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film festivals

5 Top Picks for the Calgary International Film Festival

By RACHAEL FREY

The Grand Seduction kicks off CIFF Thursday, Sep 19. Photo: Marlne GŽlineau Payette  /  Max Films, courtesy CIFF

The Grand Seduction kicks off CIFF. Photo: Marlne GŽlineau Payette / Max Films, courtesy CIFF

The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) kicks off with a gala screening of The Grand Seduction (September 19, 7 pm at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium) directed by Canadian indie film icon Don McKellar. The film tells the story of a disgraced big city doctor, played by Taylor Kitsch, who ends up in a tiny Newfoundland town where the locals are determined to make him to stay. CIFF executive director Steve Schroeder calls it “one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.” (more…)

Hot Date: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

A still from the film "Sfinga."

Jan. 23 and 24. The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour travels across the world, hitting 32 different countries and presenting audiences with films on exploration and adventure, culture and environment, and winter sports. Programming for each stop on the tour is tailored to suit each and every locale, meaning the experience is never the same. Besides the beautiful cinematography, the joy of this yearly film fest is that you get the experience of climbing a mountain without having to leave your seat!

16 December Festivals Across Canada

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge. Photo by Tyler Ingram

By Kristina Breckon

Grab your parka and your toque and explore Canada this month. Following is a list of events across the country that are guaranteed to get even the biggest Scrooge into the holiday spirit. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for September 23 to 25

Kelly Prescott and Anders Drerup perform in Grievous Angel. Photo credit: David McDonald.

Friday, September 23
Local singers Anders Drerup and Kelly Prescott take the stage as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris in Grievous Angel: The Legend of Gram Parsons. Inspired by an interview with the singer prior to his death in 1973 (the bizarre aftermath of which spawned a rock legend), this theatrical concert explores the life and times of a musician who’s hailed by many as the patron saint of alt-country and Americana. Two performances on Sept. 23 and 24. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for Aug. 12 to 14

Campfire & Storytelling takes place Friday nights through August.

Friday, Aug. 12
Snuggle up ‘round the fire and let your imagination run wild at the weekly Campfire & Storytelling event. The Ottawa Storytellers host an evening of oratory for both young and old at Billings Estate National Historic Site. These artists continue the age-old old tradition of storytelling, no book or paper in sight. Enjoy tales for adults and separate stories and songs for children, as well as plenty of marshmallows to roast.

Give date night a lift by grabbing snacks and laying out a blanket on the grass of Dundonald Park for the Centretown Movies Outdoor Film Festival. On Friday night, follow Harry and the gang in the second last installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. On Saturday night the magic continues with awkward goofball Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, about a teenager who must win the heart of a girl by defeating her seven evil exes. This is the final scheduled two-night showing of the festival, with Aug. 19 as a make-up date for any rained out films and Aug. 20 either a make-up date or a surprise film.

Blues fans and rib lovers come together for the aptly titled Calabogie Blues & Ribfest. This brand new event boasts talent such as Kelly Prescott, Anders Drerup, and MonkeyJunk. There’s also a beer garden, a vendor’s area, a kids’ zone with face painting and rides, Canadian and American “ribbers” who are vying for the honour of best ribs in town, and fireworks. There are even spots for camping so you can make a weekend of it.

Saturday, Aug. 13
Remember the board game Clue? Well Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green and the rest of the motley crew are getting together again for a dinner party, only this time you’re invited! Suzart Productions presents Clue: The Musical, a hilarious dinner theatre show based on the popular game, in which audiences receive clues to help them figure out the mystery of who killed Mr. Boddy, in what room, and with what weapon. Show runs Thursday, Aug. 11, until tonight. (more…)

Hot Date: Ecological Lens

Margaret Atwood is the subject of Ron Mann's film, In the Wake of the Flood

OCTOBER 13 TO 17 The leaves may be changing colours, but we can still think green. This month, the Planet in Focus International Environmental Film & Video Festival returns to Toronto to showcase the rapid emergence of ecologically conscious cinema. Opening the festival is Ron Mann’s much-anticipated In the Wake of the Flood, which chronicles a unique book tour undertaken by Margaret Atwood to promote her enviro-apocalypse novel The Year of the Flood. Approximately 90 other films and documentaries are on view, including Liz Marshall’s Water on the Table, bringing environmental issues to the big screen. Various venues and times, tickets $15 to $22; call 416-968-3456 or visit here for further details.

October Editor’s Picks: Entertainment

Fall Home ShowOCTOBER 1 TO 4 Just because you’re travelling doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally think about home. It’s easy to do this month at the Fall Home Show, which showcases home-improvement products and services from more than 300 retailers, all under one huge roof. And if you’re in need of project ideas and tips, a slew of experts are on-hand to discuss the latest and greatest innovations—from technology solutions, to helpful hints for holiday entertaining offered by top Ontario chefs, beverage experts and event planners. Exhibition Place, Better Living Centre, general admission $13; click here or call 416-644-5400 for more information.

10-09-HotEnt(PlanetFocus2)OCTOBER 21 TO 25 Now that the glitz of September’s Toronto International Film Festival is behind us, it’s time to shift attention back to real issues. Planet in Focus does just that with more than 70 of the finest Canadian and international environmental films and documentaries. To mark its 10th anniversary, the festival spotlights works that look forward a decade in the future and examine the challenges—and potential solutions—that lie ahead. Of course, the medium of moviemaking is meant not only to stimulate, but to educate. In keeping with that mandate, pre- and post-film discussions and workshops are offered with many screenings. Various venues, $10 per film or $100 for a festival pass; call 416-531-4689 for tickets.

David GrayOCTOBER 26 One of Toronto’s most venerable concert halls echoes with earnestly strummed guitars, electronic samples and cathartic melodies, as British folk-rocker David Gray ambles into town to promote his latest album, Draw the Line. The affable troubadour boasts a repertoire of commercial chart-toppers (“Babylon” and “Please Forgive Me” propelled his 1999 record, White Ladder, to more than 12 million in sales worldwide) as well as those lesser-known tracks that hold special significance to his fervent fans. Arrive early for opener Lisa Hannigan—the willowy singer-songwriter was recently nominated for Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize. Massey Hall, $54.50 to $64.50; call 416-870-8000 or visit Ticketmaster to purchase.