Canadian Film NOW & Then: A 35-year retrospective in 29 covers

CANADIAN FILM NOW & THEN: A 35-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE IN 29 COVERS April 10 to April 22 at Sam Pollock Square, Brookfield.


CANADIAN FILM NOW & THEN: A 35-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE IN 29 COVERS April 10 to April 22 at Sam Pollock Square, Brookfield Place (181 Bay). FREE.


National Canadian Film Day 150, REEL CANADA’s annual day-long celebration of Canadian movies, is on the horizon and, NOW Magazine and REEL CANADA present a vivid retrospective of our country’s cinematic history over the past 35 years.

1. Ron Mann

Poetry In Motion | November 11, 1982

Written by Steven Hillen

Photo by Paul Till

Comic Book Confidential was the coolest documentary I saw as a kid. It was on TV constantly, and I’d always watch. The comics were great, but the stories and artists left an indelible impression. Those beads of sweat on the astronauts’ face, censored due to racism, are etched in my memory.

Grass is a killer film. It succeeds at being funny, accessible and informational, but it’s also a convincing and powerful work of activism. The talk-show clips about the impossibility of legislating morality ring especially true. How could I not contemplate it while making The Stairs?

My dad’s a huge jazz fan – he attended the original taping of Imagine The Sound. We saw the film together at Jackman Hall around 10 years ago, and I was introduced to Ron beforehand. I mentioned my then-recent film, Hogtown Blues. Ron gave a knowing smile, appreciating my film title, from Oscar Peterson. A small moment shared with Canada’s chronicler of counterculture. For me, it was highly memorable and felt very cool.

Filmmaker Hugh Gibson

Because he lived in Toronto, I was able to photograph Ron Mann in his apartment and had plenty of time. We were on the same wavelength in terms of goofing around, trying odd ideas. There’s a great shot of him cracking up at a scene from Planet Of The Apes being shown on the TV beside him. I think the photo that we picked was an example of “If and only if the photos are equally good, go for the most appropriate one.”

Photographer Paul Till

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2. David Cronenberg 

Videodrome | January 13, 1983

Written by John Harkness

Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg

Videodrome is a completely logical extension of Cronenberg’s work, yet there is a new stylistic maturity and complexity…. He has worked in a genre that is usually derogated as childish…. He has never cast American stars for the sake of casting American stars. And, most important, he has remained true to his vision of human experience that has resulted in the most mature, intelligent body of work by anyone working in the science fiction/horror genre in the last two decades.

From the cover story by John Harkness

David Cronenberg is a car nut, so we arranged to meet at Downtown Fine Cars (now a condo site), near his office on Avenue Road. He picked a Porsche 911 as his prop and I (foolishly) asked him to sit in the passenger seat to solve a background and lighting issue. He told me on no uncertain terms that he always drives. After some discussion he graciously agreed, and did not allow his directorial instincts to cloud his expression. Since he’s a master of scary stuff, I thought it appropriate to light from below, placing a small strobe inside the car door for that classic horror look.

Photographer Ben Mark Holzberg

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3. David Cronenberg

The Fly | August 21, 1986

Written by John Harkness

Photo by Paul Till

I was a great one for props in those days. I did an entire of show of photos of people holding model aircraft. But I seldom had the opportunity to use props in NOW photographs, especially props that I brought myself. When I got to photograph David Cronenberg for The Fly, I thought, “Oh boy!” I went to Joke Land on Yonge and bought the biggest, most horrible fly they had. But when I got to Cronenberg’s office I was a bit shy and said sheepishly, “I wonder if you could hold this in front of your face.” He was game enough, though not wildly enthusiastic. I was struggling – both the fly and his face had to read and I needed space for the logo and some cover type and I wanted it to not look stupid. I photographed until I could shoot no more. If the photo worked it was due to Cronenberg’s expression – and in spite of the fly.

Photographer Paul Till

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4David Cronenberg

Spider | February 27, 2003

Written by John Harkness

Photo by Steve Payne

John Harkness was scheduled to interview David Cronenberg in the studio just before the shoot. They started talking as soon as they saw each other, and as they sat down, John casually passed him a copy of Dead Ringers to autograph, both of them still talking non-stop as he signed it. When the shoot started, I showed Cronenberg the first test-polaroid of him, with the harsh lighting. I said that the word “creepy” might appear in the cover story and would he mind if I tried to make him look creepy? “Not at all,” he said, and grinned. “Good for him,” I thought – he has probably asked the same of an actor, and now that it’s his turn he doesn’t mind being the victim.

