NXNE Film 2012

5 films to see at the 2012 NXNE Film Festival

NXNE Film might not be as grand an affair as the music side of the festival, but it's become a quality event on the yearly roster, and one that shines a spotlight on the intersections between music and the moving image in a way that few others manage. Next week blogTO music reviewers and photographers get an entire week to stay out til 4am and generally run amok as concert programming gets underway and hordes of semi-famous bands invade our hallowed concert venues.

But there's also something a-buzzing at the NXNE Film Festival, held this year at the Toronto Underground Cinema, the Royal Cinema and the NFB Mediatheque, with a selection of movies for music lovers and cinephiles alike. I find it interesting that there's an unintended (or at least, an unmentioned) theme in the films at NXNE this year — the hidden past.

Whether it's personal reflections and unseen footage of stars such as Glenn Gould, Johnny Cash or Jobriath, or the discovery of unknown fame like Rob Stewart's, it's even found in reflective pieces like Polaroid Song. The reasoning behind this likely related to the fact that this film festival is just as focused on the musicians as people rather than pure persona, and this year the film component of NXNE really shines due to this unintentional programming quirk.

Here are five films in particular that I'd recommend.

MONDAY JUNE 11 / GENIUS WITHIN: THE INNER LIFE OF GLENN GOULD / NFB MEDIATHEQUE / 5:30PM
Despite being one of the world's most celebrated classical pianists, not much was known about Glenn Gould personally. We only know bits and pieces about him, a problem that was used for artistic merit in the film 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould which created fake instances and situations to flesh out Gould as a character in lieu of knowing him as a person. But upon the release of this new documentary, our collective memory of Gould is altered, as the anecdotes from his friends and companions highlight the warmth and magnetism of the man behind the piano.

THURSDAY JUNE 14 / IRVINE WELSH'S ECSTASY / THE ROYAL CINEMA / 7PM
Sixteen years after Trainspotting, the sequel hits the cinema and takes us on a blisteringly unsettling ride. Our every-man is Lloyd, an aging drug addict who earns his keep and fuels his habit by moonlighting as a drug smuggler. When Lloyd's partying lifestyle pulls Heather into his midst, he has to deal with the fact that the drugs he uses to get loose and unwind might be just the thing stopping him from getting anywhere else in life. Now if only it were that simple to quit... Writer Irvine Welsh will be in attendance.

FRIDAY JUNE 15 / MY FATHER AND THE MAN IN BLACK / TORONTO UNDERGROUND CINEMA / 7PM
Just when you thought they had released everything they could from Johnny Cash, another gold mine breaks open. Cash's manager until the mid-70's was Canadian Saul Holiff, a man who was quite good at building stars and burning bridges. After parting ways with Cash, Holiff amassed quite a large number of personal objects and recordings, taking them to his proverbial grave. When Holiff died in 2005, his son Jonathan made the astonishing discovery; a trove of material from Cash that had been locked up for decades. It's a great story that is emphasized and supported by the unmistakable quality of the materials he found.

SATURDAY JUNE 16 / ONCE IN A LULLABYE: The PS22 CHORUS STORY / NFB MEDIATHEQUE / 1PM
All it took was a YouTube video to send the hard-working kids at PS22 in Staten Island up into the Internet stratosphere, as their enthusiastic music teacher, a long-time Tori Amos fan would somehow help his kids gain the attention of the world. Lauded for their dedicated and adorable choral variations and pieces, the kids were invited to perform at the Academy Awards and luckily there just happened to be a camera crew logging every moment.

SATURDAY JUNE 16 / SLAUGHTER NICK FOR PRESIDENT / NFB MEDIATHEQUE / 7PM
In the early nineties Canadian actor Rob Stewart spent two years working on a low-rent Baywatch ripoff called Tropical Heat. When the show's popularity fell by the wayside, halfway around the world Serbians were starting to get quite interested in lead character Nick Slaughter. The character became an unintended symbol of the citizen uprising in Serbia, causing Rob to unknowingly become a major celebrity for almost twenty years. So when he finds out, he does what any Canadian would do and he heads over to make a documentary.

The NXNE Film Festival runs from Monday June 11 to Sunday June 17 at the Toronto Underground Cinema, the NFB Mediatheque and the Royal Cinema. Tickets start at $10 at the door but the films are also included with several NXNE passes. Check out the NXNE Film Festival website for more information.


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