Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Burying the hatchet: I'm going to Toronto's Inside Out festival after all

Earlier this month, I posted about my decision to skip this year's Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

My short film Tri-Curious was rejected by them and I felt that it might be too painful and aggravating for me to attend the festival, as I've done for years.

By definition, film festival programming (or any type of arts programming or curation, for that matter) is inherently subjective.   I don't take the rejection personally.   Nor do I think it reflects at all on the quality of my film, which has been accepted into two other queer film festivals recently (Mumbai and Kansas City) and hopefully will get more acceptances in the near future.

Every artist out there experiences a huge amount of rejection.  Why should I be any different?   Screening at Inside Out would've been a great experience for me.  It was not meant to be this year with this film. 

After some careful thought, I've decided to bury the hatchet, put aside my disappointment and buy a ticket or two to Inside Out after all.  The film Paris 05:59: Theo & Hugo looks particularly enticing.  I'll probably be seen at a festival party or two as well.   

I haven't been overly thrilled with many of Inside Out's selections in recent years.  There's been an abundance of awful art house selections with weak or offensive story arcs which frequently left audiences dissatisfied.   But there's also been a lot of decent work that deserved to be seen, especially the short film Hole, which won the top short film prize last year.   With a fairly diverse selection this year (if the catalogue is any indication), there's probably at least one film every film lover can love.   

Life's too short to be angry and absent.  

I do hope my film Tri-Curious can screen at another festival in the Toronto area in the near future.   My fingers are crossed in that regard and I'll be sure to write about it here.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Change to Proportional Representation, or don't bother changing at all....

Liberal ministers Dominic Leblanc and Maryam Monsef at presser today.
The Trudeau Liberals have fulfilled an election promise by today launching a special parliamentary committee to recommend a new electoral system and explore mandatory and online voting.

Already, the opposition is criticizing the Liberals for "stacking the deck" in the governing party's favour by appointing a majority of Liberals to it.

The opposition has a point.  The Liberals have total control over what the committee decides to recommend once this "consultation process" ends December 1st.

So far, many Liberals including Justin Trudeau, himself, have been making noise in favour of changing to a preferential balloting or instant runoff voting system.  Such a move would change the way Canadians vote in federal elections from marking one 'X' next to their one preferred candidate, to voters ranking candidates from top preference on down, starting with "1," followed by "2," and so on.

There are many positives to such a new system.  No longer would voters be forced to hold their noses and "vote strategically" in elections, meaning reject their first choice in favour of their least hated choice in order to stop a candidate they truly detest.   Many progressives agonized over which party to choose in the last election because of the current first-past-the-post system.

With preferential voting, progressives could be free to vote Green or NDP in constituencies where those parties have little chance of topping the polls.  Then they could possibly pick the Liberals as their second or third choice.   If no candidates receive over 50% of the vote in the first round, the candidates with the least support are dropped off the count, and the subsequent preferences of those voters are re-allocated until one candidate gets over that 50% threshold.

Such a system would force political parties to appeal to the widest number of Canadians as possible in order to win not only as many top preferences as possible, but also subsequent second and third choices.   Parties that play only to their narrow base and ignore the vast swath of mainstream voters, like the Harper Conservatives did for ten years, would find themselves quickly defeated once the majority of voters team up against them.

This would likely lead to a major change in tone during elections.  Instead of parties viciously attacking each other in order to secure a mere plurality of support, those parties would probably start to team up or go easy on each other as they'd be gunning for each others' supporters.  Parties or candidates might even make deals with each other before election day in order to try to secure second preferences to get over the top.

But the big downside of preferential balloting is it would shut out non-mainstream viewpoints from Parliament even worse than the current system.   Under the current system, at least it's possible that smaller parties can win seats with relatively low percentages of the vote.  Under preferential balloting, it would be all the more difficult as those candidates would have to rely on second and third preferences from more mainstream voters in order to possibly win.

The result would likely be a Parliament made up of only very moderate, mainstream parties.  Critics of instant runoff claim it's just a scam to elect as many Liberals as possible.  They too have a point.  In truth, it only seems that Liberals like the idea of switching to preferential balloting from first-past-the-post.

If this special parliamentary committee simply rubber stamps Justin Trudeau's preferred new system, it will be a political travesty that could backfire big time on the ruling party.  Voters tend to frown on political parties that try to manipulate democratic systems to their own benefit.   Even if the proposed change has some merit, voters are likely to not only reject it, but also reject the party implementing it if the public deems the reform process to be fundamentally unfair.

