The Art of the Steal

The Art of the Steal plays like a thrilling whodunit as it seeks to solve what happened to the world-renowned Barnes art collection, valued in the “billions and billions.” The collection’s unrivalled holdings of post-impressionist and early modernist art are staggering in quantity: 181 paintings by Renoir, 69 by Cézanne, 59 by Matisse and 46 by Picasso, including many masterpieces. Dr. Albert Barnes was a self-made man with a well-trained eye who assembled the art in the twenties. He snubbed the provincial elites in his hometown of Philadelphia by housing the collection in the suburb of Merion, Pennsylvania. Rather than grouping canvases by artist or era as in a typical gallery, he displayed work in an idiosyncratic way to express his own aesthetic vision. Barnes was more concerned with educating serious students in his vision than reaching casual tourists, so he restricted attendance and refused to loan paintings to other institutions. His individualism earned him antagonists (notably Walter Annenberg, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer) but also many loyal supporters. Upon Barnes’s death in 1951, his will gave control of the collection to the trustees of Lincoln University, the first black university in the United States. Eventually, lawyers and business people swarmed to exploit its resources. In the nineties, a sampling of the collection travelled the world on a multi-city tour (including Toronto). Then a scheme was hatched to permanently remove the collection from Merion that some would later call the heist of the century. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]

Last Days Here

Documentary follows Bobby Liebling, lead singer of seminal hard rock/heavy metal band Pentagram, as he battles decades of hard drug addiction and personal demons to try and get his life back.

The Atomic States of America

Based on Kelly McMasters’s memoir about growing up in a nuclear-reactor community, this stirring film illustrates the dire health consequences for many residents in Shirley, her Long Island hometown. Yet despite the known risks of utilizing nuclear power, our country’s rapidly increasing energy needs are fueling a nuclear renaissance.

Slow Learners

High school guidance counselor Jeff, and his platonic friend and co-worker Anne are responsible, well intentioned, kind… and boring. They frustratingly watch on as their peers find love and companionship, while they continue to fail in spectacular fashion when it comes to romance. As they reach their loneliness breaking point they make a pact to forgo their familiar, vanilla personas in exchange for their unexplored, confident alter egos. They wave goodbye to Jeff’s awkward all-male book club and Anne’s flailing attempts to catch the eye of Jeff’s sexy neighbor Max, and say hello to raucous summer nights filled with booze, dancing, and sex. Naturally things don’t exactly go according to plan. [Synopsis courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival]