why you should go – comedian Sara Schaefer: 11/8

Sara Schaefer
By Ryan Hill, ArtsQuest’s Programming Manager for Cinema/Comedy


1. Hosted a show on MTV (Nikki & Sara Live)
2. Won an Emmy for blogging. FOR BLOGGING.
3. Was named one of the Huffington Post’s “53 Favorite Female Comedians” (okay, so there are 52 people out there who can call bull**** on this list’s title… I’m still pressing on)
4. Hosted a podcast on Nerdist (okay, that’s another 63,209 people… but still).
5. Wrote for Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.
6. Got a butterfly tramp stamp done (the title of this list now doesn’t pertain to me).



1. Be in the Blast Furnace Room at SteelStacks for her show on Nov 8 at 8:30pm.

Sara Schaefer

Sara Schaefer
Fowler Blast Furnace Room | ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks
Saturday, November 8, 8:30pm

Focus on the Olympus InVision Photo Festival: Why You Should Drop By and See What Develops

© Larry C. Price

By Elizabeth Wiggins, ArtsQuest’s Visual Arts & Education Coordinator.

When you hear “photo festival,” I bet you think of a bunch of shutterbugs sitting around talking about their favorite F-Stops, right? The problem is if you’re thinking about the Olympus InVision Photo Festival that way, you’re only getting part of the picture.

Pun intended.

So, I’m here to offer you a list of reasons why you might want to check out the Olympus InVision Photo Festival November 7-9. Whether you classify yourself as an established professional photographer or just a kid with an iPhone, an Instagram account, and a dream, we’ve got something for you.

Olympus InVision Photo Festival

In no particular order, here’s a list of reasons why you might want to spend part – or all – of the weekend with us:

  • Pictures and stories. Saturday, November 8, we’ve got four leading professionals in photography speaking throughout the day at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema. Kick back in the comfy seats and enjoy stories about life and work from Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright scholar Andrea Modica, Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer photojournalist David Maialetti, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and Olympus Visionary Larry C. Price, and Director of Photography at The New York Times Magazine Kathy Ryan. Don’t count on all technical talk. This is your chance to get the story behind the picture.
  • Pictures and stories, part 2. Hear all about their lives on Instagram, an “Office Romance,” and their commitments to art and to telling the important stories through the lenses of their cameras.
  • Rub elbows with the pros. This festival is about community, which means that presenters and attendees have the chance to exchange ideas, ask each other questions, and talk about their work in real ways. In addition to the presenters, the weekend’s going to be full of visiting Olympus Visionaries, leaders in the world of photography, and local photographers, and hopefully you, in conversation about art.
  • Art Everywhere. During our kick-off event at First Friday, on November 7, we have seven (7!) gallery shows opening at the Banana Factory and the ArtsQuest Center. The walls are going to be full of Olympus Visionaries, Pennsylvania photographers, college student work, a decade of Philadelphia photographers, the Director of Photography for The New York Times Magazine, middle school students shooting the Faces of the South Side of Bethlehem, and Pulitzer Price winners.
  • Party time! This year’s Slideluck Lehigh Valley IV Party on Saturday night is going to be another amazing night of inventive slideshows, tasty snacks, Brooklyn Beer, and music from Olympus’ own corporate band, Peripheral Vision.
  • Tips you can use. This year, we’ve got a couple of seminars designed to help you take things to the next level. For those who are looking to raise their portrait game, we’ve got “Oh No, Mom and Dad are Gonna Snap! How to Instantly Take Better Photos!,” a two-part workshop taught by Olympus Trailblazers that’s going to improve the quality of your personal photo albums (Part 1 and Part 2). And for those who are looking for a bit of real talk about how to make their dreams become a reality, we’ve got “Making Your Way in Photography: Work, Struggle, Succeed” a free (free!) panel discussion that’s perfect for students and students of life.
  • Hands-on skills and adventures. Sunday, November 9 is our “hands-on” day. For the part of you that just wants to get out and shoot some photos, we’ve got “Out of this World – Photograph the Works of Steve Tobin,” a workshop that gets you and your camera onto the private sculpture grounds and into the art warehouse of internationally-acclaimed artist Steve Tobin. And for the part of you that loves fine art, we’ve got “The Art of the Platinum Print,” a discussion and demonstration by Thomas Shillea that will focus on the ins and outs of this 19th century photo process.

To get tickets for the Olympus InVision Photo Festival, please visit: http://www.bananafactory.org/events/olympus-invision-photo-festival/

why you should go – Classic Albums Live 10/30

Classic Albums Live


Classic Albums Live is dedicated to recreating the greatest albums of all time, note-for-note, live, onstage.