That could easily happen with this process, particularly since all opposition parties and voting reform advocates like Fair Vote Canada are likely to be dead set against moving to preferential balloting.

For me, if we're going to go to the trouble of changing voting systems, we should do the right thing and embrace some form of proportional representation.  Such a change would finally ensure that party representation in the House of Commons aligns with party support among voters, unlike the current system which distorts that support.   PR would ensure that laws have the support of parties representing the majority of Canadians instead of just the biggest plurality.

When new democracies have emerged in the world in recent decades, a PR voting system has been put in place precisely because it minimizes the chances of extremists taking power with as little as 30% of the vote.  Nowhere do they implement first-past-the-post in such new democracies, nor do they implement preferential balloting.

Having said all this, it seems unlikely that Trudeau's committee will recommend a PR option.  Any such system would likely need a lot of work to get it right, taking into account the need for regional and local representation.   Contrary to the propaganda spouted by many PR opponents, PR does allow for locally elected legislators.   A mixed member proportional system that utilized open party lists (meaning, the voters could decide who from a party list would be elected to Parliament, not the parties themselves) would be a welcome change.  So would some form of Single Transferable Vote, or STV, which allows for local representation through multi-member constituencies. 

However, I'm not holding my breath this will ever happen in Canada.   Before Trudeau promised to revisit our first-past-the-post system in the 2015 election, I had thought this issue was resolved.  Every referendum on this subject in recent years has resulted in affirming the status quo.  Even a referendum in the UK on preferential balloting was crushed with 69% voting to keep first-past-the-post.  Furthermore, the issue of electoral reform tends to bore the crap out of the public.  Few seem to care much about changing away from first-past-the-post.  Even the NDP when in power always keeps the current voting system in place.   

But the Trudeau Liberals seem intent on moving forward on this issue.  They've got control over what the committee will recommend.  Should the committee simply propose preferential balloting and the government moves unilaterally to change Canada's voting system in such a profound way, it will cause a big and well-deserved backlash.

Should the Liberals bend to opposition demands and hold a referendum on any change, such a backlash could be avoided.  But such a referendum is also likely to end in defeat for the proposed change.

Regardless, it will be very interesting to see how this issue continues to move forward. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

I am not attending Toronto's Inside Out LGBT Film Festival this year. Here's why.

I've attended Toronto's Inside Out LGBT film festival for years.  I think I know Toronto queer film audiences very well, what they've seen and what else they may wish to see on the big screen.

As many of you will know, I've spent a good part of the last year writing, producing, directing, and picture editing my first narrative short film.   The result is Tri-Curious, a short comedy about a gay male couple about to embark on their first threesome together when one of them suffers an anxiety attack and wants to cancel.

I wanted to put my personal spin on story territory I haven't seen tackled often in queer-themed film: how couples negotiate the post-equal marriage world in a subculture that still celebrates a very free spirited approach to sex, and how one person can struggle to square conservative inclinations with that free spirited culture.

As I wrote on Monday, the film has been selected to screen at the KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival later this month.   I do hope for more festival selections in the coming months, followed by the full movie being uploaded to YouTube so audiences everywhere can enjoy it.  So far, the YouTube trailer has received almost 45,000 views in just over two weeks.

Many of those who took a chance on me and donated some money to my recent Indiegogo campaign seem very pleased with the final product.  Here is but a sample of the feedback:

"Fabulous fun!!! It's a delightful piece!!" 

"Loved it! Well done! You need to keep making these!"  

"Great film - I truly enjoyed it! And I know the countless hours of hard work you put into it. Happy your fundraising campaign was such a huge success!"  

"Meant to message earlier to say I loved the film..."  
I was looking forward to hearing thunderous laughter that might accompany the film's final punchline at an Inside Out screening.  Toronto is my home town, after all. 

But two weeks ago, I was pretty upset to learn that Inside Out had rejected it.   The initial rejection email from programming coordinator Jenna Dufton was generic, as sent to all rejected filmmakers.  So I wrote them back an email asking why my 7.5-minute short film (a length that is typically easy to program compared to much longer shorts) which I think Inside Out audiences would love didn't make the cut?   I stated I was baffled as I had seen many films just as good, if not weaker get selected in recent years.  

