Back from a great weekend at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival. Outstanding effort by all the organizers and volunteers in putting together a well curated and delivered program.
Lots of films to choose from but I wanted to share some personal highlights:
Stella Meghie’s debut feature “Jean of the Joneses” – outstanding script, funny, poignant and real. Beautifully shot and honestly one of the most satisfying stories I have seen in a feature film for quite a while.
On the narrative track as well was Zacharias Kunik’s “Maliglutit (Searchers)” a wonderful re-imagining of John Ford’s “The Searchers” (which was released the year I was born – yeesh). I loved the feel of this film, it was ride that didn’t surprise you where it ended up but wow was the trip worthwhile. The use of the landscape as a character – the silent voice in every scene was so impressive.
Rounding out the narrative features is Johnny Ma’s “Old Stone“. As I watched this. his first feature, the one word bouncing around in my brain was “self-assured” and in the best possible way. Confidence in his vision, belief in his characters and an unwavering commitment to where that combination took the story delivered brilliantly.
Cannot wait for the next projects from all of these filmmakers!
On the documentary side two bright lights for me:
Hugh Gibson’s “The Stairs“. For me this film (concerning drug addicts in Toronto) was all about the people – not the “experts”. I connected with the people as they were shown – no filters – just a reality that for many of us, is extraordinary. At the end of the film I wanted to know what happened to them all, what came next – that level of engagement at an emotional level is the mark of a great doc.
Fred Peabody’s “All Governments Lie” was more traditional in its approach but, like the subjects of the film (independent journalists) delivered facts clearly and concisely about the failure of mainstream media to reveal what governments (and all of them do) lie to the public about. Paced expertly it makes its points without hitting you over the head and treats the viewer with the respect that this subject deserves.
On top of these features lots of impressive shorts well represented and showing the depth of many emerging artists. Cannot recommend the experience more to any one interested in film in any way. Kingston experience was warm, welcoming and inclusive – booking next years return visit now.