Film Review: PAPER YEAR (Canada 2017)

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Paper Year Poster
Young newlyweds encounter a series of challenges during the first year of their marriage.


Rebecca Addelman


Two newly married young lovers with no money face life’s challenges.

The film’s premise sounds like many a newlywed’s demise. Which means that either the story might tend to be very relevant or too boring to many.

PAPER YEAR opens with an old romantic tune (“Young Love” by Sonny James) played on the soundtrack as the lovers run around kissing.  It is revealed that there are just married.  Dan (Avan Jogia) and Franny (Eve Hewson) are happy but poor.

However, the marriage is a paper one – one that has taken place in court but without a full wedding reception.  Franny does not truly believe that a real wedding (if there is no big ceremony) has taken place though the couple is legally married.  Hence, the title of the film – PAPER YEAR.

As it goes, Franny gets a job on some production company of some silly sports reality show called “Goosed” where she meets the boss Gavin (Brooks Gray) and Noah (Hamish Linklater), the head writer, who both try to make the moves on her.  Franny has the sexual hots for Noah.  When Franny’s friend advises Franny to remember that Noah is ‘not special’, the audience immediately knows that Franny is gong to be unfaithful to her husband with Noah.  Dan is no angel either.  When alone. he watches porn or goes on on-line chatting sites.

The cast is made up of unknowns with only Andie MacDowell as the only recognizable name playing Franny’s mother Joanne.  The unfamiliar cast give the film a fresh look, at least, where the audience do not have any preconceived notions of past characters.  The supporting cast like Gray and Linklater have got some minor roles on TV and little films.

The question that obviously comes to mind is the purpose of the film?  The fact that despite all the problems the couple could face (in-laws, kids, money, friends), it is infidelity that is chosen as the couple’s main life challenge after marriage.  Franny finally gives in to her temptations to her attraction for her co-worker Noah after a dinner party gone awry.  This occurs around two-thirds into the film, so that the film just meanders initially.  Then now wonders where the film will be leading after the problem arises.

PAPER YEAR is one of those Canadian films that pretends to be American with references to cities like Nye York and Arcadia, even though it does not come across very convincing.  It would have worked better if the film remain fully Canadian despite having a smaller target audience.  

Written and directed by a female, Rebecca Adelson. the film takes the female point of view though making the female also the one at fault or the one causing the rift in the couple’s relationship.  It is Franny that gets into Dan’s diary and she that cheats on Dan.  The female is the main breadwinner, with the steady job while the man is just a dog walker.  The film also takes a pessimistic view of life.

PAPER YEAR moves at a leisurely pace with not much but little happenings, making the film light entertaining drama with a few light touches of comedy.  The twist ending (not to be revealed in this review) is what is supposed to make this film special.


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Film Review: THE CLEANERS (Germany 2018) ***

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The Cleaners Poster
A look at the shadowy underworld of the Internet where questionable content is removed.


THE CLEANERS, the new doc that premiered to sold-out performances at this year;s Hot Docs brings the audience into the hidden third world shadow industry of digital cleaning, where the internet rids itself of what it doesn’t like.

The new documentary THE CLEANERS unashamedly touts the all importance of ‘cleaners’ at the very start of the film.  Words (titles) on screen emphasize the millions of tweets, posts on youtube and the millions of people connected on social media going to say how much the internet would be a mess without THE CLEANERS. The Cleaners delete images, videos and texts that violate the rules of social media. his is none from, (surprise! surprise!) none other than Manila in the Philippines.  It is revealed that there are other smaller centres too, given this dauntless task, but Manila is the main one.   “Delete, ignore,” these are the words often spoken by the workers (in a Filipino accent) as they work their jobs.

Yes, the film has got the audience’s attention.  The question then would be whether the doc would be able to keep it a compelling watch from start to end.

The film introduces five “digital scavengers” among thousands of people outsourced from Silicon Valley whose job it is to delete “inappropriate” content off the net. In a parallel struggle, we meet people around the globe whose lives are dramatically affected by online censorship. A typical “cleaner” must observe and rate thousands of often deeply disturbing images and videos every day, leading to lasting psychological impacts. Yet underneath their work lies profound questions around what makes an image, art, or propaganda, and what defines journalism. Where exactly is the point of balance for social media to be neither an unlegislated space nor a forum rife with censorship. The Cleaners struggles to come to terms with this new and disconcerting paradigm.

The high executives of the high-tech companies like Facebook appear sincere in doing what is right – to seem out inappropriate content that will promote hatred and ignorance  But it is an impossible task.  The film goes deep in the last third to demonstrate how hatred is promoted through Facebook against the most prosecuted minorities  (The Rohinghas in Burma)  in the world.

