Monday, 22 June 2015

Kevin Pang & Curtis Duffy discuss FOR Grace at NIFF15

While at the Niagara Integrated Film Festival - NIFF2015 I had a chance to interview Director Kevin Pang and Michelin Star Chef Curtis Duffy who was the subject of the Documentary FOR GRACE that screened at the Niagara Integrated Film Festival the night before at Peller Estates winery.

Director Pang was familiar with Toronto since he lived in Scarborough when he was a kid.  He is now a food writer at the Chicago Tribune and For Grace was supposed to be a short profile piece on Chef Duffy's new restaurant but it turned into a whole lot more.
Chef Curtis Duffy

Chef Duffy is a highly regarded American Chef who overcame many personal challenges to achieve his dream of being a Top chef.

I decided to shoot a bit of video and used my still camera so the sound you hear is the water feature in the garden near where we were standing.  And I should have packed my tripod because this camera doesn't seem to stabilize the way my video camera does.

But it was a pleasure meeting Chef Duffy and Director Pang as I really loved their film when I saw it at Hot Docs.  
Here's is a bit of the interview we did.

Niagara Integrated Film Festival - NIFF2015

Grace Restaurant Chicago - Curtis Duffy


Kevin Pang - Chicago Tribune

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Niagara Integrated Film Festival - NIFF 2015

Finally one of my Film Festival wishes has come true thanks to the legendary Bill Marshall who was one of the co-founders of the Toronto International Film Festival and his partner Sari Ruda (co-founder and President.

In 2014 after many years of trying to get it started this dynamic duo finally got the Niagara Integrated Film Festival off the ground.  A festival that pairs Food & Wine and Film into one festival.   
Bill Marshall
Sari Ruda 

This is a more civilized way to attend a Film Festival.  The film screenings are held at different wineries around the Niagara Region and also at a couple of theatres in a couple of malls.  This is only the second year for the festival but you would never know it based on the expert team that is in place who have many years of festival experience.  The festival ran from June 18-21 which is high season for weddings but also a great time to have an indoor/outdoor festival in the Niagara Region when things are in full bloom.

At the wineries you can attend a 3 course dinner with wine pairings and then stay to watch a film outside in a tent on the winery grounds.  You can purchase the dinner and film package for $159 but you can also purchase tickets for the film screening only for $29.  Fancy snacks and wine were also available for the screening portion.  Ticket prices for the mall screenings are $12.50 for adults and $10 for seniors/students which is a great price for a film festival film.  

Hopefully in time there will be more sponsors to bring down the costs of the winery screenings.

Even though this is a relatively small festival compared to the behemoth TIFF festival there are still some films with a few high profile people.  The "Filmalicious" screening that I attended at Redstone Winery screened the film MATCH starring Sir Patrick Stewart.  The Filmalicious program is the Winery screenings that include a 3 course dinner and wine pairing and a screening of a film after the dinner.  Redstone Winery has only been open for 2 weeks so we were the first group of people to sample their dinner menu.  I will go into more detail about the dinner in another blog post on  I will also post a separate post about the film Match.

Other films at the festival included Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship which stars well known Canadian Actor Enrico Colantoni (Remedy).  I was trying to see that film but didn't have the time.  Another film that is in theatres now that screened at NIFF was I'll see you in my Dreams starring Blythe Danner.  And the film For Grace, a documentary about Chicago Michelin Star Chef Curtis Duffy screened at Peller Estates and Chef Duffy and Director Kevin Pang were in attendance.  The sci-fi film Advantageous co-written and acted by Jacqueline Kim screened at Henry of Pelham and Ms. Kim was in attendance at that screening.

I sat down with Founder Bill Marshall at the White Oaks Resort where the festival set up shop for their Industry day and for media interviews and asked him a few questions about the festival.

For more information about the Niagara Integrated Film Festival Http://

Still photos of Bill Marshall and Sari Ruda provide by GatPR.

Programming Team: Tony Watts - Director of Programming, Kate Yorga - Programming Manager & Emma Norton - Assistant Programmer

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Entourage Movie

Yes, I am a big fan of the Entourage TV show and would binge watch DVD's of the show in one weekend when they were released.  I didn't watch it on HBO but had to wait for the DVD's and watching the ENTOURAGE MOVIE kind of felt like my old binge watching days.

I realized how much I missed watching the shows and I also realized that this film might not have the same appeal to everyone as it did for me.  I realized that because I brought my gay friend who wasn't an Entourage watcher and his assessment after the movie was that it was just "I don't know, kind of as predicted" or something to that effect.

The room full of audience members howled at some of the situations Vinnie Chase and his boys got themselves into.  But my friend didn't laugh as hard as I did and I realized it was because he didn't have the history of each character and the time to develop a love of each of them.  And I suppose as a gay man he wasn't so impressed by the abundance of naked females.  I am probably the one that should have been offended by this but it's part of the character of the shows.  It's excess in every way.  And I guess the fact that I used to work with a bunch of guys that kind of lived in this excess world I could understand that while the fact that it's in Hollywood and with people that have endless bank accounts there are still people that try and live this way even if they aren't Hollywood celebrities.  I knew an 18 year old once that was a Vinnie Chase with an attitude and Daddy's money and I bet he can watch this film and relate to it.

I look past all the objectification of the women and look into the heart of this Entourage group.  Four guys from Queen's, New York trying to make it in Hollywood with the help of super agent Ari Gold played by Jeremy Piven, who will do whatever it takes for his pal and client Vinnie Chase played by Adrien Grenier.

Ari Gold is one of the most interesting characters of this film.  He is trying to keep his ego, and anger in check to please his wife while trying to achieve his goals as a studio head and make put the Gold spin on Vinnie Chases movie.

This film is an extension of the series but a little more fuller with more complications and an Entourage baby is even introduced.   The next generation?  Hmmm...

This film has so many celebrity cameos that you can't even count them all.  Some of my favourites include Mark Wahlberg of course and Billy Bob Thornton plays the money guy with his sone being played by Haley Joel Osment, a character you would have never predicted you would see him be.

Then there are the returning Entourage guest appearances by people like Jessica Alba, Andrew Dice Clay, Gary Busey, David Spade, Bob Saget and so many more.

And of course Ari Gold's former gay assistant Lloyd appears again as a successful agent and he convinces Ari to give him away at his wedding and somehow talks Ari into having it at his home.

There are so many crazy things going on with the boys as usual but really at the heart of this movie it's really about the friendship and loyalty of the boys and what they will do for each other.

To me this is the male version of Sex in the City.   People seem to be divided on which team they are on.  I am on team Entourage for sure.   I can also relate because I am on Team Entourage during the Toronto International film festival although my Entourage team can't even come close to the lives of these boys but at least sometimes we get to see the real Mark Wahlberg in person and I can tell you that the guy is a class act in person.   Yes I am still an Entourage fan and I hope that you are too and as I always say go and see the movie and decide for yourself.

The MOVIE will be in theatres starting June 3rd.