YALDA, A NIGHT FOR FORGIVENESS – Review by Liz Braun

Maryam has been imprisoned for the murder of her much older husband. Luckily, she has a chance to escape the death penalty by appearing on a reality TV show where she can beg her late husband’s family for forgiveness. This is the surreal setting for filmmaker Massoud Bakhshi’s feminist drama about contemporary Iranian life — the most surreal element being that such a reality TV show actually exists. Whatever passes for forgiveness or compassion here is mostly about money, and when the talk show host says, “There’s divine mercy in forgiveness,” you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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HONEY BEE – Review by Liz Braun

Honey Bee is an affecting drama about a trafficked teenage girl who gets a chance at self-discovery. Every element of the film involves clear-eyed storytelling, and not a single sound or sight has anything showy or extraneous about it. There’s nothing standing in the way of complete emotional investment.

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KINDRED – Review by Liz Braun

Kindred is a psychological thriller, but not exactly as advertised. The film is about a pregnant, grieving woman trapped in the house of her malevolent in-laws; for scary material, ‘pregnant’ would have covered it. All the horror hallmarks are here — ominous ravens, isolated locations, keening string music — but the dark heart of the story is maternal instinct.

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MOST WANTED – Review by Liz Braun

A sordid chapter in Canadian law enforcement history provides the material for Most Wanted, a new crime thriller from Quebec director Daniel Robby. Bad cops, petty criminals and drug smuggling are the landscape here, with a junkie named Daniel Leger at the centre of the story. It happened 30 years ago, when investigative journalism still existed and the internet did not. The story would never have been told but for the work of award-winning reporter Victor Malarek, the key character in the film.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2020: Joana Vicente, TIFF-Maker, Indie Producer and Film Activist

Joana Vicente’s first year as co-head of the Toronto International Film Festival was a triumph. The transplanted New Yorker oversaw a TIFF that had all the bases covered: superb films, A-list movie stars in attendance, initiatives in place to level the playing field for filmmakers (and journalists) and all the razzle dazzle required to make the festival a magnet for industry, audience and tourism dollars. Her second TIFF happened in a pandemic. It too was a triumph.

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OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE -Review by Liz Braun

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is an engaging and moving account of a truly extraordinary life. And you need know nothing about the revered British neurologist and prolific author to be completely engaged by Ric Burns’ fine documentary. It does seem safe to predict a sudden increase in sales of Sacks’ books after the documentary is released.

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UNHINGED – Review by Liz Braun

Having Russell Crowe play the heavy in a violent cheesefest about road rage is a perfect fit. What he brings with him to the role of vengeful psycho are all those real-life public donnybrooks and temper tantrums; what a boon to the willing suspension of disbelief. But, Feel free to ignore the marketing malarkey about this being the right movie — it isn’t —and the right time — not on your life —to return to theatres.

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NOMAD: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BRUCE CHATWIN – Review by Liz Braun

You can see why Werner Herzog and Bruce Chatwin would be fast friends, given their shared fascination with all things weird and wonderful about this planet. Nomad: In The Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin is Herzog’s new documentary about his dear friend Chatwin — bon vivant, traveller and prolific author. The film is an homage to friendship, travel and the art of storytelling and it’s as much about the filmmaker as it is about Chatwin; what a bonus.

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A GIRL MISSING – Review by Liz Braun

Much is in the eye of the beholder with A Girl Missing, an enigmatic drama from director Koji Fukada. Part character study and part psychological thriller, the story concerns the damage done both by things said, and things unspoken; one woman’s life is turned upside down because of a crime that has almost nothing to do with her. Until the pieces begin to fall into place, a viewer is unmoored and uncomfortable, and we mean that in the best way.

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