Tag Archives: halifax

Film Fest Fantasia

28 Sep

The DisapperedThe film fest has come and gone;  like a gust of wind that you’re not sure you’ll survive, and then all of a sudden it is gone, and you realize that you miss its cold breeze already.

The 32nd Atlantic Film Fest was  a smashing success. I felt lucky to be involved this year, as a film that Rose and I had been Unit Publicists on opened the Atlantic Film Fest on Friday night for the Atlantic Choice, followed by the Atlantic Gala at Taboo.

The first showing of The Disappeared sold out so quickly that they added a second showing on Saturday afternoon. Which, by all accounts, is amazing! The Disappeared is an amazing character study of six men lost at sea in Nova Scotia. It was really well received by both crowds and seemed to really leave people thinking. We were thrilled to see media coverage in newspapers, online, on TV and on the radio.

One of the producers and I talked about how the film has been described as a “thinking person’s movie.” We disagreed with this point, in a way. It is not really a thinking persons movie. Anyone can watch the film and understand what is happening. But it is a “pondering person’s movie.” This film  STAYS WITH YOU. You will think about it days later, and reflect on your own fragile being. You will think about relationships, what really matters and back to how six men clung to hope when no hope was left.

Since premiering at the Atlantic Film Fest, the film has gone on to fests in Sudbury and Calgary, to great success, and will be at the Edmonton and Vancouver film fests soon. If you did not get a chance to see this wonderful film yet, I sure hope you do in the future, or you’ll be waiting for its 2013 theatrical release.

The rest of the film fest was great. The city comes alive every year with AFF, with more people buzzing around, lots of happenings and lots of meeting of like-minded people. I felt very fortunate to attend the Village Sound Gala complete with a full dapper dressed swing band and sushi for everyone.

I also attended the CBC Atlantic Choice Shorts and experienced every emotion possible in one night. I was laughing my head off at Mike Clattenburg’s newest  project , the short Cracking Down Hard. Then, I almost cried when I watched Andrew MacCormack’s Here and Away. MacCormack’s short was an amazingly poetic look at the differences between life in the city and the country. It was a great mix of films, with so many different themes and emotions.

One thing I came away from AFF thinking, is gosh, darn, damn, this region of the world has a lot of talent. We have a lot of people creating, working hard and making amazing things happen. It was a huge thrill to be a part of the festival, to feel so proud of something you had a small part in. And it’s another chance to walk away, feeling inspired. Feeling like you certainly can do anything, it is just a matter of making it happen.

L

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Hot, Hot, Halifax

31 Jul

It’s been a busy month. A glorious month! Perfect summer weather brings backyard patios, lake and ocean adventures, bbqs with friends, and a bustling city to enjoy – hence our serious neglect. Fleeting summer, where nights are never long enough, and tomorrow’s early morning doesn’t matter. You have to get out and enjoy it while you can, strike the hammer while the iron is hot. Oh! and Halifax, there are just so many irons to hammer. No matter what you are into, there is something for everyone – arts, music, history or just plain old beautiful Nova Scotia nature.

Let’s take a look back on the past few blurry sunshine filled weeks of fun…Jazz Festival (special shout outs to Garrett Mason, Gypsophilia, Maestro Fresh Wes & Deltron 3030) and Tall Ships (Hey Rosetta!). Concerts and shows seemingly every night, not to mention Evolve. Queer Acts Theatre Festival and Pride! (Just have to take a moment to shout out to Sissydude: a dandy rock musical, which debuted at Queer Acts earlier this month. Local, campy, delightful and clever, sharply written, with ALL original rock music…we had a blast.)  It’s been a time where Halifax smacks you in the face and reminds you why she is so amazing to live in. Upcoming we have Natal Day (and a sweet free concert too – super pumped for Rich Aucoin & Wintersleep!), Buskers, Summer Sonic…and in our backyard there is Bruce Springsteen, Sappy Fest, Dutch Mason Blues Festival, Fred Rock, and much more. How do you choose where to spend your money when so much is happening?

