Breaking news: I'll be moderating a Skype Q&A with Muhammed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, after Saturday night's 9:45 pm screening of The Island President at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. So if you were looking for another reason to see that, you're welcome.
Also, if you're an aspiring filmmaker looking for a proper challenge, director Ingrid Veninger has a great one for you. If you can figure out a way to make a movie for $1000 - that's one thousand dollars - she will pay for it. She's devoting the proceeds from the theatrical run of her new film, i am a good person/i am a bad person, to her Feature Film Challenge.
She's accepting submissions (which must include a story outline and a budget) through June 21, and offering a master class for all applicants the following weekend. Winning entries must be shot in July and completed in August, to be screened in late September at the Royal, which is where i am a good person ... is screening now. You can download the PDF entry form here, and good luck to you. Just make sure you know what you're getting into.
Now, on to business. As has happened pretty much every week for the past year, there's more activity on Toronto's screens that we could fit into the physical edition of NOW, so here's a quick rundown of all the other stuff that's available to see - in addition to ongoing festivals like NXNE and Luminato, that is.
TIFF's Stallone/Schwarzenegger beefcake series, for example? That's just one of three new programs kicking off at the Lightbox this week. There's also Once Upon A Time, Lebanon: Visions Of Postwar In New Lebanese Cinema, which delivers exactly what it promises.
Running through Sunday evening, the series assembles a wide range of Lebanese productions to give us a sense of the creative boom happening in that Middle Eastern nation, which has only recently emerged as a cinematic hotbed.
Among the titles on offer are Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige's I Want To See (screening tonight at 8:45 pm), a movie-star riff on Abbas Kiarostami's Taste Of Cherry following Catherine Deneuve (as herself) and actor Rabih Mroué as they drive from Beirut to the southern edge of the country, so a small film crew - which includes Hadjithomas and Joreige, playing themselves - can shoot footage of her touring the shelled lands just north of the Israeli border. It played Cannes in 2008 (where I saw it, after being cleared by sniffer dogs on the way into the auditorium)
There's also Michel Kammoun's Falafel (Saturday, 2:45 pm), a 2006 Lebanese take on After Hours in which an unassuming young man (Elie Mitri) en route to a party finds his evening derailed by a series of curious encounters. The movie's shape and tone changes with every scene, and Kammoun handles the curves deftly, investing the whole project with an unpredictable energy. Anything could happen at any moment; that's true of the movie, and the cultural moment at which it was made. Six years later, that's still thrilling.
If you'd prefer a calmer cinema, TIFF's also launching James Ivory: Elegant Pairings this week - a series of double-features in which the work of the esteemed art-house filmmaker is paired up with a film which "inspired it, complements it or casts it in a new light".
TIFF leads into the series with a screening of Ivory's splendid 1992 adaptation of Howards End - in 70mm, I'm told - Monday at 7 pm as part of the ongoing Books On Film program with Eleanor Wachtel. Wachtel, the host of CBC's Writers and Company, will interview Ivory on-stage after the screening.
And Ivory will be back at the Lightbox Tuesday to introduce screenings of The Remains Of The Day at 5:30 pm and Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca - a drama that's similarly restrained to the point of constriction - at 8:30 pm. The rest of the series will run Sundays in July and August; I'll check in with it as I can.
And finally, if you still need something to do when Tuesday night rolls around, Yonge-Dundas Square starts its free film series, City Cinema, this week with a screening of Ken Russell's psychedelic (and possibly psychotropic) adaptation of The Who's rock opera Tommy. As weird as NXNE might get, I doubt it'll offer anything like the sight of Ann-Margret rolling around in that tub of baked beans. The show starts at sunset. Bring your own props.