Photographer Steve Payne

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6. John Candy

Splash | March 8, 1984

Written by John Harkness

Photo by Paul Till

John Candy and I both hail from the sleepy suburb of Newmarket, 50 kilometres north of Toronto. Through this purely fortuitous connection, growing up I’d watch his films with the joy and attachment akin to watching your favourite uncle if he also happened to be a movie star. But really, Candy was cinema’s version of everyone’s favourite uncle. He shared the best stories, made the biggest pancakes and, despite his often dubious nature, always came through when you needed him. His work has endured so timelessly because it came from a place of genuine heart and compassion, devoid of cheap gimmicks or self-indulgence. Candy was a singular talent who firmly belongs on the Mount Rushmore of comedy screen legends.

Filmmaker Albert Shin

John Candy was a big guy – tall as well as hefty – and was a real presence in a room. He was a heck of a nice guy, and the interview went well, as did most by John Harkness. I had a sense that Harkness was respected by the subjects because he really knew his stuff. I couldn’t count the number of times that Harkness and an actor or director traded enthusiasms for some obscure piece of film history. My standard practice was to photograph throughout the interview and then, if it was a cover, to make some portraits with space for the NOW logo and some type. (In my early days at NOW I’d actually sketched the NOW logo onto the focusing screen on my camera, because otherwise it might end up over the subject’s face!) This may be a false memory, but I think that Irene Grainger, the photo editor, asked me which one I liked, and I said, “I kind of like the eyes-closed one.” “Me too,” she replied.

Photo by Paul Till

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6. Yves Simoneau

Pouvoir Intime | April 16, 1987

Written by John Harkness

Photo by Susan King Pouvoir

Intime, a tightly wound thriller about an armoured car robbery gone wrong, [is] stunningly directed, constructed by a young man with an extraordinary instinct for what the camera can do and what he can do with the results in the editing process…. [It’s] impressive, but the director’s precocity in the very difficult Canadian industry is almost inspirational. There are very few directors in this country who have made four features before their 40th birthday.

From the cover story by John Harkness

Yves Simoneau’s crime drama Pouvoir Intime (Intimate Power) had just been released, so I chose to shoot his portrait as a close-up. My lighting and this intimate approach brought out deep, hard shadows in his face, a technique taken from film noir. To add an eerie quality to the image, I dodged his foreground eye in the darkroom, which means I manually reduced the light in that one area. This portrait reminds me of images made by the Russian Futurists: grainy, stark and tonal, where significance is given to the dynamics of light, shape and shadow.

Photographer Susan King

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7. Patricia Rozema

I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing | September 3, 1987

Written by Alice Klein

Photo by Debra Friedman

It is not easy to bring female-driven films to market in 2017. Patricia Rozema has been doing it since 1987, before female-driven was a thing. Whether it’s Polly in I’ve Heard The Mermaids Sing, Fanny in Mansfield Park, the Edies in the TV version of Grey Gardens or even the way she shoots Lola Kirke in Mozart In The Jungle, in Patricia’s work females are the subject, never the object. She has an unwavering commitment to how women are portrayed on screen, but her masterful skill as a filmmaker and storyteller allow her accomplish that with lightest touch. How could you do anything but bow down to that in respect and reverence? She’s a rock star. A very classy, sophisticated and smart rock star.

Actor/director Nadia Litz

Mermaids delicately and sometimes hilarious throws Polly suddenly into the art scene, and follows her and her associates – three women – as they juggle their urges for public recognition and private self-expression. This almost fairy tale of a film bypasses the prevailing female archetypes, presenting instead its own legend of its characters’ inner terrain. The result is a film whose handmade feel complements its intimate, firstperson voice. Personality is Mermaids’ long suit – visually, musically and narratively, it is a piece of personal art exploring the process of creation and its products.

