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Dementia patients plug into musical memories in Alive Inside.
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The Possibilities Are Endless is a must-see at Reel Indie.
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Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty. Photo courtesy of Secret Weapon Films.
The Reel Indie Film Festival offers a solid block of music documentaries, shorts and the odd feature. Some of them are new to Toronto; others have already played the festival circuit.
It opens Tuesday (October 14) with Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty, a profile-cum-celebration of the legendary guitarist, completed well before his death this past summer. Featuring interviews with Winter and a few dozen of his contemporaries, it's of a piece with director Greg Olliver's 2010 lion-in-winter rockumentary Lemmy: aware of the ups and downs of its subject's life, and damn happy he's still around to talk about them.
Sara Terry's Folk (October 18) follows people who play a very different sort of music - folk musicians, young and old, chasing stardom (or at least visibility) at a time when their chosen genre is just starting to re-emerge on the scene thanks to folk-influenced bands like Mumford & Sons and First Aid Kit.
Of the non-premieres, I'd say the must-see is The Possibilities Are Endless (October 17), Edward Lovelace and James Hall's impressionistic doc about Scottish musician Edwyn Collins's efforts to piece himself back together after a devastating stroke in 2005 with the help of his devoted wife, Grace Maxwell. It blew me away at Hot Docs, but its experimental nature means it might struggle to find distribution - so catch it while you can.
Also worth your time: the NXNE premiere Born To Ruin (October 18), Brendan McCarney's documentary about the Toronto band Wildlife's attempt to record their second album, and Alive Inside (Wednesday, October 15), Michael Rossato-Bennett's advocacy doc about a social worker who helps elderly sufferers of dementia reconnect with themselves by giving them iPods loaded with their favourite songs.