a New Way to See TV

The Outside View

Stay up-to-date on the latest
Halfire Entertainment news.

  • Sep 08 2017 Variety

    Netflix Releases Trailer for Margaret Atwood Adaptation ‘Alias Grace’ (Watch)

    Netflix has released a trailer for its upcoming miniseries “Alias Grace,” the latest television adaptation from Margaret Atwood.

    The six-part limited series — based off the novel of the same name by Atwood and inspired by true events — tells the story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), a young, poor Irish immigrant and domestic servant in upper Canada.

    The 2-minute-and-30-second trailer introduces Marks, who explains she has been an inmate for 15 years. She, along with stable hand James McDermott (Kerr Logan), has been accused of the infamous 1843 double murder of her employer Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin).

    “If there has been a crime, people want a guilty person,” she says. “Rightly or wrongly, it does not matter.”

    Marks, who was convicted as a young girl, claims she lost part of her memory entirely. From there, the teaser flashes between the past and present to piece together her memories. At one point, two men question whether she is an amnesiac or “simply guilty.”

    The miniseries, also starring Zachary Levi and Edward Holcroft, was written and produced by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron.

    “Alias Grace” streams on Netflix on Nov. 3.

    Link to article


  • Sep 06 2017

    The wonder women behind Alias Grace’s TV adaptation

    How an intergenerational team of Canadian women brought the beloved novel to the screen

    ALIAS GRACE created by Sarah Polley, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, directed by Mary Harron, with Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Anna Paquin and Paul Gross. Canada/U.S. 90 minutes. Episodes 1 and 2 premiere September 14, 8:30 pm, Winter Garden. (The six-part series begins airing September 25 on CBC TV.)

    I meet Sarah Gadon at the Drake Hotel. The first thing I ask the Alias Grace star after we pick a table and order some snacks: “Have you Googled Grace Marks?”

    She shoots me an amused “Well, duh” look. Of course she’s Googled the 19th-century Irish-Canadian maid convicted of murder, sparking fierce debate regarding her innocence and pardoned after being incarcerated for nearly three decades.

    Google was the basic first step in Gadon’s extensive research on her Alias Grace character, which included reading and re-reading the Margaret Atwood novel that the miniseries is based on; learning how to perform tasks like cooking, cleaning and sewing in the exacting ways a 19th-century housemaid would have performed them; and practicing a Northern Irish accent to the point that it gave her migraines because the “tight-jawed” dialect worked muscles in ways most of us never have to.

    Gadon spent many sleepless nights preparing for the role, and would sometimes have to go for a run just to sweat off the anxiety.

    But what I meant was: Has she Googled Grace Marks recently?

    Gadon whips out her phone and there at the top of the search is the Wikipedia entry for Marks, with an accompanying picture. But the image is not a likeness of a 19th-century Irish maid. Instead, it’s a glamour shot of Gadon with flowing platinum-blond curls.

    As far as the Interweb is concerned, Gadon is now the face of Grace Marks, the historical figure consumed by the actor interpreting her in the 21st century. According to Gadon, Grace consumed her, too.

    “This role has kind of taken over my life,” says Gadon, who wrapped post-production on the series just a month before our mid-July meeting.

    That adds up to about a year spent with the character, and she’s not quite through with Grace yet.

    Two episodes of the show are about to premiere at TIFF before airing on CBC September 25 and then dropping on Netflix in November. Now Gadon gets to talk about what is easily the biggest, most complex role she’s ever tackled on a female-powered production arriving at a time when the Canadian screen industry is scrambling for more representation.

    Neither by design, nor by accident, the people who have brought Alias Grace to the screen are all women – an intergenerational all-star team of Canada’s most beloved artists. That begins with the novel by Atwood, which was adapted by Sarah Polley, who sought out Noreen Halpern to executive produce and American Psycho’s Mary Harron to direct.

    This is our answer to the Marvel universe.

    “We are The Avengers of Canadian streaming television,” Gadon muses.

    And then there are the executives who green-lit the project: Sally Catto at CBC and Elizabeth Bradley at Netflix. They connected with the material and committed to bring Polley’s vision to the screen. That vision has been a long time coming.

    Bringing Grace to screen

    Polley first sought the rights to Alias Grace soon after the novel was published in 1996. But, “quite wisely,” as she puts it, Atwood’s agents weren’t about to hand over the project to a 17-year-old actor who hadn’t produced, written or directed anything.

    I’m sitting with the former Road To Avonlea star on a Leslieville patio as she recollects how the novel clung to her after that initial disappointment, its ideas about how memory and truth can be slippery and variable etching their way into her films Away From Her and Stories We Tell.

    She followed the rights and was even interviewed to write and direct a feature film version when they landed at Working Title. There was a commitment and a promise that a contract was coming, but she was left hanging when the budget never came through.

    In 2009, Polley checked on the rights and no one seemed to have noticed that they’d recently lapsed. So she swooped in and asked Atwood’s team to hold on to them while she finished Take This Waltz and Stories We Tell, and then went through her first and second pregnancies.

    “It was well worth waiting for,” says Atwood, speaking over the phone on the way home from the photo shoot you see on the cover. “She was absolutely dedicated to it. She was very definite about the fact that she really wanted to make it the best way possible. She said at the outset that if she couldn’t get the budget to make it the right way, she wouldn’t do it.”