From the cover story by Alice Klein

When I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing was going into production, Patricia Rozema wanted to use my photographs as set dressing for the main character, Polly’s photographs. This was a low-budget production, and there wouldn’t be any compensation. That was all right. I was just excited to be part of her exciting project. Sometime later during the production, when they got a bit more funding and offered me some compensation, I declined it. Didn’t want to seem like it was about money. How uncool. Young, naive photographer. (Now, of course, I’m completely mercenary.) Shooting Patricia for the cover of NOW was terrific. She has a great face – all angles and penetrating eyes. That cover felt like the whole project had come full circle.

Photographer Debra Friedman

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8. Patricia Rozema

When Night Is Falling | May 4, 1995

Written by Cameron Bailey

Photo by Bryce Duffy

Her new movie is a full-out, glorious lesbian romance – it’s the grown-up answer to the comic yearning in I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing. This might not shock anybody inside the community, but out in the world where lesbians still drive trucks and brandish ice picks, it’s daredevil stuff. Pulling off a movie like this requires grace, skill and humour – exactly what she demands of her films.

From the cover story by Cameron Bailey

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9. Holly Dale/Janis Cole

Calling The Shots | September 15, 1988

Written by John Harkness

Photo by Susan King

Even without knowing anything about the inner workings of their filmmaking partnership, one would be hard-pressed to consider Janis Cole and Holly Dale’s body of work together and not assume a rare and tremendous trust. The compelling individuals that populate their films speak directly on camera with an openness that is sometimes startling, while the structures of the films are kept free from imposed judgment or obvious social-issue-doc constructs. Whether they turn their focus onto prison inmates, sex workers or – in a fitting final feature documentary together Calling The Shots – female filmmakers, Dale and Cole’s works still hold their empathetic power today because of the clarity of their shared humanist vision.

Filmmaker Jennifer Liao

The culmination of two years of work, Calling The Shots explores the experience and viewpoints of women who have invaded the traditionally male preserve of feature film direction…. While (it) may seem atypical, it is structurally identical to Hookers On Davie and P4W (about a women’s prison): people speak to an unseen interviewer…. It seems different only because, for once, Dale and Cole are not talking to junkies, hookers and criminals.

From the cover story by John Harkness

Friendly and down to earth, Holly and Janis were lovely to meet and photograph. Our conversation was easy and animated beneath late afternoon sun and brooding clouds. To make their figures stand out against the busy backdrop of the street, I carried portable strobe equipment. Both women are assertive and confident in their stance, which exudes street smarts. There is something very intentional in the way Janis is turning her head to confront the camera and her audience. Looking back, I find both their gazes deliciously defiant.

Photographer Susan King

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10. Atom Egoyan

Speaking Parts | September 7, 1989

Written by Cameron Bailey

Photo by David Laurence

As digital distraction trumps human interaction, as fantasy replaces fact, Atom has continued to explore the quiet, deep truths about love, life and loss with restraint, sensitivity and dignity. A world-class filmmaker and a world-class dude.

Actor Joey Klein

There wasn’t a lot of time (or space) to set up studio lighting and a great backdrop for this shoot, but for cover photos, background space for type is always important, and colour helps it “pop.” On arrival at Atom’s inner-city row house, pleasant as it was, no indoor location immediately spoke to me. Then, glancing into the small backyard, I noticed a large, colourful garden umbrella, so that was it, along with Metz strobe used on-camera to brighten it up and pick up his eyes.

Photographer David Laurence

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11. Guy Maddin

Archangel | January 24, 1991

Written by Cameron Bailey

Photo by David Laurence

I’ve admired Guy Maddin ever since I discovered a VHS of Archangel at the video store where I used to work. He’s always stood apart as a bastion of cinematic integrity. I’ve never visited Winnipeg, and his experience of Canada is, I’m sure, far different than mine. Yet somehow his work is totally essential to me. Depressing conversations about what’s wrong with Canadian cinema are forgotten when you see his work – watch his films and you realize that it’s possible to make films in this country just because you love cinema.

Filmmaker Kazik Radwanski

The “Big Head,” as it was called, was a popular strategy for NOW cover images at the time. I was travelling light in winter to Winnipeg to photograph Guy – not much gear beyond a couple of battery flashes and an umbrella. So that’s what I chose to use. It was really all about Guy’s expression, just trying to get across a hint of that eerie strangeness he was known for in his work.

