Nick Broomfield’s new documentary, Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love follows the peaks and valleys of beloved Canadian singer/songwriter/poet, and Montreal local, Leonard Cohen’s life, throughout his career up until his death, beginning with his time on the Greek island of Hydra in the 60s.

It was there that he first met his longtime lover and muse, Marianne Ihlen, who served as inspiration for one of his most beautiful and successful songs, So Long, Marianne. When Ihlen and Cohen first found each other, Cohen had yet to cross over into the world of music, and spent many of his days on the island, which was at the time somewhat of a known Bohemian Utopia, doing speed and working on his book, Beautiful Losers.

Ihlen, a Norwegian expat and recent divorcée, was also seeking refuge from the trials of life on the idyllic island with her son, Axel, when she met Cohen. There was an immediate connection between the two, and thus began the start of an on/off relationship which would go on for a decade, and a connection that would last for a lifetime. 

Nonetheless, what seems to be the beginning of a blissful companionship under the sun between the poet and his muse is put on hold when Cohen decides to return back home to Montreal. While he’s there, he decides to play a piece of Suzanne for Judy Collins.

Also featured in the documentary, Collins recounts his nervousness, as he says he can’t sing or play the guitar, but the song ultimately speaks for itself. Suzanne is an immediate hit, and Collins gets Cohen to perform it at a fundraiser with her. His timidness on stage—even leaving the stage halfway through the song, only to be brought back out by Collins—is a huge part of what has made the charming, but humble poet so beloved by all.

This is a life-changing moment for everyone; Cohen’s success skyrockets from this point on, as the world gets a new star, but Ihlen’s picturesque partnership with Cohen will never again be the same.

Though the title posits a love story, Ihlen’s presence in the documentary is scarce. In spite of the director’s inside connection to her as a close friend as well as a former lover, very little detail of Ihlen’s personality or life is incorporated into the film, with her only notable screen-time being footage from her deathbed—arguably something perhaps too intimate for the screen.

For the most part it seems that the film is primarily a Leonard Cohen story, following the eruption of his career and success, and weaving through the familiar tale of his fame, including his countless lovers, indulgent drug use, and overall turbulent mental health.

What we see of Ihlen is a fragmented portrait of a young, blonde woman, often looking out longingly at the sea, seemingly dreaming only of Cohen. Contrasted by the occasional peripheral remark about the toll of it all on her young son, Axel, who spent much of his life in and out of institutions as a result of the somewhat hedonistic insouciance that characterized the 1960s and 70s.

The story is in many ways more revelatory of the time than it is of its characters, with little unique insight into the mind of either Cohen or Ihlen. In the light that Broomfield sets the scene, it feels to be somewhat evident that the “undying love” between Cohen and Ihlen proves to be far less romantic than Cohen’s poetic ballads. 

Overall the documentary makes for an interesting watch as you are guided for a nostalgic stroll down memory lane with a great deal of interesting footage of Cohen throughout his career. Though of course there is undoubtedly substantially more documentation of Cohen available for use than there would be of Ihlen, perhaps titling the film Marianne and Leonard is somewhat misleading.

Broomfield still, however, manages to paint a complete picture of the time during which the famed relationship occurred, and even chips away somewhat at the unwoven seams of Cohen’s character and career, even if Ihlen’s character is never developed beyond mere ‘muse’.

There is still a chance to catch it in theatres.

What is nonviolent resistance? Is it actually better than violent resistance? These two questions are at the heart of the documentary Everyday Rebellion produced by the Riahi Brothers. The very first quote in the film sets the mood for the discussion:

“Throughout the history of mankind, people have been fighting for their rights. But contrary to popular belief, violence is not the most successful method in this struggle. Nonviolence is.”

You might think that this is a very bold statement to make. How do you stand against a system, whose tools of control have been designed to monopolize the means of violence, by pacifism? Non-violence does not necessarily mean pacifism, though. It doesn’t mean that you respond to violence with passivity. Instead, non-violence encompasses a broad range of acts that can serve to obstruct the balance of the status quo.

One of the main messages of the documentary is that even the smallest act can trigger a change in the way people think. Small victories build up and eventually you might actually achieve something. According to the documentary, for instance, the Arab Spring in Egypt had been in the making for ten years before they actually managed to topple Hosni Mubarak.

