Film Review: Unhappy Happy By: Rachel Abitan

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Cast & Crew of Unhappy Happy at DIFF’s Premiere of The Film

They say life is like a rollercoaster: it is fun, frustrating, scary, and amazing. We all go through periods in our life when we go through a struggle or are influenced by a loved one or a family member’s illness.  We have to choose to overcome these battles.  Unhappy Happy, directed by Rob Shaw, portrays a man named Case who struggles with achieving happiness while going through a sabbatical as a team builder and his brother who has cancer. He attempts to make a machine that stimulates happiness to the brain. He fails to create it but meets Nelly who helps create this device. You see Case’s struggle of sadness and relationships.

The film had a great turnout during the premiere at The Daring Independent Film Festival. The actors were active on social media, tweeting for the premiere, and post-film supporting DIFF. I even met the actress Victoria Murdoch a very kind, outgoing, and friendly individual.

I don’t want to give away the characters’ adventures and the ending but focus more on what lessons and reminders I got from the film’s memorable quotes for you, the viewers, to explore and share. It will definitely make you go out and see the film.

1)      “You’re only unhappy because you choose to be.” Often, those who say they feel this deep unhappiness with their life continue in their ways in an irreversible cycle of sadness.  It definitely reminds you that when things go wrong in life, sadness, depression or whatever it may be IS NOT a permanent state. It is necessary to find ways to bring back healthier habits or necessary changes for growth. Whatever it may be.

2)      “Why did it have to be you? Why did it have to be my little brother? I had a good life Case. I’ve had a good life. I’ve felt loved. You can’t ask for much more than that” [Case’s conversation with his brother]. As The Beatles say, “All you need is love.” Love can be considered one of the most powerful emotions. It can cure of us of pain, help us grow, and simply, make us happy. The film reminds us that family and friends who love us most are the most important things in life. Without love, what is there left in life? You can have money but it doesn’t buy you happiness.

3)      “People can change. They just have to want to change.”  Change is inevitable. We can try avoiding it but ultimately what does that accomplish? It can be hard to do if it’s major but what it accomplishes is happiness. You get one step closer to the essence of your best self. The first process of accomplishing change, is wanting it within yourself. Without that, it is unsuccessful.

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Q&A with- Cast of Unhappy Happy at DIFF

This film really gets to your heart in a simple way. It doesn’t use rare trauma situations to grab you, but relatable situations to general unhappiness and sick family members. If you want a film that really speaks to you if you’re going through a hard time or just something to touch your heart, Unhappy Happy is the film for you.

Film Review: It’s All About Me By: Erin Stevenson

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It’s All About Me explores the differences between the generations and director Antoine Abugaber sets out to discover why there is an inflated sense of entitlement among youth.

While the film does not quite have me convinced that the younger generation is completely self-absorbed, Abugaber argues that upbringing, education and environment are approached much differently than in the previous generations and are the major factors in shaping today’s narcissistic youth.

I would argue that, with every generation, there is a rebellious stage in the teenage years. I would also say that I believe today’s generations (X, Y and Z) grow up to be compassionate and caring of others, wanting to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

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Q&A with Director Antoine Abugaber

He does hit a home run when describing generations Y’ and Z’s fascination with social media and the need to constantly share personal information.

Overall, it is a great film that will get you thinking about the differences between the generations and how upbringing, environment and education might play a role in shaping a self-loving, entitled generation.

Film Review: Le Livre des Morts (The Book of Dead) By: Leonora Buskin

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Last night, Toronto-based Daring Independent Film Festival featured Alain Escalle’s outstanding experimental short film Le Livre des Morts (The Book of Dead). Escalle is known to travel as he directs, taking inspiration from various places such as Japan, Germany, United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Thailand. Viewers’ attention leans towards the mesmerizing artistry of Escalle’s visual effects that is truly one of a kind in the film industry. The film’s symbolic visuals and overwhelming eerie music unravel a tragedy of a man who journeys alongside the ghosts of his past.

Although lacking dialogue, Book of Dead demonstrates that silence reveals more than one typically assumes. Haunting memories absorb the barren territory Micha resides in and shatters it to pieces before viewers’ eyes. Initially infested by creatures associated with negative superstition, the territory becomes further infested by Micha’s dark past as a concentration camp prisoner. Books, suitcases and nude lifeless figures pile up. Zombie like individuals appear; walking aimlessly as though lost in this shattered world.

Escalle’s film is one of mystery that overwhelms the senses. His work is not at all average; it is a work of art that one should not miss out on!

Film Review: Overlooked Suspect By: Melissa Gonik

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Nearly anyone who has grown up in North America at some point in the last 50 years has heard of the O.J. Simpson trial. Everyone knows about the televised white Bronco chase, and how “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit”. It has now been 19 and a half years since Simpson was accused of killing his wife and her friend, but people still talk about how O.J. walked free despite a majority of people believing he was guilty. If you would have asked me a few days ago if there was a possibility that O.J. was innocent, I may have laughed. I grew up constantly hearing about his guilt, so any other verdict became impossible. I have now had the pleasure of seeing “Overlooked Suspect”, a documentary that managed to completely alter my perspective on the case.