Photographer David Laurence

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12. Deepa Mehta

Sam And Me | September 5, 1991

Written by Ingrid Randoja

Photo by Anne Levenston

I used to be Deepa’s assistant. Getting that job actually kept me from aimlessly moving back to the U.S where I grew up, at what was my peak Reality Bites stage of life. There are only a very small number of female directors in Canada who have made a stand-alone career for themselves, let alone a prolific one, so to work for her meant that I saw first-hand what it looks like and what it takes. What I admire about Deepa is her tenacity to get the work done, her insistence on what is true and authentic about human nature and her ferocious curiosity about the world. She asks hard questions and is wise enough not to always give the answer, or an easy one. She is pretty relentless in her work, and anything less just doesn’t cut it. Those are qualities I now try to apply to my own work.

Filmmaker Molly McGlynn

Sam And Me is a funny and poignant story about the friendship between a 23- year-old East Indian immigrant and a 75-year-old religious Jew….The film steers clear of sugar-coated consciousness-raising, exposing instead the tentative reality of interracial relationships. Mehta (says) making an overtly politically correct film with an easy, predictable narrative would have served no purpose.

From the cover story by Ingrid Randoja

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13. Deepa Mehta

Fire | September 5, 1996

Written by Ingrid Randoja

Photo by Susan King

I met Deepa at her home in the Annex, hidden away from the street behind cedars and spruce. At the back of the house, I photographed her in the kitchen, framed by backlit bamboo blinds edged in deep red from the late afternoon sun. I was struck by her grounded and empowered presence. In the photo, she sits clothed in richly coloured saffron fabric on a Persian carpet. The framing and environment evoke something ethereal. The angle is askew. Behind her, the blind lifts to expose the leafy branches of a tree, suggesting that she inhabits a higher realm. I achieved the saturated and contrasting tones by cross-processing the film.

Photographer Susan King

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14. Valerie Buhagiar/Don McKellar

Highway 61 | February 13, 1992

Written by Ingrid Randoja

Photo by David Laurence

Buhagiar, an established player on the theatre scene, emerges here as one of Canada’s leading film actors, though she’s still undiscovered by the majority of movie-goers. Possessing a razor-sharp beauty, her portrayal of the tough, wild Jackie acts as the film’s catalyst, and her intelligent and controlled energy fuels the cinematic drive…. McKellar’s impish good looks and sly sense of humour easily translate into the role of Pokey Jones, a boyish dreamer who is just waiting, asking, to be pushed into life.

From the cover story by Ingrid Randoja

I took many shots of the threesome that day – Valerie, Don and Highway 61 director Bruce McDonald. I’ve always found group photos something of a challenge, as they often appear overly contrived simply by their nature. However, I like the tableau of the trio that was used inside the paper with the story. I think Don and Valerie probably got bored with doing tableaux and started to play around, hamming it up. I think the photo chosen for the cover works in the context of that film, though I suppose some might think it a bit cheesy… or contrived.

Photographer David Laurence

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15. Lynne Fernie/Aerlyn Weissman

Forbidden Love | September 17, 1992

Written by Ingrid Randoja

Photo by Rick McGinnis

Utterly honest, full of humour and ultimately uplifting, the film shines a warm and affectionate light into the shrouded corners of lesbian cultural history – what it feels like to come out in a truly dangerous time, the early bar scene and butch/femme relationships. The directors interviewed over 40 women, and meeting and getting these women between the ages of 40 and 70 to appear on film was not entirely easy. “You can’t phone someone up out of the blue and say, ‘Hi, I hear you’re queer, do you want to talk about it? …It’s still dangerous. There’s still fear,” says Aerlyn Weissman. Accenting the stories of these brave women is a fictional drama re-enacting a young woman coming out and erotic seduction, drawn from the prototypical 50s lesbian trash novel. It’s a logical approach because for many of the women, that first inkling of their own sexuality came through titillating pulp fiction.

From the cover story by Ingrid Randoja

Lynne Fernie is one of my favourite film programmers and at the core of the documentary community in Toronto. She’s passionate, intelligent, spirited and fun. The breadth of her knowledge is impressive, and the seriousness of her commitment not just to film but to filmmakers is something I and many others have benefited tremendously from. Her support has meant a great deal to me as a woman in film.