    “Doing it right” meant paying close attention to period details. Atwood describes the research team’s extraordinary effort to get accurate clothing, lamps, furniture, shoes and wallpaper that reflected the era. They even went as far as making actual preserves to be placed in the cellar, which was sealed with wet pigskin, an approach accurate to the times.

    Of course, Atwood did extensive research into Grace Marks before writing the novel, but hers was a very different process.

    “I could say ‘Doctor Jordan [a fictional character] got on the train.’ [The show’s research team] had to know what kind of train he got on to and what it looked like inside.”

    A big sticking point when it came to accuracy involved the boat that brought Grace Marks across the Atlantic as a young Irish immigrant. Polley knew that sequence would be the first and most logical choice for a cut because it involved importing a ship from Europe as well as building an expensive interior set that could rock on a gimbal – all for just a few minutes of screen time.

    Polley has her reasons for adamantly sticking by the boat, stating from the start that she would walk away from the project without it. Around the time that she finally landed the rights to the novel, rusty cargo ships the MV Ocean Lady and the MV Sun Sea arrived off the BC coast carrying Tamil refugees escaping a massacre that killed somewhere between 40,000 to 70,000 people.

    “I remember being very affected by those images,” says Polley. “And really horrified by the coldness and the iciness with which Canada was responding to these people.”

    The refugees were kept in prisons for months. Several were deported while others were left in limbo for years. The Harper government set out to make an example of them to deter others from arriving in Canada unannounced.

    Polley immediately connected the Ocean Lady and Sun Sea voyages to the passages in Atwood’s novel detailing Grace’s emotional, treacherous journey searching for a new home. She fought for the boat scene in order to make the parallel visceral to Canadians whose grandparents or great-grandparents arrived under similar circumstances.

    “A lot of them came under duress, a lot of them came fleeing, a lot of them came starving, a lot of them came in abject squalor.”

    On set

    When I visit the Alias Grace set at Revival Studios on the final production day in November, the boat interior and rig have already been torn down. I check out the empty stage, trying to imagine it before returning to the video village where Polley’s watching over the final scenes.

    The mood on set is tired but celebratory. Netflix has sent over a churros truck to congratulate the crew on surviving the 65-day shoot. They enjoy the food quickly and hurry back to work. I’m told they usually shoot about three script pages a day. Today they’re gunning to complete nine.

    Everyone is hovering around an interior set, a rustic kitchen that looks like it’s straight out of Pioneer Village. Gadon is inside, donning Grace’s blue prison dress with a white apron on top.

    Actor Diane Flacks is in the scene at the kitchen table. Her character, a fellow maid named Dora, is cooking up some fierce words, chastising Grace for being “a celebrated murderess” who should be “cut into slabs.”

    After a couple takes, director Harron gives Flacks instructions to look at Grace a bit more. Harron pays particular attention to eyes and their direction.

    After another take, Harron calls “cut.” She looks over to director of photography Brendan Steacy and asks what he thinks. He nods approval, so they move on to set up the next shot while Gadon walks over to me in the video village.

    “Wasn’t I great?”

    She’s referring to a shot where her character remains silent and only the back of her shoulder is in frame.

    “It’s my best side,” she jokes.

    These takes equate to down-time for Gadon, though she’s lugging around a script the size of a textbook and the focus is almost always on Grace. Her performance is thrilling, most obvious in the notes she adds to Atwood’s dense, almost musical dialogue – it’s a verbal decathlon so rich it rewards repeat viewings.

    The framing narrative has Grace worn down after more than a decade in prison and perceptive to the way people judge her. She’s being interviewed by Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft). He probes traumatic memories, trying to nail down whether she is an innocent pawn forced to be an accomplice against her will or an evil seductress who orchestrated the murders of her employer (Paul Gross) and his mistress (Anna Paquin). That is how the headlines played Grace.

    “She had all these identities projected onto her by the men and the press at that time,” says Gadon, who had to untangle all the adjectives written by revisionist history and figure out a character who in many ways was forced to conceal her true self.

    Key to Gadon’s work is her eyes: where and how they look. That’s something Harron homes in on. Dancing between male and female perspectives, and between decorum and guts spilling on the floor, is something I like to call the Mary Harron special. She famously wielded the female gaze to cut down the male ego in American Psycho, an ultra-violent film Gadon remembers sneaking in to see when she was 14.

    In Alias Grace, you always sense that the alleged “murderess” is reading her audience and thinking about what they need to see in her. Just look at the show’s chilling cold open, where Gadon’s Grace sees herself in a mirror, adjusting her own gaze ever so slightly but dramatically, trying on prescribed personalities between “inhuman female demon” to “good girl with a pliable nature.”

    In a way, Alias Grace is the story of the male gaze directing a woman’s performance. But its power lies in how the female gaze looks back.

    Everything from a female perspective

    “Everything on this job was from a female perspective,” says Gadon, spelling out how Alias Grace is that extremely rare case where all the main creatives – from the author to the executive producers – are women. That made for a unique production experience.

    “It was really inclusive in a way that I have never experienced.”