They have thrilled audiences at the Musikfest Cafe presented by Yuengling on several occasions over the years and on October 30th they’re making their triumphant return.  This time up, it’s Prince and The Revolution’s 1984 classic, “Purple Rain.”

“Purple Rain” is listed in The Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry, which means it is considered a recording that is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”  (#390 at http://www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb/registry/nrpb-masterlist.html).  THE LIBRARY OF FREAKING CONGRESS, PEOPLE!

  • Prince won two Grammy Awards in 1985 for Purple Rain and it was nominated for album of the year as well.
  • It was the #1 album in the country for 24 weeks.
  • It went Diamond (10 million+ albums sold… it has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide).
  • It won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score in 1985 (LEST YOU FORGET, NOT ONLY IS A IT A GREAT ALBUM, IT’S ALSO A SOUNDTRACK)
  • It’s on pretty much every list of all-time greatest albums ever (see Time, VH1, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and basically everything else).
  • If critical accolades and recognition by the federal government isn’t enough, may I remind you that you’re guaranteed hear “When Doves Cry,”  “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain.”

So yeah, it’s a classic.

Classic Albums Live: Prince and the Revolution’s “Purple Rain”
Thursday, October 30
Musikfest Cafe presented by Yuengling
SteelStacks, Bethlehem, PA

How to submit your band to be considered for the Musikfest 2015 lineup


By Patrick Brogan, ArtsQuest’s Senior Vice President of Programming

ArtsQuest is now accepting submissions of artists interested in taking the stage at Musikfest 2015.  We’ve assembled some helpful tips to guide you interested folks through the process and put yourself in the best position for success.

1. SUBMIT! Sounds funny, right? But we can’t consider you if we don’t have any materials to do so. Even if you’ve submitted in the past and been rejected (or even accepted) submitting materials is the only way to ensure that you get consideration for this upcoming festival.

2. WE PREFER you submit through Sonicbids with an EPK (www.sonicbids.com/find-gigs/musikfest-2015/).

3. IF YOU DON’T go through Sonicbids, you can submit for consideration using our online form or even by mailing us a press kit (Musikfest Search Committee, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA 18015). That said, we are obligated to ensure the Sonicbids submissions are carefully reviewed and we start there. If you send us a submission through any other form, there is no guarantee that we’ll get to spend as much time with it and when in the process that consideration will be given.

4. TIMING. Speaking of timing: SUBMIT EARLY! Right now even, after you are done reading this. Submitting near or at the deadline puts you amongst massive amounts of competition and by then we may already have half of the festival booked. Less competition, more slots exist from now through January so get going right now on submitting to us.

5. GETTING SELECTED. What are we looking for? There is no set answer to that other than a rather broad “something that will excite our audiences.” We’re looking for great music, not just good music, GREAT music. And a great live show. We receive more than 1,500 submissions for only about 100 spots or so. Your music needs to separate you from the pack and put you in the top 5-7% of submissions. We look for evidence of a strong and successful touring history – not just the same hometown bar once a month. We look for evidence that you are a great live band in addition to great music. Be sure to have some quality videos up somewhere easy for us to find that demonstrates how great you are live.

6. GETTING BACK TO YOU. Sonicbids provides a great platform that requires us to let you know if you are selected or not, or if we are interested or not. If you submit through our online form or via hard copy press kit, we will NOT be getting back to you in any way unless we are interested to pursue a booking at the festival or one of ArtsQuest’s other events. Submissions close on March 2 and we hope to have everyone booked by early April. If you don’t hear from us, feel free to contact us for feedback on what we liked or didn’t like, but please keep in mind that we will not be reaching out to anyone specifically other than to inform the Sonicbid submissions of their status.

That about covers it – We look forward to receiving your submission!

See you at Musikfest 2015 (August 7-16)!

Party, Party, Partaaaaay or, The Top Ten Reasons You Should Attend the Glass Blast


By Elizabeth Wiggins, ArtsQuest’s Visual Arts & Education Coordinator

On September 26, from 7-10pm, the ArtsQuest Glass Studio is holding the first-ever Glass Blast, a fundraiser to support our glass studio. It’s going to be very fun. Here’s why:

1. One-of-a-kind swag. The first thing you’ll do when you arrive at the Glass Blast is pick your glass for the evening (and to keep!). You’ll have your choice of one of over 200 hand-blown glasses made in our Glass Studio. Something’s bound to go with your outfit.