To put the political theorizing aside, the documentary follows the multiple stories of everyday resistance. These stories include the Occupy movement in the United States, the Indignados in Spain, the Femen movement, the Arab Spring, and Iran’s Green Movement. In between the narratives, the documentary presents social scientific facts about the effectiveness of non-violence.

One of the strengths of this documentary is that it actually tries to advise people as to how to conduct non-violence most effectively and efficiently. The people who talk directly to the camera are activists and community organizers. The tone is educational. You can tell that they want to teach you how to bring down the system and give power to the people.

What is really amazing is that these people are from all over the world. It may seem like they are fighting for different causes, but in essence what they are doing is standing up for themselves. A narrator whispers at some point: “The priorities of any advanced society must be equality, progress, solidarity, freedom of culture, sustainability and development, welfare, and the people’s happiness.”

Trying to understand the global interconnectedness of these social movements is the main purpose of this documentary. These movements communicate with one another, share tactics, and learn. In that sense, this documentary does an excellent job in continuing that work, by allowing others to directly see what goes on within these movements. It can be daunting to attend a protest and risk getting arrested, but there are other things you can do.

So, if you wish to learn about non-violence, direct action, civil disobedience, organizing, and a lot more, Everyday Rebellion is what you’re looking for. Cinema Political will be screening this documentary on September 1, at 9 p.m. at la Place de la Paix, as part of Cinéma urbain à la belle étoile. You really shouldn’t miss it.

I have to admit, this is not the film I was expecting. When I heard the title The Yes Men are Revolting, I thought, great, this film will be chock full of some of the best culture-jamming stunts the duo of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno and their team of activists pulled off over the last few years. It was, but that wasn’t all.

Having done some guerilla theatre myself back in the day, I was happy to see what arguably the most successful shit disturbers for a cause on the planet had pulled off. The movie delivered. From impersonating Environment Canada at the Copenhagen Climate Conference to really stirring the pot and getting the room dancing at the Homeland Security Congress on Capitol Hill alongside Canadian anti-tar sands activist Gitz Crazyboy, I was impressed.

It was entertaining; they got their point across and presented fake propositions that were much better than what we actually get from governments and companies. But the film really got interesting when it delved into the Yes Men’s actual day-to-day reality.

We learn, or at least I learned, that Bichlbaum and Bonanno are actually Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos. They have lives outside of the Yes Men and even have day jobs. Trying to save the world, believe it or not, does not always pay the bills.
This is a documentary in every sense of the word. Co-director (along with The Yes Men) Laura Nix follows the pair around as they deal with family, relationships and take part in some of the major events of the past few years, from Occupy Wall Street to Hurricane Sandy relief. We even get glimpse of how that particular natural disaster affected them personally.

We get a behind-the-scenes look at some truly great stunts and learn that, no, not every jam goes off as planned. What happens when things don’t go right? What happens when they come off as planned but the desired effect is not produced? What keeps you going?

For The Yes Men, it is their desire to fight climate change and leave a better world for future generations. From New York, to Alberta’s Tar Sands, to Uganda, to Denmark and eventually to Washington, DC, we follow The Yes Men through culture jams, lawsuits and the re-discovery that it is all worth while.

It’s a fun and interesting film on its own, but even more important if you’re interested in guerilla activism or want to fight climate change.

Watch this trailer and then come meet the Yes Men in person when the film screens at Cinema Politica tonight:

The Yes Men are Revolting screens tonight, Monday, March 16th at 7pm at Cinema Politica Concordia, H-110, 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Metro Guy-Concordia

Every year, Cinema Politica brings some of the most important, relevant and powerful political and social documentaries to Canadian screens. This year, one of the most anticipated films is Blair Dorosh-Walter’s Out in the Night, which tells the stories of four African-American lesbian women who were incarcerated after an altercation outside a New York theatre, labeled as a ‘ruthless lesbian gang’ despite clearly acting in self-defense. In the spirit of films like The Thin Blue Line, Out in the Night methodically deconstructs the case against these four women, as well as shedding light on their lives before and after their prison sentences.