    She’s not just talking about the collaborative nature of the work, but also the way Polley, Harron and Halpern would accommodate their schedules according to family life or bring those families to set, whether to observe or to hang out in the play area that Polley had set up in the production office.

    “It was really special and a reminder that you can be in positions of power and work and have families at the same time,” says Gadon, noting that her experience on male-driven sets adhered to the more traditional approach of going to work, leaving the family at home and keeping them in the background.

    On Alias Grace, the atmosphere had a ripple effect, with even the men bringing their families around.

    “Why can’t you create a work environment that’s a little bit more accepting of the fact that we have families?” says Halpern when I follow up with her some weeks later.

    She goes on to elaborate that it wasn’t just about accommodating cast and crew with kids, but accommodating a work-life balance for everyone enduring the gruelling production schedule.

    “We wanted to make this a place where everyone worked really, really hard but where there wasn’t a complete and total separation between who we are in our ‘at home’ personal life and who we are in our work life.”

    In conversations with Gadon and other female filmmakers last year, they recounted experiences on productions where women’s decisions and talents were constantly doubted. Polley echoes those sentiments, describing similar experiences whenever she worked for a woman.

    “There was a complete lack of confidence from the crew, non-stop second-guessing and sabotage,” says Polley. She remembers the production for The Weight Of Water, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, whom she credits as a role model who helped her envision her own future as a filmmaker.

    “I saw on that film how every male in a key position talked openly with the cast and with everyone else about what an idiot [Bigelow] was, and how she had no idea what she was doing, and how she had no idea what directing was. It was so overt. As it turned out, Kathryn Bigelow did know what she was doing. We can all acknowledge now that the lady knows what she’s doing.”

    Perceptive to how men react to women on set, Polley remembers how she tempered her own direction on earlier work to accommodate structured sexism. She quotes a female actor friend who put it best: “I’m just waiting for the moment where I don’t have to act so fucking grateful all the time.”

    “That’s how I functioned through those years where no one had faith because of my gender or age,” says Polley, who is quick to point out that she was indeed grateful for the opportunities.

    “But I was also very aware that people needed me to be grateful in order to be okay with me in that position. By my second film, where I was still very grateful but also expressing more clarity and honesty and sense of direction about what I wanted, people noted that change in me.

    “Directness in a male director is what everybody is looking for,” she adds. “Directness in a female director? There’s a sense that you’re owning a voice that you should be more careful with.”

    She isn’t talking about all men, of course. This deep in the game, Polley has been able to outfit her crews with the men and women she knows she can work with. And let’s be clear, just because Alias Grace is led by women doesn’t mean the production was smooth-going.

    “Of course there’s still conflict,” says Gadon.

    “But the conflict was different. Sometimes there can be this idea that conflict needs to be aggressive. Some people thrive off that energy – on sets or in any workplace – that aggressive, combative, authoritarian approach.

    “That was not our set at all. That’s not how Sarah Polley works. And Sarah Polley always gets her way.”


  • Aug 09 2017 NOW

    Sarah Polley’s Alias Grace series to world premiere at TIFF

    Decades in the making, the CBC adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel leads the Canadian titles at this year's fest... but still no sign of Xavier Dolan's English-language debut

    Alias Grace, the hugely anticipated CBC miniseries production of Margaret Atwood’s historical novel – written and produced by Sarah Polley, directed by Mary Harron and starring Sarah Gadon – will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before airing nationwide later in September.

    The miniseries will be the sole Canadian entry in TIFF’s Primetime program, the festival announced this morning in a press release detailing the 2017 lineup of Canadian features, documentaries and shorts. (The series will stream globally outside of Canada on Netflix.)

    Kim Nguyen’s Eye On Juliet, a drama about the unexpected connection between a pipeline worker operating a remote vehicle from America and a Middle Eastern woman facing an arranged marriage, will screen in the Special Presentations program, while Alanis Obomsawin’s new documentary Our People Will Be Healed plays in the Masters section.

    TIFF Docs will welcome three Canadian entries: Sean Menard’s The Carter Effect, about Vince Carter’s tenure with the Toronto Raptors; Matt Embry’s Living Proof, a film about multiple sclerosis, and Alan Zweig’s There Is A House Here, about which literally nothing could be gleaned at press time.

    Eight features will bow in the Discovery program, eight more in Contemporary World Cinema and two in Wavelengths.

    The Discovery features – all world premieres – include Molly McGlynn’s Mary Goes Round, starring Aya Cash (You’re The Worst) as a troubled addiction counsellor and Black Cop, a “satirical exploration of police-community relations” from Trailer Park Boys actor and director Cory Bowles.

    Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley’s Cardinals is a thriller starring Sheila McCarthy, Katie Boland and Grace Glowicki, while Indigenous filmmaker Wayne Wapeemukwa’s Luk’Luk’I shifts between fiction and documentary to tell the story of Vancouverites displaced by the Winter Olympics of 2010.

    Evan Rachel Wood and Weirdos’ Julia Sarah Stone co-star in A Worthy Companion, a love story from Carlos Sanchez and Jason Sanchez, while Quebecois cinematographer Ian Lagarde (Vic + Flo Saw A Bear) makes his feature directorial debut with All You Can Eat Buddha, a comedy-drama-fantasy set at a Caribbean resort.

