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Film

TIFF 2010 Day 4

Three winners today which makes it a good day. Is it luck or am I getting better at picking them?

The First Grader
Kenya has just opened up its free public school system, and an 84 year old man shows up to enroll in the first grade… Based on the true story of Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge, this is an inspirational tale of the struggles against conventionality and tyranny. It also has some important things to say of an undocumented period of Kenyan history. Terrific story and great performances, my biggest complaint is that it seems to need more baking in post production. Sound mixing needed work (voices were often overpowered, and too much reverb), and the colours seemed dull and monotonal despite the beautiful African landscapes. And I would have much rather seen a digital print rather than a 35mm print. 9/10

Director Justin Chadwick, Naomie Harris, and Oliver Litondo

Producer David Thompson, writer Ann Peacock, and Justin Chadwick

Girlfriend
A man with Downs syndrome comes into some money and gets a girlfriend. Kudos to Justin Lerner for tackling this story of an unconventional and almost taboo topic. The story and performances really capture the complexity and nuances of this relationship, and is absolutely believable. Even more remarkable is the lead actor Evan Sneider, who actually does have Downs. 9/10

Writer/director Justin Lerner

Evan Sneider and Shannon Woodward

Jackson Rathbone, Evan Sneider, and Shannon Woodward

Vanishing on 7th Street
The power goes out and everyone vanishes except for a handful of people… and there’s something lurking in the dark. It’s refreshing to see a new scary movie mythology rather than another zombie apocalypse film. Cool FX, plenty of mood lighting, and lots of scary moments. One thing noteably absent, an annoying yet attractive blond girl who gets naked and then dies in the middle of the movie. 7/10.

Director Brad Anderson, Jacob Latimore, Thandie Newton, and Hayden Christensen

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