This Week in Film: October 3rd 2008

Sometimes when I'm choosing what films to write about for the upcoming week, I'm reminded that one of the beautiful things about film in Toronto is that we treat it as something more than simply popcorn entertainment.

The film medium has been used by activists and explorers, scholars and dictators throughout it's entire lifespan, and in this city we really know how to appreciate a compelling story with a dose of reality to it, or a documentary that will change your perspective on things and give you something to sink your teeth into.

These are the types of films I recommend this week. Well, that and a free suspense film, and some Japanese short films too.

The Free Friday Film tonight is Open Your Eyes, the 1996 Spanish/French/Italian suspense film about a man who suffers a terrible accident only to wake up with everything going right and then oh, so wrong. The film stars a then-unknown-to-North-American-audiences Penelope Cruz... who would then go on to reprise the role of this character in the English remake you may remember called Vanilla Sky. Yeah, this is the version without Tom Cruise in it. Open Your Eyes begins at 7pm, for free, at Innis Town Hall.

October is a busy month for film festivals - this week especially, with the Abilities Arts Festival hosting their latest film program, The Right to Choose Your Own Path. The program features the interesting life choices and struggles of individuals living with Aspergers, Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome, to name a few, and their determination to live independent lives. The festival is a real opportunity to see how film can be used as a medium to promote (dis)ability issues and awareness. The program runs this Saturday October 4th from 6-10pm at the Al Green Theatre.

Also running this weekend is the Indie Can Film Festival, a no-panel-necessary film festival which attempts to give a fair shake for low-budget Canadian and International filmmakers. The film I've heard the most buzz about so far? Democracy for Dummies, a Green guide to running for office with as little money as possible, will be screened Saturday at 8:35pm. This and all other screenings take place at Innis Town Hall and while there is no admission for any film, it will definitely be first-come-first-served.

Also, don't forget the Toronto Japanese Short Film Festival which I previewed earlier this week, it runs from Tuesday October 7th to Friday October 10th at Innis Town Hall, featuring some interesting shorts in any and all genres.

War/Dance, the film that won audience's votes and hearts at Hot Docs 2007, as well as countless awards from festivals such as Sundance and Sedona, can be seen again in Toronto next Wednesday at the Bloor Cinema. The film follows the lives of several talented children living in a refugee camp in Northern Uganda, as they compete for the national music competition against students from all around the country and against all the odds. The film is visually stunning and carefully rendered so that it is not exploitative of the children it follows while not being too tragic or saccharine at the same time. War/Dance is being presented by GuluWalk and AMREF Canada and will have a question and answer period following the film.

Image: War/Dance from All Movie Photo

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