Perhaps Inside Out programmers simply couldn't match my film in a program that made sense to them, I wondered. 

Yet the response from lead programmer Andrew Murphy surprised and disappointed me.  He claimed the rejection of my film wasn't personal.   Then he went on to criticize my film's rough cut (which I submitted to them last December,) even though I had provided Inside Out with the finished cut in time for its deadline of March 12.  My entire Indiegogo campaign was timed to coincide with that deadline.  Apparently, my film's final version had not been viewed at all.  

Why was the film rejected?  Murphy listed off reasons that reminded me of many other films that I've actually seen programmed at Inside Out in the recent past.  The feedback betrayed an inconsistent subjectivity, I later told him.  

My film is not a masterpiece, but I can humbly say it's a very decent and funny film that I know would be loved by Inside Out audiences.  I can't prove that now as I don't want to release the full film online to the general public while dozens of other festival submissions remain outstanding. 

I will offer to anyone interested: if you want to view my full film now to judge for yourself its quality, please message me.  I can possibly provide you with a password-protected link.  

I do congratulate those filmmakers who did make the Inside Out cut this year.  I'm sure there will be some high quality films to be seen, along with many stinkers, as per usual.  

It's true that the quality of any film is always in the eye of the beholder.  It's entirely possible that good films might be viewed as weak by some people.   Mr. Murphy had every right to reject my film for whatever reasons he wanted.   But the rejection of my film seems pretty arbitrary to me.  

Such is life as an artist, I guess. 

Whatever the reasons, all things considered, attending Inside Out this year to view other selected films would be too painful and aggravating an experience for me.  So I'm going to opt out of attending Inside Out this year.   I hope to return in future years.


I've been thinking a lot about this over the last week and I've had a slight change of heart.   Please expect another new post about this soon. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Transgender Man and His Colleagues in North Carolina Call for Repeal of HB2

This is an incredible ad.  The perfect answer to ignorance is always truth.  This is a beautiful work as well as a powerful answer to the bigotry we've seen swirling lately in the Republican south.  I'm very happy to promote it here. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

My film 'Tri-Curious' gets world premiere at the KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival

I'm thrilled to announce that my short film 'Tri-Curious' is heading to Mumbai, India for its World Premiere at the end of May in the Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, known as KASHISH.

Organizers invited the film in mid-April but I couldn't announce it until the festival released its lineup on the weekend.

This is a tremendous honour as KASHISH is South Asia's biggest and India's only "mainstream LGBT film festival", now in its 7th year.   It runs from May 25 to 29, 2016.  The overall festival theme this year is '7 Shades of Love,' and organizers have invited 182 films from 53 countries to screen.  I don't yet know when my film will be screening, but I'll announce that when I hear.  The film festival will be held at three venues – Mumbai’s iconic art deco Liberty theatre, Alliance Francaise de Bombay and Max Mueller Bhavan.

The festival doesn't get much institutional or corporate support, I'm told.  Thus, they can't sponsor filmmakers to travel to attend.  Instead, funds raised go to putting on the event.  To that end, the festival is raising funds through crowd sourcing.  Please check out the details here. 

But what a thrill to have my little short film find an audience on the other side of the planet.   Congrats to everyone who worked on the film for this great honour!  Here's a YouTube video the festival posted with highlights from its 2015 festival.

Also, please take another look at the trailer to my film if you wish - the YouTube link is on the top right of this blog.  Glad to say it has almost 34,000 views so far.

I'll post more info on my screening and the 2016 festival over the coming few weeks.  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

RuPaul's Drag Race's huge impact on queer culture and on me....

Before the summer of 2015, I had never watched the hit Logo TV show 'RuPaul's Drag Race.'

The main reason: I had never been too much into drag culture and harboured some false assumptions about it.  Sure I enjoyed the occasional drag show over the years, but I had little love for drag queens.

To me, they represented perhaps only the bitchiest and most superficial elements of queer culture: the cattiness, the politically incorrect content of most acts, the hyper-feminized showiness.  I even thought much of drag culture was borderline misogynist.  Despite dressing up in drag on a couple of occasions for Halloween, I gave the whole drag thing little respect.

How foolish of me!  I have to thank my loving partner and fiance Sam, who's done his share of drag over the years, for opening my mind.