Documentary filmmaker Sarah Goodman

This cover was shot in a diner just off Queen West near Lynne and Aerlyn’s offices. Don’t look for it today – it’s long gone. We had a rule against anyone smoking in a NOW cover, so I apparently had to tell Lynne to put out her cigarette for the shoot. That’s something that makes this shot a bit of history – a time when people could smoke in restaurants.

Photographer Rick McG

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16. Alanis Obamsawin 

Kanehsatake: 270 Years Of Resistance | September 9, 1993

Written by Ingrid Randoja

Photo by Algis Kemezys

Alanis Obomsawin is the most important Canadian filmmaker of her generation. In over 50 years and a staggering 49 documentaries, she has created a deeply accomplished body of work that stands as a lasting record and profound historical judgment. Her films will have global impact and resonance far into the future.

Filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal

Obamsawin spent 11 weeks with a crew and later alone behind the native barricades filming the tension-filled showdown between Mohawk warriors and the Canadian army at Oka. The resulting film is a powerfully raw visual record of that deadly confrontation.

It defiantly exposes the brutal and idiotic fashion in which the municipality of Oka and the federal government dealt with Mohawk self-defence. Filled with previously unseen footage – including the final, violent assault on Mohawk men, women and children as they left the barricades – the film is a testament to the courage of the Mohawks, as well as to Obamsawin herself.

From the cover story by Ingrid Randoja

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17. John Greyson

Zero Patience | February 24, 1994

Written by Cameron Bailey

Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg

For 10 years, Greyson has made videotapes to shake down the house of homophobia and erect a pulsing new monument to gay identities in its place. If there’s a bad joke in that sentence, that’s Greyson’s way. He likes bad jokes if they’re good enough. His latest film, Zero Patience, takes on the most international of contemporary crises – AIDS. Greyson confronts the scapegoaters in science and media who from time to time announce a new cause of AIDS only because it seems necessary. Right now it’s HIV. Once it was the African green monkey. With Zero Patience as a starting point, Greyson crafts a fiction that playfully disrupts any certainties we might have about AIDS, including the certainty that we must meet the crisis with somber heads.

From the cover story by Cameron Bailey

Activist and director (this piece was done before he became a film professor) John Greyson is seen on a neutral background to promote his somewhat offbeat take on the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in Canada. A serious pose for a serious subject. An alternate, moodier Greyson peering through venetian blinds ran inside, accompanying the story.

Photographer Ben Mark Holzberg

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18. Bruce McDonald

Dance Me Outside | March 9, 1995

Written by Ingrid Randoja

Photo by David Lee

Bruce McDonald, aka Leader of the Northern Tribes, was the first professional to recognize me and help me as a young filmmaker. We all know him as a rock ’n’ roll filmmaker who easily transits between multiple genres. And we all know that he is one of the most talented and prolific indie filmmakers in the world. But not everyone knows that he is a true impresario of the Toronto filmmaking scene and has devoted tremendous energy and effort into nurturing new talent of all stripes. With every film he keeps getting better, and I suspect his best work lies ahead.

Filmmaker Vincenzo Natali

Norman Jewison owned the rights to W.P. Kinsella’s story and, after many failed attempts, called McDonald.

“Why did Norman tag me?” McDonald remembers. “I think Norman saw me as this guy who makes odd films full of youthful spirit who would treat the movie like an entertainment comedy, which it definitely is.”

McDonald is talking while making coffee in his Kensington Market apartment. It’s a large, airy place that screams bachelor pad. He’s a gracious host, and all the stories of his hard-living antics melt away in his crumb-filled kitchen.

From the cover story by Ingrid Randoja

It was great fun to have the opportunity to work with such a talented director. It was a long time ago, over 20 odd years, but I seem to remember Bruce was not that keen on being on the cover. Eventually we worked something out. And bonus – you have to love the beaded camera logo. Nice.

Photographer David Lee

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19. Clement Virgo

Rude | September 7, 1995

Written by John Harkness

Photo by Debra Friedman

Rude may be the only film ever made that allows the influences of both Walter Hill and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Set on Easter weekend and bound together by the voice of the eponymous pirate DJ, it tells three distinct stories. A woman breaks up with her boyfriend and ponders an abortion, a young boxer confronts his homosexuality in a hyper-macho environment, and an artist tries to reconstruct his life after serving time for drug dealing. It’s a vivid view of a Toronto rarely seen in Canadian films, and displays an energy and power that mark an auspicious start to what could become a great career.

