J-DAR, presented by the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, is a web app that analyzes the Jewishness of your favorite films.
Perhaps you're familiar with Amazing Grace, the biggest selling gospel album of all time and most certainly the biggest selling album of Aretha Franklin's career. What you may not know is that Sidney Pollack filmed a documentary during the recording of that album. It was never completed due to analog technical issues, but 43 years later, in our modern digital age, those have been overcome and it's about to hit the festival circuit. But hold on! Literally moments before it was due to make its world premiere at Telluride, Franklin got an unprecedented court injunction to stop the movie from being shown. And the film has also been pulled from Toronto's film festival. Franklin filed an amended lawsuit yesterday to prevent any screenings, specifically citing any seeking to find a distributor.
Planet Toronto - a timelapse video. After catching the attention of Toronto's tourist board through selfmade "video love letters to Toronto" uploaded to Vimeo, Ryan Emond was given a budget and access to more locations to create a longer version.
The sixth and final Scott Pilgrim graphic novel, subtitled 'Finest Hour' is being released tonight. There is a block party in Toronto to celebrate this fact. While waiting for your copy to arrive or the party to start, why don't you... [more inside]
Tracy Wright, a wonderful gem of the Toronto theatre and film scene, has died.
In a pilot project with Canada's National Film Board, Katerina Cizek is Filmmaker-in-Residence at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital (Flash site with videos). She directed The Interventionists: Chronicles of a Mental Health Crisis Team, a film about a unique crisis team in downtown Toronto. A mental health nurse and a police officer ride the streets of the inner city together in an unmarked police car, responding to 911 calls involving "emotionally disturbed persons." The team is a partnership between St. Michael's Hospital and two downtown police divisions. Their mandate is to de-escalate crises and avoid unnecessary arrests and emergency room visits by providing referrals, services and resources within a patient's own community. [more inside]
A major Toronto film studio gets the boot. In December, Cinespace Studios was given two months' notice to leave their facility in order to make way for a long-awaited waterfront revitalization project. Cinespace, where films such as Harold and Kumar, the Saw series and Chicago were shot, has put up an online petition to ask for more time to find a new location. The petition has received nearly 5000 signatures, many from film industry professionals including George A. Romero. The city insists that "Cinespace has been on notice for two years," but the studio disputes this claim. The controversy pits two of the city's priorities against one another - the health of the Canadian film industry versus "transforming the waterfront into beautiful, sustainable new communities, parks and public spaces.".
Zanta: The Movie. If you live or work in downtown Toronto, you've seen him. Shirtless, wearing a Santa hat, and most likely doing pushups, he's David "Zanta" Zancai, and one of the city's most enigmatic characters.
The Toronto International Film Festival begins Thursday. The 2004 program is one of the best they've had in years (certainly the best since the 90s). Planning on attending? If so, you may appreciate TIFF Reviews - "the online meeting place for fans of TIFF 2004". Since TIFF is the the largest film festival in the world, most attendees (myself included) find it very difficult to pick their films. Once the fest starts, members of the TIFF Reviews forum are encouraged to leave reviews of what they've been watching in the hopes that it'll help other people plan their 10 days in the dark.