JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Toronto Urban Film Festival - Growth (Guest Judge: Mark McKinney) - September 12, 2008

Toronto Urban Film Festival - Growth

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Urban Growth

Gerrard and Coxwell
Three and one-half stars
Zaheed Mawani
Those who labour in shops (retail and mechanical) are given a few seconds to smile for the camera (even the “Going Out of Business” owner) in a distinct part of Toronto. These real-life portraits make much better inducements for a trip to the store than any brochure or flyer. Great idea, executed with gentle discretion.

Kinetic Graffiti
William Angus
Four stars
Toronto’s urban outdoor public art gallery is flashed and splashed across the screen at the pace of the subway. So much concrete to spray paint, so little time—even when being caught “in the act of creation” could lead to a non tax-deductible expense. Art for the people, by the people adds much colour to the misery of the daily commute—much like these films relieve the tedium of commercial messages that so completely dominate our public places.

Little Boxes
Sarah Alden
Three stars
Another “simple“ film with the directness of Norman McLaren as a simple house icon multiplies exponentially. Just a few basic colours show any difference in the ever-increasing cookie-cutter abodes that are as faceless as many of their inhabitants become.

Karen Richardson and Eberth Rodriguez
Five stars
The evolution of a city has seldom been captured as well. The purposely sketchy hand drawings (with real hands changing the scene and magically “cleansing” downtown—if only going green could be that simple!) depict the good, the bad and the inevitable pollution from continuous growth. Points well made, brilliantly rendered.

The Human
Elinor Whidden
Four and one-half stars
Our societal love affair with the automobile takes an intriguingly unexpected turn: isolated human walks down empty freeway with a backpack filled with spare parts. Is this what happens when the pumps completely try up? Creative and expressive.

TO – Our City
Jean-Pierre Joubert
Five stars
Joubert’s clay artistry is a joy to behold as many of Toronto’s most famous buildings and activities are fantastically shaped with love and skill—only to be squished out of their brief existence. Bravo!

Turcot Interchange
Karen Vanderborght
Three and one-half stars
A concrete and steel monster of superhighways in the air (with poverty all round) comes under the watchful eye of a filmmaker who has her sights set on the bigger story. Loose bits of the disintegrating bridges fly through the metaphoric atmosphere of civic meetings with the greatest of ease. Couldn’t happen here ….

Urban Growth
Gil Gauvreau
Four stars
Chalk one up for Mother Nature. A leafy vine has devoured a streetlight and its voracious tentacles are set on anything else within its grasp. Bottoms-up shots of a faraway plane and the glowing lamp wrapped in verdant leaves make this a visual marvel no matter how you look at it.

Urban Planning (Lament for the City of Toronto)
Michelle Gay
Four stars
Profit over public good. Meetings held, voices of dissension are heard and just as quickly forgotten; the seemingly unstoppable road to condo heaven (only developers have the map and permission to drive) is succinctly captured in Gay’s wry piece.

Jonathan Shaw
Two stars
The heavy, dark imagery on its own has a certain interest, but the filmmaker’s thesis gets lost without a script.

Your Ad Here
Jeremy Bailey
Three stars
Corporate body branding takes on a different slant as the images and slogans associated with various products and services are seen on the filmmaker’s specially prepared head and arm. It’s a sandwich board with Java scripts! JWR

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