The film, directed by David Nerman, follows William Dear as he compiles evidence for 16 years on the murders of O.J.’s wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman. With video footage and evidence, Nerman is able to create an incredibly compelling film that manages to make a 19.5 year old case relevant again.

The film begins with a montage of news footage from the time of the double murders. The way that it intercuts with each other doesn’t only tell the audience the story of the case, it also manages to convey the sense of urgency that existed, which really puts the audience in the mindset of the time. The film doesn’t shy away from using the gruesome photos of the crime scene to emphasize the devastation the murders caused. Seeing the mangled bodies of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman puts everything in perspective like nothing else could, and I commend the filmmakers for not censoring the images for the film.

What really made the documentary compelling, other than the evidence that was gathered, was the way a mixture of footage, talking heads, and graphics were all used to prove points. Often, documentaries stick to talking heads, having people explaining everything to the camera rather than demonstrating the facts. Here, we even have transcripts from depositions read by voice actors so that the facts can be show, and also remain interesting to watch. The talking heads the film does have are all experts at what they do, which removes the documentary of much of the bias it would have if anyone connected to the Simpson family was interviewed.

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Q&A with Executive Producer Howard Barrett

The purpose of the documentary was to showcase that O.J. was innocent, and that the real murderer was likely his son, Jason. Over 16 years, William Dear and his team researched anything that might help find truth in the case, and over that time they accumulated evidence that showcased O.J.’s innocence.

One may ask why Dear is so insistent on still pursuing O.J.’s innocence so long after the incident occurred and the accused was acquitted. O.J. was never convicted of the murder, so nobody really lost. Nobody, other than all the people with Jason Simpson comes in contact with, who have to deal with his violent and erratic behavior. Even if justice is never really served, David Nerman and the other filmmakers have put a compelling case into a great documentary, and anyone who has an opportunity to view it again, it is highly recommended.

Film Review: “100” (dir. Dario Duran) By: Laura Greenfield

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A true artist is hard to find these days, some might say. But Jessica Gorlicky, the subject of Dario Duran’s documentary entitled 100, is certainly that. The film is not only an account of Gorlicky’s journey as an artist it also celebrates Gorlicky herself and her work.

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Jessica Gorlicky interacting with the DIFFest audience

100 was the first screening on opening night of the 2013 Daring Independent Film Festival (DIFF). Art students have been told countless times about how impossible it is to make a living from their passion. Yet Gorlicky describes how she defied the odds and managed to achieve international success and earn a living as an artist. She utilizes her outgoing and self-described “wild”, fearless personality to her advantage: she is constantly networking everywhere she goes, making useful contacts and promoting her work through word of mouth. She began painting at age thirteen, though as she and her family members attest, she demonstrated a passion for art from a very young age. While Gorlicky received a somewhat formal education in art and art history, she describes herself as a “free unstructured bird”, and “hated it” when her art teachers would “enforce structure”. In her eyes, “being in the world is what [life is] all about”. And so she carved her own place into the art world in her own, albeit unconventional way. She became proficient in four languages including Italian, and studied Renaissance art in Italy. Upon returning home, she sold her first piece of art, at the mere age of 17, for $500. She also snuck into a university painting class, in order to learn other techniques and gain fresh ideas for projects. She claims the painting she produced from the final project of that class is the one piece she refuses to sell, due to the work she put into it. IMG_8386 Her bubbly and fun personality makes it look easy, but in reality the artist of the 21st century has to become a hybrid creator. Gorlicky is simultaneously an artist, curator, videographer, editor, actor, performer, and (most importantly) a salesperson. The film stresses that talent alone does not make someone a successful artist in the 21st century. It is not simply enough to paint anymore; an artist has to also promote him or herself. Gorlicky has several advantages, namely that she comes from a very supportive and encouraging family. Both parents, who also worked in sales, taught her business networking skills. Though the film’s purpose is to showcase Gorlicky’s amazing accomplishments, it also acts to promote her work, spreading her name out to more people across different communities and backgrounds. The latter part of the film provides examples of Gorlicky’s current style of work: speed painting. Most of her current works and projects, called “Art In Motion”, consist of “random acts of inspiration”. She does art inspired by anything that catches her eye, and she travels around the world to find the inspiration “because [she] can”. However she has also managed to catch the attention of commercial companies such as Coca-Cola, Holt Renfrew, and Revlon. She hires herself out to perform live art as entertainment for their corporate events. Since she loves a challenge and paints extremely quickly, she is given a set amount of time (as would a musician or dancer for a performance) and the audience can watch her speed paint as they socialize. Gorlicky has also done speed paintings for Cirque du Soleil. She had a more compressed time frame in which to work, and had to do so in a tent, which she says not many artists would agree to do. Gorlicky enjoys connecting with people; she allowed audience members, including children, to help her paint during the Cirque du Soleil shows, forging a deeper bond between audience and viewer. She was also commissioned in the 2010 Olympics to perform across Canada as the torch was passed from city to city. She was given an even tighter time frame, a mere 8 minutes, to complete paintings outside in front of crowds ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 people. Interestingly, her live art works are focused more on the performance itself than the actual painting produced. Furthermore, each painting is unique; “no one’s ever seen [it] before, I’ve never seen it before”, she states.