Last summer in 2015, Sam introduced me to 'RuPaul's Drag Race.'  Season 7 had just finished its run and one night we streamed Episode One.   By the time the first two unfortunate queens were selected at the episode's finale to 'Lip sync for their lives,' I was hooked.   Between sips of whatever alcohol I was drinking, I shouted out to Sam, 'This is fucking awesome!'

We then spent a huge number of nights binging on the rest of Season 7.  Being my first season, I had nothing to compare it to and enjoyed it immensely.  I've since learned that Season 7 actually was one of the least enjoyable, as many hard core fans may agree.

We then moved on to binge on Season 6, which Sam described as his favourite.  And it was awesome!  SPOILER ALERT: The hilarious victor, Bianca Del Rio, won my heart, as she did most viewers.

Chi Chi DeVayne in drag
ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT: Then we binged on Season Five to see the talented Jinkx Monsoon take the $100,000.   Finally, I went back to Season One and worked my way forward to Season Four and of course the All-Star season too.

Through this, my previous prejudices about drag got washed away.   I now fully believe that drag is the opposite of misogynist!   It's a celebration of the beauty, strength and resilience of the feminine.   I feel better about my new love of drag culture.  Now I look forward to every drag act I can have the pleasure to see.

RuPaul's show has done more to humanize drag and bring it into the mainstream of queer culture than anything else I can remember.

Chi Chi DeVayne out of drag (with some special effects help)
And, who are we kidding, it's one of the most entertaining shows on TV today.  It's the only show I currently watch as soon as possible after each broadcast and I'm completely caught up as of last week's show on April 25.

My favourite competitor this season has got to be Chi Chi DeVayne, pictured both in and out of drag.  She's gotten great since the beginning of the season with her drag looks and performance.  She's also a sweetheart and, I have to admit, rather hot as a man out of drag.

One observation: the most beautiful drag queens also tend to be quite beautiful men out of drag.

YET ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT: Season 8 is now down to its top four finalists, all of whom happen to be drag queens of colour, including Chi Chi.  It's a fascinating and awesome turn of events.   I have to agree the four finalists completely deserve this.   They've earned the top four spots with their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent!

It's great to see queens of colour at the centre of a queer cultural phenomenon in North America.

Along with the fact that Black Lives Matter will be leading Toronto's Pride parade this year, this is a step forward for a community that still has much work to do in making itself fully inclusive.

My prediction for this season's finale?  I have no real idea.  Bob The Drag Queen seems incredibly talented.  Kim Chi is a "walking, talking work of art," as she was described last week by one of the judges.  The talented Naomi Smalls is gorgeous both in and out of drag.

But Chi Chi DeVayne remains my favourite.  In the last episode, two of the regular judges including Michelle Visage, called Chi Chi their favourite.  RuPaul, herself, has showered Chi Chi with a heck of a lot of love too.   So we'll see  how this one ends up.

After eight seasons, the show's format, editing and gimmicks including the standard lines have become infamous:  'The time has come....for  you to lip sync....for YOUR LIFE!   Good luck and don't fuck it up!'  

There's little chance of that.  The only question remains for how many more seasons will RuPaul and the show's producers continue this stunning, enormously entertaining and successful run.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's time to stop beating up on Hillary Clinton and instead help her beat Trump (or Cruz)

Win McNamee/Getty Images
It's been quite a race so far for the Democratic Party nomination south of the border.   And a bit of deja vu.

Hillary Clinton again has been challenged by a surprisingly popular left-wing senator promising massive change.

The U.S. embraced change in 2008 and chose Obama.  I myself switched from Clinton to Obama, even though such support had little meaning as I'm Canadian and didn't vote.   With Obama elected president (as Clinton would also have been against McCain/Palin), I'd say the U.S. ended up getting pretty much the same kind of government that Clinton would've provided.  On some major issues like Guantanamo, drone attacks in the Arab world, Wall Street, Obama's been no real change at all.  Although Obama has a great liberal legacy with health care and hundreds of other initiatives.  His crucial place in history is cemented as the first man of colour to win the U.S. presidency.  He's going to be very popular in retirement.  

I think Hillary's the better candidate this year.  I just can't picture Bernie Sanders running the White House. 