    Sadaf Foroughi’s Ava is a Farsi-language drama about an Iranian teenager sent reeling by revelations of her mother’s past, while Shirley Henderson stars as a woman coping with Parkinson’s disease in Kathleen Hepburn’s Never Steady, Never Still.

    Canadian entries in Contemporary World Cinema – again, all world premieres – include Tarique Qayumi’s Black Kite, a drama set in Afghanistan, and The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond Of Matches, an adaptation of Gaétan Soucy’s 1998 novel from Simon Lavoie, who was at TIFF last year as co-director of last year’s Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves.

    Mina Shum, whose documentary Ninth Floor screened at TIFF in 2015, returns with Meditation Park, her first dramatic feature in 15 years. Sandra Oh stars as a Vancouver woman who suspects her husband of cheating; the cast also includes Tzi Ma, Don McKellar, Liane Balaban and Hong Kong action legend Cheng Pei Pei.

    Pat Mills’s Don’t Talk To Irene (co-starring Geena Davis and Scott Thompson) and Kyle Rideout’s Public Schooled (with Judy Greer and Russell Peters) are comedies about precocious students, while Robin Aubert’s Les Affamés – which literally translates as “the hungries” – is a verite zombie thriller starring Marc-André Grondin of C.R.A.Z.Y. and the Goon films.

    Northern Ontario figures prominently in two films from TIFF veterans: Ingrid Veninger’s Porcupine Lake stars Lucinda Armstrong Hall and Charlotte Salisbury as teenage girls bonding over a summer in Parry Sound, while Adam Macdonald’s Pyewacket (which reunites the director with his Backcountry star Missy Peregrym) mines the isolation of the woods for occult horror.

    The two Wavelengths titles are Denis Côté’s bodybuilding documentary A Skin So Soft and Blake Williams’s experimental feature Prototype, about the construction of “a mysterious televisual device” in Texas at the turn of the last century.

    Conspicuous by its absence once again was Xavier Dolan’s English-language debut The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan, which has been coming up in TIFF conversations ever since Dolan announced the film wouldn’t be ready for this year’s Cannes festival. (Perhaps there’ll be a surprise announcement at the Canadian press conference this afternoon? If so, we’ll update the story as quickly as possible. But don’t hold your breath.)

    There will be 24 Canadian entries screened in the Short Cuts programs – including Bird, the directorial debut of Molly Parker, and new work from Connor Jessup, Daniel Cockburn, Trevor Mack, Sol Friedman and Chandler Levack – and five shorts in Wavelengths.

    TIFF also announced its 2017 Rising Stars, and they are: actor Daniel Donehy, who co-stars with Judy Greer and Russell Peters in Public Schooled; actor/filmmaker Mary Galloway, who appears opposite Shirley Henderson in Never Steady, Never Still; Théodore Pellerin, who also appears in Never Steady, Never Still, and Ellen Wong, of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Glow, who does not currently have a film in the festival lineup but does have a role in the Toronto-shot US television series Condor, so maybe keep an eye out for that to appear in the Primetime lineup.

    TIFF Cinematheque will premiere the digital restorations of Patricia Rozema’s I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing, Peter Mettler’s Picture Of Light and Clement Virgo’s Rude, and celebrate IMAX with special screenings of Graeme Ferguson’s 1971 large-format documentary North Of Superior, at Ontario Place Cinesphere.

    Last week, TIFF announced the lineup of this year’s Platform program, which will place 12 feature films in competition for a $25,000 prize. The series opens with The Death Of Stalin, a historical epic from political satirist Armando Iannucci (The Thick Of It, In The Loop, Veep), and closes with Warwick Thornton’s Australian western Sweet Country, starring Sam Neill, Ewen Leslie and Bryan Brown.

    Platform will also feature the world premieres of Michael Pearce’s Beast, a thriller starring Johnny Flynn and Geraldine James; Clio Barnard’s Dark River, a drama starring Ruth Wilson and Mark Stanley; Mike White’s Brad’s Status, starring Ben Stiller as a father visiting colleges with his teenage son (Austin Abrams), among others. This year’s jurors are filmmakers Chen Kaige, Malgorzata Szumowska and Wim Wenders. The cash prize is sponsored by Air France.

    The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 7 to September 17, 2017. For full details visit .

    Link to article



  • Aug 09 2017 The National Post

    ‘Alias Grace,’ film starring Evan Rachel Wood headline TIFF’s Canadian slate

    TORONTO — The world premiere of Mary Harron’s TV miniseries “Alias Grace” and films starring Evan Rachel Wood, Geena Davis and Sandra Oh are in the homegrown lineup for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

    The Canadian slate announced Wednesday includes a first look at “Alias Grace,” which Sarah Polley wrote and produced based on Margaret Atwood’s novel. It’s set to premiere on the CBC this fall and stream internationally on Netflix.

    In the drama “A Worthy Companion” by Carlos Sanchez and Jason Sanchez, Wood stars as a troubled woman who bonds with a teenage pianist, played by Canadian actress Julia Sarah Stone. Stone starred in Bruce McDonald’s “Weirdos” at last year’s fest and was deemed one of the Rising Stars in the 2014 instalment, when she starred in “Wet Bum.”