From the cover story by John Harkness

Photographing Clement Virgo was a treat. First of all, he is superhandsome. I’m just saying. I was nursing a wee crush at the time. I liked the idea of shooting in the studio but creating a faux street scene that looked like we could be outside. There was a backdrop painting company in the same building as my studio, and they rented us backdrops for a song. We went with an urban night scene and threw some blue light all over it. Very theatrical. We played with different postures and gestures, and the light picked up one side of his lovely, intense face. That’s all we needed.

Photographer Debra Friedman

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20. Sarah Polley

The Sweet Hereafter/The Planet Of Junior Brown/The Hanging Garden | September 4, 1997

Written by Ingrid Randoja

Photo by Rick McGinnis

Sarah Polley has always been my idol, because she is a woman who refuses to be defined by a single pursuit. She’s an actor, a writer, a director, an activist and a mother. I don’t know Sarah very well, but I’ve always believed there was something rebellious about her – she was going to become whatever she wanted to. She alone defined her success. Stories We Tell moved me most: my family is also surrounded by mythology, and it’s an act of bravery to search for the truth. Sarah is truly Canadian, she’s quietly fearless. Every young female filmmaker I know is inspired by her, and I am excited for what’s next.

Actor Katie Boland

There was a time when I wanted to be a Victorian portrait photographer, which explains the painted backdrop I rented for this shoot with Sarah Polley. I must have worked hard on this one, because I have a lot of film from this assignment in my files. It was worth the effort, however, as I ended up selling another shot from this job to Vogue magazine when Sarah Polley told them she didn’t want to do a shoot with them.

Photographer Rick McGinnis

American glamour magazines are calling Sarah Polley the next Uma Thurman. It’s the kind of hype-mongering that most young actors dream about, but not Polley. In an and-this-too-shall-pass mode, the 18-year-old acting sensation sloughs off the chatter. “They have to say that kind of thing to justify doing a story on someone. It’s pretty frightening if you believe what they say, as opposed to how you feel about your work. You can’t let it affect your opinion of yourself.” Saying that Polley’s mature for her age is like saying Wayne Gretzky’s kinda handy with a hockey stick.

From the cover story by Ingrid Randoja

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21. Mike Hoolboom

Panic Bodies/Plague Years | October 8, 1998

Written by Cameron Bailey

Photo by Steve Payne

Imagine if Cronenberg’s films did to themselves what they do to the fictional flesh they’re about: that’s the cinema of Mike Hoolboom. His films take the reinvention of the human as one of their primary projects. But Hoolboom’s invention is mothered by such urgent necessity – born of, among other things, the physical body’s inevitable betrayal of its owner and the social body’s ongoing betrayal of its members – that the films seemingly have no choice but to autopsy their own form, dissecting themselves and putting themselves back together in search of a new language, a new biology of film.

Writer/director Daniel Cockburn

Hoolboom started out when “fringe was “experimental” and it was all about the tangible qualities of the medium – focus, grain, time. It’s highest principles were abstract. But over the past 18 years, his films have evolved from aggressive aesthetic experiments – jumping geometry in Grid, a blank screen in White Museum – toward something larger and more intimate. He’s telling stories now.

From the cover story by Cameron Bailey

My plan for this portrait was to project images behind Mike – very organic and very old-school analogue. I hadn’t met him, so I was relieved when he liked the idea. He agreed that the projected images and the rear screen process hinted at his work. We tried a few set-ups and worked out between us as we went along the idea of projecting directly onto him shirtless.

Photographer Steve Payne

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22. Molly Parker

The Five Senses/Sunshine/Wonderland | September 9, 1999

Written by Ingrid Randoja

Photo by Susan King

Parker has a serene intelligent presence. It’s this still, watchful quality that informs her acting. She’s one of the best onscreen listeners I’ve ever seen. Her open face acts like a drawbridge, inviting you to step inside her character’s mind.