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Gorlicky and DIFF Executive Director Ron Furman

Yet, Jessica Gorlicky is not a “sellout”. She continues to do art because she loves it, not for the money or fame which she receives. As family and friends maintain in their interviews, Jessica stays true to herself. She uniquely manages to be as unrestrained as her free spirit yearns for, while still appealing to corporate and mainstream audiences. Duran’s editing skills seamlessly move from one interview to another. The subjects (Gorlicky, her friends, and her family members) speak so casually it feels as though I am having a direct conversation with each one. Gorlicky’s interviews feel like I am talking to a friend over coffee, as she jokes, tells funny stories about her experiences, and discusses her art with such emotion, it is although she is talking about her children. Gorlicky herself was present for the screening and even performed a live painting on a backlit canvas, which was thoroughly enjoyable and added another dimension to the film. After the film she answered questions from the audience (comprised of: as far as future projects). She says she hopes to create more interactive work to inspire more people and further involve the audience. She plans to create a 360 degree video, where Gorlicky designs a world, presumably much like a video game, but the audience member can navigate through it.

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Gorlicky doing her live painting during the film

100 is an inspiring piece, especially for an art student such as myself. Jessica Gorlicky has proven over and over again that it is possible to make a living from art. In both direct speeches to the audience as well as in the film, Gorlicky has stressed over and over how important she finds it to let the artist explore oneself, one’s world. Before the film she told the audience her mission in life is “creating, inspiring people to do what they love” and advised the audience to “try everything at least once”. She gains inspiration from everything around her, and hopes to be an inspiration to those wanting to follow in her footsteps. Photography by: Oren Kats ttps://www.facebook.com/orenkatsphotography

DIFF Blog Contributors

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Rachel Abitan[ Head of Bloggers & Editor]:

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Rachel Abitan is a Public Relations student with a background in New Media studies. Social Media is an essential tool for two way communication in the professional field. As a growing Social Media Marketer her passion and goals are intertwined. She wants to provide organizations confidence and success with her skills of social media marketing to reach a broader audience and help maintain an outlet of communication to its public. Writing and oral communication are essential tools that she uses in order to successfully create comprehendible and professional messages. She has her own blog “Everything Mizrachi”, is a website designer, and manages social media for DIFF. Since having her own computer at a young age, she knew pursuing a career that involved an aspect of technology was necessary. She is outgoing and loves meeting and working with other people. Her favourite genre of films is documentaries because it evokes thought and a better understanding of the world we live in. To contact her please e-mail: abitanrachel@gmail.com and visit her Linked In.

Laura Greenfield [Blogger]:

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Laura Greenfield was born in Toronto, Canada. An avid reader, she developed a love for storytelling from a young age. She began writing her own stories and novels while in middle school; in high school she began to experiment with film and music as well. Now in her last year at the University of Toronto, she is majoring in Media Studies with a double minor in English and Visual Art. Laura directs, writes, and is the cinematographer for the short films she and her brother produce for their YouTube channel, GreenFieldCinemas. Their work can be viewed at www.youtube.com/GreenFieldCinemas or on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GreenFieldCinemas. Laura is drawn to film because of the way the medium allows complex emotions and stories to be conveyed visually.

Her LinkedIn page can be found at http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/laura-greenfield/31/806/66a

Melissa Gonik [Blogger]:

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Melissa Gonik was born in Toronto, Ontario and is pursuing a Film degree as a 2nd year university student. During her free time, Melissa enjoys watching and writing about film and television, which she hopes to turn into a career. She enjoys the thought-provoking and stimulating nature of many films, as well as the subsequent conversation those films facilitate. Her thoughts on film and television can be found at: www.brokenwallmusings.wordpress.com

Email: melgonik@gmail.com

Leonora Buskin [Blogger]:

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Leonora Helen Buskin was born in Ottawa, Ontario and resided in the Greater Toronto Area since the age of six. She is currently pursuing degrees in Fine Arts and Education while also interning at the Archives of Ontario weekly. Drawing and painting throughout her life, Leonora has a strong appreciation for the arts. She is drawn to film not only because it is a way for artists to express themselves, but also creates a community by gathering people for entertainment or insightful learning.During her spare time she posts on a blog she recently started called Pictures Worth 1000 Words. (http://picworth.wordpress.com/

Erin Stevenson [Blogger]:

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Erin Stevenson was born in Toronto, Canada. She is currently pursuing a bachelor degree in public relations at Humber College. She has a background in publishing, event planning and has a passion for writing and social media. She also took a film studies course at George Brown College. When it comes to film, Erin enjoys a wide variety of genres provided they are well made. Some of her favourite directors include Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee and Orson Wells but she also enjoys the works of up –and-coming and independent film directors.