    Meanwhile, Davis stars alongside Scott Thompson of “The Kids in the Hall” fame in the comedy “Don’t Talk to Irene” by Pat Mills, about a teen who auditions for a dance-themed reality show with a group of senior citizens.

    And Oh is in the dramedy “Meditation Park” by Mina Shum, which also stars Liane Balaban and Don McKellar and is set in Vancouver.

    Some cinephiles had speculated that the Canadian lineup might include Xavier Dolan’s upcoming English-language drama “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.” But it seems it’s not ready.

    “Like any festival, a lot of what happens is based on timing and when the films are ready, and my understanding is that they’re still working on the film,” said Steve Gravestock, senior programmer at TIFF.

    “That happens every year…. Sometimes they don’t pan out, they’re just not ready for us.

    “There may be a few more Canadian titles announced but my understanding is that Xavier’s film just isn’t ready. It’s a drag because we’re really looking forward to it.”

    Other highlights of the homegrown lineup include “Eye on Juliet” by Kim Nguyen, whose previous features include “Two Lovers and a Bear” and the Oscar-nominated “Rebelle.”

    “Eye on Juliet” stars Joe Cole as a hexapod operator who is in the middle of a bad breakup when he meets a young woman from the Middle East, played by Lina El Arabi.

    The film is “a take on modern relationships in the 21st century,” Nguyen told The Canadian Press at last year’s fest.

    Judy Greer and Russell Peters star in the comedy “Public Schooled” by Kyle Rideout, about a home-schooled teen who enrols in public school.

    “I’m thrilled to be (at the festival),” said Rideout, the director and co-writer.

    “When I found out, I was in a locker room just finishing a workout and I had no pants on and I looked at my phone and found out I got into TIFF and I was just really excited and happy in the locker room — and the other guys … thought it was very strange.”

    Celebrated Indigenous documentary maker Alanis Obomsawin will be at the fest with “Our People Will Be Healed,” about an innovative school in a remote Cree community north of Winnipeg.

    Another noteworthy doc in the lineup is Sean Menard’s “The Carter Effect,” about the impact NBA all-star Vince Carter made on Toronto.

    Organizers say this year’s Canadian roster has one of the highest numbers of feature directorial debuts ever, at over 30 per cent.

    Directors making their feature directorial debut include “Trailer Park Boys” star Cory Bowles with “Black Cop,” a satirical exploration of police-community relations.

    The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off Sept. 7 with the opening film “Borg/McEnroe,” a tennis drama starring Shia LaBeouf.

    A total of 25 Canadian feature films are in the lineup, and all are eligible for the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film.


    Link to Article


  • Aug 09 2017 Deadline

    Toronto Film Fest’s Canada Slate Includes Premiere Of Netflix’s ‘Alias Grace’ – Full List

    Touting homegrown talent, the Toronto Film Festival today unveiled the 26 titles that make up its Canadian slate. The lineup includes 25 features and one TV series, with the latter the world premiere of Alias Grace, the six-hour mini from Netflix, the CBC and Sarah Polley and Noreen Halpern’s Halfire Entertainment.

    Directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho), Alias Grace is inspired by the true story of convicted murderer Grace Marks and based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. Sarah Gadon, Anna Paquin and Paul Gross star with a Netflix release set for November 3.

    Also notably world premiering, among the 25 features, is Sean Menard’s documentary, The Carter Effect, about the impact NBA All-Star Vince Carter, and former Raptor, had on Toronto. Previously announced, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier’s Long Time Running has a Gala slot.

    There are such Canadian veterans in the mix as Oscar-nominated helmer Kim Nguyen with Eye On Juliet in a Special Presentation; Denis Côté and A Skin So Softin Wavelengths; Alan Zweig’s There is A House Here in the Docs strand; and Pat Mills’ high school misfit comedy Don’t Talk To Irene in Contemporary World Cinema.

    Several feature debuts figure as well, including Sadaf Foroughi’s Ava, a drama about an Iranian teenager at a pivotal crossroad; Ian Lagarde’s All You Can Eat Buddha, centering on a man’s surreal impact on vacationers at a Cuban resort; Trailer Park Boys star Cory Bowles’ Black Cop, a satirical exploration of police-community relations; Kathleen Hepburn’s family drama Never Steady, Never Still; and Molly McGlynn’s Mary Goes Round, about an addiction counselor struggling with her own issues.

    The 25 features are each eligible for the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film. All debuts are eligible for the City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film. The fest runs September 7-17.