If you don’t want to spend any money, but still want to support local music, there are some sweet options for you – relax on a soft piece of grass with the sun in your face, hearing amazing local artists! This is the 5th year for Tunes at Noon, free one-hour concerts at Grand Parade Square. The lineup is stellar and it really has a friendly, great community feel, adding a touch of whimsy to your work day. The full summer schedule can be seen here: http://www.musicnovascotia.ca/Events/TunesAtNoon2012/ and concerts run Thursday and Friday from 12- 1, until September 6th. Another free music event can be found in the Hydrostone on August 25, Music in the Park. It’s a free afternoon of sweet local artists, brought to us by the ECMAs!  http://www.assantehydrostone.com/music-in-the-park/

As for some client news, SheMachine played an amazing gig with Burnt Sugar and AQuestrya on July 20 at the Company House. The pre-pride party was an amazing night of dancing and celebrations! SheMachine’s new songs are SO good. We couldn’t help but start the dance party! We’re super excited for the debut of their EP and short film/music video in the Fall.

The Xara Youth Ensemble is busy auditioning 14-18 years olds for their pre-professional choral theatre group, launching in September. Eighteen young ladies are ready to go, and the group is looking for a few more girls wishing to develop their skills and artistry. Should you know any talented young ladies looking for an amazing opportunity with two unreal artists at the helm…XYE is it! http://murraymusic.ca/studio/xye/

A show that is coming up, that you really should try your darndest to catch is Willie Stratton and Sean Burns on August 15th at Gus’ Pub. Willie Stratton is a powerful local performer, who puts on a howling good show! In our opinion, he is one of the best up and comers Halifax has seen in a long ass time. Lashing together three part harmonies, thundering war drums, and a whole lot of soul, Willie Stratton and his band are slightly less likely to make you feel OK than they are to kill your boredom absolutely stone cold dead. He will be sharing the slot with Sean Burns, based out of Ontario, who is a longtime friend of Rose. While constantly performing live and writing music in the tradition of the traveling singer/songwriter, Sean Burns is a real weapon on the stage, delivering a unique brand of humour with an extensive repertoire. Check out their respective tunes at http://www.seanburns.ca/ & http://williestratton.bandcamp.com/. We promise a grand night of storytelling and music. Check out more information about the event at https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/346965408715479/

We leave you, on this humid July night, with this, our favourite summer song.

Picnic Tables and Trees, Music Sounds Better Outside

10 Jul

As I have emphasized before, one of the greatest things about Halifax is all the wonderful talent that comes out of this damn place. Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible that all the talent can live within these city limits. But, laser beam mind trick, they can.

I felt like I had hit the musical jackpot when I was invited to a backyard show in Halifax’s North End last Friday night. The sun was shining, the breeze was just right, the grass was green and it all just seemed really perfect. Everything just fit right. The suggested donation of 5 bucks for the lineup was mind-blowing

Backyard Show
Photo: Scott Munn

and I think an amazing time was had by all.

We started the night with Mike O’Neill which was a super treat. He is the nicest guy ever, and his lyrics obviously get to everyone, as you could see from everyone around me (and me) mouthing the words along with him.

Next up was the wonderful Ruth  Minnikin , who blows me away every time I see her. Between a mix of her own songs and some classic folk songs we all swayed.

The surprise of the night was Levon, who I had never seen live before. He was touching and moving and the sun was starting to go down as his voice scratched over the night air. He played the piano and pierced my soul with his, “love dies folks” ending line.

Finally we rounded the night out with Jon McKiel , who is always a dreamboat. Jon’s voice, lyrics, and shining eyes get to me every time. I have been a fan of this guy for like 10 years, and I will never stop.

This kind of event makes you feel like you live in a place where community and magic come together to create a special evening. I just felt so privileged to be there and to be surrounded by so much talent.

Love might die folks, (I am still on the fence about that one) but music always lives.

LB

Lost at Sea, Found Self

10 Jun

Photo by Mike Tompkins

It’s hard to imagine being lost at sea; powerless against the unwavering power of the ocean. Having been lucky to screen The Disappeared this past week, we have some more insight into what that could be like. The stark reality of nothing but the waves, the weather, with scant supplies, little food. Nothing to occupy your time but your thoughts. Mental survival almost seems scarier than the physical survival.