Out in the Night insertFormally, Out in the Night uses the same set of tools as other socially-conscious documentaries. Talking heads, inter-titles, archive footage, you know the drill. Expanding or playing with the limits of representation and documentary form aren’t really the concern of the film as much as communicating information in as direct a manner as possible.

Out in the Night succeeds in this goal, telling the story of these four women and laying out the many holes, inconsistencies and outright fabrications in the case laid against them in such detail that it becomes almost impossible to doubt their innocence. Simply as an example of documentary journalism, Out in the Night is a very strong film.

However, like many films of this nature, Out in the Night doesn’t quite go far enough. Although the story of these women and the many ways in which society and “the system” failed them are laid out, the larger questions, and any attempt at answering those questions, are only slightly touched upon. It isn’t enough, for me, to simply say -how- these women were wronged so spectacularly, but -why-.

What are the systems of homophobia, male entitlement and racism that created a world where these events could even happen? How has the media, whose sensationalist coverage of the incident and subsequent trials is a focus of the film, become so skewed and dependent on hyperbole and exaggeration? What social and political systems are responsible for what happened, and most important of all, how can we combat them?

The film does an excellent job at raising awareness of the many failures of the American justice system and the adversity faced daily by African-American members of the LGBTQ community, but raising awareness is step one. Step two is aiding the audience in putting that awareness to good use, how to channel the outrage at this and similar incidents into real social change. How to recognize the systems, both political and social, that made this happen, and ensure these mistakes are not repeated.

Out in the Night is ideal for festivals like Cinema Politica, and group viewing in general, in that may be at its strongest when accompanied by group discussion. Monday’s CP screening, in partnership with Black History Month Montreal, will include a group discussion with special guest speakers.

Simply watching the film isn’t enough. Talk about it, discuss the questions the film didn’t bring up or answer. Use it as a catalyst, a jumping-off point for discussions of social change and reform. Because although it is very good, it can’t function on its own as a tool for inciting the change in the world that will prevent incidents like the one shown in the film from occurring again.

* Out in the Night plays at Cinema Politica Concordia Monday, February 2, 7pm. 1455 deMaisonneuve Ouest, room H110

Ezra Winton is the program director of Cinema Politica. This rant originally appeared on his blog at and is republished here with permission from the author.

I’ve watched over 50 documentaries in the last two weeks (and many more over 14 years of programming), and here’s what I’m thinking:

The first point is so crucial that I’d like to just put it up front and center, then get on with the lesser evils of contemporary documentary filmmaking: If white people, who are usually or always cis-gendered males, are featured in your film as the only subjects, protagonists or voices of authority, then you have either made a film about a small remote sect in some distant corner of the world where only white people live or you have failed Representation 101. Have you been told there are no women geologists who are working on the issue you’re highlighting? Look a little harder – guaranteed there are women who can speak to the issue. No people of colour (POC) in your purview? Then step out a little further – they’re there. And now, on to my rant list.

1) I’m altogether done with pretty images observational filmmaking – it’s great for mainstream festivals and yes that light refraction is splendid, and at this point we all understand that the equipment is sooooo nice that’s irresistible, but how about some perspective/POV? Which brings me to point number two…

2) Making a film about injustice? What are the root causes and what are the names of the people/companies who work the levers perpetuating those root causes? If I’m still asking that when the credits roll, then your film is of little use to me and the scores of activists who want to use your film as a platform for radical progressive change. Yes we can all Google the issue and find out the name of the mining/oil/gas company sowing destruction and misery and yes some of us probably know it’s got to do with colonialism/capitalism/racism/sexism, but why didn’t you say so?

3. Stop with the wall-to-wall music in your films. Please, for the love of god, use it sparingly and remember just because they do it in Hollywood, doesn’t mean the rest of the goddamned film-world has to too. Especially during interviews. As a programmer friend recently said of an otherwise good documentary: “They scored that within an inch of its life.”

4. Make your subtitles readable. That means NOT WHITE you bastards. Please note white is fine if you use the shocking new technique of drop shadow or outline on your font…

5. What is with the resurgence of Voice of God narration? Europe and North American white-guy-with-a-camera I’m talking to you. Yeah yeah it’s personal, it is to all of us, so stop making it about YOU. Let your protagonists, the front-liners, do the talking. Please note if your film is really about you or someone so close to you it is really also about you, then I am not, at this moment, talking to you.

