February 28, 2007

Oscar says Best

It's probably a little late to be writing about the Oscars now that most newspapers and broadcast outlets in the English-speaking world that have been glutted with post-game analysis since Monday morning are finally getting on to other things. But, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention that the film I've been talking about here all year, The Lives of Others, won Best Foreign Language Film. It's enjoying a limited theatrical release, (check local listings, and good luck unless you live in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal), which should be extended now, thanks to the Academy. I took my wife and some friends to see it on Saturday afternoon. And while it's not necessarily a 'feel good' picture, it is hopeful. Hopeful that no matter what dreadful things we as humans are capable of doing to one another, we're also capable of unexpected goodness.

And while I didn't think The Departed was his best work, it was somehow satisfying to see Martin Scorsese finally win for Best Director.

One more Oscar-related thing before I head out the door to catch my flight to Winnipeg for Film Exchange... Alex at Complications Ensue raises an interesting point that illustrates the arrogance, pomp and circumstance surrounding the Academy Awards: When are they gonna stop claiming that 1 billion people around the world are watching at home?

*Update: Oscar telecast attracts 10.6 million viewers in Canada. That only leaves about 990 million viewers to divvy up among the rest of the countries of the world. If I was a fan of emoticons, that one with the winking eye would go right here.

February 21, 2007

40 Below

The 40 Below Films website has been updated just in time for our Film Exchange premiere. The downloads section of the Retired main page has samples of the music for the film from Moses Mayes and the fabulous Christine Fellows, who wrote the hauntingly beautiful closing-credits song.

It all starts a week from today, in Winnipeg. Which, incidentally, has had 40 below temperatures for the last couple of weeks. But hopefully the recent balmy weather will hold.

February 07, 2007

Film Exchange

Well, the NSI Film Exchange schedule is finally up. You'll find Retired about halfway down the most recent press release under "Showcase of Canadian Short Films". Retired plays at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 3rd at the Globe Cinema (one of the only two reasons for going to Portage Place, the second being McNally Robinson, of course... oh, wait a minute, Prairie Theatre Exchange is in there too!). Nevermind. We're in a good theatre. And since the brand spanking new 35 mm print of 'Retired' has just been finished, I'll get to see it for the first time on a big screen. It should be beautiful, and given the time slot, reasonably well attended.

There are a number of things that make the Film Exchange special, the most prominent of which is probably the Opening Night SnowScreen. It's quintessentially Winnipeg. No one but a Winnipegger would think of something like this. Films, usually animated shorts, are projected onto a huge screen carved out of snow. Outside. In February. In Winnipeg. Oh, and it's free!

I was at the first one five years ago when it was downtown in the Old Market Square. We huddled around oil-drum bonfires, drank free hot chocolate and watched Cordell Barker's excellent new (then) short Strange Invaders.

It made me glad to be in Winnipeg. In February. No, really. SnowScreen's moved around a bit since then, and it's semi-permanent home seems to be at The Forks now.

The rest of the program looks pretty good, too. All Canadian, all the time. And, if you're in Winnipeg anyway, you can't beat hanging out at the Hotel Fort Garry. Should be a good time. And for whoever has some free time on Saturday afternoon, March 3rd, I'd love to see you there!