The Disappeared is a visually striking film – no doubt as it was shot entirely at sea. The ocean landscapes, the weather, the sky – beautiful and terrifying. The visuals take your breath away. (We know what a small budget the film had, and it`s so amazing to see that a little money doesn`t compromise a finished product – which speaks volume about the creative team and their ingenuity, led by writer/director Shandi Mitchell & DOP Christoher Porter.)

Shandi Mitchell has written a beautiful and honest story. It shouldn’t be something to marvel at, but Mitchell, a female writer/director has utterly captured these six men, and has written a tale about six fishermen lost at sea, something you wouldn’t expect from a Prairie girl and marvel we did. Shandi has much insight with male characters – something shown in her award-winning novel, Under This Unbroken Sky. She said so much with her carefully crafted words and limited but beautiful visuals. Limited in the sense that it is the ocean, two dories and six men. The Disappeared is not boring within these limits. Suspense, beauty, despair, discovery, hope, human connections, strength – all of this is felt in the movie. The film reminded us of Drive in the sense where there is so much said with carefully chosen words.

The six actors – Billy Campbell, Shawn Doyle, Brian Downey, Ryan Doucette, Gary Levert & Neil Matheson – deliver stunning performances. It is these six men, two dories and the ocean. What good fucking actors – they have brought this story alive. So much is conveyed with a hand placement or flash of the eye. You are with these men on this harrowing journey; willingly lost with them as they struggle with themseleves, each other, and rally against her. The ocean, the films’ sixth character, has a personality and seemingly has dialogue as she heaves and torments the men.

We may be biased, having worked on this film, but we’re also honest. It’s a lovely film,  and a film many people will be able to connect too. Over the centuries, many have been lost to the sea. Living on Canada’s East Coast this Maritime tale is a familiar one, and one familiar to many Coasts all over the world.

The lucky ones who return home have encountered something so few of us can comprehend, andThe Disappearedis a beautiful, thoughtful and harrowing discovery of it. We’re very fortunate to have had an early viewing – the rest of you will have to wait until fall.

And…as a quick aside and pat on the backs, it is  awesome seeing your names in movie credits! First time, big excitement.

Acclaimed Choral Theatre Duo Christina Murray and Claire Leger Launch Girls Youth Ensemble

31 May

  

Christina Murray and Claire Leger, the exciting artistic duo behind Camerata Xara Young Women’s Choir announce a new choral theatre project for female youth, ages 14-18. The Xara Youth Ensemble (XYE) is atraining and performance ensemble beginning its pilot project in September, 2012. Auditions will be held June 18-21 and August 27-31. Registration for auditions can be found online at http://murraymusic.ca/studio/xye/.

Art educators, performers, adjudicators, administrators, directors and creators, Murray and Leger are excited to continue their pioneering of choral theatre in Canada. The Xara Youth Ensemble will give teens the rare opportunity to be involved with this innovative art form. The youth involved will learn and collaborate with two multi-faceted talents, Leger and Murray, in an open and creative environment.

“Girls with an interest in the performing arts blossom through training in choral theatre,” said Murray. “It engages their whole selves – voice, intellect, body and spirit. I’ve watched countless young women transform from unsure singers into committed, powerful, all-round performers. On top of that, Xara seems to build confidence that spills over into the rest of their lives. It’s so rewarding for Claire and I to have a role in facilitating this.”

Choral theatre is stunning storytelling through choral singing, theatre, and movement. Beautiful spaces, lighting, and spoken word are also integral parts of telling these original stories. The result is a unique and beautiful feast for the senses and a rich, all-encompassing stage experience for performers.

The Xara Youth Ensemble will provide pre-professional preparation in music, movement and theatre. This training will be showcased in an original production Daughters of Fire, to be performed in November. Training will be multi-faceted: music, theory and writing music; yoga, dance and choreography; scene work and character development.

“I couldn’t have gotten this training anywhere else. I wish that when I was in high school I had the opportunity to be involved with Xara,” said Kallie White of Dartmouth. “Xara has given me confidence on and off the stage. Performers will learn so much, make amazing connections and have a blast!”

The group will rehearse on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 – 8:30pm. Tuition for the term (September to December) is $250. To arrange an audition between June 18-21 and August 27-31, visit http://murraymusic.ca/studio/xye-registration/.

