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» TIFF07 - Information about the movies

published on August 28, 2007

Juno - Jason Reitman

Technical Information

Country: USA
Year: 2007
Language: English
Runtime: 92 minutes
Format: Colour/35mm
Rating: 14A

Cast & Crew

Production Company: Mandate Pictures/ Mr. Mudd
Executive Producer: Daniel Dubiecki, Joe Drake, Nathan Kahan
Producer: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
Screenplay: Diablo Cody
Cinematographer: Eric Steelberg
Editor: Dana Glauberman
Production Designer: Steven Saklad
Sound: James Kusan
Music: Mateo Messina, Kimya Dawson
Principal Cast: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Olivia Thirlby, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney

Film Description and Director Biography

Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), the sixteen-year-old heroine of the fabulous new film by Jason Reitman (director of 2005’s sensational Thank You for Smoking), is the sort of kid most adults would deem too smart for her own good. For all her brashness and bravado, however, Juno must grapple with questions not easily solved at any age.

Our heroine is a slightly built, sassy teenager, the type who uses sarcastic quips to mask her fears. The film opens as Juno discovers that her sole venture into the minefield of adolescent sex – accompanied by her good friend, the tic tac-addicted Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) – has left her pregnant. Paulie responds to the news with a stoic passivity that makes Juno crazy, but to be fair, his biggest worry up to this point was getting to track practice on time.

Juno’s best friend, Leah (Olivia Thirlby), consoles her, though, and convinces Juno to tell her parents. Dad (J.K. Simmons) – gruff, practical and loving in his own hard-slap-on-the-back kind of way – and stepmom, Bren (Allison Janney), take the news in the best possible manner, especially when Juno proposes that she have the baby and place it with another family through a private adoption.

By means of an ad in the local Penny Saver, Juno meets Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), well-to-do but childless hopefuls who seem to fit the bill. Bonding with Mark through music, Juno unwittingly steps into the emotional battleground of the couple’s relationship, and events take a completely unexpected turn.

The fearless, brilliantly talented Page (who also stars in this year’s The Tracey Fragments) infuses Juno with such intelligence, energy and feeling that we love her even when she’s being a jerk. Indeed each and every member of the cast shines, as they bring their multi-dimensional characters to the screen. This depth – together with Diablo Cody’s crackling, witty script and Reitman’s stylish direction – makes for a rich, moving, laughter-and tear-filled experience.

by Jane Schoettle

Jason Reitman was born in Montreal and grew up in Los Angeles, where he studied creative writing at the University of Southern California. His short film In God We Trust screened as part of the Festival’s Discovery programme in 2000. His other short films include Operation (98), H@ (99), Gulp (01), Uncle Sam (02) and Consent (04). His feature filmmaking debut, Thank You for Smoking (05), was a Special Presentation at the 2005 Festival. Juno (07) is his second feature film.

Contact Information

Canadian Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
US Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Stone Angel - Kari Skogland

Technical Information

Country: Canada
Year: 2007
Language: English
Runtime: 115 minutes
Format: Colour/35mm
Rating: 14A

Cast & Crew

Production Company: Buffalo Gal Pictures/ Skogland Films
Executive Producer: Bryan Gliserman, Seaton McLean, Michael MacMillan, Guy Collins, Michael Ryan, Phyllis Laing
Producer: Liz Jarvis, Kari Skogland
Screenplay: Kari Skogland, based on the novel by Margaret Laurence
Cinematographer: Bobby Bukowski
Editor: Jim Munro
Production Designer: Rob Gray
Sound: Leon Johnson, John Hazen, Steve Munro
Music: John McCarthy
Principal Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Christine Horne, Cole Hauser, Ellen Page, Kevin Zegers, Dylan Baker, Luke Kirby

Film Description and Director Biography

Ellen Burstyn gives a tour-de-force performance in this much-anticipated adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s landmark Canadian novel. The story leaps onto the screen with elegance and ease, beautifully fulfilling the emotional power of the original work.

As flinty and immovable as the Stone Angel itself, Hagar Shipley is defined by the fierce pride she inherited from her father. Facing imminent death, and refusing to yield even to mortality, Hagar’s mind conflates past and present as she makes a final grasp for independence, finding instead an unexpected and humbling reconciliation.

Now living with her son Marvin (Dylan Baker), elderly Hagar (Burstyn) is brought to a nursing home – to see what she thinks. Her response is easily predicted, and she later bolts from her son’s house, determined to find a seaside home she remembers from her youth. Throughout this journey, chapters in her life coalesce and we come to know the radiant young woman – scion of her father’s mercantile empire – who is disowned when she marries the rough, bold Bram Shipley (Cole Hauser). Romantic illusions soon dissipate, and Hagar begins to think her husband is beneath her. Her disdain for him, exacerbated by discontent with her own unfulfilled ambitions, incites a hereditary flaw as she denies her children the parental approval she so desired from her father. In the present, Hagar finds her way to the seashore, but has little time left to amend a lifetime of unacknowledged mistakes.

