For those who know his work, Toronto filmmaker Alan Zweig isn’t exactly renowned for seeing the brighter side of life. Indeed, through his previous films such as Vinyl and I Curmudgeon, he has built a reputation for exploring life’s darker aspects, including his own personal struggles and vulnerabilities.
Toronto Director Alan Zweig
It might, then, come as a surprise to some to learn of his most recent film, 15 Reasons To Live, in which he instead turns his eye to what makes life worth living; the various facets of the human experience which make our time on this planet worth holding onto and cherishing.
The film was inspired by a book of essays of the same title Why Not: 15 reasons to live, by Alan’s friend Roy Robertson. As soon as he heard the title, knew he wanted to make a film based on idea.
Based on this inspiration, the film takes the viewer through a sequence of chapters, each one adapted to one of the fifteen themes in Ray Robertson’s collection of essays Adventure, Art, Intoxication. Rather than being an abstract meditation, in the film each point is illustrated by a portrait of a person and a particular experience they have had, which brings to life the theme in question.
The portraits are both poignant and revealing, and the end result is a heartening film of meditations on the nature of life and resilience that will leave you thinking long after you’ve left the theatre.
The film premiered at Hot Docs in May, and will be coming out to Canadian theatres this October. I sat down with Alan Zweig during Hot Docs in May for our interview.
To find out more visit www.15reasonstolive.com/
On the show this week, a conversation with Tom Berninger, the filmmaker behind the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers which is a behind the scenes look at the popular indie band The National. But even if you don’t happen to be a fan of The National, the film stands on its own as a entertaining, heartwarming and thought provoking watch.
Lead singer of The National Matt Berninger and his brother Tom
The setting is 2010, and indie rockers The National are about to embark on their biggest international tour yet when lead singer Matt Berninger invites his floundering younger brother Tom to join them and be part of the tour crew. Tom agrees, and brings a camera along to document the journey . What follows is anything but smooth sailing. From Tom’s highs to lows, getting into trouble for not fulfilling his duties, and constant friction with his brother Matt, the ensuing film “Mistaken For Strangers” is a entertaining meditation on success, failure, redemption, and brotherly love.
I sat down with younger brother and director Tom Berninger to talk about the film, his life as a brother to a rock star, and the three year challenge of putting the film together.
The film is still on the festival circuit but should be coming out to a wide release within the next few months. To find out more and keep up on upcoming screenings check out www.mistakenforstrangersmovie.com
This week a look at two new documentary films, which played at this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto.
First up – Tiny A Story About Living Small takes a look at the new movement of living small in a big way.
We North Americans are known for our love of material things, including large houses. But a growing community of individuals and couples have started questioning the more is better paradigm and have begun experimenting just how little we need to be happy. One of the most interesting examples of this are the self-proclaimed “Tiny Housers” – people who have have opted to radically downsize their lives by building and living in tiny houses 200 square feet or less, a size no bigger than your average parking space!
Filmmakers Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith
Now the new film Tiny – A Story About Living Small takes a look at this trend of small living. The filmmaking team of Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller document their own journey of building a tiny home (despite having no previous experience building) and also profile six families who have opted for the small house lifestyle and the reasons they decided to so radically simplify and downsize their lives.To find out more about the film and about Tiny houses check them out at http://tiny-themovie.com/
And in the second half, Caucus is a rare behind the scenes look at the ground battle of american presidential politics. The film by AJ Schnack and Nathan Truesdell follows the 2012 Republican Iowa Caucus and documents the nine often lonely months the 8 republican candidates – From Michelle Bachmann to Mitt Romney spent traveling, stumping and campaigning around Iowa in the lead up to that states “first in the nation” primary vote. From corn dogs to lonely town halls, it’s a look at the bizarre nature, spectacle and life of being a presidential hopeful.
It’s a verite look into american politics we haven’t seen since 1993’s The War Room. You can find out more at http://caucusfilm.com/
First up on today’s show, famed Canadian philosopher, author and humanitarian, Jean Vanier, on spirituality, community, and on the philosophy of becoming human. He is the founder of L’arche, a series of supportive community with branches around the world, where those with developmental disabilities and those who come to assist them, share life together in welcoming and friendly settings that are integrated into local neighbourhoods.
To find out more about L’arche you can visit them here
Philosopher and Humanitarian Jean Vanier
And in the second half of the program, I speak with award-winning documentary filmmaker Liz Marshall on her upcoming film The Ghosts in our Machine, in which she turns her lens to how we treat animals in our modern industrial society.
Documentary Filmmaker Liz Marshall
The Ghosts in our Machine will be premiering at the 2013 Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival in Toronto this May.
The Ghosts in our Machine, the upcoming documentary by Liz Marshal explores how we treat animals
To find out more about the film and to keep abreast of upcoming screenings, visit www.theghostsinourmachine.com
This week! An interview with host of CBC’s Definitely Not The Opera, and all around Canadian renaissance woman, Sook-Yin Lee. From her tumultuous childhood in Vancouver, and early interest in the arts, to her days as a Much Music VJ, and her work with film and acting.
Host of DNTO on CBC Radio, Sook-Yin Lee
In the interview, Sook-Yin Lee also speaks about the experience playing the role of Olivia Chow in Jack, the CBC biopic of the late Jack Layton, leader of the federal NDP.
Sook-Yin Lee with Olivia Chow. Sook-Yin played Olivia in the CBC biopic on Jack Layton.
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Episode two of The Public!
This week award-winning Canadian filmmaker Daniel Cross on the recent culture cuts by the federal government and what it means for the future of documentary filmmaking in Canada, and in the second half of the program, writer, playwright, and Toronto Star Columnist Rick Salutin shares his thoughts on democratic renewal and talks about some of his formative experiences growing up in Toronto.