6. Set your interviews up before capturing them: take time to get the lighting and sound just so before speaking with awesome people doing awesome work or having awesome insight before plunking your camera on a tripod and sticking a mic on their collar or above their head. This one adjustment will immensely improve about half of all the documentaries I see. And please note academics can and will be filmed away from bookshelves full of books.

7. Please stop filming hands in interviews. It’s gone too far. For the love of all that is docu-holy, please stop.

8. If your “B-roll” sucks, it means you didn’t think it out and spend enough time preparing. Which means, think it through and prepare. If I see another kayaker representing human-nature equilibrium or another goddamned windmill representing alternative energy I’m going to barf in goddamned b-roll agony. Please note I hate the term “B-roll” and know that all roll is A-list in the eye of the creator, but filmmakers, you know what I’m talking about.

9. If you can’t keep the camera steady then get a steady-cam device or tie a goddamned rope with a barbell to your wrist and stop making us feel nauseous — it’s uncomfortable and distracting. Unless of course you’re chasing a criminal or running from a rhino.

10. If you haven’t watched at least 100 documentaries before making your own, then don’t make your goddamned documentary until you have. Please note that some are and will be an exception to this rule, but they are so few that I see no reason to amend this point to say anything than other that which it suggests: do your homework.

PS: If your trailer is better than your film, you probably should have made a shorter film.

*If I sound like the Winnebago Man it’s because I’ve just come off a major programming bender and I needed to let off some steam. It’s programmers burnout. I’ll be OK again soon. And I wouldn’t want anyone to think that this list is some kind of manifesto for how to make some fantastical perfect doc. In fact, in the past few days I’ve programmed docs with kayakers, shaky cameras and too much music – all of them great films with minor flaws. I’m just saying that these are things to keep in mind, at least when circumstances allow.

And on a last note, some folks responding to my rant seem to think my above tone is too serious, cocky or stern, but it’s meant to be playful, an effort that might be a goddamned failure in and of its goddamned self.

While Juggalos have gotten a bad wrap over the years because of violence and mischief associated with the group (they even made the FBI listing of violent groups in America), Scott Cummings’ experimental flick Buffalo Juggalos attempts to expose the lighter side, along with the destructive side of this subculture.

The film is dark with snapshots of Juggalo culture. It almost embraces the misunderstood and terrifying status this group has with the general public to a truly chilling result.

Composed with some stunning cinematography, framed and juxtaposed behind western New York’s sometime beautiful, sometimes Gothic backdrop, many of the scenes come across as a staged study of Juggalo culture in the wild.

Using an experimental method to tell a story, Cummings presents his audience with a new visceral way to learn a lot about a subculture.  Scenes depict only actions, sometimes havoc, sometimes passive, and tell their own story without any unnecessary dialogue or intentional narratives.

Cummings, who studied experimental film at the State University of New York-Buffalo, made more of an art piece than a movie,  but it works.

With the scenes involving a bunch of kids in clown face steering a chaotic car, it felt like watching a real life version of the Twisted Metal, but then you have to realize, this could be real life. And it’s terrifying!

There is no question that many of scenes in this film are staged, and yet it is effectively allows an audience to engage with a subculture that still remains a mystery to most.

When all is said and done, Cummings’ film expresses a sentiment that people who dress up as Juggalos are much more than fans of Insane Clown Posse, as they are more than just a statement about the loss of the American dream and a self-reflexive commentary on the utter absurdity of modern life. They are just people trying to live life  free and comfortable as they are.

“Who shall make the world more beautiful?”

Iva Radivojevic’s first full-length documentary, Evaporating Borders, closes with this quote by African-American sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois. What may seem like a rhetorical question is actually a plea to viewers, beckoning us to participate and holding us accountable for what may come.

Presented in five parts, the documentary shows mounting tensions and racism in an evolving Cyprus, which is host to an increasing number of refugees and immigrants (mostly Palestinian and Syrian Muslims, and some Turks, who occupy a third of Cyprus’s northern territories), while exploring themes of migration, displacement, tolerance and belonging. Interviews provide insight into an issue that is not unique to the island.