I like that Bernie Sanders has managed to get his very progressive causes (like universal health care, free university tuition, getting the odious amount of money out of U.S. politics) onto the political agenda.  I can see why his message is so appealing.  I was tempted to support him in this race, for maybe about a minute.  Then I realized that Hillary is still the better candidate and shares many of the same policies.  Sanders has pushed Clinton to the left and now looks likely to get many of these great ideas added to the Democratic Party's platform.  That's a great thing! 

But the Democratic party seems split between idealists and pragmatists.  Hillary will want to bolster her populist appeal to disgruntled Caucasian voters and stop them from gravitating toward Trump in the fall.  If Hillary's smart, and she is, she'll have to consider making Sanders her running mate to unite the party and help ensure his followers come out to vote for her.  If not Sanders, someone else who will be sure to have great appeal with Sanders' supporters, like Elizabeth Warren perhaps, or someone with equal credibility with progressives.    

But Clinton's VP choice will depend entirely on how the Republican convention goes first.  I did hope that John Kasich would come on stronger but he keeps losing to Trump in the GOP primaries.  Thus it does look like Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination.  This is horrifying.  We'll see if Cruz can miraculously snatch the nod on the convention room floor.  We'll know better after the Indiana primary coming up soon if that's even possible.    

If Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee (and after winning 4 out of 5 primaries Tuesday night, it looks pretty much certain now that she will be), it's probably a good idea for progressives backing Sanders and others to lay off the personal attacks on her.  Those attacks have become more repetitive, even when information has refuted the claims.   I think history shows that Clinton's a decent person working hard and is motivated here to help people and make a difference in people's lives.  She's come a long way and I think she's ready for it.  I like her better than Bernie Sanders.  She's pragmatic.  I also think the symbolic importance of a woman winning the White House is something to celebrate the world over.  

To Bernie supporters, I say: "Hillary might not be your first choice, but against Trump, she's the best choice!  Please come over when you're ready."  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New Gay Short Film Trailer - "Tri-Curious" (2016)

I'm very proud to release the official trailer for my new short comedy film, 'Tri-Curious'.

I cut it on the weekend and uploaded it to my YouTube channel.  The full film will hopefully be released at several film festivals this year.   I'll post regularly on this site about any such screenings.

In the mean time, please check out the trailer and hopefully it'll spur your interest in seeing the full short film in the near future.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rupert Everett's 'Judas Kiss' impresses at Mirvish Theatre in Toronto

Rupert Everett and Charlie Rowe.
I had the chance to see 'The Judas Kiss' by playwright David Hare now on stage at Toronto's Mirvish Theatre on Good Friday night.

Opening on March 22, it turned out to be the perfect week to see it due to the play's references to the infamous kiss of betrayal by Judas of Jesus Christ according to Christian folklore.

Directed by Neil Armfield, this critically acclaimed production arrives in Toronto after a sold-out run in London’s West End.  It'll move on to New York with this cast in May.

Originally staged in the 1990s, the play highlights two key days in the life of Oscar Wilde, played by Everett, first before his arrest and incarceration for 'gross indecency', and two years later in Italy where Wilde, out of prison, has ventured to reunite with his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas (or Bosie, as he's known), played by the beautiful Charlie Rowe.

Act One focuses mainly on Wilde's dilemma to either flee England and incarceration, or to take Bosie's foolish advice to fight the charges and perhaps see more of his young lover.

Why the ever romantic Wilde would choose to stay on a course towards self-destruction remains the play's central question.  It's answered in the same convoluted way the original decision was probably made by Wilde himself. 

Everett gives an astonishing performance as Oscar Wilde, owning the stage from the moment he appears until its last moments at the end of Act Two.   The supporting roles are also played exceptionally well, including by Cal McAninch as Wilde's longtime friend and former lover Robbie Ross, and Rowe as the petulant, selfish and naive Bosie.

It was interesting to see Rowe, only 19, play such a role so convincingly without making Bosie seem completely unsympathetic.  At face value, his character's actions are terrible, selfishly leading to the downfall of a great artist, someone he claimed to love.  The real Bosie seems like the perfect example of undeserving upper class nobility.

In other portraits of this infamous gay couple, Bosie has often come across as completely detestable, making Wilde's ongoing affections seem insane.  In this portrait, one can still see the affection and connection between the two men and why Wilde might find some peace and happiness in Bosie's arms.

The portrait of the foolish older gay man throwing his life away for a beautiful youth is perhaps one of the oldest tropes in gay male culture.  It mimics the similar, misogynistic trope of a powerful, older straight man whose affections for a younger femme fatale prove his undoing.

Indeed, the coupling of Oscar and Bosie may be the most famous example of this trope in modern gay culture, hence why that relationship continues to fascinate.  But ultimately, this is yet another example of an unhealthy gay male relationship, which is unfortunate as this seems to be how most gay relationships continue to be portrayed, even in art created by gay men.   If our relationships aren't depicted as negative, typically they're depicted as comical and clownish, like Mitch and Cam on 'Modern Family.'   It's rare that we see in art a healthy gay couple whose relationship happens to be incidental. 

As a filmmaker, I will say one of my hopes is to broaden the portrait of gay male relationships beyond this largely negative or silly portrayal and instead show the truth: gay men can and do form healthy, long-lasting relationships.  

Be warned, 'The Judas Kiss' contains full nudity by four of its actors, three male and one female.   Indeed, the nudity by the three young men, including Rowe, added a particularly welcome spice to the proceedings for me and wasn't gratuitous as it complemented the play's themes of repression, naked emotion and betrayal. 

Overall, I quite enjoyed it.  'The Judas Kiss' is a great work that deserves to be seen. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The depressing death of a dangerously reckless and bigoted man: Rob Ford dies

Tragically, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford lost his battle with cancer this morning.  

As anyone who's read this blog since 2010 knows, I always hated Rob Ford.

I hated his bigotry and his simple-minded ideology of privilege masquerading as "man of the people" populism.

Rob Ford divided the City of Toronto in life, so it's not surprising that he's dividing it in his death.  

Death by cancer is horrible.  Death at the young age of 46 is also horrible.

Rob Ford was robbed today of life.  His family, including his young children, are also terribly robbed of him, assuming of course their relationships with him were healthy and loving.

I can't even write a sentence proclaiming my sympathy for his wife and kids without adding the caveat that I hope his death doesn't represent the end of rumoured abuse. 

Such is the enigma of Rob Ford. 

As a progressive who abhorred all of Rob Ford's politics and was horrified when he won the 2010 mayoral election, it seems impossible to reflect on this moment today without being torn.

I want to show respect for the dead and sympathy to the family.  They are hurting right now.

But my respect and sympathy sort of ends there.  There are, no doubt, thousands of Torontonians who are also mourning his death.   Just check out Twitter for examples or read Sun Media for their pathetic coverage as they attack lefties for politicizing his death while they do exactly the same thing.

Rob Ford was no man of the people.   Rob Ford was a man out for himself who loved the retail side of politics and little else.  His whole political schtick was a fraud.  He'd show up at the apartment complexes of constituents in the inner suburbs, flash his card, pretend to listen and connect, winning many fans among the ignorant, but then head downtown to attack their interests with his votes and actions.

Many things tied together Ford Nation support behind the Ford brothers, including a truly disgusting and calculated level of homophobia, expressed through both actions and inactions, including refusing to show up at Pride Day every year he was mayor.

He spent a career attacking the rights of cyclists, spreading disrespect and promoting a sense of entitlement among motorists, which I still see often as I cycle to and from work everyday.

On cyclists' safety, Ford infamously said this: "Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day."

His fans now calling him a man of the people are simply indulging in their privilege being part of Ford Nation.  I can imagine how one could think him lovable if one had never faced his irrational and ignorant hatred.

There are some who today said that Karma finally did him in.  After causing so much pain to so many people, including humiliating his city on the international stage with his outlandish behaviour, he refused to admit any wrongdoing and never suffered political consequences for his actions.  He filled his body with no end of garbage, from unhealthy foods, to booze, to hard drugs.

I don't believe Karma did him in.  Plain old nature did.  You can't recklessly abuse a body for that long and not shorten your own life.  Combined with his own behaviour, Ford's family history of cancer did the rest.

It's all sad and pathetic.  Of course, no person is entirely terrible.  He must've had his good sides.  There was something endearing about his goofy realness.  I hope his soul finds peace and understanding that eluded him in life.  The saddest thing about this is, dying at the age of 46, merely two years after his reign of error ended, Ford has had no time to redeem himself or learn the error of his ways.  His life is cut short.  He's been robbed.  That's tragic. 

Can I forgive Rob Ford for what he did to my city and move on?  I'll sure try.