    Here’s the Canadian slate:

    Eye on Juliet, dir: Kim Nguyen

    Our People Will Be Healed, dir: Alanis Obomsawin

    The Carter Effect, dir: Sean Menard
    Living Proof, dir: Matt Embry
    There is a House Here, dir: Alan Zweig

    A Worthy Companion, dirs: Carlos Sanchez, Jason Sanchez
    All You Can Eat Buddha, dir: Ian Lagarde
    AVA, dir: Sadaf Foroughi
    Black Cop, dir: Cory Bowles
    Cardinals, dirs: Grayson Moore, Aidan Shipley
    Luk’Luk’I, dir: Wayne Wapeemukwa
    Mary Goes Round, dir: Molly McGlynn
    Never Steady, Never Still, dir: Kathleen Hepburn

    Black Kite, dir: Tarique Qayumi
    Don’t Talk To Irene, dir: Pat Mills
    Les Affamés, dir: Robin Aubert
    Meditation Park, dir: Mina Shum
    Porcupine Lake, dir: Ingrid Veninger
    Public Schooled, dir: Kyle Rideout
    Pyewacket, dir: Adam MacDonald
    The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond Of Matches, dir: Simon Lavoie

    Alias Grace, dir: Mary Harron

    Prototype, dir: Blake Williams
    A Skin So Soft, dir: Denis Côté

    Long Time Running, dirs: Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier


    Link to article


  • Jul 24 2017 The Hollywood Reporter

    ‘Alias Grace’: Watch the Trailer for the Netflix Margaret Atwood Miniseries

    The six-hour miniseries, based on the story of convicted murderer Grace Marks and Atwood's best-seller, makes its global launch Nov. 3.

    Alias Grace has set her debut.

    Netflix’s six-hour miniseries about convicted murderer Grace Marks, the next streaming Margaret Atwood adaptation, will release globally Friday, Nov. 3. The series will first broadcast on Canada’s CBC.

    A 45-second teaser released Monday along with the premiere news introduces Grace (Sarah Gadon), a poor, young Irish immigrant and servant in Upper Canada who, along with stable hand James McDermott (Kerr Logan), was convicted of the brutal murders of their employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper and lover, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin), in 1843. Nancy, who initially befriended Grace, fired her in a fit of jealous rage before she was found brutally murdered.

    “I think of all the things that have been written about me,” narrates Marks of herself in the clip. “That I am an inhuman female demon. That I am an innocent victim of a blaggard, forced against my will and in danger of my own life. That I am cunning and devious. How can I be all of these different things at once?”

    She then adds, “I’d rather be a murderess than a murderer — if those are the only choices.”

    James was hanged and Grace was sentenced to life imprisonment until she was eventually exonerated after 30 years in jail. She became one of the most notorious women of 1840s Canada for her alleged role in the sensational double murder and her conviction sparked debate about whether she was an unwitting accessory. The Netflix adaptation, like Atwood’s novel, will introduce a fictional young doctor named Simon Jordan who researches the case and falls in love with Marks.

    Alias Grace is inspired by Marks’ true story and is based on Atwood’s award-winning novel of the same name. Alias Grace, which follows Hulu’s critically acclaimed Atwood adaption Handmaid’s Tale, is written and produced by Sarah Polley (Looking for AlaskaTake This WaltzAway from Her) and directed by Mary Harron (American PsychoI Shot Andy Warhol). The series is a co-production with Halfire Entertainment, CBC and Netflix. Polley, Harron and Noreen Halpern executive produce.

    Link to article


  • Oct 31 2016 Den of Geek

    Aftermath: Finding the Perfect Genre Mix

    Executive producers Glenn Davis and William Laurin help explore Aftermath’s ability to cross genre boundaries.

    What gives Aftermath its edge-of-your-seat action, emotional depth, and wide audience appeal is undoubtedly its unique twist on some of the most recognizable science fiction, supernatural, and other television conventions. The show manages to set itself apart with its wholly unique approach to an end of the world scenario while still fondly reminding viewers of some recent and classic television fare.

    Aftermath touches on elements of viral outbreaks, creature features, and even disaster stories but what makes the genre crossover work are the cultural roots of the supernatural creatures and the human aspect of those trying to survive the plagues and natural disasters. Plus, of course, it’s all centered around the family dynamics of the Copeland clan headed by Karen (Anne Heche) and Joshua (James Tupper). Here’s a breakdown of how these highlights of the show play out in the minds of its audience, according to showrunners Glenn Davis and William Laurin.

    The Family Drama

    Why it works: If it weren’t for the meteor strikes and natural disasters, Aftermath could be any primetime drama that centers around a single family. The Copeland family shares a close bond but also beliefs that set them apart. Whether seeking to understand each conflict or simply deal with it head on, the arguments and consequences of each situation feel very familiar and comfortable.

    What it reminds us of: With Joshua being a professor of world culturesand Karen being a tough-as-nails fighter pilot, it’s hard not to conjure up Téa Leoni’s Secretary of State and her religion professor husband in Madam Secretary. The main difference in Aftermath is that religion is a source of conflict rather than a background character detail. In fact, the conflict is reminiscent of another skeptic/believer couple: Mulder and Scully of The X-Files.

    What showrunner Glenn Davis says: “We’ve all seen apocalyptic fiction where a  group of ragtag strangers are forced to work together and overcome their natural rivalries and conflicts to survive, but we are looking through the other end of the telescope — starting with a family. Here is a group who knows each other better than anyone else does, who understand each other and who love each other.  It amps up the desperation to survive geometrically.

    “That doesn’t mean that they don’t have all the usual family baggage, there’s lots of stuff between them that gets worked out against this huge, end times background.  But the bottom line is they love each other, they are a unit, and that increases the stakes at every moment.  Plus, very few of us have had to endure massive struggles with a ragtag group of strangers, but we all have a family story.  It makes the stories much more relatable, makes the viewer ask, ‘What would I do in this situation?’”

