Author Archives: Derek Jacobs

September 16

TIFF 2017: There Is a House Here

There is a House Here is your standard wandering interview documentary, traversing through the town of Igluik, Nunavut to pose questions to the Inuit denizens about their lives, their homes, and their culture. Though there are moments of levity and optimism, the film is mostly a harrowing and depressing look at cultural extinction and childhood […]

September 16

TIFF 2017: Luk’Luk’I

Wayne Wapeemukwa’s feature debut Luk’Luk’I exists in a bizarre space halfway between documentary and fairy tale. It features vignettes of five “characters” during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. They all live on the outskirts, and their lives are only tangentially related to each other. Their stories range from the grim and realistic to the […]

September 14

TIFF 2017: Creatura Dada

It almost feels folly to describe Caroline Monnet’s Creatura Dada with any kind of sincerity. I could certainly do it, but it will take you more time to read my blurby review than to actually watch the film. I watched it four times in preparation, and each time I noticed something different. At a scant […]

September 14

TIFF 2017: The President’s Visit

In a small village in Lebanon, a soap maker toils in his dingy shop. He earns very little respect from the townsfolk, though his service is essential. Then, one day, the President of the country calls him. As part of a new “Clean Up the Country” campaign, he will be visiting the humble shop to […]

September 13

TIFF 2017: The Tesla World Light

The Tesla World Light is a strange stop-motion animation short film. Robert Vilar plays Nikola Tesla in the latter days of his life, fantasizing about a system of free energy for all nations while a lightning-spouting pigeon terrorizes him around his room. So, it’s something of an art film. The animation technique is obviously stop-motion, […]

September 08

TIFF 2017: Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle

Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle is a Dutch romance film that perfectly balances its whimsical outlook on life with heartfelt drama. Set in Puglia, Italy, the film tells the story of a Dutch man named Gauke starting a new life after a devastating flood in his home town. The overall result is a brilliant […]

September 07

TIFF 2017: What Will People Say

In What Will People Say, young Nisha (Maria Mozhdah) is caught in an irreconcilable culture clash between her Pakistani heritage and her Norwegian surroundings. At home, especially in the presence of her father, she plays the part of the faithful Muslim daughter. Out with her friends, she is your standard Western teenager – chasing boys, […]

September 06

TIFF 2017: Threads

Threads is why animation exists. It’s a simplified little tale with even simpler animation, but every single aspect of the art style informs the story that Oscar-winning animator Torill Kove wants to tell. That story is one about love, relationships, and the interconnection required of the human experience. Though Threads is full of characters that […]

July 05

Integral Man

Writer-director Joseph Clement’s subject for Integral Man is the modern renaissance man Jim Stewart. Stewart is a brilliant concert-level violinist with a contagious passion for music, but he is also an accomplished teacher of mathematics. Spurred on by some students who told him that his notes on the chalkboard were clearer than the textbook they […]

June 07

CSFF 2017: Hillsborough

The worst sports disaster in the history of England occurred on April 15th, 1989 in Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield during a semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. During the match, overcrowding in a pen lead to an alarming number of deaths. Daniel Gordon’s documentary Hillsborough recounts the story of this disaster, its causes, and […]

June 02

Interview: Director Steve James talks Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the story of Abacus Federal Saving Bank and the Sung family that runs it. To date, the bank is still the only federal bank to be indicted for fraud in connection with the 2008 financial crisis. Therefore, the film is a tale of family, community, perseverance, and the unequal […]

June 01

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Thomas Sung owns and operates Abacus Federal Savings Bank in New York’s Chinatown. The bank, with his daughters Jill (President & CEO) and Vera (Director), serves a clientele composed primarily of local small-business owners of Chinese descent, many first-generation Americans or direct immigrants. Hence, Abacus is an important part of this community, as it gives […]

May 25

Inside Out 2017: A Date for Mad Mary

Darren Thornton’s A Date for Mad Mary is a charming coming-of-age romance featuring incredible performances, unpredictable plot turns, and immense directorial skill. Thornton co-wrote the film with his brother Colin, based off of a play written by Yamine Akram that Darren also directed. A Date for Mad Mary appears to be your standard young adult […]

May 24

Inside Out 2017: Mansfield 66/67

The documentary Mansfield 66/67 trades in the same camp as its iconic subject: “Blonde Bombshell” Jayne Mansfield. The film focuses on the last two years of the starlet’s life, reveling in the rumors that swirled and the legends that the papers saw fit to print. The film is built from celebrity interviews, discussions with cultural […]

May 23

Inside Out 2017: Handsome Devil

Writer-director John Butler’s Handsome Devil favorably compares to other boarding school coming-of-age dramas like School Ties and Dead Poet’s Society. Butler’s film packs more irreverence than those films, and has a kind of tongue-in-cheek sensibility, but a lot of the elements are the same. Much of the drama is focuses on a pair of roommates, […]

May 04

Hot Docs 2017: Ramen Heads

In Koki Shigeno’s Ramen Heads, the homey Japanese comfort food is lovingly explored, revealing the complex quintessence of broth and noodle.  The documentary focuses on Osamu Tomita, the preeminent ramen chef in Japan and winner of three consecutive end-of-the-year awards for best ramen in the land. We delve into Tomita’s kitchen and learn his ramen […]

May 02

Hot Docs 2017: Integral Man

Writer-director Joseph Clement’s subject for Integral Man is the modern renaissance man Jim Stewart.  Stewart is a brilliant concert-level violinist with a contagious passion for music, but he is also an accomplished teacher of mathematics.  Spurred on by some students who told him that his notes on the chalkboard were clearer than the textbook they […]

May 02

Hot Doc 2017: Birth of a Family

Tasha Hubbard’s Birth of a Family documents the first meeting of a family torn asunder by racist government policies, decades after their separation.  As infants, Betty Ann, Esther, Rosalie, and Ben were taken from their indigenous mother and placed into separate white homes across North America as part of Canada’s “Sixties Scoop”.  The story of […]

May 01

Hot Docs 2017: Manic

It’s apparent that Kalina Burton’s Manic is made with passion, care, and respect for the mental health of its subjects: Burton’s own brother and sister.  It’s also clear that an amateur is at the helm.  Burton has a lot to learn about pacing, structure, and focus. The film opens with blunt white text on a black […]

April 28

Hot Docs 2017: 78/52

Psycho was a watershed moment in cinema, and not just because it was the first film to show a flushing toilet.  Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary 78/52 explores this cultural touchstone through interviews with a myriad of film people, from directors and editors to actors, composers, and critics.  The film begins by exploring the philosophies, style, […]