a high number of attendees every year and generates significant buzz owing to the fact that its line-up includes several Golden Globe and Oscar contenders. The Festival presents more than 100 films from 60 countries, and its more than 135,000 participants include a significant contingent of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voting members.

“I am delighted that the Palm Springs International Film Festival is paying such a wonderful tribute to Canadian talent during its 25th anniversary edition, which will be celebrated in dazzling style,” said Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada. “Our partnership with the PSIFF allows us to showcase an outstanding Canadian program of films that includes Louise Archambault’s Gabrielle, which represented Canada in the race for the 2014 best foreign-language film Oscar. The Festival generates significant promotional spinoffs, which will have a positive effect—in terms of audience-building and business opportunities—on the Canadian films being screened.”

PSIFF Artistic Director Helen du Toit, added: “Canada's extraordinary success on the international stage this year—as evidenced by the plethora of awards and sales activity—has inspired us to shine a Spotlight on Canadian Cinema at the Palm Springs Film Festival this year. With Enemy and Prisoners (two films in one year!) starring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Denis Villeneuve is now considered one of the hottest filmmakers in Hollywood. As a lead up to the Oscar race, we will be honouring Matthew McConaughey at our Black Tie Awards Gala this year for his performance in Jean-Marc Vallée’s celebrated new film Dallas Buyers Club. Talent nurtured in Canada is launching at prestigious international festivals and finding distribution around the globe. Out of the 13 films we selected, over half already have U.S. distribution, marking an increased interest from previous years. In the end the evidence is clear: the stars have aligned for Canadian cinema. We applaud you!”


Canadian line-up at the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival

    •    Another House (L’Autre maison), Mathieu Roy
    •    The Auction (Le Démantèlement), Sébastien Pilote
    •    Empire of Dirt, Peter Stebbings
    •    Enemy, Denis Villeneuve
    •    Gabrielle, Louise Archambault
    •    Gerontophilia, Bruce LaBruce
    •    The Grand Seduction, Don McKellar
    •    The Manor, Shawney Cohen
    •    Patch Town, Craig Goodwill
    •    Sarah Prefers to Run (Sarah préfère la course),             
         Chloé Robichaud
    •    Siddharth, Richie Mehta
    •    Stay, Wiebke von Carolsfeld
    •    Vic+Flo Saw a Bear (Vic+Flo ont vu un ours), Denis Côté


Focus on Canada, January 5, 2014 
On the occasion of the Festival’s Focus on Canada day on January 5, Telefilm has organized several events, including:

    •    A day of Canadian film screenings, including a gala presentation of Louise Archambault’s Gabrielle;

    •    An event featuring Canadian talent attending the Festival; and
    •    An awareness-raising event for the Talent Fund, a private donation fund established by Telefilm to stimulate investment in the production and promotion of Canadian films. Canadian philanthropists Carol and Paul Hill have generously agreed to host this event, which will bring together Canadian and international business people and creative talents.

Palm Springs Speaks French! January 6, 2014 


The Festival, in conjunction with the consulates general of Belgium, France and Switzerland, the Quebec Government Office in Los Angeles, Swiss Films, Telefilm Canada and TV5 Monde, will be holding an event to celebrate French-language cinema.

Close ties between Canada and the Palm Springs International Film Festival 
It’s worth noting that, in addition to the strong Canadian contingent at the Palm Springs International Film Festival each year, Festival Director Darryl Macdonald is himself a Canadian. In 2012, Macdonald received the inaugural Friend of International Cinema Award from the online magazineCinema Without Borders. 

The award recognized his support for the promotion of international film in the United States. The Festival’s Artistic Director, Helen Du Toit, is also a Canadian producer active on the international scene.

The talent with the 13 Canadian films appearing at the Festival will take part through the support of Telefilm, SODEC and the Quebec Government Office in Los Angeles.

For more information on the Canadian selection at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, visithttp://www2.telefilm.ca/email/focus-fest-2013/.

About Telefilm Canada
Telefilm is dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry. Through its various funding and promotion programs, Telefilm supports dynamic companies and creative talent here at home and around the world. Telefilm also administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund. Visitwww.telefilm.ca and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/telefilm_canada and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/telefilmcanada.

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Posted in Blog

02December

UBCP ACTRA Awards Gala Honours B.C. Talent

The 2nd edition of the UBCP/ACTRA Awards Gala on November 24 at the Vancouver Playhouse, confirmed what we all already knew: Canadians are damn funny - and talented, too. 

The show's MC for the night, actress Ellie Harvie, led the hilarity, alongside her randomly chosen carrousel of unsuspecting co-hosts, and an on-going creatively-executed gag where those actors who happened to be MIA on the big night would "call in" via Skype, with an assortment of excuses for missing the big night and some clever punchlines.  Not surprisingly, the event was produced by Jay Ono of Vancouver Theatre Sports.

Over 680 industry professionals including UBCP members, industry partners, press and politicians attended.

The evening started with a special presentation inducting Garry Chalk into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Proving that it's never a good idea to be nominated in the same category as her, the UBCP/ACTRA Award for Best Actress went to Gabrielle Rose for her role in Bruce Sweeney's Crimes of Mike Recket, whileJohn Pyper-Ferguson won for Best Actor ("Motive").  

“Let’s do more," said Rose while wrapping her hands around her trophy, "Let’s write more Canadian stories.”

Although he noted that he has been acting since he was a kid, Tyler Johnston was acknowledged with a Best Newcomer win.

Unlike the Golden Globes, the UBCP/ACTRA Awards honour voice artists for their contribution to cinema and television. This year, Nicole Oliver was crowned for Best Voice ("Littlest Pet Shop"), to huge applause. Meanwhile, the award for Best Stunt went to Colby Chartrand.

Two special awards were also handed out: The John Juliani Award of Excellence was presented to Ben Ratner and the Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction Award was presented to Carmen Moore
Before the evening came to a close, there were a few musical interludes in store. The first being a performance of "Down River" from Ratner's film, with singer-songwriter Kevin House taking the stage.

Garry Chalk surprised the audience with an impressive Blues performance of "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." 

As the lights dimmed in the auditorium, guests made their way to nibbles, drinks, and festive chatter at the after-party.

Posted in Blog