Full Review: DON’T TALK TO IRENE (Canada 2017) ***

Don't Talk to Irene Poster
When Irene – the fattest girl in high school – gets suspended, she must endure two weeks of community service at a retirement home. Following her passion for cheerleading, she secretly …See full summary »


Pat Mills


Pat MillsPat Mills

DON’T TALK TO IRENE takes its cue from Woody Allen’s PLAY IT AGAIN SAM the Herbert Ross film where the Allen character takes advice from Humphrey Bogart with regards to getting a girl.  In DON’T TALK TO IRENE, the protagonist, an overweight teenage girl takes advice from Geena Davis as she follows a different goal, in this case of pursuing her passion for cheerleading.  She signs up for a talent-search reality show in order to prove that “physical perfection” isn’t everything.

Irene Willis (Michelle McLeod) lives in a town of a small fictional town of Parc supposed to be just north of Toronto.  The film was shot in Hamilton, Ontario.  It is described in the film as the worst of small towns, where Irene goes to the worst of high schools.  Her cycle of life is predictable and bland.  Fuelled by the dream of becoming a cheerleader, but constantly told by both her overprotective mother (Anastasia Philips) and classmates that she does not fit the mild of a cheerleader.  But Geena Davis, speaking to Irene via the A League of Their Own poster on her bedroom wall tells her “Never quit!”

When Irene gets suspended and is forced to do community service at a retirement home — run by Barrett (Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson) — alongside her bullies and her new friend, Tesh (a gender non-conforming, glitzy dreamer), an opportunity arises.  She rounds up her new-found circle of elderly friends into an unlikely dance troupe.

The film has the story of a socially unaccepted underdog doing it successfully at the end.  It is an age old story which audiences have seen time and again.  In fact this is not the first film in which seniors enter a dance competition.

But it is often the story that does not make a good film.  Despite the story’s limitations, the film benefits for the sly humour of its writer/director Pat Mills.  Mills gives himself a cameo as a drunken teacher in a few segments in the movie.  Mills, in his 2014 film, GUIDANCE, made an imprint with his dark and really funny comedy.  DON’T TALK TO IRENE is not as good as GUIDANCE but it has its moments.

The character of transgendered, smart-talking Tesh is not that funny and appears in the film to set a politically correct statement.  The mother and daughter relationship is also nothing new and the mother’s final acceptance of her daughter’s goals is predictable, if not tiresome.  The film also aims to be too smug with strong language added to create a more edgy film.  The seniors, again all try their best to show that they still have it, in terms of ingenuity, sex drive or dance skills.

McLeod is a rare find and is able to carry the film well.  The film contains a nice surprise with the actual appearance of Geena Davis.

Still everyone loves a feel-good movie.  Undemanding viewers should lap this tale up, with no problem at all.  Critics can only wince at the goings-on of this girl that finally makes good.

Trailer: https://youtu.be/56xfd8POz4c

Film Review: SAGE FEMME (THE MIDWIFE) (France 2017) ***

The Midwife Poster

A midwife gets unexpected news from her father’s old mistress.


Martin Provost


Martin Provost (dialogue), Martin Provost (screenplay)


A film with babies being brought into the world?  One cannot imagine a more euphoric subject.

Martin Provost is a French film director not that well known in North America as his films, as is the case of many French films, do not get distribution.  It is a sad thing as his film SERAPHINE that won the Cesar for Best Film and for him sharing the Best Screenplay never got here either.  I was fortunate to catch it at the Toronto International Film Festival and it is good to see a film of his SAGE FEMME finally released.

It is nothing more than spectacular to see two of my favourite French actress together in the same film.  Both Catherine Frot and Catherine Deneuve (the great Catherines) – and I can watch them forever.  Frot (the younger one), allows Deneuve to take the spotlight whenever they appear on screen together as obvious in the restaurant scene where Deneuve freaks out while Frot remains composed.

