Screening Series of the Week: MDFF Selects

Dan Montgomery and Kazik Radwanski's series at TIFF Bell Lightbox provides a pathway to Toronto for Canadian and international independent films

Wonder why Toronto’s repertory cinemas are putting up lovingly bespoke posters for movies you haven’t thought about in forever? That’s because big-screen revival series are back in a big way, offering audiences the chance to discover a buried treasure – or reconnect with an old favourite – with an enthusiastic crowd, a knowledgeable host and sometimes even a floor show.

Every week, we’ll spotlight someone behind one of Toronto’s specialty screening series – and let them pitch their latest event.

The series

MDFF Selects, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Thursday (August 9) at 9 pm.

The programmers

Writer/director Kazik Radwanski and producer Dan Montgomery, who collectively form Medium Density Fibreboard Films and made the Toronto-set dramas Tower and How Heavy This Hammer. (Montgomery also produced Nicolás Pereda’s Tales Of Two Who Dreamt and Antoine Bourges’s Fail To Appear.) You can find them on Twitter at @redvineski and @mdff, respectively.

What’s showing

Thirst Street, the new film from American indie filmmaker Nathan Silver, which follows a flight attendant (Lindsay Burdge) as she abandons her job and her life for a Parisian bartender (Damien Bonnard) who resembles a dead lover.

Why this series?  

“We saw so many great films and met so many incredible filmmakers when Tower was screening around the world at film festivals,” says Montgomery. “All these directors wanted to screen in Toronto but had no pathway to do so. We wanted to help figure out a way to get these films in Toronto theaters.” The series started in Kensington Market’s Double Double Land five years ago with no money and a handful of seats – “we had to keep buying and returning projectors to Future Shop and Best Buy,” Montgomery confesses – eventually moving into The Royal and now its current home at the Lightbox.

What’s the vibe?  

“We try to have the filmmaker attend if possible,” says Radwanski, noting that Silver is coming in from New York for Thursday’s screening. “We also try and encourage the social aspect as much as possible, with a reception upstairs in the Bell Blue Room at the Lightbox. A lot of the people who attend our screenings are filmmakers or work in film so there is a great opportunity for like-minded people to connect.”

Why this movie?

“Nathan is an exciting filmmaker,” says Radwanski. “In a lot of ways the boldness and independent spirit of his early work parallels what’s been happening with the new wave of Canadian filmmakers emerging out of Toronto. He really stepped it up with this film. It’s perhaps his most ambitious work yet, set in Paris and beautifully photographed by Sean Price Williams (Good Time, Listen Up Philip). It has this incredible 70s multicoloured Fassbinder aesthetic – it’s something you really need to see in a theatre. Also, it’s narrated by Anjelica Huston.”  

What’s next?

Later this month, MDFF co-presents a screening of the much-buzzed Madeline’s Madeline with director Josephine Decker in attendance, and the fall program will premiere three documentaries in Toronto: Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s Interchange, Khalik Allah’s Black Mother, and Corneliu Porumboiu’s Infinite Football. | @normwilner

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