October 10, 2013
A leanly crafted and racially charged mix of crime thriller, modern-day western and morality play by director Ivan Sen, Mystery Road makes for a compelling opening gala for imagineNATIVE, Toronto’s 14th annual showcase of new work by indigenous filmmakers and artists.
The festival has its official launch with a welcome ceremony at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto on Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. Then the slate of features, docs and shorts begins at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema with the 7 p.m. screening of Mystery Road, which stars Aaron Pederson as an aboriginal detective who’s been reassigned to the deeply divided outback town where he grew up. His investigation into a teenage girl’s murder causes big trouble for both the town’s impoverished aboriginal population and the whites who like to keep things orderly. Seen elsewhere on screens in the rom-com The Right Kind of Wrong, True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten is far more menacing here as a local hunter with a very bad attitude.
Shifting from Down Under to the Great White North, imagineNATIVE benefits from a spate of strong new work by First Nations filmmakers in Canada, too. An admirably audacious debut feature by Jeff Barnaby that screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Oct. 18 at 9 p.m., Rhymes for Young Ghouls takes an often surreal tack to the travails of a tough-minded teenager on a Mi’kmaq reserve in the 1970s. The latest doc by NFB vet Alanis Obomsawin, Hi-Ho Mistahey! offers a different view of young people as it follows a national campaign to raise awareness of educational inequities facing First Nations youth. It screens Oct. 19 at 4:15 p.m. at the Lightbox and returns for a run on Nov. 1. Many more movies, panels and events fill imagineNATIVE’s schedule through to Oct. 20.
Toronto After Dark: A supplier of chills and thrills to local moviegoers since 2006,Toronto After Dark now makes the move to the Scotiabank Theatre. Though the shift to the downtown multiplex may sap some of the raucous energy of past screenings at the Bloor and the Toronto Underground Cinema, the TAD’s latest program has treats aplenty, starting with two movies making local premieres on the fest’s opening night. An adaptation of a Mexican cult hit about a clan of urban cannibals, We Are What We Are is the latest in a string of superior horror fare by director Jim Mickle — it plays Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Then at 9:30 p.m., the big guns come out for Bounty Killer, an enjoyably trashy action flick set in a postapocalyptic America where bounty hunters train their sights on the corporate criminals who ruined the planet. More picks from this year’s TAD to come in next week’s Projections.
Reel Indie Film Festival: Indie Week Canada launches a new film-fest spinoff at the Royal on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. with Los Wild Ones, Elise Solomon’s lively doc about the old-school rockers and music-scene mavericks who’ve made a haven out of the Los Angeles label Wild Records. RIFF continues to Oct. 20 with many more music-themed features, shorts and videos.
Hellaware: A hipster filmmaker incurs the ire of his documentary subjects inHellaware, an indie comedy by New York’s Michael M. Bilandic that plays a free sneak preview at the Re: focus series at the Revue on Oct. 16 at 9 p.m.
Don Quixote: First mounted in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in 1871 with choreography by Marius Petipa and music by Ludwig Minkus, the Imperial Ballet’s adaptation of Don Quixote has become the most famous of the many ballets inspired by Cervantes’ classic. You can see why when 10 local Cineplex theatres present a performance by London’s Royal Ballet on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.