Claire (Frot) is a midwife at a Paris hospital.  In her 40’s, her life has become monotonous  and routine even though she has the exciting task of delivering babies.  Into  her life suddenly arrives Beartrice (Deneuve) who is diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Though dying, she wants to live.  The two are complete opposites.  While Claire is a vegetarian and no-drinker, Beartrice downs bottles of wine while indulging in red meat.  Beatrice is the woman Claire’s father left her mother for.  Beatrice wants closure – to make things right.  Claire initially wants noting to do with her but eventually succumbs.  Frot and Deneuve exhibit good chemistry playing contrasting confrontational personalities.  It is this chemistry that makes the film work, despite the simple plot covered by lame subplots like Claire’s son (dropping out of school; his pregnant girlfriend), Beatrice’s gambling and other bad habits and the hospital affairs.

As the subject is the midwife who delvers babies at a hospital, the film necessarily shows several of the deliveries of the just born.  It is very obvious that director Provost always hides the side of the bay and mother so that the umbilical cord cannot be seen, or that would mean the delivery of a real baby.

Though Deneuve is in her senior years, Provost does not even for once fall into the trap of cliched films about old farts.  Deneuve’s old character is portrayed as a mother dying of a brain tumour.  There is no scene of her reliving her young days, or trying to have sex or fall in love again.

Provost succeeds in the balancing comedy and drama.  Deneuve provides most of the comedy and Frot the drama.

The film suffers from a predictable plot.  It does not take a genius to guess that Beartrice will teach Claire how to live life and that Claire will eventually succumb to the charms of her suitor (Olivier Gourmet).

SAGE FEMME is a pleasant enough melodrama that will not win any awards but still should be seen for its two stars Denueve and Frot.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_FLOFTvqdQ

Film Review: WHITE NIGHT (Nuit Blanche) (Canada 2017) ***

White Night Poster
Set in the sleepless night of Nuit Blanche, White Night follows five different stories of people as they weave their way through various art installations tackling the issues of, love, losses, and the inevitability of getting old.

Directors:  Sonny AtkinsP.H. Bergeron (as Philippe H. Bergeron)


NUIT BLANCHE (Translated: White Night; originating from Paris and Nantes – an all night arts festival), the film traces a night in Toronto in fall beginning at sunset and going on till the early hours of dawn the next morning, where attendees can see, free of charge, art installations of various forms around the city centre.  A guide is available for choice picking.  Or one can do the random thing.  The art on display includes everything from film (like old films with piano accompaniment or French serial comedies) to paintings to music.  One can attend en seul or in a group.  In my experience it is best to decide what to visit before venturing out.  WHITE NIGHT the movie is based on this Toronto event. The film opens with a song with lyrics asking what the special night means to anyone.  It also comes with a forewarning of the unexpected and to expect the unexpected.

Set in the sleepless night of Nuit Blanche, White Night follows six different stories of people in transition. As they weave their way through various art installations they are forced to tackle the issues of, love, loss, aging, and the ever important question; is it art?

Emily is an artist. She has an installation. But does she have anything to say?  She is shown at the start of the film lugging her boxes, assuming containing her installation, to the right while the camera pans to the left.  Frank, a lawyer (with an uncanny resemblance to Ben Affleck) who initially is working late on unit blanche, he just fired. So he decides to take up a career in crime fighting. Violet and Sully are long time friends. Once young punk rockers fighting to take down the man they now face the idea of growing up.  Melanie needed change. So she uprooted her life in Quebec to start anew in Toronto. The language barrier is proving to be more difficult than she imagined.  Stacey likes to help people. While everybody else is transfixed by art she is out to find people in need.  Riley lives to capture life on his camera. He hides behind what he sees in everyone else.  The film intercuts the multiple stories in chronological order of the night as it transgresses, rather than playing them one after another.  It is not a new cinema concept but it is a suitable one for the subject.

Riley especially when on mushrooms is the funniest character.  Violet and Sully are the most boring, pretentious representing the worst of the art exhibits that are often on display.  No one wants to watch prissy, self-centred, unfunny, pretentious, people who do nothing that talk about themselves.   Characters also meet – like Riley and Emily.

The best thing about the film is the varied soundtrack from Stephen Joffe, Birds of Bellwoods and Beams also consisting of live performances.

