Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Polley’

Richard Hosts the Giller Power Panel: From Page to Screen

Richard hosted the May Giller Power Panel, exploring how books are adapted to the big and small screen, how the writer is involved (or not) in the process, how much control they can exert over the final product, how a book gets optioned, and more.

The panel featured Margaret Atwood, Emma Donoghue, Sarah Polley and Clement Virgo.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

COMING SOON: Giller Power Panel: Less is More – From Page to Screen

April 14, 2022 (Toronto, Ontario) – Elana Rabinovitch, Executive Director of The Giller Foundation, is pleased to announce our May Giller Power Panel. The May 3, event will explore the process of adapting books for tv and film and is entitled From Page to Screen.

The panel will take place over Zoom on Tuesday, May 3, from 7-8:30 p.m. ET. Details and registration can be found at scotiabankgillerprize.ca/giller-power-panels.

The Giller Power Panels pull together creatives with a moderator each month to discuss the intersection of literature and other cultural and political expressions.

The May panel will explore how books are adapted to the big and small screen, how the writer is involved (or not) in the process, how much control they can exert over the final product, how a book gets optioned, and more.

The panel will feature Margaret Atwood, Cherie Dimaline, Emma Donoghue, Lawrence Hill, Sarah Polley and Clement Virgo.

Richard Crouse, film critic and author will moderate the panel.

About the panelists:

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in more than 45 countries, is the author of more than 50 books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. Burning Questions, a collection of essays from 2004 – 2021 will be published in March 2022. Dearly, her first collection of poetry in over a decade, was published November 2020. Her latest novel, The Testaments, is a co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. It is the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series. Her other works of fiction include Cat’s Eye, finalist for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; The MaddAddam Trilogy; and Hag-Seed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka International Literary Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. She lives in Toronto.

Richard Crouse
Richard Crouse is the regular film critic for the 24 hour news source CTV’s News Channel and CP24. His syndicated Saturday afternoon radio show, The Richard Crouse Show, originates on News Talk 1010 in Toronto. He is also the author of ten books on pop culture history.

Cherie Dimaline
Cherie Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis Community in Ontario. Her 2017 book, The Marrow Thieves, won the Governor General’s Award and the prestigious Kirkus Prize for Young Readers, and was the fan favourite for CBC’s 2018 Canada Reads. It was named a Book of the Year on numerous lists including the National Public Radio, the School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire and the CBC, has been translated into several languages, and continues to be a national bestseller two years later. Her most recent novel for adults, Empire of Wild became an instant Canadian bestseller and was named Indigo’s #1 Best Book of 2019. It was published in the US through William Morrow in July 2020. Cherie received the prestigious Writers’ Trust Engel Findley Award in 2021. Her most recent YA novel, Hunting By Stars, was published in Canada and the US in 2021, and is a 2022 American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award Young Adult Honor Book. She lives in Midland, ON, where she is working on a few new YA books, her next adult novel and writing for film and TV projects.

Emma Donoghue
Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue has lived in London Ontario since 1998. She adapted her Booker-shortlisted 2010 novel Room into the 2015 film (for which she was nominated for Academy, Golden Globe and Bafta awards and won a Canadian Screen Award), and has co-adapted her Giller-nominated 2016 novel The Wonder for the 2022 feature film from Netflix.

Lawrence Hill
Lawrence Hill is the award-winning and internationally bestselling author of eleven books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Book of Negroes, which was made into a six-part TV mini-series, and The Illegal, both of which won CBC Canada Reads. His previous novels, Some Great Thing and Any Known Blood, also became national bestsellers. Hill’s nonfiction work includes Blood: The Stuff of Life (the subject of his 2013 Massey Lectures), and the memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. In January 2022, HarperCollins Canada published Hill’s latest book — the novel Beatrice and Croc Harry.

Hill’s volunteer work has included Crossroads International, the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, Book Clubs for Inmates, The Ontario Black History Society, and Walls to Bridges – a non-profit group offering university courses to incarcerated Canadians. A professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph, he has spent more than a decade volunteering in book clubs in federal penitentiaries. Through Walls to Bridges, he taught a third-year undergraduate memoir writing course to women incarcerated in the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener ON.

Currently, Hill is writing screenplays for a TV miniseries in development, as well as a new novel about the thousands of African-American soldiers who travelled from military bases in the Deep South to help build the Alaska Highway in northern British Columbia and Yukon during World War Two. He is a member of the Order of Canada, and a winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and (for screenwriting) a co-winner (with Clement Virgo) of the NAACP Award and a Canadian Screen Award. He lives with his wife, the writer Miranda Hill, in Hamilton ON and in Woody Point, NL.

Sarah Polley
Sarah Polley is a Governor General’s Award-winning writer-director-producer whose dramatic features include Away from Her (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and winner of the Canadian Screen Award for Best Motion Picture and Achievement in Direction) and Take This Waltz. Her autobiographical Stories We Tell was awarded Best Documentary by the Toronto Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The film was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Sarah’s next feature film, an adaptation she wrote of Miriam Toews’ acclaimed novel Women Talking which she also directs, will premiere in 2022. Polley’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace for Netflix and CBC, which she Executive Produced, garnered six Canadian Screen Awards including Best Screenplay, Director, Actress and Limited Series. Sarah served as Executive Producer on Attiya Khan’s A Better Man and co-directed and executive produced the web series Hey Lady!.

Clement Virgo
Clement Virgo is one of Canada’s foremost film directors. His TV directing credits include Empire (Fox), The Wire (HBO), The L Word (HBO), American Crime (ABC), and the OWN network drama series Greenleaf (2017), on which he also served as Executive Producer with Oprah Winfrey. Virgo is currently in post-production on his feature film Brother, based on the award-winning novel by David Chariandy, and is also in development with CBC on the limited series Half-Blood Blues, based on Esi Edugyan’s prized novel.

In 2015, Virgo directed and co-wrote a six-part miniseries adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes which debuted to record-breaking numbers on the CBC in Canada and on BET in the U.S. and was nominated for two U.S. Critics Choice Television Awards, including Best Limited Series and four 2015 NAACP Image Award Nominations including Best Miniseries and Best Writing (Virgo, Hill).

His first feature film, Rude, premiered at Cannes in 1995 and played festivals around the world including London and Sundance. Other feature films include Poor Boy’s Game and Lie With Me, based on his partner’s Tamara Faith Berger’s first novel, which played top tier festivals including Berlinale and TIFF and sold in over 40 countries. Virgo currently sits on the Canadian Film Centre’s Board of Directors.

Please continue to visit scotiabankgillerprize.ca for information on upcoming Giller Power Panels on different topics each month.

About the Prize
The Giller Prize, founded by Jack Rabinovitch in 1994, highlights the very best in Canadian fiction year after year. In 2005, the prize teamed up with Scotiabank who increased the winnings four-fold. The Scotiabank Giller Prize now awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel, short story collection or graphic novel published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists. The award is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller by her husband Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who passed away in August 2017.

 

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For more information, please contact:
Daphna Rabinovitch
[email protected]

ISOLATION STUDIOS: WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU’VE ALREADY WATCHED EVERYTHING PART 6!

What to watch when you’ve already watched everything Part Five! Binge worthy, not cringe worthy recommendations from Isolation Studios in the eerily quiet downtown Toronto. Three movies to stream, rent or buy from the comfort of home isolation. Today, a human-animal hybrid, a homemade superhero and a country music legend.

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

National Canadian Film Day: LAST NIGHT & Q&A with Don McKellar!

The Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, Ontario) and Reel Canada celebrate National Canadian Film Day 150!

Don McKellar’s LAST NIGHT (1998) – 35mm print!

Director Don McKellar will be in attendance and participate in a Q&A with Richard Crouse after the film.

Free Admission!

LAST NIGHT

CAN 1998 95min.

Directed by Don McKellar

Starring Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, Sarah Polley, David Cronenberg, Callum Keith Rennie

What to do in Toronto as armageddon looms? A group of very different individuals with different ideas of how to face the end come together as the world is expected to end in six hours at the turn of the century. Don McKellar’s directorial debut is a standout classic of Canadian cinema.

The feature will be preceded by 40 000 000 Miles A Year (1948), a short film sponsored by the TTC, which features rare colour footage of various Toronto landmarks and makes a case for a proper transit and subway system in Toronto.

Recently scanned in 2K.

Doors open at 6:00PM.

Please note that since this Revue Film Society event is free, it is our policy to overbook to ensure capacity. We will begin releasing unclaimed seats to the rush line 10 minutes before the start of the event. In case of a full house, your reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend you arrive early! 🙂

HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR DAY 16! SPLICE: 3 ½ STARS. “a cross B/T Yul Brenner and a slug.”

127They grow up so quickly, don’t they? One day they are slimy bipedal creatures who look like a cross between Yul Brenner and a slug, the next they are flesh eating, underwater breathing alien looking supermodel types. At least that’s the way it is in “Splice,” a new sci fi thriller starring Sarah Polley and Oscar winner Adrien Brody, about a creature who goes from newborn to troubled teen in a matter of weeks.

Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Polley) are bio chemists (and boyfriend and girlfriend) who develop a splicing technology which binds the DNA from multiple animals to create new life and, possibly, cures for everything from Parkinson’s to cancer. It’s the medical breakthrough of the century. The next logical step is to fuse human and animal DNA but despite their success in the lab, their employers, the evil conglomerate Newstead Pharma, is wary of the publicity such a radical step would incur. Secretly the pair go rogue, continue their experiments, and give “birth” to a new life form they dub Dren (that’s “nerd” backwards), a tailed creature resembling a bald dinosaur. Clive, conflicted by the ethical and moral issues of cloning, wants to kill the creature but Elsa won’t have it. “Human cloning is illegal,” she says, “but this won’t be entirely human.” Dren develops at a rapid pace, changing from unrecognizable organism to something akin to a humanoid kangaroo. Soon though problems arise. The creature becomes Daddy’s little… whatever, leaving Elsa to deal with Dren’s difficult puberty.

Like the hybrid creature at the center of the action “Splice” is a cross of genres—part b-movie sci fi and part body horror à la David Cronenberg. Liberally mixing “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “Frankenstein” and “The Brood,” “Splice” examines ideas of life and death, of playing God, of what is human (and what is not) and even touches on Woody Allen style relationships. There are plenty of moral concepts to chew on, many ruminations to be had on what it is to be human, but only if you look past the b-movie thrills director Vincenzo Natali slathers on with a trowel.

Splice goes places that bigger budget science fiction wouldn’t dare to tread. This isn’t the enviro-friendly sci fi of James Cameron or the space opera of George Lucas. No, this has more in common with the exploitation films of Roger Corman. There’s an icky creature, some scientist sexy time and loads of crazy science. Corman might not have been as successful at layering in the love, jealousy and real human emotions Natali heaps on his characters but I think the b-movie king would approve of “Splice’s” overall tone. It’s doesn’t skimp on the blood and guts but it’s funnier than you think it is going to be, wilder than expected—Sarah Polley’s maternal instincts towards Dren are right out of “Mommie Dearest”—and takes several unexpected twists and turns.

“Splice” is giddy good fun, the rare sci fi flick that revels in its b-movie roots while also offering up something to think about over a beaker of coffee afterward.

STORIES WE TELL: 4 ½ STARS

li-polley-stories-we-tell-nfbSarah Polley has been in front of the camera since she was a little girl as the star of dozens of films like “The Sweet Hereafter, “Go” and “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.” Now in her first documentary she turns the camera on herself and her family.

“Stories We Tell” is a frank look at a family secret. For years Sarah’s family wondered why she didn’t bare much resemblance to her father, actor Michael Polley. It was the source of family jokes and conjecture, but it wasn’t until a Canadian journalist contacted Polley claiming to have the story of Polley’s lineage and real father that she began to investigate in detail. The result is a stunning film packed with humor, sadness and stark truth and family secrets.

Polley’s portrait of her mother, actress Diane Polley who passed away when Sarah was just eleven years old, father and family is affectionate and unexpected. Her father, for instance, reacts to the news that his late wife had an affair that resulted in Sarah’s birth not with anger, but with the advice for her and her siblings not to blame their mother for straying outside of the marriage.

“Stories We Tell” shuns the exploitive approach of reality television—imagine what Mauray Povich might have done with this story—to explore the consequences of a long ago indiscretion. What could have been a self-indulgent home movie is, instead, a riveting look into the dynamics of a group of individuals bound together by birth and circumstance.

SPLICE: 3 ½ STARS

dren_delphine_chaneac_and_elsa_sarah_polleyThey grow up so quickly, don’t they? One day they are slimy bipedal creatures who look like a cross between Yul Brenner and a slug, the next they are flesh eating, underwater breathing alien looking supermodel types. At least that’s the way it is in “Splice,” a new sci fi thriller starring Sarah Polley and Oscar winner Adrien Brody, about a creature who goes from newborn to troubled teen in a matter of weeks.

Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Polley) are bio chemists (and boyfriend and girlfriend) who develop a splicing technology which binds the DNA from multiple animals to create new life and, possibly, cures for everything from Parkinson’s to cancer. It’s the medical breakthrough of the century. The next logical step is to fuse human and animal DNA but despite their success in the lab, their employers, the evil conglomerate Newstead Pharma, is wary of the publicity such a radical step would incur. Secretly the pair go rogue, continue their experiments, and give “birth” to a new life form they dub Dren (that’s “nerd” backwards), a tailed creature resembling a bald dinosaur. Clive, conflicted by the ethical and moral issues of cloning, wants to kill the creature but Elsa won’t have it. “Human cloning is illegal,” she says, “but this won’t be entirely human.” Dren develops at a rapid pace, changing from unrecognizable organism to something akin to a humanoid kangaroo. Soon though problems arise. The creature becomes Daddy’s little… whatever, leaving Elsa to deal with Dren’s difficult puberty.