Xara Youth Ensemble is training and performance ensemble in the art of choral theatre for female youth ages 14-18. Christina Murray and Claire Leger, the exciting artistic duo behind Xara Young Women’s Choir, have expanded their pioneering choral theatre practices with this new creation, commencing in September 2012.

Ryan Cook: A Hard Working Country Boy; or the Tale of a Musician Making it.

28 May

Ryan Cook and me (Laurie) I went to help out Ryan Cook at his show yesterday at Acadia Hall, in Lower Sackville. The place was packed with all kinds of people, young and old, clapping along to the beauty of his guitar playing and the way his voice beautifully can sound like Willie Nelson one minute, Johnny Cash the next, or just wonderful him.

The thing about Ryan Cook is, he is making it. He is out there touring, performing and keeping his audiences and growing new ones. Last year he opened for both Dwight Yoakam, and Travis Tritt on some Canadian dates.

At one point in the show he made a comment about how in today’s music industry that best you can be doing is making it. That is making a career in music, if you are traveling, playing to crowds, and retaining and making fans, then you are “making it”. It has never been harder to have a career in the music industry and it takes some serious time, effort and love of what you are doing.

Nobody ever said that being a musician is easy, and nobody knows that better than a musician who is working full-time at their career. I think Ryan Cook serves as an inspiration to others, and he does it all gratefully; always being sure to genuinely thank his fans; and with a killer smile that makes the ladies swoon.

Check him out here: Ryan Cook’s website.

 

LB

WAIL: Songs of the Brier Island Siren

12 May

 It was our first choral theatre experience and it won’t be our last! Camerata Xara Young Women’s Choir presented WAIL: Songs of the Brier Island Siren last night at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (It’s on again this evening. Probably sold out. You snooze, you lose.) Where to begin? Choral theatre is an emerging art form being practiced by only a handful of ensembles worldwide. Inspired by a theme or idea, the artistic duo behind Xara (the stupendously talented Christina Murray & Claire Leger) create an original performance piece using existing choral music and songs from a variety of periods and styles. Music is the text in these beautifully crafted plays. Movement, visual and sound effects are woven in effortlessly.

As for WAIL, wow. WAIL is a full-length piece of choral theatre that imagines the life of the mythical sirens who live on the shores of Nova Scotia’s Brier Island. Christina and Claire devised the show by combining ancient cross-cultural lore about Sirens with the true story of Joshua Slocum, native Brier Islander and first man to circumnavigate the world alone.

“It was amazing to us that Nova Scotia, or even coastal North America, didn’t have a siren myth since almost all cultures have a version of this story,” says Murray. “When we read about Joshua Slocum and the ship-wreck history of Brier Island, we knew we had the ingredients for a fascinating tale.”

WAIL tells the story of a group of Sirens and their relationship with young Joshua as he dealt with his difficult childhood and prepared for a life as a sailor.  In Xara’s imagination of this story, Joshua’s years playing with the sirens on Brier Island made him immune to their lure elsewhere as he sailed around the world.  “Most siren myths paint these creatures as evil seductresses without any story of their own,” says Murray.  “As a performance group of women, we wanted to explore what might have made the sirens sad or angry enough to spend their lives luring sailors to their death with their songs.”

With WAIL, Xara has added a new story to Nova Scotia’s folklore cannon. It was 120 minutes of beauty, passion, imagination – art that truly brings chills down your spine, thoughts to your mind and hope to your heart. The 20 young women of Xara have mind-blowing talent, and their voices together in harmony was magic. Their grace – in voice and movement – in telling this rich story seemed effortless. The music chosen to tell this new and vibrant story was eclectic, yet seemed destined to be sung together. Simple yet effective costuming and stunning make up really complemented the performances.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic proved to be an excellent venue for such a performance. The acoustics were ideal. The use of two levels, the lights dancing across the sails of the boats in the Museum, the windows overlooking the water…..all we can say is site specific productions really work.

Choral theatre is an exciting new art form and we encourage all to engage. Drop any pre-conceived notions of what it may be or what you may or may not like and go see some choral theatre. (Preferably tonight, if you can still get tickets.) Keep an eye out for Xara, as they have already performed internationally and are no-doubt headed for a bigger spotlight. Follow them on twitter and like them on facebook to stay in the loop, as you don’t want to miss what they got going on! Awaken your soul with beautiful music and amazing storytelling.