The film has a one week (right after the 2017 Toronto event on September 30) limited engagement at the Carlton Cinemas, Toronto.  With a look! 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjKEA4751iQ&utm_source=WHITE+NIGHT&utm_campaign=357e40b8fd-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d4877cdab0-357e40b8fd-450246757

Died Today at 91: Hugh Hefner (September 28th)

Hugh M. Hefner was born on April 9, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Hugh Marston Hefner. He was a…

Born: April 9, 1926
Died: September 27, 2017 (age 91)

“Hugh M. Hefner, the American icon who in 1953 introduced the world to Playboy magazine and built the company into one of the most recognizable American global brands in history, peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones,” a rep for the Playboy Enterprises founder said in a statement to People

Interview with Festival Director Auregan (ANIMATION STUDIO FESTIVAL)


Our selection is based on love, emotion, and great talent. The movies we chose to select are creative, sincere and powerful. They drive you somewhere else, or deep inside so you can feel, learn, be surprise, laugh, discover a new perspective.


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

Auregan: We have exclusive categories such as Best Story and Best Design. This way we want to reward the most sensitive films even if they didn’t have the budget for specific animation, and we also want to pick some of the best animators and animation designers. On a general perspective I have always been in love with animated films and by making these festival I want to select the new generation of talented and passionate filmmakers.

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

We are planning for high quality screening event involving the filmmakers by sharing and showing their craft and amazing expertise.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We have eight categories, for short and feature films, for 2D, 3D, traditional, digital animation and even stop motion. Shorts must be less than 30 minutes and features over 40 minutes. For the rest we are expected moving and entertaining and funny films from all over the world !

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

There is some truth in that. Sometimes the bigger festival becomes the more the selection goes to some kind of etablished names, talents and films. It is up to the filmmakers to carrefuly chose the festivals they submit to. At the Animation Studio Festival, we are fully transparent, you can check our website and we answer each and every email. We are looking for the most sincere and involved filmmakers regardless of their status.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We really love animated films. We watch them all the time. We noticed that there is so much more originality in animated films than in other films’ genres. The imagination of the animators and the authors seems unlimited !

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

There is a fisrt selection made by our team, then the selection is sent to the jury members who decide who the winners will be for each category. Nowadays the submission process is made really easy thanks to the platforms. We are on FilmFreeway but also on WithoutaBox, Click for Festivals and Festhome. So far the response as been great from the filmmakers !

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

There are so many artists, animators, screenwriters we would love to have as jury members… Also I guess I want the festival to grow but I also want to keep it close to the audience and the submitters.

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

Probably The Lion King. I know all the dialogues and the songs by heart.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great story. Definitively.

How is the film scene in your city?

You know, films are what Los Angeles is about. The city lives with movies, breathes films, everyday. There is a lot of competition but judging by the response we have to the Animation Studio Festival, we already are standing out.

 animation studio festival.jpg


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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Happy Birthday: Will Smith

Festival Reviews

willsmith.jpgWill Smith

Born: September 25, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Married to: Jada Pinkett Smith (31 December 1997 – present) (2 children)
Sheree Fletcher (9 May 1992 – 10 December 1995) (divorced) (1 child)

[on refusing to kiss Anthony Michael Hall in Six Degrees of Separation (1993)] It was very immature on my part. I was thinking, ‘How are my friends in Philly going to think about this?’ I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to artistically commit to that aspect of the film. In a movie with actors and a director and writer of this caliber, for me to be the one bringing something cheesy to it… This was a valuable lesson for me. Either you do it or you don’t.

MEN IN BLACKMen in Black
dir. Barry Sonnefeld
also starring
Tommy Lee Jones
Laura Flynn Boyle
dir. Michael Mann
Jamie Foxx
Jon Voight
BAD BOYS 2Bad Boys 2

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Interview with Co-Founder Karl Rössel (AFRIKA FILM FESTIVAL)

1992 – 2015: 25 years of Films from Africa in Cologne/Germany

FilmInitiativ Köln e.V has been organising the AFRIKA FILM FESTIVAL KÖLN since
1992 in Cologne/Germany. In 25 years more than 750 films from 40 African countries have been shown and the cinema-goers had the opportunity to get to know more than 160 filmmakers.

The AFRIKA FILM FESTIVAL KÖLN presents the most comprehensive range of
contemporary African cinema in Germany. As a result, the festival has grown in
national and international stature during the years.