The film is even more shocking when it shows glimpses of a few of these deleted images.  The directors cannot resist sensationalization from their film.  There is a disturbing segment which shows an image of a beheading done with a dull knife (like  kitchen knife) resulting in a crooked cut with lots of blood.

The film lacks a proper conclusion for the reason that problems presented in the film have no clear resolution.  Promises by the high tech giant executives are difficult to keep despite good intentions.  One thing the film clearly shows is the evil that reside inside human beings.  The question still remains that social media like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube will continue to exist despite uncontrollability.  But accountability has at least reared its ugly head.



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Interview with Festival Director Ivan Sosnin (Unknown Film Festival)

UNKNOWN FILM FESTIVAL is the best platform for amateur filmmakers around the world that provides a stage for short films, animations, visual arts and any variations of branded content. The mission of the UFF is to discover the most innovative independent filmmakers and to make them known all over the world. At the UFF, we focus on the film. 

The aim of the UFF is to discover new talents and possibly create further opportunities for them in the Russian and international filmmaking industry. It is the time when young filmmakers can speak to the world and share their works.
The film festival is organized by the Red Pepper Creative- an advertising company that is existing in the Russian advertising and film industry for more than 10 years. Red Pepper already has numerous works that won awards in big international festivals. Red Pepper is known as one of the most creative agencies in Russia nowadays.


Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?  

Ivan Sosnin: We present works of young and unknown filmmakers to Russian citizens and to the whole world. Some of the finalists will win grants for filming their new projects. Our festival is a great opportunity to declare about yourself. 

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)? 

This is the first year for the festival, so we want to make it as loud as possible. We want to have much more applicants next year. For this year the event itself will be very compact and convenient for all participants, it will include award ceremony, concerts, lectures. We are sure that it will be amazing. We hope that many people will come to Russia and will be under a great impression afterwards. 

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?  

We selected films whose quality meets world standards. Ideas and scripts should also be international, they should be understood anywhere in the world. It is very important that a film does not make people bored because it’s a short meter.  

4) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?  

Yes, we think so. Many festivals are limited to an online-judging without any ceremonies and awards. Festival is a huge event for every filmmaker. We don’t want to make an event that is just passed-by. 

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?  

We want to develop the film industry in our country, want to develop young filmmakers. And we also want to tell about Ekaterinburg to the whole world.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?  

FilmFreeway is a great platform, very use-friendly. Thanks to it, we received a large number of works of a high quality. This platform unites all lovers of cinematography around the world. 

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023? 

We see that Unknown Film Festival is one of the biggest festivals in Russia where participants come from all over the world. We dream that all participants and finalists arrive to the ceremony

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life? 

Lala Land 

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film? 

Great film is a film that makes an impression on all people, despite their age, nationality and social status. 

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Filmmaking is actively developing in Ekaterinburg. People already gave up an idea of chasing Moscow and are looking for authentic locations and alternative cities for their shootings. Ekaterinburg could offer a lot of things to filmmakers. 



unknown 1


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


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Pressing On: The Letterpress Film Poster

Why has letterpress printing survived? Irreplaceable knowledge of the historic craft is in danger of being lost as its caretakers age. Fascinating personalities intermix with wood, metal, …See full summary »


What is a letter press?  As explained in Andrew P. Quinn and Erin Beckloff’s documentary PRESSING ON:  THE LETTERPRESS FILM, it is a machine that presses letters on to paper using ink so as to make print.

The modern world was born on a printing press. Once essential to communication, the 500-year-old process is now in danger of being lost as its caretaker’s age. From self-proclaimed basement hoarders to the famed Hatch Show Print, PRESSING ON: THE LETTERPRESS FILM explores the question: why have 500 year old letterpresses survived in a digital age?

People are fascinated by the past.  As the old adage goes: the past helps humans understand the present and who they are.  With those thoughts come a film that provides insight on what the voiceover informs is an old art form.

Why has letterpress printing survived?  Irreplaceable knowledge of the historic craft is in danger of being lost as its caretakers age.  Fascinating personalities intermix with wood, metal, and type as young printers save a traditional process in PRESSING ON, a 4K feature length documentary exploring the remarkable community keeping letterpress alive.  The film begins with shots of presses at work.

It is hard to get people interested in letterpress machines or letter pressing – a thing of the past.  This remains therefore a dauntless task for directors Andrew P. Quinn and Erin Beckloff to get the audience interested less making a compelling documentary.  But maybe they can teach us a bit about history or about the technology of the invention.

The film introduces the audience to one letterpress maker who claims his lifelong task as the restorer of these machines, saying that he could only preserve 50 or so in the rest of his life time, adding that only a minuscule few new ones will be made.  “It is a fun machine to watch – to see all the parts moving around,” says he.  The film goes on with an enthusiastic graphics designer, Stephanie Carpenter who informs (as well as providing insight) of the 3 stages of letter pressing and how she learnt graphic design through this process.