2. Beverages. Once you pick your glass, you’ll get the chance to road test with our signature Glass Blast cocktail made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Not much of a drinker? No worries! You can use your glass to enjoy a Saxby’s smoothie in style.

3. More than one kind of fire. We’re bringing our mobile furnace to the party (more on that in a sec) and we’ve got a complementary cigar bar from Cigars International on the Sands Deck.

4. Fire. Sort of. We don’t just want you to support glass; we also want you to try it out! We’re pitting our guests against each other in a Longest Drip Competition on the Air Products Town Square. Everyone will get a chance to see how good he or she is at keeping molten glass from hitting the ground. It’s going to be about skill and luck.

5. Glass art, part 1. We love to brag about our studio-grown talent, so there’ll be a show of student glass art work.

6. Glass art, part 2. The Glass Studio made that amazing 40-foot tall Four Elements sculpture housed between the 2nd and 4th floors of the ArtsQuest Center. The party’s happening all around it so that you can get a good look at what we can do.

7. Small plates of deliciousness.   FOOD ON SMALL PLATES #fancyfun

8. Music by Lovebettie, who was recently named Rolling Stone’s ‘Band to Watch’ and called ‘Pittsburgh’s Hottest Band’ by Microsoft Windows, so yeah.

9. Fabulous prizes. We’re holding raffles and silent auctions of art, experiences, and more.

10. You get the chance to support glass art education at the Banana Factory. The ArtsQuest Glass Studio is the region’s only hot glass studio, and we do everything from teach classes to host parties to create gigantic works of art. This party is all about keeping all that going.

Tickets for the Glass Blast are on sale here: http://www.artsquest.org/pages/details.php?107460. Get them before they’re gone. We really don’t want to have fun without you.


Mark Wahlberg was my screening buddy for the festival

Mark Wahlberg was my screening buddy for the festival

Ryan Hill is ArtsQuest’s Programming Manager for Cinema and Comedy.

This year, we sent him to the Toronto International Film Festival to do some recon on the up coming film season.   Below is his journal from the Great White North.

Sent: Tuesday, 9/16/2014
From: Ryan Hill
Subject: Toronto International Film Festival – Day 7

It’s about a 6.5 hour drive from Toronto to Bethlehem – 9 if you try to clean out a duty-free store of its whiskey offerings and then explain why you did that to border patrol – so I only saw 2 movies in my last day of TIFF-ing.

A TIFF-goer has typically had to come to terms with what he or she will miss by about Wednesday, as choosing pieces to complete your screening puzzle leave some still on the floor. My list from this year includes Jason Reitman’s Whiplash, Christian Petzold’s Phoenix, The Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night, Beniot Jacquot’s Three Hearts (I didn’t see any French films, which is a bit strange), Edward Zwick’s Pawn Sacrifice, James Franco’s The Sound and the Fury (nope, didn’t meet him either), Matthew Warchus’s Pride, Hal Hartley’s Ned Rifle, and quite a few more.

I did get 26.5 movies in during my seven days at TIFF, however, at least 20 of which I’m sure will make it onto the FBAC screens in one way or the other. Here are the last two.
Sunshine Superman

Sunshine Superman

Sunshine Superman

  • Directed by Marah Strauch.
Hands down one of the most breathtaking films I’ve ever seen (with a last shot for the ages), Sunshine Superman uses exclusive archival 16mm footage and new interviews to tell the story of BASE-jumping pioneer Carl Boenish. Strauch did well to choose Boenish as a subject, as the man wasn’t nearly as into BASE-jumping as he was into filming it, which he did, a lot.
The old footage is seamlessly and beautifully mixed with the new interviews, making this an excellent doc that needs to be seen on the big screen, though that’s becoming harder and harder for docs to do lately.
  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: Moderate.
St. Vincent

St. Vincent

St. Vincent

  • Starring Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts.
  • Directed by Theodore Melfi.
It is hard to imagine anyone else other than Murray playing the title role in St. Vincent, as the man has to be the patron saint of guys who just don’t give a damn anymore. And, with this film, we get Murray doing the pratfalls of his hey-day, delivering the snarky quips of his everyday, and showing a bit of the gooey inside that we’ve seen in recent days.
The supporting cast is just as good, too, with Watts’ Russian accent solid (much more so than Murray’s Brooklyn accent, by the way) and never over the top, despite the fact that she is playing a pregnant prostitute. McCarthy is at about a 2 on the Melissa McCarthy scale of ridiculousness, which is perfect for the movie. And Chris O’Dowd, playing the priest/teacher who gives the assignment that leads to the film’s slightly schmaltzy third act, is delightfully dry in a role that could have easily been a throwaway with a different actor.
I’m putting St. Vincent up there with Nightcrawler and Foxcatcher as my favorite of the festival, as first-time director Melfi does a good job of keeping his story (he also wrote it) moving without wallowing or preaching. In the end, Murray fans are going to end up feeling a little closer to the man himself, which may just be worth the price of admission anyway.
  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: High – we’re hoping for early November.