In preparation for the Cologne festivals FilmInitiativ has regularly attended the panafrican film festival FESPACO in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. FilmInitiativ has also attended African film festivals in Durban, Tunis (Carthage), Rabat and Cairo, as well as those in Milan, Amsterdam, Leuven, Tarifa/Cordoba and Frankfurt a.M. Special programmes featuring films from Africa that are screened at international film festivals, such as Cannes, Berlin, Rotterdam, Venice, Locarno, Toronto and Innsbruck, are also reviewed and evaluated for the Cologne festival.

FilmInitiativ offers information about all films and guests that were presented at the festivals in Cologne via a database in three languages on the website:

The 15th edition of the festival will be held from September 21 to October 3, 2017. It will mark the 25th anniversary of the festival.


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

Karl Rössel: The festival provides an opportunity for filmmakers from Africa and from the global African diaspora to present their films to the German audience. We promote those films not only by presenting them at our festival in Cologne, but also by recommanding them to cinemas and festivals in other German cites. We also subtitle some of the festival films as it makes it easier to distribute them in Germany.

For those filmmakers who come to visit the festival we organise meetings with the documentary and feature departments of the WDR. The WDR is Germanys biggest
public TV station and based in Cologne.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year

Given that we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the AFRIKA FILM FESTIVAL KÖLN,
people attending our festival can not only expect about 80 new films from more than 20 countries in Africa and from the diaspora, but also 30 guests, two exhibitions, four live music acts including an anniversary concert (with the Kasai Allstars from Kinshasa) and a party (with the Steven Ouma Band from Cologne).

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The films for our festival are selected by the whole festivalteam. If the opinions in our team on certain films are inconsistent we also ask friends from African communities and others for their advise. We always try to present the best films from festivals in Africa, including those winning major awards.

The most important criteria for the selection is, that films should be directed by people from Africa or the African diaspora and not by Europeans or Americans. We deliberately present films from Africa, not about Africa. All genres and styles are welcome as long the content and form of the films are interesting and
inspiring. Given that we see cinema as a form of art we are not interested in
mainstream films, which are just shot for commercial reasons.

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

At festivals like the Berlinale (as well as other international A-festivals like Cannes, Venice and Rotterdam for example) films from Africa still are widely ignored. The few exceptions from this rule do not represent the great variety of genres, styles and contents of contemporary filmmaking in Africa. While films from Asia and Latin America are more regulary presented at international festivals, they still seem to be not interested or capable to do comprehensive research on new developments in African cinema.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

The association organising the festival, FilmInitiativ Köln e.V., was founded in 1988 when it set itself the objective of “arousing interest in cinematic art by screening films and giving lectures and seminars and also to stimulate and encourage political discussions”. In doing so, “primarily films that are not represented in the listings of commercial cinemas should be given a platform. These could be significant films in cinematic history or culture which document the cinematographic works of non-European filmmakers”. After presenting a first series of films from West Africa in 1992, the whole team of FilmInitiativ in 1993 traveled to Burkina Faso to attend the legendary panafrican film festival FESPACO. Overwhelmed by the amount of fascinating films from African directors, which we discoverd at this festival inOuagadougou, we decided soon after to concentrate on the presentation of films from Africa. By providing opportunities to watch those films and to discuss with African directors at eye level we also try to overcome sterotypes and racist prejudices, which are still widely spread in Germany when it come to Africa and its people.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We received more than 400 film submission via FilmFreeway. The problem is, that
even if you define certain criteria, many filmmakers submit their films without fulfilling the criteria.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We hope that we will be able to present (and finance!) a festival in 2020, which will be as comprehensive, diversified and ambitious as our anniversary festival this year.

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

„Hyènes“ by Djibril Diop Mambety from Senegal, because we have presented this
masterpiece several times in the last 25 year.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film moves and changes the audience watching it.

How is the film scene in your city?

There are not enough cinemas and screens in Cologne.

Film does not play the role it should. If people in Cologne still get a chance to watch important films from around the world, it is due to the efforts of independent film groups (like FilmInitiativ Köln e.V.) and a few art house cinemas.



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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed