Doc Blog

Filtered by Topic: Biography

Casualties of War

Tuesday night, September 11, the world premiere of Body of War took place. The film, a project directed by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue, is the story of Iraq war veteran Tomas Young.  This young man was shot after having been in Iraq a mere five weeks; the bullet wound left him paralysed from the neck down. During the film, the audience was full of emotion.  The film is powerful; there is no other way to describe it.  Tomas was very candid about his situation and how his decision to enlist,...


A Writer's Words

Dalton Trumbo is now well-known for several award-winning screenplays. In Trumbo, director Peter Askin (pictured here) took on the challenge of making a documentary about this famous, once blacklisted writer.

The film, however, is not about being blacklisted per se.  It is about the life, the work and the family man behind this infamous name.  Askin combines footage from family videos, clips from movies in which Trumbo worked and clips of many actors portraying Trumbo's letters.  The effect is a complex yet intimate portrayal of Trumbo's story.



Tragic Hero

Last night, some of us were introduced to the life story of publisher Barney Rosset in the documentary Obscene.  Rosset was the creator of Grove Press which brought many important works to America, like Waiting for Godot, Naked Lunch, The Diary of Che Guevarra and The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Directors Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O’Connor (pictured here) take us on a journey through archived footage of Rosset's radio and television interviews along with family videos and interviews with Rosset today.  His life is nothing short of amazing; he experienced a lot of ups...


The first screening of Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient by Todd McCarthy (shown here) showed this evening.  Many people are still not aware of this man's influence in the world of cinema

Rissient has introduced Hou Hsiao-hsien, Quentin Tarantino and Chen Kaige among many others to the world.  The film, like other documentaries in this program, takes a personal look at this man's life, his work, his friendships and relationships with some of the biggest names in the industry.  We get a glimpse of Rissient's many connections and towards the end...


Painting a Family Portrait

The documentary My Kid Could Paint That just screened this afternoon at the Scotiabank theatre.  Director Amir Bar-Lev (pictured right) introduces us to Marla Olmstead; a four year old girl whose paintings cause a stir in the media. 

It started with a story written by a local journalist in the local newspaper.  Soon after, the New York Times gets a lead on this story and posts its own.  Almost overnight, Marla is sensationalized as a child prodigy by some, although her mother (Laura) dislikes the phrase child prodigy

Mark Olmstead (Marla's...


Through the Looking Glass

Last night was the opening screening for Scott Hicks's documentary Glass: A portrait of Philip in twelve parts.  The director took time to introduce the film, which is a very intimate look at the life of prolific composer Philip Glass. The composer turns 70 this year; thus, this is quite the honour to bestow on such occasion.

The feel throughout the film is that of a private conversation.  Hicks takes us through Glass' typical day at work, his vacation home in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; he even takes us on tour with him...


A Music Lesson

Today's screening of Joy Division certainly leaves you feeling various emotions.  The film, directed by Grant Gee (pictured here), describes the forming of the band, its history and that of its band members, especially lead singer Ian Curtis.

Curtis is central to this film.  His lyrics were fueled by the economic state of where he lived and had grown up, Manchester, England.  Curtis's words also make mention of his anguish and emotional pain.  Throughout the film, Gee juxtaposes interviews -- with the band members, former producers, friends and in the case of...


Schroeder's film Terror's Advocate had its North American premiere today. The director was unable attend the festival but here is an insightful interview by David D'Arcy. 

In the interview, D'Arcy decribes that: "Schroeder knows monsters when he sees them. He has made films about Idi Amin and Klaus von Bulow, and the director admits that Verges's clients are even more monstrous. His film is an interview with Verges, who can talk his way into and around any subject, in a French that seems to...


In one of yesterday’s postings on the CBC website, Martin Morrow highlights the themes dealt with in several documentaries in this year’s festival.  He mentions: “Politics and music are the overriding passions of the world’s non-fiction filmmakers today — at least judging by the documentaries in this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.”  One of the musical legends’ story is that of Maria Callas (shown here).


Personal and Powerful

Thursday's screening of Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case was moving and riveting.  The well attended screening at the Varsity had the audience’s full attention throughout the entire film.  At times generating visceral reactions, this film showcased Litvinenko’s reasons for uncovering the corruption in the Russian government and its secret agencies (FSB and KGB).

Through personal interviews, director Andrei Nekrosov (shown right with Thom Powers) was able to paint a picture of the political and economical situation that corrupts Russia today.  He conversed with philosphers, journalists, former and current special agents, Litvinenko's wife...


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