JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Toronto Urban Film Festival - Diversity (Programmer: Ali Kazimi) - September 13, 2009
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Toronto Urban Film Festival - Diversity

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Diversions for everyone

De-limited Lite
Vince Kesavamoorthy
Three stars
The drudgery of tedious, manual labour is juxtaposed with the notion of thirsting for beauty (external/internal). The young, black-and-white girl longs for colour in her limited world even as the matchsticks she creates could mean life or death for their eventual owners. Thoughtful, if a tad too “framed.”


I Miss Pakistan
Faisal Anwar
Two stars
Superimposing talking (caption) heads over TTC streetcars going about their business—forwards and backwards but confined to the same rails—proves too much of a diversion to allow the quintet of Pakistanis to make their points. The idea is sound, but requires a different approach for its effective delivery.


Project Weston
Ryan Hughes
Three and one-half stars
A wide-ranging “peoplescape” embraces diversity at many levels: race, age, colour (the film’s effective use of colour and black-and-white), affluence and attitude. The reworking of street traffic means little to those who make their way on foot.


Schuh Schnell Service
Chris Kennedy
Three stars
This one-shot study capturing modes of transportation in Wuppertal, Germany (population ~360,000) starts slowly then suddenly intrigues when what appears to be a suspended subway first flies overhead. Those used to their rails beneath their feet will be surprised.


The Clothes Make the Man
Owen Eric Wood
Five stars
Wood’s non-stop Mr. Dressup is a constant pleasure. Like playing with dolls, Vincent Chine’s camera and fashion sense strips the model down to his briefs and then through a barrage of styles and tones (the Social Outcast/Artist is a wonderful comment) that redefine our first impressions over and over again. Happily, we learn what’s under Wood’s skin through the engaging manner in which his ideas are presented.


These People
Max Kosc and Ryan Morrison
Four stars
Apparent sidewalk rage gradually builds to a frosty dénouement in this amusing tale of bigotry that lashes out with fries, hot dogs and coffee at those “different“ from us. As is so often the case, the people who really need to see such subliminal, biting commentary never will—they’re too busy living the premise.


Time Dragon Toronto
James Gillespie
Three and one-half stars
Recording present-day events using a decades-old museum-piece camera has much to say about then (one-hue footage) and now (vaguely focussed, jittery pans). The collage of grainy, sepia and filtered images finally finds its ideal subject in Chinatown dragons which have equally powerful magic and power of their own.


Turkish Tea
Kathleen Mullen and Liss Platt
Three and one-half stars
What makes a city unique? Is it the geographic location or the background and culture of those who live within its boundaries? Over tea, the generational divide discusses whether Istanbul and Toronto are both the same (they’ve got arts, work, fellow countrymen) or far more than miles apart. Clearly, globalization has found its way more into the younger generation than those whose memories recall a far different picture (this family arrived in 1994). Just like blended tea, the final result depends on several ingredients from many locales.


Venezia
Paul Wong
Four and one-half stars
This magical ride down a mirror-image Venetian canal has much warmth and sense of wellness that cries for some music (the Baroque symmetry of Vivaldi or Corelli’s rich harmonic structures come simultaneously to mind). Here’s to a longer journey with all of the artistic trimmings.


Walking Spirits
Faisal Anwar
Three stars
Without benefit of the director’s notes, the notion of a metropolitan ghost town might well have been missed in the murky images that bustle about the screen. With chasing ghosts yielding a deadly result just a few days ago, this tale from the dark side takes on even deeper meaning. JWR

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