Many Greek Cypriots feel refugees are sucking up their and their country’s resources and that the government is too generous with them, a sentiment which has led some locals to organize fascist and racist opposition. But those who flee to Cyprus from war-torn neighbouring countries do so to find work and peace. They are often undermined by potential employers due to racism, and find themselves cut off from mandatory government benefits for refugees.

Endless appeals and little advocacy force some to eventually leave the island. The film’s final scene shows a clash at a protest between a group of social justice advocates and a group of fascists, between two possibilities: that of an inclusive, welcoming society, and that of a hostile, intolerant Cyprus.

Radivojevic reveals her own observations throughout the documentary, at one point expressing her own distaste and disdain for immigrant men who look “poor, criminal, intimidating.” She consciously dissociates from them. Though Radivojevic was an immigrant to Cyprus herself (from Yugoslavia), it is as though, over time, she made a distinction between the “acceptable” immigrants (the blonde ones) and those who supposedly leech off the government, create trouble and don’t deserve her empathy. She then catches herself and reflects on what may have led her to feel this way. I was impressed that she even admitted to having had racist thoughts, which is downright embarrassing, but even more so by her capacity for introspection and analysis of an issue that is becoming more urgent and widespread daily.

Radivojevic excels in presenting a serious issue without being heavy-handed. Her shots make one envious of Cyprus’s residents who get to bask in its golden sunlight. She has a rare eye for composition, and zeros in on details that are revealing about the island’s military history and racial tensions.

Through intimate shots of neighbours and streets, we’re given the impression that Cyprus is a small village, the type that breeds intolerance, but the documentary very effectively demonstrates, through interviews with intellectuals, activists, and bureaucrats, as well as the director’s own questioning, that there is hope yet for a better Cyprus.

For the complete schedule, please visit the RIDM website

For his latest documentary, Hubert Sauper enlisted some friends to help build a plane, which they then flew into Sudan to shoot We Come As Friends over the course of six years: before, during, and after the referendum that caused the country to separate, and gave way to South Sudan’s independence.

Sauper was at the Quebec premiere to present the film, explaining that it’s a documentary about the pathology of colonialism. For those unfamiliar with the conflict, the documentary provides a brief history of Sudan’s opposing leaders and their allies: Sudan’s Muslim president Omar Al-Bashir keeps close ties to China, whereas South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir Mayardit was rewarded by president Bush with a cowboy hat for his Christian beliefs.

At first the viewer is given the impression that the country is torn due to religious differences, but it is quickly revealed that oil is at the root of the conflict, which has brought its share of foreign involvement. A number of situations and conversations reveal a seriously troubling reality.

Comments from foreigners induced many an eye-roll, from Texan missionaries calling South Sudan “New Texas,” to a British soldier claiming that if locals haven’t been able to gain peace in over 200 years, they must not want it badly enough. Foreign investors boast that their investments will allow the South Sudanese to profit some as well – so there is no shame in making a buck off oil extraction. Meanwhile, an old man explains how he was given a contract to sign without understanding what it was – a contract which paid him 25K USD to hand over his land, of which he never saw a penny.

This new colonialism seems more insidious now – though South Sudan was not recently discovered, it is all too familiar and unsettling to see white missionaries and investors arrogantly insert themselves into South Sudan.

I did catch myself being pleased at South Sudan’s independence, if only because I’ve romanticized the idea – until Sauper revealed that the independence was orchestrated by Texas oil companies, who were simply looking for another profitable venture (which most certainly explains the presence of Texan ministers and missionaries shaming children for being naked, forcing them out of any traditional garb they might don and into school uniforms). It’s typical “divide and rule.”

The film is striking in its contrasts, and Sauper has an exceptional eye for jarring details. The UN’s New Year’s Eve festivities see a drunken Scottish lout suggestively shake a bottle of champagne and pop it while a local South Sudanese woman is outdoors, carrying buckets and cleaning. Local villagers explain how their village is becoming a mass grave due to murders, and that water contamination has killed their livestock and plants, as a UN truck drives by, its passengers likely unaffected by these realities.

These situations might seem cliché, but the documentary does a great job of steering clear of sentimental commentary, merely showing a reality that us privileged folk like to pretend is over. Sauper admitted this was the longest he had ever worked on a film. One can only imagine how alert he must have been to capture such fantastic, telling, and eye-opening coincidences on film.