    The Myth-Based Supernatural Creatures

    Why it works: If it weren’t for the supernatural elements of Aftermath, the show would just be a set of reactions to unexplained natural disasters, perhaps with a climate change agenda — boring! The creatures that emerge provide a historical context both for the dangers the Copelands and others face and for the reasons behind end times, which are an aspect of all major religions and ancient cultures.

    What it reminds us of: Certainly, there’s almost an archaeological, Indiana Jones feel to the cultural research characters on the show must perform in order to survive or at least understand what’s happening. There are also shades of Supernatural, of course, but also some of the over-the-top hijinks of The Librarians where myths become reality.

    What showrunner Glenn Davis says: “The emergence of the creatures and spirits, from a wide variety of cultures and traditions, adds a real gravity to what could otherwise be seen as a series of random events.  Since these creatures and predictions emerge from many cultures and different eras, they tell us that humanity has always had some knowledge, some inkling of the things that are now happening.  It says that this all has meaning.

    “It’s up to our family, and especially Josh, to try to decode that meaning before it is too late.  But as he points out, and the research we did on this show told us this, virtually every culture has an end time story and they are, in important ways, all remarkably similar.  So we have a drama where there are terrifying, life-threatening physical threats to be overcome on a daily basis — but those physical realities and deep and significant cosmological meaning, an overarching mystery to decode.”

    The Plague Outbreak and Natural Disasters

    Why it works: No show currently on the air takes on this many dangers at once, any one of which could wipe out the human race all on its own, never mind the supernatural creatures. Massive hurricanes, tidal waves, and meteor strikes would be enough to deal with, but the insidious, mind-altering plague really takes Aftermath to the next level. Every moment is filled with tension, mistrust, and fear of the unknown.

    What it reminds us of: Many shows explore viral outbreaks as an explanation for their supernatural creatures, even though none do it quite the way Aftermath does. The Strain makes vampirism contagious whereas Z Nation turns its zombies into an infectious vector. The Last Ship perhaps comes closest in viewers’ minds, but let’s face it, this show’s virus is a one-of-a-kind mind killer, both emotionally and physically.

    What showrunner William Laurin says: “Plague is a key idea of Aftermath‘s apocalypse for a number of reasons. First, it’s a touchstone form of blanket death that appears in most, if not all, of the world’s many apocalypse stories. ‘Pestilence’ is often counted as the first of the Four Horsemen, for instance. The plague also provides us with a terrifying ‘quantum’ variable in the storytelling, a totally unpredictable threat that has no telltale warning signs.

    “Finally, and most importantly, the plague gives us the most human vector in our story telling.   Volcanoes, meteors and demonic gods are impersonal threats, appearing from nowhere for unfathomable reasons. The plague, on the other hand, produces pity as well as terror, since its victims remain recognizably human even as they try to tear your face off and eat it. In this they are unlike zombies, whose lack of humanity makes them mere targets in a video game.

    “The murderous police officers in the pilot, for instance, are still convinced that they are heroes doing their jobs, as they murder their way through the countryside. They even have a vague sense that something is wrong, but they’re helpless to know what it is. The plague reminds us of the humanity of killer as well as victim, and with its frightening statistics — a third of the world already dead, and no cure in sight — it’s a constant reminder that nobody gets out of here alive.”


    It’s a cliche to say a show “has something for everyone,” but Aftermath has found a recipe that works for combining the best ingredients from sci-fi, supernatural, and horror tales into one outrageous stew. Plenty of shows alternate gut-wrenching terror and swashbuckling adventure with tender emotional moments for their characters, but none have matched the comfort of a close knit family unit with the utter insanity of a world suddenly in the midst of being torn apart.

    Aftermath doesn’t just have something for everyone; it has everything including the kitchen sink. Although… you might want to check to see if the sink is possessed or inscribed with ancient symbols or something. You just never know with this show.

    Aftermath airs on Tuesdays at 10pm ET on Syfy and continues this week with episode 6, “Madame Sosostris.”


    Link to article


  • Sep 18 2016 Vancouver Sun

    Aftermath, Van Helsing lead Vancouver’s apocalyptic sci-fi charge

    Wayne Brady is better known as the quick-witted funny man who lights up TV game shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway and Let’s Make A Deal. You’d be hard-pressed to think of him as a gun-toting tough guy decked in camo gear ready to take on the end of the world.

    Starts Sept. 27Space (Canada) and Syfy (U.S.)


    Wayne Brady is better known as the quick-witted funny man who lights up TV game shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway and Let’s Make A Deal.

    You’d be hard-pressed to think of him as a gun-toting tough guy decked in camo gear ready to take on the end of the world.

    Yet that’s exactly what Brady will be doing in forthcoming television series Aftermath, shot in Vancouver this summer.

    The show, which premieres on Space in Canada on Sept. 27, stars Anne Heche and real-life husband James Tupper as they fight for survival, along with their three children, in a civilization on the brink of collapse.

    “Doing things like this is the actor’s dream,” Brady said in a phone interview. “I’m a big sci-fi and comic nerd. I’ve read comic books my entire life. When it comes to zombie flicks and video games, I’m pretty much a 44-year-old man with a 13-year-old boy trapped inside of him, like a lot of us are.”

