Thursday, 3 May 2018

5 Hot Docs Documentaries you should watch

The Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival is currently running this week and ending on May 6th and I have picked a few Docs you should see at the festival or hopefully wherever they are shown after the festival.  There is a subject of interest to almost anyone and I have picked a few that had a range of subjects that were either entertaining or thought provoking.  I have broken them down by subject.

The Cleaners

This documentary has a look at the people in the Philippines who scan content from Facebook and decide whether the content should appear on their app or not.  What does "Sin" as they see it do to a person's psyche who watches it for a living.  Does it take a toll on how you look at the world.  Is there such a thing as Privacy and free speech anymore?  When you watch this film it may remind you of 1984 when Big Brother was the future of the way we were going to be watched and controlled and it seems to be a reality and starting to be revealed in the news media and how it affects the world of late.  I wouldn't say this film is the best film of the festival but it is thought provoking and revealing so it's worth a look to see what you may not know about what's put out into the world.


Bachman is the story of Randy Bachman who is best known as a Canadian music Icon from bands such as the Guess Who and BTO.  Randy Bachman is not your typical Rockstar musician but he is 100% Canadian and those roots run deep and have influenced his music and his life over the length of his career. Not much is known about Randy Bachman other than his music but in this documentary he opens up a sliver of his life to show you where he has come from and who he is when he isn't spending most of his time living and breathing music.  I was never a huge Randy Bachman fan but I always respected his long career and obvious work ethic and I found this documentary very interesting and enlightening on what a long career in Canadian Music looks like.  It's probably not what you would expect and you will find it pretty interesting I think.

Bill Murray Stories

This documentary tells the story of Comic/actor Bill Murray without interviewing Bill Murray but it's told through other people's stories and videos of their experiences with him.  I have known about Bill Murray since I was in High School and the thing to talk about with my friends was what we saw on Saturday Night Live the weekend before. Bill Murray has always been unpredictable and hilarious and he lives his life the same way.  It's no secret that he is elusive and doesn't have "people" running his life and he doesn't even have a cell phone or use a computer, but he does have a 1-800 number that people can leave messages on. Sophia Coppola tried leaving countless messages for him that he never returned so she had to find another way to get him to respond to her request for him to be in her film Lost in Translation.  Bill Murray only does what he wants to do when he wants to do it.  His life is like an endless Saturday Night Live improv sketch.  He has crashed parties and washed people's dishes, and brought fans with him to baseball games and all sorts of random things.  He seems to be a guy that just wants to live life by the seat of his pants and not like a celebrity with it's restrictions. 
Everyone has a Bill Murray story and even I have somewhat of a Bill Murray story.  I was volunteering with my Entourage Team at TIFF a few years ago and during our break while the film was on we went to our regular restaurant across the street from Roy Thompson Hall.  After we had dinner we started walking back to the theatre and Bill Murray was just standing on the corner probably waiting for someone but I don't think anyone recognized him but us.  We wondered if we should say hi to him but we decided to let him just go about whatever he was doing because that's what our team does.  I wish we had asked him for a photo with us but it's still a Bill Murray story even if we don't have a picture.

More Human than Human

This documentary will make you afraid of your future and give you the feeling that you may become obsolete sooner than you think.  With a look at many forms of AI.  Artificial Intelligence, you realize that the future that was pictured in the movies 50 plus years ago is here now and who knows where things will go in the near future.  I have been struggling with the fact that computers are taking over what used to be starter or middle class jobs.  In my own life my job will probably be replaced by a new computer system that will be taking over data entry and processing duties and the only thing that might be left to do will be to answer the phone and fix problems that this new system may create. 
Are we making progress or are we destroying the ability to build a career and a life.  You be the judge.

Chef Flynn

This documentary really got my heart because at the core it was all about the love and obsession of making great food but it was also a look at how a mother puts her own needs aside and supports and encourages her 10 year old son to follow his dream with her never failing assistance.  Chef Flynn McGarry started cooking out of necessity after his mothers divorce and lack of interest in cooking proper meals for Flynn and his sister so he decided to take charge and teach himself how to cook.  But he didn't just cook basic comfort food dishes, he learned how to make Michelin star restaurant worthy meals from cookbooks like the French Laundry and watching everything he could and trying everything he could by researching and obsessing over every dish.  The mother and son started hosting a pop up restaurant in their home and Chef Flynn got noticed by the New York Times which shot up his trajectory but all he wanted to do was move from his California home to open his own restaurant in New York City.  Lofty goals for an 11 year old, but Chef Flynn is a teenager with the mind of a professional chef determined to achieve success in the culinary world but do it on his own terms.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Toronto Strong Vigil


I just attended the Toronto Strong Vigil at Mel Lastman Square with one of my friends who also lives in Willowdale and was in the area around the time of the senseless Van attack on Monday April 23rd.

I was at work in the middle of a lunch event that I had organized when I got a text to see if I heard what happened at Yonge and Finch.  I had no idea but could hardly believe it when I got back to my desk and looked up what had happened.  My friend posted in shock at her experience of being there.  It could have been her that could have lost her life and if it had happened on the Saturday before when I was in the area grocery shopping it could have been me too.  This is a different kind of #METOO, one that no one wants to be a part of.

I can't say I was totally surprised that this happened as I have been feeling like it would be only a matter of time before our city would be touched with a large tragic event as the World has been experiencing random acts of violence spreading anywhere and everywhere.

I  had the same feeling hearing about this event as I did when 9/11 happened.  The World has changed and there is no such thing as being somewhere safe.  

I have been sad and angry all week because there seems to be increased levels of these types of attacks all over the world and this attack in particular hit a very diverse community so it wasn't race based, political, gender based or for any specific reason other than the fact that the person who did this was an angry and frustrated young man who lashed out on innocent people.

What makes me angry is that people like this person can rent a van and ruin so many lives and then have no regret for his actions while people in the aftermath live in fear and in grief, sadness and anger.

I haven't gone to Olive Square but I thought it was important to stand with my neighbours and friend to show respect to the people affected and show gratitude to the Police services and first responders who have been examples to the world on how we handle tragic events in our city.

I live i one of the most diverse and dense places in Toronto and everyday I see the face of the neighbourhood changing.  I have lived in this area for about 7 years and it has grown larger since I got here.

At the Vigil people from the neighbourhood and others and many faith leaders, politicians from all levels of government and local community groups were all present to come together to show how we are #TorontoStrong and to begin to heal and move on and live our lives with hope. I was happy to hear TC3 the young group who I met years ago while I did a promotional video for them.

It was great to see all religions come together for one purpose and bring people together and not divided because of religion.

The Politicians were present but did not speak as to make it a community healing event and not a political one.

I have a friend who was on the same bridge in London, England just hours before a similar Van attack and you fear that you have to make choices or you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I think the answer is to be more aware of people in our communities and get people help before they turn to violence against others.  We do not want to live in a city where it becomes a police state with walls and we lose our freedom to walk the streets without fear and to go about our daily business without having to wonder if something will happen.   

Canada is a country of diversity and freedom and we don't want to lose this way of life.

Stay Strong Toronto.