An absolute must see, especially for those who argue the benefits of oil extraction and colonialism.

For the full RIDM schedule, please visit


The Dirties came very highly recommended by filmmaker friends who’d seen the small indie film at the Slamdance Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize, Best Narrative Feature, and the Spirit of Slamdance Award. I’d originally hesitated to see The Dirties, the synopsis of which describes a school shooting by two bullied teens. Flashbacks to my visceral upchuck reaction when watching Gus Van Sant’s Elephant came to mind and I was in no mood for a repeat experience. School shootings are a subject matter that really gets to me and their treatment on film and by the media is something I am particularly critical of.

Fortunately, Johnson’s The Dirties is a fresh, intelligent, insightful film about the love of films, obsession, and the relationship between two teenage friends.

Two teenage film geeks, Matt (Matt Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams), are excitedly working on a project called The Dirties for their school media class. Their project centers on two renegade cop-like characters getting rid of a gang of bad kids at the school, whom Matt and Owen have nicknamed The Dirties, using a chock-full of filmic references and plastic guns. As production advances, we are privy to the type of abuses and humiliations Matt and Owen are subjected to as well as their changing friendship dynamics. Soon, the lines between film and reality are blurred and plastic guns might be replaced for the real thing.

After seeing the Canadian premiere of The Dirties at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, I was beyond excited to meet Canadian director, writer, and co-star of the film Matt Johnson. I caught up with Johnson right as he arrived in Montreal from screening The Dirties at Comic Con with none other than Kevin Smith, who recently acquired the film for his Kevin Smith Movie Club. After seeing the film post its Slamdance buzz, Smith gave a surprised Johnson a call.

“It was so wicked because that’s exactly the kind of leverage a movie like this needed. To have somebody who is seen as trustworthy and like a cultural maven in a lot of ways. I think it helped a lot of audiences get over the fact that on paper the premise can seem tasteless and offensive,” explained Johnson.

Indeed, the subject matter of the film is a heavy one and yet, the performances and delivery remain engaging and funny. The group of filmmaking friends came to make The Dirties after Johnson’s friend Josh Boles, who’d been watching Man Bites Dog (Belveaux 1992) quite a bit, was looking to make a movie in which Johnson played a psychopath crazy killer. With further discussion they came to decide on situating it within the world of a school shooting. 

“Politically, we weren’t interested in making the definitive answer to what a school shooting movie should be or why school shootings happen,” Johnson offered, “But we wanted to explore it in a way that we hadn’t seen before. The more we talked about it, the more we realized that it was a real nexus of a lot of our childhood experiences. This idea of what a school shooting is, what the celebrity of it means, and what it means in terms of changing the dynamics of how a school works, and also, what bullying is really like. That’s what led us to the subject matter.”


In terms of researching for the film, Johnson explained that they mostly did video research.

“What I think is really funny is stealing behaviors,” he said. “I like inside jokes a lot. I really love them. Josh and I watched tons and tons of documentaries about Columbine, about other crazy young people, and about youth out of control and we tried to steal as many mannerisms and things as we could. A big thing we watched were the home videos of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. There are hours and hours of them making goofy movies. Kind of like what The Dirties is inside The Dirties; making movies where they play cops, do ridiculous things and making each other laugh. We drew a lot out of that mostly because the reality of it so much more interesting than what we could have thought of. Also, because we wanted to make it as realistic as possible.”

“The movie formally came out of the web series [Nirvana The Band The Show] that I did beforehand. They are basically the same in terms of how they are developed. So I don’t know. Movies that inspired ideas for The Dirties are like Gimme Shelter, the Maysles brothers documentary, a lot of 60s era docs and self-reflexive docs. Because this style of filmmaking is so new, not many people are doing it yet,” Johnson explained in terms of the inspiration behind his filmmaking approach. Along with the above, films like Werner Herzhog’s Grizzly Man, where he uses tricks and lies as well as French movies like La Haine and Man Bites Dog have inspired Johnson.

One of the most compelling elements of The Dirties is in the way in which it was made. This type of filmmaking is novel, blending elements of found footage, documentary film, and unscripted dynamism. Johnson explained that with such a small crew and the use of wireless microphones, they were able to capture unexpected events every day that enriched the movie as exemplified in the opening scene. Over the course of five months, the team of about four shot about five or six weeks.