Younge-Dundas Square, a.k.a. Canadian Times Square.

Younge-Dundas Square, a.k.a. Canadian Times Square.

Ryan Hill is ArtsQuest’s Programming Manager for Cinema and Comedy.

This year, we sent him to the Toronto International Film Festival to do some recon on the up coming film season.   Below is his journal from the Great White North.

Sent: Monday, 9/15/2014
From: Ryan Hill
Subject: Toronto International Film Festival – Day 6

I was put on an emotional roller-coaster with the first three films I saw today. Typically, when we watch emotional movies, at least those we know will be so, we plan to have the rest of the night to process the feelings we’re hit with. We don’t immediately get in the line for another emotional movie. I did exactly that, however, this morning, and twice.

At least when I saw 12 Years a Slave at TIFF last year, I was able to follow it up with Enough Said, an incredibly lighter experience than what I had just seen. It looks like I’ll have to get better about planning my days emotion-wise if I want to keep doing this festival.

Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Imitation Games"

Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”

The Imitation Game

  • Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode.
  • Directed by Morten Tyldum.

Through the benefit of these updates coming to you a few days after they actually happened, I can tell you that The Imitation Game picked up the People’s Choice Award at TIFF. Fitting, as it is obvious that audiences will love this movie more than critics.

The story, about the way the brilliant Alan Turing helped the Allies to win WWII, and the unconscionable way in which he was treated afterward due to the fact that he was a homosexual, is epic on its own. It would be incredibly hard to mess this story up, the knowledge of which often leaves scriptwriters and directors to play it way too safe in execution, something I believe was done here.

Plot developments happen almost breezily. Turing isn’t the head of the team assigned to crack Enigma, the German code deemed unbreakable, so he lobbies Winston Churchill himself (which we don’t see), and, in the very next scene, Turing is in charge. No sweat. Many of the film’s crucial moments are handled as such, and at no point do we see Turing with a man in ‘that’ way, as Turing’s homosexuality is played out more through flashbacks to a childhood crush’s development – a very safe way to do so when you’re making Oscar-bait.

The Imitation Game does get incredibly interesting once Enigma has been cracked, however, as a deadly cat-and-mouse game now needs to be played, and not everyone is on board and it becomes very unclear as to who can be trusted. Through all this, Cumberbatch plays Turing with uncomfortable efficiency, in an effort sure to garner him an Oscar nomination.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: Likely the highest of any film I’ve written about so far.

This is Where I Leave You

Yes, I do lump this film, a comedy, into my emotional roller-coaster of a morning simply due to the fact that the family it portrays is very similar to my own in build (they added one brother) and roles: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Adam Driver could easily have been portraying me, my sister, and my brother, respectively. My mom will be pleased to know, however, that the comparison falls off a bit with Jane Fonda’s character.

This is Where I Leave You, out this coming Friday already, has many of the big city grownups coming back to their small town stomping grounds trappings. It may not feel incredibly new to many people. I did find myself enjoying it, however, mainly due to Bateman, Fey, and even Driver, despite the fact that this character wasn’t too far removed from his While We’re Young character, which isn’t too far removed from his Girls character (though quite different from his Lincoln character).

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: Low, it looks like Warner Bros have multiplex plans for this one.

Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”

Still Alice

  • Starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart.
  • Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.

It took me typing in the words ‘Still Alice’ to realize that the title is one letter away from ‘Still Alive’, which could easily have also been the title of this story involving a Columbia professor being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Julianne Moore plays the afflicted professor, and the film does well to stay with her rather than to delve too deep into the feelings of her family, as other movies about degenerative diseases tend to. Glatzer and Westmoreland, the husband-and-husband filmmakers, the former of which was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, have obvious experience with how this sort of thing goes down.

Moore’s performance is excellent. There were serious feelings coming out of the normally-hardened film industry people in my screening. I’m really glad I had a lunch break after this.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: High.
Roger Waters' "The Wall"

Roger Waters’ “The Wall”

Roger Waters’ The Wall

  • Directed by Roger Waters and Sean Evans.

