NXNE Film Toronto

5 films to watch at NXNE

NXNE has kicked off its 17th season this week, and while the festival is best known for its music, it also features a compelling film component, which highlights music-themed movies from around the world. With over 40 films of varying lengths, topics, and genres on tap, there's a lot to choose from. So, I've waded through the schedule to come up with some of this year's best bets.

Beatboxing: The Fifth Element of Hip Hop (June 16, 2:30pm at the NFB)

I love watching beatboxing, particularly because I can't figure out how beatboxers make those sounds. This film not only has a ton of footage of the best beatboxers in New York City, but it delves into the fascinating history of human beatboxing, hip hop, and the original beatbox itself. Jumping forward, the film also examines the possible future of beatboxing, which includes things like human scratching and human beatboxing as accompaniment for vocal accapella groups.

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Sensational (June 17, 6:00pm at the Toronto Underground Cinema)

This American documentary about the life of Colin Julius Bob - aka Sensational - will make its North American debut at NXNE. Though, he's not quite a household name in the hip hop world, Sensational is known as a talent who has continually pushed the musical envelope; yet, despite this success as a performer, he has spent a significant part of his career homeless and addicted to crack. The film fuses together current and past footage of the rapper, interviews with his friends and colleagues, and musical tracks from his extensive repertoire to chronicle his fascinating life story.

MTL Punk - The First Wave (June 18, 2:15pm at the NFB)

Nobody can deny that Montreal is a deep well of musical talent, but many people would be surprised to learn about the thriving punk scene that hit the city in 1977. MTL Punk has been getting a lot of buzz in the film festival circuit and with good reason. This film digs deep into a musical era in Montreal when it was "anything goes" and punk rock was king. Interviews and rare footage form a snapshot of a time when early punk bands like the Normals, 222's, and the Chromosomes were Montreal regulars.

Better than Something - Jay Reatard (June 18, 5:30 pm at the Toronto Underground Cinema)

Also making its Canadian premiere at NXNE is this doc on the late garage-rocker, Jay Reatard (originally James Lindsey Jr). Directed by Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz, the film uses archival footage and interviews with colleagues, family and Reatard himself to paint a picture of the complicated and prolific musician's 15-year career.

Paul Quarrington: A Life In Music (June 19, 2:00pm at the NFB)

Toronto-born musician and writer Paul Quarrington intimately exhibits his life in this award-winning, Canadian documentary. After being diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in May 2009, Quarrington began a mission to spend the next year completing as many creative endeavors as he had time for. Before his death in January 2010, Quarrington had toured the country, recorded two new albums, finished writing a memoir, scripts, and screenplays, and recorded this film, which follows the amazing journey.

NXNE Film will run from June 13 to June 19 at the NFB Mediatheque and the Toronto Underground Cinema plus a few other venues. Wristbands are $25 - available at any of the locations listed here - and individual tickets can be purchased at the door for $10.


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