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Toronto International Film Festival

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    Women to Watch: Helga Stephenson

    Helga StephensonWhen I first began attending the Toronto Festival of Festivals as it was called in 1985, Helga was its executive director and she introduced me to her second in command, Piers Handling who has taken good care of us ever since. We still meet in Toronto and in December at the Havana Film Festival in Cuba. A few days after that infamous day September 11, she invited the stranded Americans to her home for comfort. For a while she disappeared into the corporate Viacom in Toronto, or would reappear wearing various different hats. Now she has been appointed interim CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, replacing S...

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    U.S. Distributors Are Popping Up Like Mushrooms: ATO (Art Takes Over)

    ATO (Art Takes Over) was launched last year at Cannes by musician Dave Matthews along with Johnathan Dorfman, Sarah Lash and Temple Fennell. Their plan to release 4 to 6 films annually seems to be coming to fruition. In Sundance 2011 they acquired film The Convincer, Casino Jack was acquired in Toronto 2010, and " title="Mao’s Last Dancer">Mao’s Last Dancer in Cannes 2010 which was released in August. Terri was picked up from its producers on its completion September 2010 and is being sold internationally by Coach 14. 20th Century Fox has home video rights. ATO releases its films theatrically through its partnership with Samuel Goldwyn ...

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    International Sales Agent of the Day: Coach 14

    Andrew MacLean's On the IcePape Boye and Jaume Domenech of Paris based Coach 14 picked up 2 films in Sundance: Terri which ATO had acquired for U.S. in Toronto, and just after Sundance, they picked up what won the Berlinale's Best First Picture Award, On The Ice, a beautifully told story taking place in the isolated, frozen town of Barrow, Alaska about two Iñupiaq teenagers ('Skimos' as they call themselves) who have grown up like brothers in a tight-knit community defined as much by ancient traditions as by hip-hop and snowmobiles and who are caught up in an accidental murder of a third friend while on a seal hunt. Panic stricken, terrifie...

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    International Sales Agent of the Day: Ondamax

    Ondamax is one of the busiest and most energetic of international sales agents and production companies. Founded in 2007, the company has made a name for itself as a specialized “cinema boutique”, working essentially with films from or about Latin Americans and U.S. Latinos. Based in Florida, founder Eric Mathis and his team are always seeking new ways to promote and distribute their collection of films. Their first 25 titles reached 550 selections and won 105 awards in festivals including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Venice and San Sebastian. During last AFM they announced several new initiatives which will be actively in place by the time Be...

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    Oscar® Watch: Even the Rain (From Spain): Revised January 19th: I'm Rooting For This Underdog

    See the trailer here. Today January 19, as the Shortlist for Best Foreign Language Submissions for Nomination is announced, I find myself rooting for Tambien la Lluvia for its brave subject matter and ambitious storytelling. But I must admit that the reason I am not rooting for for Denis Villeneuve’s “Incendies, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful", Susanne Bier’s Golden Globe winner “In a Better World, and Yorgos Lanthimos’s “Dogtooth,” is because I have not seen them! I've heard great things about them though. Nor have I seen Algeria's “Hors la Loi” (“Outside the Law”), Rachid Bouchareb, director; Japan's “Confessions,” Tetsuya Nakas...

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    International Sales Agent of Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries): UTV

    Dhobi Ghat means "washing area" which explains so much more of this beautiful film than "Mumbai Diaries". The washing area epitomizes the man who washes and delivers laundry to a reclusive artist and also to a rich young American Indian photographer who meets and spends a night with the artist. The Mumbai Diaries epitomize a woman whose video diary is discovered by the artist when he moves into his new apartment, an artifact she left behind, and the photographs of Shai, whose father owns buildings in the neighborhood where the story of these four people takes place. This is a very special, unusually "western" story, not like the usual comm...

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    When are Films Political?: Women Without Men

    Women Without Men premiered in Venice in 2009, went on to Toronto and Sundance, was picked up by distributors around the world, including Indiepix for U.S. and still remains one of my all time favorites. It is so unknown here that any chance for a public to see it is special. It is the first film of Shirin Neshat ♀, a well know Iranian visual artist. Co-directed by Neshat's partner Shoja Arari, Women Without Men (2009, 99') is a political thriller and as such the film is highly relevant in our times—particularly in view of the June 2009 elections in Iran, and with the U.S. continually embroiled in neighboring Muslim countries such as Iraq a...

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    Oscar Watch: Austria's La Pivellina by Tizza Cavi and Rainer Frimmel

    La Pivellina is almost the sort of film which could win at least one of the five nominations for the Academy Award Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It's about a child and a family living in the exotic though poor circumstances of circus performers. A beautifully authentic and touching film, it is clearly a favorite of festivals where it premiered in Cannes' Directors Fortnight in 2009 and thoroughly covered the festival circuit including Karlovy Vary, Toronto Vancouver, Palm Springs, Berlin, New Directors and has won the requisite awards. Represented internationally by Films Distribution, and by First Run in U.S., it has sold widely t...

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