Sunday, September 24, 2006

Victoria Park's dirty little secret

A spooky Toronto story about Victoria Park - Fort York's first cemetary - to get you in the mood for Hallowe'en.

Library Studies

A Study In Green
Originally uploaded by Ted Battye.
Just wanted to share this gorgeous picture with all of you. It's UofT's EJ Pratt Library. If UWO's libraries were this stunning - instead of the horrendous concrete brutalist architecture of the 70s - I think I would've moved in.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Behind The Sugar Curtain

As a high school student and later an English Literature graduate, I had always taken a personal interest in art that discussed or represented studies on utopian ideology, Brave New World, The Blithedale Romance or Walden Two for example, the Ukiyo-e of Edo is some of my favorite. Along those lines I was driven to see the documentary The Sugar Curtain, screening at TIFF’s overly heated ROM theatre tonight, which discussed Che’s impact on 70s Cuba. I was intrigued listening to other adults my age discuss what it was like to be a “Child Pioneer” in those days and how everything – cookies, cakes, soap, dreams – flowed easily and often.

I’ve never been to Cuba, and in fact have been told by some close friends - supporters of the American political system - that I shouldn’t ever go and support a system of Communism. Instead my head is filled with stereotypes of the place and stories from travelers which tell of the decay of beautiful historic sites, the lack of really decent food, the lack of pencils for schools and of the schism between tourists and citizens. Until now, I had now idea of what may have been felt in the heart and mind of those growing up, and for the most part, trying to leave the island of Cuba.

People here tend to think it’s the US embargo that has caused all Cuba’s problems, but it appears that was a choice they followed with their hearts. The fall of the Iron Curtain in the 1980’s after 70 strong and long years was what has led to their demise they’ll claim. As students and pioneers striving to be the “new man” Che envisioned, they had been told anything was possible and those in their thirties now still appear to believe it. However, they won’t necessarily tell you, but the majority don’t seem to think its possible within Cuba and have eventually moved away. They lament that students growing up now will never know the glory days when everything came easily and yet there was no materialism, there was passion but no religion – now a whole generation faces an uncertain future and little hope. Their only hopes now, appear to oddly enough tie into ideas of Western materialism, as unrealistic as it is unattainable.

The Sugar Curtain screens again on Friday at 7PM at the Varsity.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It's Not Too Late to TIFF

The Toronto Film Festival is showcasing 352 films this year and we all know it can be a bit daunting to jump into it at this stage of the game. If you haven't made any picks for this week there are still plenty of options. I've narrowed down what I think are some very worthwhile films and documentaries for this Tuesday and Thursday night, all of which had tickets available at the time I posted this.

Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce personally recommended Cuban doc The Sugar Curtain about 70s utopian dreams: Tuesday at 8:15PM.

More reasons to make fun of the suburbs, Radiant City, Tuesday at 8:45PM.

Not just for the title, Dong, a documentary which explores the building of the Three Gorges dam in China and its subsequent devastation of everything surrounding it, Thursday at 7:15PM.

For Liz and Craig - competitive gymnasts in White Palms, Thursday at 8PM.

First love warms up cold Toronto nights, In Between Days Thursday at 8:30PM.

If you ever been compelled to Hula, uplifting Hula Girls Thursday at 8:45PM.

With so many terrific films at the festival you can't go wrong, but get your tickets soon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Great Success!

According to Matt at blogTO the Borat film during Toronto's International Film Festival was a bust. While over 300 people showed up to see the Kazhakstani star ride in on his white horse, 20 minutes into the flick the projector broke. Michael Moore and Ali G / Sasha Baron Cohen / Borat entertained the restless crowd.

I thought I was one of Ali's biggest fans, convincing my boyfriend to dress up as him for Hallowe'en 04, but it turns out I'm not the only one. Even some dude who paid $400 bucks wasn't disappointed he didn't see the film, instead getting to see the star of HBO's Da Ali G show in his element.

While I think Borat's character deserves "Great Success!" for me it's Bruno that knows how to give a great interview: