REGENT PARK FILM FESTIVAL through Saturday (November 22). At Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas East). Free. regentparkfilmfestival.com/festival. Rating: NNNN
The Regent Park Film Festival aims to bring the movies into the underserved Toronto neighbourhood, hosting a program of recent docs, shorts and features. All screenings are free, and seats can be reserved ahead of time on the festival’s website.
Programming in this 12th edition includes Mi’kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby’s feature debut (and 2013 Canada’s Top Ten honoree) Rhymes For Young Ghouls (Friday, November 21), a magic-realist character study of a teenage girl (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs) growing up on a Quebec reservation in the late 70s.
For families, there’s a Saturday morning screening – complete with breakfast – of Haifaa Al Mansour’s acclaimed Wadjda (Saturday, November 22). The first Saudi Arabian feature directed by a woman, it follows a 10-year-old girl (Waad Mohammed) who enters a Koran recitation contest to win enough money for a bicycle. It’s a charmer.
A program of local documentaries (Saturday) centres on Hope Heights, Marc Magnusson’s portrait of the Lawrence Heights community as it actually exists rather than the battle zone we see in breathless news reports. It’s a little longer than it needs to be, but I can’t blame Magnusson for wanting to be sure we take his point.
There’s no such optimism in Eugene Jarecki’s shattering documentary The House I Live In (Saturday), about the victims of America’s war on drugs who are locked in overcrowded prisons due to mandatory minimum sentences. It’s a despairing look at the cynicism and contempt that drives U.S. drug policy – and if you think it isn’t happening here, you haven’t been paying attention.
Film Festivals this week
The Canadian International Television Festival A sneak peak at the new Corner Gas movie, a panel and screening for CBC’s new mini-series The Book Of Negroes, vintage series screenings, celebrity appearances and more. All events free (RSVP to reserve tickets). See website for schedule. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King W. citf14.tv. To Nov 23
European Union Film Festival Contemporary films from many countries reflecting the excellence, innovation and diversity of European cinema. Free ($10 adv), opening night film & reception $25. Royal Cinema, 608 College. eutorontofilmfest.ca. To Nov 30
Reel Awareness Film Festival Amnesty International’s festival of international documentaries on human rights. See website for schedule. Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton. aito.ca/reelawareness. Nov 20 to 23
Regent Park Film Festival Screenings, panel discussions, workshops and talkbacks that reflect inner-city communities like the Regent Park Community. Free. Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas E. 416-599-7733, regentparkfilmfestival.com. To Nov 22