Stone Bros.

imagineNATIVE Celebrates the Evolution of Indigenous Cinema

At 10 years and counting, imagineNATIVE is one of the more established specialty film festivals running in the city. The niche has grown leaps and bounds during the past decade, bringing with it a surge of new films to screen in Toronto every year.

With this in mind, imagineNATIVE will give itself a much deserved pat on the back starting on Wednesday, October 14th, with multiple parties and receptions, a retrospective and, of course, an anniversary lineup that will showcase 125 aboriginal film and art works from all over the world.

Read on for my movie picks, pans, and some trailers from the 5 day fete.


Reel Injun
Neil Diamond - not that Neil Diamond - drives to Hollywood in a beat up old car, exploring the portrayal of North American Natives throughout cinematic history along the way. His travels take him through U.S. theme parks and historical sites, where he interviews relevant figures and celebrities like Graham Greene and Jim Jarmusch. The doc takes a light-hearted look at some serious issues, using tons of footage covering the "cowboy and Indians" era, 60s pop culture, and the most significant development - a recent emergence of North American Native filmmakers. An ideal opener for this year's imagineNATIVE.

This 52 minute doc captures the seriousness of playing Bingo, which I learned all about on my own excursion to Toronto's Delta Bingo on St. Clair (where most of this film was shot). Having been shushed repeatedly and given dirty looks, my posse only lasted a couple of rounds that night - this game is only for the determined.

Apparently Filipino Kanakan Balintagos' fourth feature Boy was banned in Singapore for "romanticizing" gay sex, which it does. Here it gets an 18+ rating but, trust me, it doesn't quite offer up the graphic sexual content promised by the WARNING. It's kinda just a first love story between a good boy and a bad boy (who is really a good boy), set in Manila.

Stone Bros.
Great, another stoner buddy movie with ker'azy hijinx. I gave it a chance though and found the Stone Bros. as charming as the many colourful characters they encounter in the Australian Outback.

Not So Recommended

Barking Water
The third road movie in my roundup is the least recommended and very likely to be disappointing for anyone who saw Sterlin Harjo's last feature Four Sheets to the Wind open this festival a few years back. Unless you've already seen the film, your best bet would be to skip the Water, stay home and rent Four Sheets, and then head out to the Closing Awards Celebration.

Professor Norman Cornett
"Since when do we divorce the right answer from an honest answer?"
I was on the fence about this one when it first screened at Hot Docs. Again, acclaimed Alanis Obomsawin's latest work is a very one-sided celebration of (former) McGill prof Norman Cornett. Although popular with students, his "alternative" teaching methods may have gotten him fired - and the University refuses to explain the dismissal.

The Strength of Water
In this too-slow moving drama set in a coastal Maori village in New Zealand, a family copes with the loss of their young daughter.

imagineNATIVE runs from October 14th to 18th, 2009. Tickets are a bargain at $7 ($12 for opening and closing including party).

Still from Stone Bros.

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