From the cover story by Ingrid Randoja

Molly arrived at my home studio with several changes of clothes and a makeup artist. Because the character she played in her most recent film wasn’t glamorous, she wanted to look the opposite. I remember working with her being a very playful experience. It relaxed her to see some Polaroids of my tests, and we really connected after that. She pulled back her hair. I shot. An open expression. Her features simplified. Clear blue eyes, topped with fringes of mascara lashes, a lifted eyebrow, the suggestion of a nose and reddish lips. I achieved this look by cross-processing the image, which means I used slide film in my camera but developed it with chemistry for a colour negative. I used this technique for many of the covers I shot for NOW.

Photo by Susan King

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23. Richard Fung

Retrospective at Images Festival | April 11, 2002

Written by Cameron Bailey

Photo by Debra Friedman

To the queer crowd he’s the sly provocateur. He once made a serious safesex video but cast art stars John Greyson and Colin Campbell as cruisey bathhouse extras. To the post-colonial seminar heads he’s the taskmaster. In years of teaching and writing he’s always maintained that being left is no substitute for being rigorous. And to a generation of young Asian artists all across North America, he’s Frida Kahlo. Richard Fung blazed the trail.

From the cover story by Cameron Bailey

I had no idea who Richard Fung was before I photographed him. Made me less nervous. When he arrived at my door, he was a fairly quiet, shy guy. I figured there wouldn’t be any big, demonstrative gestures, and so the location would be key. I set him up near a chalkboard wall that my kids had scrawled on and hoped the juxtaposition would be engaging. We did a few shots and then he took his arm and started wiping the chalk off the board, covering his hand and shirt in chalk dust. I asked him to show me his chalk covered hand, and he did. Thank you, Richard Fung.

Photographer Debra Friedman

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24. Ellen Page

Mouth To Mouth | November 3, 2005

Written by Cameron Bailey

Photo by Steve Payne

What it is about Ellen Page that makes her electric? She’s got a rare quiet intensity and deadpan wit. Her performance in Juno seemed to usher in a new kind of leading woman, one who was headstrong but loving and did what was best for her regardless of what the men in her life advised. I don’t know if anyone could do that role but her. I also have to give her huge credit for speaking openly about her sexuality and being vocal about the implications for casting as a result. She didn’t have to speak about her personal life, but she did because she felt a responsibility to.

Filmmaker Molly McGlynn

My main memory of Ellen Page was how laid-back and calm she was. She came to the photo studio with her agent, and after the studio photo session we drove to another site – an abandoned building off Cherry Beach. I made them walk through the mud across a field and climb through a fence – all for a photo we didn’t use. When they started talking in the car, I was reminded of just how young she was – she was 18 at the time. They talked about people they knew and the perils for young actors moving to Los Angeles.

Photographer Steve Payne

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25. Ellen Page

Into The Forest | September 3, 2015

Written by Susan G. Cole

Photo courtesy of Getty

To the naked eye it looks like she’s doing nothing, and then you look at the footage and the level of detail is incredible. So many actors are most alive when they’re sad or angry or funny – but she can portray every one of those emotions with equal conviction. She has a thousand colours to her, and they’re all genuine.

From the cover story Q&A with Into The Forest director Patricia Rozema

As she openly – and very articulately – expresses the meaning of her recent life change (she made public last February that she was a lesbian), it’s obvious that she’s revelling in her new-found freedom now that she’s out and proud. She is excellent in Patricia Rozema’s Into The Forest, a taut tale of two sisters, Nell and Eva (Page and Evan Rachel Wood), trying to survive in their isolated home in the woods after a vaguely defined eco-catastrophe. She is all wound up and focused as Nell, juggling a passion for her boyfriend and her commitment to her sib. It’s vintage Page – direct, intense, with the gritty edge that’s defined so many of her performances.

From the cover feature by Susan G. Cole

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26. Jason Jones and Samantha Bee

Cooper’s Camera | August 28, 2008

Written by Norman Wilner

Photo by Bryan Helm

Sam and Jason are one of Hollywood’s most dangerously funny power couples. Jason’s TV show The Detour us groundbreaking and hilarious, and Sam has the best show on late night, period. But before they were the toast of Tinseltown, they were trailblazing right here in Canada with comedy troupes the Atomic Fireballs and the Bobroom. Their natural progression was into movies, first with Ham & Cheese and then with the dysfunctional family Christmas epic Coopers’ Camera. What I love about the NOW cover photo is the expression on their faces – they were simultaneously excited and pained beyond belief, two features that are hallmarks of their comedy.