I take inspiration from one good friend who tweeted today, quoting Tony Kushner:  "He was a terrible person. He died a hard death. So maybe...A queen can forgive her vanquished foe. It isn’t easy, it doesn’t count if it’s easy, it’s the hardest thing. Forgiveness. Which is maybe where love and justice finally meet.  Peace, at least."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

“They don’t need our vengeance, they need our help.”

I was supremely pleased this week when the Trudeau Liberals announced they will end Canada's CF-18 bombing of Arab lands this month, and instead ramp up training, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to combat Daesh, or ISIS as many in North America still call them.

Where Harper's Conservatives, blinded by their far-right ideology and love of warfare, stood proudly next to Western forces intent on bombing the Middle East indefinitely, the Trudeau Liberals are charting a more effective course that will actually make Canadians safer. 

I wrote about this issue recently.  It's clear any bombing campaign, whether done by fighter jets or more precise drones, produces mostly innocent deaths and is counterproductive to our efforts to defeat radical Jihadism.  Instead, Western bombing efforts are exactly what ISIS want because they mostly kill ordinary local civilians.  Thus, producing new generations of Muslims who hate the countries who killed their loved ones.  Even if Daesh is defeated or somehow severely weakened, some other force just like them if not worse will come along to take their place.

The local issues are obviously extremely complicated.  But to put it in simplistic terms: If radical Jihadism is to be truly undermined, it's going to be mainly by the hands of moderate local forces and populations, with the support of Western countries like Canada, not through ramping up violent Western military action that inevitably kills mostly moderate Muslims unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire.  

Conservatives ignore this reality and instead focus on the satisfaction they feel knowing bombs are dropping on "bad people."  They don't really distinguish between Daesh and other Muslims, I guess.  

In ending the limited Canadian bombing mission, Trudeau said this week the people in Iraq and Syria who are suffering at the hands of the Islamic State “don’t need our vengeance, they need our help.”

This article today by Tony Burman is a great read for those interested in the best role Canada can play in this ongoing struggle. 

In it, Burman puts the Trudeau government's decision in proper historical context and Burman outlines the three major reasons why the government has wisely changed course away from the previous regime's bombing mission:

"One: Bombing is not the sole answer, and never will be.  
Two: For any long-term solution, only local forces can triumph.
Three: Canada needs to be laser-focused and strategic in its approach."

I couldn't agree more. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Indiegogo crowd funding campaign launched to help fund my short film 'Tri-Curious'

As I wrote last month, I've been busy the last few months working on a short narrative film called Tri-Curious, my first as director, producer and film editor.

The short film is a comedy-drama about a young gay male couple about to embark on their first threesome together when one of them has a last minute anxiety attack and wants to cancel.  Trouble is, it's 20 minutes until the "guest" is set to arrive at their apartment.  Tri-Curious explores issues around modern-day relationships, monogamy, and sexual experimentation in a thoughtful, light, and hopefully amusing way.

I'm proud to present a short clip from a scene in the movie below, posted on Vimeo.

Clip from the new short film, 'Tri-Curious' by director Matt Guerin from Matt Guerin on Vimeo.

I applied for but did not receive a film completion grant.  Thus, the film is currently being financed out of my own pocket.  As a first-time director without much of my own track record in the industry, I don't think there's much chance of receiving any other funding from Canadian funding bodies.

So today I launched my own crowd funding campaign at Indiegogo to try to raise some money to help with the costs, which now stand at approximately $3,800 CAD (including $2,100 for post-production colour correction, sound design & mixing, and final packaging.)   Most of the people who worked on this film have not received any compensation for their efforts on the film, while others received very little.  There are more costs coming including marketing costs and more festival costs. 

I would dearly appreciate it if you could check out the campaign page and seriously consider investing in the film.  The campaign runs for the next 28 days (four weeks).

Money raised in this campaign will go first to pay for the film's post-production work including colour correction, sound design and mixing, and final packaging.  After that, I will prioritize compensating members of the crew.

As an indie filmmaker looking to create my calling card short film, this is how it's done.  I made certain creative and production decisions to keep costs down without compromising my own artistic vision.  The result is a film I'm extremely proud of and I'm very hopeful that it will have much success on the film festival circuit this year and eventually on YouTube.   If you want to be a part of this exciting project, please head over to the Indiegogo campaign page and consider one of the various reward donations.   I'd be most grateful.