Often, extras were unawares that Johnson was anything other than a teenager in the film. Indeed, some of the people in The Dirties didn’t even realize they were in a film. With no script and no plan, Johnson explained that this method was frustrating at times for his co-star Owen Williams, whom Johnson described as “so handsome” and looking “like Isabelle Rossilini” (we agree on both counts). Williams’ actual frustration with the process fueled some of the more tense scenes between the two.


Much of the directing with this kind approach, Johnson revealed, is in the editing.

“Directing a movie like this, or anything that I’ve ever done, there isn’t really a whole ton of on-set direction because I know what I want to behave like,” he said. “It’s really just my job to make sure that my acting partner – Owen, in this case – and I are constantly engaged and that’s it. I try to put myself in environments or situations where the crew and everybody acting doesn’t know what’s going to happen. That’s all I have to do. At no point do I say ‘ok guys we are going to do this like this.’ Everyone knows that the rules are keep shooting, keep following us, and don’t stop shooting.”

We’d like to thank Matt Johnson for the entertaining interview and his appreciation of John Saul books and 90s film Disturbing Behaviour.

Five years ago, a woman was gang raped in a remote village in Pakistan. Unlike many women before her, Mukhtar Mai decided to confront her assailants. She defied the conventional thinking and fought back. She took her battle to the highest courts in Pakistan. Mai became an international figure and now runs schools for children in her native village.

Dishonour Defied is the story of how Mai made a life with courage after the tragedy that befell her. It’s also the story of other women and girls struggling for their rights in Pakistan in the wake of the Mai case. This extremely timely film, directed by emerging filmmaker Azra Rashid, deals with the courageous rape survivor Mukhtar Mai and women’s rights in Pakistan.

The documentary won an award at the WorldFest in Houston and has been screened nationally and internationally at various film festivals and schools and colleges.

Update: In April 2011, the Supreme Court of Pakistan released five of the six men accused of raping Ms. Mai. Mukhtar Mai fears the worst as the men return to the village.

Three generations of rock and roll legends get together to talk about their passion for the guitar in the documentary It Might get Loud.

Image curtosy of Sony Pictures

Starring and music by: Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by: Davis Guggenheim
98 minutes

I’ve always been a film geek, but music has long held an important place in my heart as well. If you’re even a casual reader of the website it’s not hard to ascertain that music also plays a big role in the lives of some of my Forget the Box colleagues. Recently I was over at a friends place watching the documentary It Might get Loud, and something clicked. It felt like the rock n’ roll gods were screaming at me that this would be a great way to talk about two of my favourite things and keep up (for one week at least) with music infused content on the site.

The documentary is an expression of love for the guitar, pure and simple. The camera follows Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page around their neighbourhoods for a little one on one time, and then intercuts that with the three sitting in a studio learning each others songs. It’s obvious that the shenanigans the three men have certainly partaken in during their tenure as rock stars has not altered their passion for music. The best part of the film for me was to watch Jack White and The Edge have the look of giddy little school girls plastered all over their faces as Jimmy mother effin’ Page teaches them songs. Even rock n’ roll gods have heroes.

If you happen to be a fan of the bands that the men have been/are apart of (Zepplin, anyone?) I’m just warning you, you’re not going to get the dirt. Jimmy Page never breaks down in tears and admits his secret gay love affair with Robert Plant (but if he had I have a feeling many more people would have checked out this film). What you do get is fun tidbits like The Edge giving the camera a guided tour of where U2 used to practice when they were in school, or Jack White talking about what it was like when the White Stripes played for the Queen.

Jack takes over the documentary in certain parts, but it never bothered me. I think the decision to feature Jack more prominently was made simply because he has the most outgoing personality of the trio, and is a natural front man. I liked getting to learn about The Edge and how important he is to the creative process of U2, even then he’s no Bono.

While music may not be the driving force behind my life, I’ve always appreciated it and being an artist understand how your art dominates every aspect of your life. Whether rock n’ roll is your cup of tea or not, I promise watching It Might Get Loud will make you go out and want to create something magical of your own.

Watch the trailer here and there is no way you won’t want to watch this film!