Like the hybrid creature at the center of the action “Splice” is a cross of genres—part b-movie sci fi and part body horror à la David Cronenberg. Liberally mixing “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “Frankenstein” and “The Brood,” “Splice” examines ideas of life and death, of playing God, of what is human (and what is not) and even touches on Woody Allen style relationships. There are plenty of moral concepts to chew on, many ruminations to be had on what it is to be human, but only if you look past the b-movie thrills director Vincenzo Natali slathers on with a trowel.

Splice goes places that bigger budget science fiction wouldn’t dare to tread. This isn’t the enviro-friendly sci fi of James Cameron or the space opera of George Lucas. No, this has more in common with the exploitation films of Roger Corman. There’s an icky creature, some scientist sexy time and loads of crazy science. Corman might not have been as successful at layering in the love, jealousy and real human emotions Natali heaps on his characters but I think the b-movie king would approve of “Splice’s” overall tone. It’s doesn’t skimp on the blood and guts but it’s funnier than you think it is going to be, wilder than expected—Sarah Polley’s maternal instincts towards Dren are right out of “Mommie Dearest”—and takes several unexpected twists and turns.

“Splice” is giddy good fun, the rare sci fi flick that revels in its b-movie roots while also offering up something to think about over a beaker of coffee afterward.

TAKE THIS WALTZ: 4 STARS

mt-take-this-waltz-mongrel-0264“Take This Waltz,” the second feature from actor-turned-director Sarah Polley, is a bittersweet Canadian kitchen sink drama about being trapped in a marriage with someone who can’t speak his mind and falling in love with someone who can’t help but speak his mind.

Margot (Michelle Williams) is a struggling writer married to Lou (Seth Rogen), cookbook writer and home cook. Married for five years they have a loving but superficial relationship. She’s not unhappy exactly, but she’s not entirely happy either. When she meets Daniel (Luke Kirby), a quick talking neighbor, painter and rickshaw driver, she must make the painful decision about whether it is worthwhile to trade someone old for someone new.

In her last film, “Away from Her,” Polley placed Alzheimer’s disease between a husband and wife. Here she shows what happens when one partner takes a relationship for granted.

Polley creates complicated relationship patterns in her films, weaving together small moments to create a large and profound truth. “Away from Her,” is a sublime mix of the mundane and the heartfelt, just like real life. “Take this Waltz” too is an interesting look how relationships unravel but has a much more melancholy edge. From the minor chord music that makes up much of the soundtrack to Williams’ terminally sad expression—her face fluctuate between joy and sorrow with just a very slight change in expression—the movie redefines bittersweet.

We never really see the upside of Margot’s relationships and it’s hard to know when she’s happy, or if she’ll ever be truly happy. The focus here is a little fuzzier than it was in “Away from Here.” Margot’s search for happiness a little less defined. Some audiences will get it, others will likely find her self serving.

So why spend time with Margot, Lou and Daniel? Apart from the beautiful shots of Toronto neighborhoods (although Torontonians will notice that the geography doesn’t make any sense!) “Take this Waltz” is recommended for the uncompromising way it presents its story. This isn’t a rom com, although there are laughs and it isn’t a traditional romance. This is a refreshingly raw slice of life with all the frustrating things that make us human front and center.

Williams, Kirby and Sarah Silverman (as Margot’s sister-in-law) hand in strong work, but for me the surprise was Seth Rogen’s naturalistic performance. As a comedian I expect him to always go for the joke, and while he does raise the odd smile all his reactions—humorous or otherwise—are completely derived from the situation and feel authentic.

“Take this Waltz” doesn’t have the emotional impact of “Away from Her,” but it is a different, lower key story about the erosion that an undercurrent of tension can have on a relationship.

BEOWULF AND GRENDEL: 3 STARS

wpb450cfceBeowulf and Grendel is a film adaptation of the first epic poem in the English language. It’s about a king who, having killed a terrifying troll, recruits the help of a foreign warrior named Beowulf to battle the unforgiving son of the troll he murdered.

From its opening minutes, a chapter subtitled A Hate is Born, Beowulf and Grendel could have been an effective allegory for racism and the fear of anything that is different, but is stymied by its delivery. Director Sturla Gunnarsson makes great use of the rocky landscapes of Iceland, where the film was shot, and successfully cast Gerard Butler as the heroic Beowulf and Stellan Skarsgard as the broken-down king but fails to impart any real empathy for Grendel, the revenge-seeking troll. If the audience doesn’t feel for the character then the story becomes strictly about revenge and not anything deeper.

There are some memorable scenes. After Grendel sees his father killed he takes a souvenir to remember his dad—his head!—and the rocky scenery is beautiful, perfectly complimenting the brutal story.