Burstyn’s brave performance lays bare the paradoxes of a woman who caused immense damage to herself and others, yet was herself subject to her father’s tyrannical nature. The cast boasts some of Canada’s best young actors; they beautifully enrich this character-driven piece. Christine Horne is particularly luminous as the young Hagar. Writer and director Kari Skogland adapts the well-loved novel faithfully and with integrity, bringing the fictional landmark of Manawaka vividly to life.

“I carried my chains within me, and they spread out from me and shackled all I touched,” Hagar realizes in the novel. The Stone Angel is a lush, eloquent evocation of Hagar’s powerful journey.

by Marguerite Pigott

Kari Skogland was born in Ottawa and began work in commercials and music videos. She went on to direct many television films and series, and was nominated for two Gemini awards for directing episodes of Traders and The Eleventh Hour. She made her feature directorial debut with The Size of Watermelons (96). Her other films include Men with Guns (97), the television feature White Lies (98), Liberty Stands Still (02), Chicks with Sticks (04) and The Stone Angel(07).

Contact Information

Canadian Distributor: Alliance Films
International Sales Agent: HandMade Films International

The Tracey Fragments - Bruce McDonald

Technical Information

Country: Canada
Year: 2007
Language: English
Runtime: 77 minutes
Format: Colour/35mm
Rating: 14A

Cast & Crew

Production Company: Tracey Fragments Inc.
Executive Producer: Paul Barkin
Producer: Sarah Timmins
Screenplay: Maureen Medved, based on her novel
Cinematographer: Steve Cosens
Editor: Jeremiah Munce, Gareth Scales, Matt Hannam
Production Designer: Ingrid Jurek
Sound: Steve Munro
Music: Broken Social Scene
Principal Cast: Ellen Page, Ari Cohen, Max McCabe-Lokos, Max Turnbull, Julian Richings, Zie Souwand, Slim Twig

Film Description and Director Biography

Presented almost entirely in split-screen frames, Bruce McDonald’s audacious The Tracey Fragments has already received considerable praise for its startling and innovative visual design. But it is far from being merely a technical tour de force. In fact, the film’s exploration and evocation of a teenaged girl’s mindset may represent the best foray into the troubled-teen sub-genre in recent memory.

Traumatized by the disappearance of her younger brother Sonny (Zie Souwand), social outcast Tracey (Ellen Page) leaves her small town for the bright lights of Winnipeg. Alone and broke, she wanders the streets, encountering other, more wizened outsiders and, every once in a while, out of the corner of her eye, catching a glimpse of someone who may be her missing brother.

McDonald and his collaborators shuttle tones wildly as Tracey struggles to deal with events, reflecting the vertiginous nature of her moods. They move from schoolgirl fantasies about punky Billy Zero (Slim Twig), to quasi-surreal encounters with her remote, ineffective shrink and her near-catatonic parents (they seem to have crawled out of an Edgar Ulmer noir, by way of Aki Kaurismäki), to frenzied accounts of high-school persecution.

The voice-over narration, scripted by author Maureen Medved, is astonishingly precise in its evocation of a teenager’s speaking patterns and mindset, right down to Tracey’s liberal use of obscenities, which oscillate between shocking and endearingly childish. McDonald’s use of split screen is consistently compelling. Many filmmakers have attempted to use this device, but most have only dared to do so sparingly – as if they didn’t entirely trust it. McDonald pushes things much further, virtually tearing the screen apart in an effort to capture Tracey’s headspace.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film, though, is Page, who is extraordinary as Tracey. She has emerged as one of the most promising actors in Canadian cinema, and here she delivers on that promise, carrying the weight of the film and creating a character who is simultaneously infuriating and touching. The Tracey Fragments is an unforgettable, daring glimpse into a traumatized consciousness.

by Steve Gravestock

Bruce McDonald was born in Kingston, Ontario, and studied film and photography. His extensive television credits include executive producing the popular series The Rez and Twitch City. A maverick on the Canadian film scene since he made his breakthrough feature, Roadkill (89), which won the Toronto-City Award for best Canadian feature at the Festival in 1989, his other films include Highway 61 (91), Dance Me Outside (94), Hard Core Logo (96), American Whiskey Bar (98), Picture Claire (01), Claire’s Hat (02) and The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess (04). The Tracey Fragments (07), which won the Manfred Salzgeber Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, is his latest feature. His work will be the subject of a retrospective at Cinematheque Ontario this Fall.

Contact Information

Canadian Distributor: Alliance Films
International Sales Agent: Bavaria Film International

Source: www.tiff07.ca

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