    Brady will appear as Lamar “Booner” Boone, a former acquaintance of main character Karen Copeland (Heche) who helps the family escape attacks from a yet unrevealed army of creatures (hint: not zombies). In one scene shot on the BCIT campus this summer, Brady was gleefully playing up shooting at and blowing up imaginary baddies, which would later be added to the scene thanks to the magic of CGI.

    “To run around with your fake gun, spouting military dialogue and ducking and dodging — that’s just what I used to do in the front yard as a kid,” Brady said.

    Brady added his dream gig would be to reprise the role of Dr. Scott Beckett in a Quantum Leap reboot, should there ever be one. (The role catapulted Scott Bakula to fame and earned him a Golden Globe.)

    “I’ve lobbied for it,” Brady said. “Quantum Leap is, for my money, the perfect time travel story, yet it’s grounded in science. Those stories were awesome. I’d love to be the next doctor in Quantum Leap or be the next doctor in Doctor Who, that’s the holy grail.”

    Link to article 


  • Sep 16 2016 TV Wise

    5Star Acquires UK Rights To Syfy’s ‘Aftermath’

    5Star has acquired the exclusive first run UK broadcast right to Syfy’s upcoming original series Aftermath after striking a deal with NBCUniversal International Distribution.

    5Star has acquired the exclusive first run UK broadcast right to Syfy’s upcoming original series Aftermath after striking a deal with NBCUniversal International Distribution, TVWise has learned.

    Aftermath follows one family – Karen and Joshua Copeland and their children Dana, Brianna and Matt – who must battle for survival after civilization comes to an apocalyptic end, triggered by massive storms, meteor strikes, earthquakes and plague, as well as the rise of supernatural creatures.

    The 13 episode drama series is a co-production between Syfy and Space, the Canadian broadcaster behind Killjoys, and hails from independent production company Halfire Entertainment and series creators/shworunners William Laurin and Glenn Davis. The cast includes Anne Heche (Hung), James Tupper (Revenge), Levi Meaden (The Killing), Julia Sarah Stone (The Killing), Taylor Hickson (Deadpool). Leslie Hope (24) guest stars.

    After using the channel as little more than a dumping ground for repeats for several years, Channel 5 has been heavily investing in exclusive content for 5Star since the Viacom acquisition and subsequent re-brand, which, per acquisitions executive Marie-Claire Dunlop, saw the channel position itself as a home for “younger-skewing content” and “fun, sexy, glossy shows”.

    Afermath, which is set to premiere next month, is the latest acquisition that fits in with that new remit. Other younger-skewing, glossy first run scripted shows that the channel has acquired in recent months include critically acclaimed FX comedy You’re The Worst, starring Chris Geere and Aya Cash; MTV’s high concept fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles, based on Terry Brooks’ novels; and fellow Syfy series The Magicians.

    Link to article


  • Sep 16 2016 Three If By Space

    Float It Or Watch it: Syfy’s Aftermath

    When the world as they know it starts coming to an end, the Copeland family must face terrifying supernatural creatures and unprecedented disasters, including massive storms, earthquakes, meteor impacts, plague and the rapid decline of civilization. Will they be able to make it through – and figure out how to stop it?

    When the world as they know it starts coming to an end, the Copeland family must face terrifying supernatural creatures and unprecedented disasters, including massive storms, earthquakes, meteor impacts, plague and the rapid decline of civilization. Will they be able to make it through – and figure out how to stop it?

    Diasters, massive storms, earthquakes and meteors. Everything you want to see in a show about the end of the world. Plus we get Anne Heche who plays the mom, and her real life husband James Tupper, playing her husband. That alone makes the series sound interesting. The show is produced by Halfire Entertainment in association with Syfy and Space. However, natural disasters are not the only thing going on in Aftermath. Add demonic possession and a virus that makes someone go completely crazy and you have Aftermath.

    I would almost have thought this series was produced by the same group who did Sharknado but it’s not. The premiere episode which airs September 27th is going to leave you scratching your head a bit. We are thrown right into the events as they unfold without any warning. The first half of the episode feels like a Saturday monster movie that really doesn’t take itself all that serious. We have no idea why anything is happening and the ‘spirits’ that possess people are behind strange. As one of the cast members said in the video above, the series is unconventional.

    By the time we get through the second half however, the show starts to actually get interesting. Sure we have no f**cking clue why demons are suddenly appearing during what appears to be the end of the world but the writers give us some ‘outs’ on this. Joshua Copeland (Tupper), is a Professor. His knowledge of long fallen civilizations may help save our current one from ending and give us some insight into the ancient mythologies the writers are pulling from.

    The virus side of the disasters reminds me a bit of Fear The Walking Dead and the early days of The Walking Dead. You know, the good old days. The bottom line is, if you can go into this series without being too serious about it and just expect a disaster porn filled supernatural end of times plot line, you will be just fine.

    Our verdict on this Syfy series is: WATCH IT

    It may be the hell spawn child of Sharknado and Z-Nation but its got natural disasters, supernatural creatures and a crazy zombie like virus.

    Link to article 


Browse the Archive