Worlds of each character are portrayed as unusual narratives – in various states of human emotions of joyful, mournful, reflective and visionary stats, each punctuated with on-screen visual poetry, every shot meticulously composed.  Captivating personalities blend with wood, metal and type as young printers strive to save this historic process in a film created for the designer, type nerd, historian and collector in us all.

PRESSING ON ends up not too bad a documentary (yes, quite nostalgic, romantic and as oddly entertaining as its subjects) subject nor too bad a documentary either.  What can be more romantic than a married couple letter pressing in the garage together?  There are little messages imbued in the doc together with some light humour making it light entertainment and a good quiet watch on the smaller screen.

The doc is available On iTunes, DVD/Blu-ray and On Demand Tuesday, June 19 worldwide.



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HIGHLIGHTS – April 2018 Under 5 Minute Festival

Under 5 minute film festival






Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Videos:

festival posterYOURS FAITHFULLY EDNA WELTHORPE (MRS), UK, Animation/Comedy

festival posterVOWS, 4min., USA, LGBT/Animation

festival posterA LETTER FROM LETICIA, 3min., Argentina, Animation

festival posterDAUGHTER, 3min., Canada, Drama/Family

festival posterMILE, 1min., USA, Drama

festival posterTRAIN, 3min., Israel, Animation/Music Video

festival posterWINE AND EGGS, 5min., Turkey, Drama

festival posterORNAMENT OF BEAUTY, USA, Thriller/Fantasy

The theme of the LGBT/Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival was “Finding Identity”. Every single film shown was about this overriding thematic.

The MVP of the festival was the Toronto audience. This wasn’t the greatest week for the Greater Toronto Area as someone decided to rent a van and run over people on a sidewalk in a busy intersection. This became a world story as there were many casualties and major injuries. Perhaps one of the saddest events in Toronto history.

#TorontoStrong became the hashtag. You can still…

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Interview with Festival Director Olivia Carmel (COPPER MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL)

The Copper Mountain Film Festival is hosted at the Copper Mountain Resort and sponsored by 10 Barrel Brewing Company and the Denver Filmmakers Collective. The film festival coincides with the Attack of the Big Beers on the weekend of June 22 – 24, 2018. Beer and food sampling starts at 11:00 AM and concludes at 5:00 PM. All accepted filmmakers will be granted tickets to attend the Attack of the Big Beers festival. Throughout the day there will be screenplay workshops, featured speaking panels,

copper mountain 1.jpg

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Olivia Carmel: We are in our infancy as a film festival since this is only our second year. That said, it is truly an independently-run festival by filmmakers and film-lovers. I think what sets us apart is that anyone involved now is directly helping to shape the future of this festival. It is a film festival by and for independent, low-budget filmmakers. Since we are working industry professionals ourselves, we understand what our submitters go through in making their films and what it means to have an audience for your project. We also understand what sort of benefits are appealing to filmmakers and our award winners, for example, will receive subscriptions and tools filmmakers use each and every day. We selected these as awards specifically because we use them ourselves. We hope to continue to grow in order to provide even more benefits as years go on.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We are partnered with the Attack of the Big Beers’ festival, which takes place during the day and transitions to our films in the evening. All accepted filmmakers and screenwriters will be given tickets to sample the craft beers. Those tickets not only get you beer and food at the festival itself, but at select restaurants and vendors in the area. We are also offering networking opportunities in the form of an Opening Night Party and a Filmmaker Happy Hour. Additionally, all screenwriters who have submitted to the Screenplay Contest will receive written feedback as well as the opportunity to meet one-on-one with our writing coaches. We are also following up with screenings in Denver of the award-winners so select filmmakers will not only get an audience in Copper but also in Denver. Finally, our festival is in beautiful Colorado in the center of a ski resort town. It may take place during the summer, but the beauty of the mountain landscape is everlasting. There are hiking trails and hot springs to enjoy nearby.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

At this time, we have categories for short films, feature films, and screenplays. We look at the writing, performances, cinematography, sound design, editing, pacing, and overall craft and uniqueness of every film. Frankly, we are looking to program the best and most enjoyable films. That said, since our festival is still young, we only have a weekend to showcase two shorts blocks and two to three feature films so the number of accepted films is limited and thus, competitive.

4) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

I’ve attended a lot of larger festivals and frequent the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It’s a wonderful festival and an experience like no other due to its sheer size and notoriety; however, it has changed over the years. There’s no question about that. Many independent, not-yet-discovered filmmakers working on low-to-no budget projects (out of necessity) have trouble standing apart from the mass amount of submissions. In a lot of ways, you have to already be on their radar. That said, with the straight-to-Netflix model of content consumption and more platforms jumping on original content – including YouTube and most recently, MoviePass – most, if not all, movies to screen at these larger festivals get the opportunity to sell and seen in wide release. This is an exciting time! I can’t stress that enough. But there are smaller festivals and platforms stepping up to fill the gap and most of these festivals, ourselves included, have taken a page out of the Slamdance Film Festival guidebook. Slamdance is run by filmmakers for filmmakers and was started by “Sundance rejects” on the cusp of Sundance becoming more mainstream and less independent at heart. Slamdance is for the rebel-heart. It’s for the filmmaker who wants to stomp to the beat of their own drum and make films their way, no matter the budget. This is a style and an art that shouldn’t be left behind. We hope to emulate festivals like Slamdance and work to support the truly indie, low-budget artists waiting to be discovered.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

In part, it comes from submitting to and attending film festivals. There’s an indescribable energy when you’re at a film festival meeting new creators and industry game-changers. Every festival I’ve attended, I’ve learned valuable lessons, met inspiring artists, and most of all, been reinvigorated with creativity and energy to create. I want to build a space for others to feel this. It also comes from a love of that form of independent, get-your-hands-dirty, belly-full-of-Redvines, low-budget filmmaking where no one really knows who else will see your film but in the moment of creation, that doesn’t really matter because you’re building a family. I want to give those filmmakers an audience and the tools to keep on creating.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

I hadn’t used FilmFreeway prior to this year’s festival and I’ll be using them from now on. It’s an easy tool to use and to navigate, their support system is helpful and concise, they provide a wealth of resources, and it’s incredibly easy to communicate with your judges, submitters, and staff. I can’t speak more highly of FilmFreeway. I originally thought since we were such a young festival and hadn’t done much marketing outside our state that we wouldn’t get many submissions. We received many more than expected – from all over the world! It’s been exciting and reminds us why we want to continue to grow this festival.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

I see us having grown to add more days and more screening times. We’re able to provide travel and lodging stipends from out-of-state filmmakers. During the festival, there are more networking and celebratory events added for filmmakers and festival attendees alike to round out the experience. We’re following up the festival with a tour of the award-winning films. The awards include cash prizes and we have a grant program for diverse and rising voices in film.

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

I don’t rewatch many films because I like to experience as much as I can but I’ve seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off a lot. I used to come home from school and watch it on a little TV on the floor of my bedroom. I had it on good ol’ VHS. I’ve also rewatched Top of the Lake (season 1) by Jane Campion many times. It’s one of the most well-crafted pieces of filmmaking and frankly, art I’ve seen in recent years. I could go on about every detail of it. It’s truly beautiful. I also had the unique experience of watching the entire series over the course of an entire day at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. This was the first festival “binge-watching” experience and the cast, crew, and Jane Campion herself were all present the entire time. It was amazing and I think that added to the experience of it as a whole.

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is made with passion.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

I’m based in Denver, Colorado. It’s a very creative city on a whole where people are excited to collaborate. We’ve had a number of Netflix, feature films, and nonscripted projects come to work in the area. We’re still earning our step to the ‘next level’ but things are happening.. There are award-winning filmmakers who have chosen Colorado as their home, and notable festivals like Telluride Film Festival and Denver Starz, talented production companies, and discussion of building a ‘studio city’ on the outskirts of Denver soon. If we keep bringing filmmakers here, we’ll continue to grow.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Italian Contemporary Film Festival: ROAD TO THE LEMON GROVE (Italy/Canada 2018)

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Road to the Lemon Grove Poster
A deceased Sicilian father, has one last outrageous mission in store for his son – spread his ashes in the lemon groves of Sicily, reunite two feuding families, discovering the heart and soul of who he really is.


Dale Hildebrand


The ad for the film goes “When life dishes you lemons…”  The film’s lead character is sure dished out a whole lot of lemons.  Guido (Nick Mancuso), a lecturer at the University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is given one mission by his recent deceased father, who keeps appearing as a ghost speaking in broken English with an Italian accent. 

Guido is to spread his ashes in the lemon groves of Sicily, while reunite two feuding families.  Hopefully while doing the mission, he will also discover the heart and soul of who he really is and maybe win the heart of a beautiful Sicilian (Rosella Brescia).  If all this sounds like quite serious stuff, it isn’t as director Hildebrand is more interested in cheap clownish Italian humour.  Mancuso portrays Guido as quite the clown and even the ghost of the father is quite the goof.  

Lots of manic situations and Italian gestures.  A message here is to preserve old languages which is what the professor teaches to his sleepy and uninterested room of students.  Hildebrand does manage to get some good solid laughs from his comedic set-ups.  Any messages on preservation of language or doing good are lost in Hildebrand’s fondness for clownish humour.


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