Cooper’s Camera director Warren Sonoda

NEW YORK CITY – Nothing breaks the ice during an interview better than a five-week-old taking a massive dump.

Actually, things are already pretty casual between Jason Jones, Samantha Bee and me when their infant son, Fletcher, whom Bee had been discreetly breastfeeding during our interview at the midtown Manhattan studios of The Daily Show, decides to remind us of his presence. Loudly.

“I think you’ve got two more of those in you,” Jones tells his son, who is making a very red face.

“Crank them out,” Bee says with a been-there-twice-today-already casualness.

Fletcher obliges. The sound is impressive.

Bee gives him the point. “Nice!”

Jones plays the proud papa. “I know my son’s crappin’ schedule.”

From the cover story by Norman Wilner

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27. Jay Baruchel

The Trotsky | May 13, 2010

Written by Radheyan Simonpillai

Photo by CPI Syndication

Baruchel has taken his geek persona and graduated to marquee status in films like She’s Out Of My League, How To Train Your Dragon and this summer’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. He isn’t embarrassed to list the ways he resembles the socially dysfunctional characters he so often plays. He gets obsessed with odd facts, reads a ton and would rather stay home and play video games than go out. In The Trotsky, he plays an adolescent revolutionary who believes he’s the reincarnation of the Russian Leon Trotsky. Baruchel was drawn to the complex character’s profuse and intimidating knowledge. He also saw a little bit of his own big mouth and teenage tirades in Leon’s passionate outbursts.

From the cover story by Radheyan SImonpillai

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28. Seth Rogen

50/50, Take This Waltz | September 1, 2011

Written by Norman Wilner

Photo courtesy of Getty

I used to watch Seth Rogen every Saturday night on Freaks And Geeks but really became a fan when I learned of our shared love of You’ve Got Mail via a now-classic episode of Undeclared. Whereas so many actors choose roles based on a “one for me, one for them” philosophy, it’s refreshing to see someone so clearly committed to just making things that he would want to see. I’m sure he’s had a lot of fun doing it, and I’ve had a lot of fun watching.

Filmmaker Pavan Moondi

Seth Rogen is a freakin’ genius. The scene in The Night Before where he’s in the back of the limo after taking way too many drugs is one of the realest scenes in cinema history. Do you know how hard it is to do comedy? It is so hard. Seth Rogen nails it every time. He is a brilliant actor and creator, and he is obviously super-driven and ambitious. I truly admire him.

Actor Cara Gee

Rogen says shooting Take This Waltz (with director Sarah Polley) was a novel experience.

“It was an interesting mix of being very meticulous with the lines and being incredibly improvisational,” he says. “There were some scenes where she’d want it done pretty much word-for-word like she’d written it, and there were times where she’d let the camera roll for 20 minutes and just tell Michelle [Williams] and me to act like a married couple who were setting up for a party.”

From the cover story by Norman Wilner

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29. Tatiana Maslany

Picture Day | August 30, 2012

Written by Susan G. Cole

Photo by Mercedes Grundy

Moment to moment, in every role, Tatiana makes choices so thoroughly and genuinely surprising that they appear obvious. The ability to convert imagination into self-evident truth – that’s some sort of deep alchemy. I don’t know what combination of skill, invention and feeling it takes to pull that off, but I’ll spend my whole life tripping after it. She makes it look easy.

Actor Connor Jessup

In this year’s TIFF entry Picture Day, she’s Claire, who’s repeating grade 12 – her victory lap, Claire calls it. She’s sexually precocious in ways that scare her contemporaries, yet not entirely willing to take the leap into the world of adults. (But) sitting with her in a T.O. condo, I can almost see the transition taking place before my eyes. There’s the nervous energy of a teenager, fingernails painted all different colours that twinkle when she taps her hands together. But at 27, she’s also impressively articulate, demonstrating the profound intelligence that comes through in her work. She’s smart and sexy, a compelling combination that has her turning important heads in the business.

From the cover story by Susan G. Cole

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