Andrew Thomas Hunt – Sweet Karma (2009)


A mute Russian girl infiltrates Toronto’s underground sex trade to avenge the death of her sister.

Montreal Gazette wrote:
2009, Canada
Directed by Andrew Thomas Hunt
Written by Andrew Thomas Hunt, James Fler, Michael Paszt
Starring Shera Bechard, John Tokatlidis, Frank J. Zupancic, Christian Bako
82 minutes, English

The exploitation film formula is fairly simple: take a social issue or problem, and try to solve it with breasts and knives. Everything from race relations to drug addiction has been tackled in this fashion. And though the films don’t provide any real solutions, I’m now unable to debate drug policy without suggesting criminals should have their genitals mutilated by woman in stiletto heels. Thanks, 1970s genre cinema. Continue reading

Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette – Inch’Allah (2012)


Chloe is a young Canadian doctor who divides her time between Ramallah, where she works with the Red Crescent, and Jerusalem, where she lives next door to her friend Ava, a young Israeli soldier. Increasingly sensitive to the conflict, Chloe goes daily through the checkpoint between the two cities to get to the refugee camp where she monitors the pregnancies of young women.

As she becomes friends with Rand, one of her patients, Chloe learns more about life in the occupied territories and gets to spend some time with Rand’s family. Torn between the two sides of the conflict, Chloe tries as best she can to build bridges between her friends but suffers from remaining a perpetual foreigner to both sides. Continue reading

Louis Bélanger – Route 132 (2010)


Road movies haven’t been a staple of Québecois cinema. Yet recently, there were two examples and I watched them back to back. One is the very low-key Papa à la chasse aux lagopèdes, a superb odyssey of one man driving north to find himself. A very original movie where there is basically just one character in a monologue with the camera he just purchased. The same François Papineau of that movie would go on to play one of the two main characters in Route 132. He is not well-known, but seeing these two may convince you to look forward to his next project. As they are two here, rather than just one, Route 132 turns to the troublesome nature of male friendship, similar to what Paris, Texas did for brotherly love. Both of these Quebec road movies, as a negative review point out underneath, have very little in term of story to tell. It isn’t Lost Highway or anything like that, it just lack any sort of paradigm, it’s flawed and it flirt with caricature at times, but remain interesting throughout, as are most of Louis Bélanger movies and especially Gaz Bar Blues, it’s more about the characters than the story and the locations Continue reading

Jean Châteauvert – La coupure AKA Torn Apart (2006)


Two people are caught up in an all-consuming and forbidden love in this drama, the first feature from director Jean Chateuvert. Christine (Valerie Cantin) is married to Mario (Michael Kelly), a successful businessman, and is the mother of two children. However, Christine has a lover, a man she’s known long before she was married — her brother Christophe (Marc Marans). Both Christine and Christophe are aware of the dangers of their incestuous relationship, and have both attempted to stop it — Christophe even introduced Mario to his sister in hopes that they would hit it off and their affair would come to a end. But neither Christine nor Christophe have the strength to put an end to their relationship, and while Mario has recently earned a promotion at work that will necessitate moving to a new city (a job Christine urged him to get), she hasn’t had the courage to tell her brother the news. La Coupure (aka Torn Apart) received its world premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. Continue reading

Various – Cosmos (1996)


A film about the absurdities of everyday life, Cosmos is not so much six short films as it is one film with multiple storylines which interlace seamlessly. The styles, interests and rhythms of the six filmmakers blend together, producing a cohesive whole that is often comic, often tragic – and, at times, both. Cosmos, an immigrant Greek cab driver, leads us through storylines as intricate as big city traffic. Continue reading

Josephine Massarella – No.5 Reversal (1989)


No. 5 Reversal (1989, 16mm, sound, b/w, 8:00)
The film opens with a pair of lovers sharing their stories and hilarity in bed while Ruth Brown’s Teardrops From My Eyes pleads on the track, lamenting a lost love. This protracted domestic scene dissolves into a series of rapturous nature portraits. A voice-over speaks of ruinous slaughter during the war as the camera combs through the ruins. The artist appears in a brief cameo, carefully posed and lit in a studio, the camera covering half her face as if she had been delivered to the machines of seeing. She appears between shots of another abandoned house, another broken window that we are looking through so that the work of putting the world back together can begin again. Continue reading

Josephine Massarella – One Woman Waiting (1984)


One Woman Waiting (1984, 16mm, sound, colour, 9:00)
“One Woman Waiting” evokes questions of subjectivity in the mirrored performance of two women. The single take, tableau composition forms the structure for catalytic change between the characters. The sensuous desert environment accentuates the poetic and ephemeral quality of this film. “Massarella uses the fixed camera shot in her enigmatic film of a symbolic encounter between two women in a beautifully shot desert location. Its cryptic form is a good example of how an idea can be treated most effectively by simple means, for instance in the use of the frame as a point of entry and exit for characters and as a perspectival space which uses foreground and interior for dramatic and emotional ends.”
Michael O’Pray, Independent Means, Canadian Experimental Films at the London Filmmaker’s Co-op Continue reading