Author Archives: Derek Jacobs

October 22

imagineNATIVE 2017: Juliana & the Medicine Fish

Director Jeremy Torrie’s Juliana & The Medicine Fish adapts the popular Young Adult novel by Jake MacDonald, with both men co-writing the adaptation. The film tells the story of young Juliana over a summer at her father’s fishing lodge following the death of her mother. The two do not have the best relationship to begin […]

October 21

imagineNATIVE 2017: Brown Lips

Writer–director Nakkiah Lui’s Brown Lips is a wonderful little short charged with teenage sexuality, rebellion, and taboo. As Kiera prepares for her debutante ball by ballroom dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker with her cousin Des. Their attraction to each other is palpable, communicated through brilliant bits of imagery, shot selection, […]

October 20

imagineNATIVE 2017: Zaasaakwe

Zaasaakwe is more moving essay or tone poem than a narrative or documentary. The film juxtaposes native dancers adorned in traditional dress with young people walking the streets and riding skateboards. The film draws parallels between the struggles and hardships of the past and the strengths of the new generation. The film isn’t even five […]

October 20

imagineNATIVE 2017: No Reservations

My immediate reaction to the first five seconds of No Reservations was, “OH NO, it’s a satire! Well, let’s see”. Because there may not be a genre that can miss as badly as satire, and No Reservations is unabashed. It introduces Peter and Marilyn Whiteman, and is about as reductive as one could imagine, perhaps […]

October 17

imagineNATIVE 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 […]

October 13

Interview: Alexandre O. Philippe on “78/52”

Alexandre O. Philippe is a practiced documentarian with a decided penchant for pop culture phenomena, especially films. In The People vs. George Lucas, he looked at the interaction between filmmakers and fans. In The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octupus, he commented on an octopus named Paul that correctly “predicted” eight consecutive World […]

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 […]