Faces behind the films

A look at the curators of this year's fest

Programmers at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival maintain a higher profile than curators at other fests in part because Toronto auds have become so well-versed in which programmers choose what films. Some of these curators have such notoreity with regular festgoers that local film-aficionados will shell-out to see all the pics selected by a particular programmer. Here are snapshots of four with diverse tastes.

Kay Armatage

Programs: Several sections, including Contemporary World Cinema, Real to Reel, Discovery and this year’s Canadian Retrospective


Backstory: Twenty-year Toronto programming vet and a professor of cinema studies at the University of Toronto. She recently published “The Girl From God’s Country: Nell Shipman and the Silent Cinema” (University of Toronto Press).

Picks: Armatage is excited about two U.S. pics world premiering in Toronto this year: helmer Adam Goldberg’s “I Love Your Work” and Jane Weinstock’s “Easy.” Armatage also singles out “Back to God’s Country,” which unspools as part of the Retrospective on early 20th century silent pic actress and director Nell Shipman.

Soundbite: “(Nell Shipman)’s a really modern woman for that era. She has a great sense of humor and a great sense of justice.”

Gaylene Gould

Programs: Planet Africa

Slots: 9

Backstory: Gould spent five years as coordinator of the British Film Institute’s African & Caribbean Film Unit and she co-founded the quarterly publication Black Film Bulletin. She has directed several documentaries. This is her fourth year programming Planet Africa.

Picks: In this year’s Planet Africa sidebar, Gould points to opening pic “How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass,” Mario Van Peebles’ homage to his filmmaker father Melvin Van Peebles; and “Afro-Punk,” James Spooner’s look at black punk-rockers.

Soundbite: “(With Planet Africa) you have to work twice as hard. There are no big names and no big stars, but the audiences love it. People are more open-minded than they’re given credit for. The industry is so conservative. It’s a shame because there’s a whole new way you can sell movies. It’s all about being creative and about reaching audiences.”

Sean Farnel

Programs: Docu section Real to Reel

Slots: 10

Backstory: Farnel started his programming career at Cinefest: The Sudbury Film Festival. He also programs various educational series for the Toronto Intl. Film Festival Group, including Talk Cinema and Jump Cuts: Young Filmmakers Showcase.

Picks: In the wake of last year’s breakthrough docs, such as Toronto screeners “Spellbound,” “Bowling for Columbine” and “Winged Migration,” Farnel says this year’s docu section should be just as high-profile, pointing to Errol Morris’ “The Fog of War,” Ron Mann’s “Go Further” and Jonathan Demme’s “The Agronomist.”

Soundbite: “Over the past five years, the audience has tripled (for documentaries at the festival). There’s a lot of excitement around docs. People are looking to acquire the next ‘Spellbound.’ ”


Programs: Spanish-language and Portuguese-language films

Slots: 22

Backstory: Also a programmer for the Miami Intl. Film Festival, and has worked for Rotterdam Intl. Film Festival’s coproduction confab, Cinemart

Picks: Spanish helmer Achero Manas’s “November” and Renato Falcao’s “Margarette’s Feast.” The latter pic is part of the national spotlight, “Vida de Novo: The New Brazilian Cinema,” programmed by Sanchez this year.

Soundbite: “Since ‘City of God,’ there’s been so much interest in Brazilian cinema. There’s been a huge political change in Brazil and that’s being reflected in its cinema.”

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