Many of the programmers who come to TIFF talk about making sure they get a movie screening in ‘for them’, meaning that the film is something they most likely won’t be screening in their cinemas, but they personally will enjoy it. And while programming two cinemas in a performing arts center has its share of challenges those colleagues won’t understand, that I can watch a rock concert movie and still call it work is a definite perk. Which is what I got to do in watching Roger Waters The Wall.

I was raised on Pink Floyd and have seen the first The Wall movie, the 1990 concert version, and now this, a film pulled together from three performances done during Waters’ tour of a few years ago, divided up by segments of a road trip in which he drives through Europe to visit the graves of his grandfather and father, who were killed in the World Wars.

While the concert rocks and I can’t imagine a Floyd fan walking away from this experience unhappy, some things did strike me as strange. Waters’ anti-consumerism stance is as strong as his anti-government stance in this version (look for the Apple-bashing in many a wall-plastered graphic), yet he’s driving through Europe in a Rolls-Royce. The angry Waters fans know (and maybe love?), is long gone, as the new Waters smiles and dances through Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2, and even introduces old Waters as ‘angry and f***ed up Roger’ before launching into Mother as a duet between new and old Roger thanks to the power of modern technology.

While people can (and should) change, it is strange to see a happy Roger Waters smile and groove his way through a magnum opus much the result of his anger and disillusionment.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: It may not get a weeks-long run, but it’ll be here. Someway. Somehow.


The Kensington Market section of Toronto really upped their Neighbourhood Watch budget recently.

The Kensington Market section of Toronto really upped their Neighbourhood Watch budget recently.

Ryan Hill is ArtsQuest’s Programming Manager for Cinema and Comedy.

This year, we sent him to the Toronto International Film Festival to do some recon on the up coming film season.   Below is his journal from the Great White North.

Sent: Thursday, 9/11/2014
From: Ryan Hill
Subject: Toronto International Film Festival – Day 5

Today was New York City day for me at TIFF. Back to a 5-movie schedule, 4 had the Big Apple as the backdrop, with the last one being a distinctly different portrayal of the city than the others.

I didn’t have a clear favorite today, though Top Five is likely the one I’d name if forced to (for reasons you’ll understand in a bit). None eclipsed Foxcatcher or Nightcrawler, however, which are still battling it out for TIFF supremacy in my head.

Tomorrow’s selections include The Imitation Game and Roger Waters The Wall. So, it’ll be back to the Brits.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in "While We're Young"

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in “While We’re Young”

While We’re Young

  • Starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried.
  • Directed by Noah Baumbach.

Want to know how talented Noah Baumbach is? He put a Beastie Boy in his movie, had him play the lame guy, and made it work. Well. The Beastie (Adam Horovitz a.k.a. Ad Rock) is good.

Stiller and Watts are also excellent as the 40-something couple who navigate the ‘baby cult’ their friends (Ad Rock is one of them) are joining along with the energy of sudden new 20-something couple-friends, played by Driver and Seyfried.

I wish I saw this movie last today, instead of first, as I would have liked some time to process it, especially as a 30-something that definitely isn’t Driver’s character and maybe sees a bit too much of himself in Stiller’s.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: A24 just bought the film, but doesn’t have a release date yet. Nevertheless, chances are pretty good it’ll be on our screen sometime in the next 6 months.

Welcome to Me

  • Starring Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Joan Cusack, Linda Cardellini.
  • Directed by Shira Piven.

Take the most uncomfortable character Kristen Wiig played on SNL (I know, hard to choose, but try) and then take my word that her character in Welcome to Me, Alice Klieg, is many times more queasy to watch. Ironically enough, Alice – an Oprah devotee with borderline personality disorder –  buys her way to her own TV show after a huge lottery win and is on-air for much longer than all the Gilly sketches put together.

Similar to King of Comedy in its pitch-black tone and message, Welcome to Me does well to not veer the film into the well-worn territory of undeserved celebrity. It also doesn’t get sentimental with Alice’s mental disorder, though it does walk a fine line some may find disconcerting.

All this said, I found it to be a good film. Just please now that this sure as hell ain’t Bridesmaids.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: Low, as my guess is that this finds its audience on VOD platforms before (or while) it hits theaters.
Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson in "Top Five"

Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson in “Top Five”

Top Five

  • Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, JB Smoove.
  • Directed by Chris Rock.

You need to know that Chris Rock, who plays standup-turned-actor Andre Allen, is a major reason that I do what I do. I watched his special Never Scared non-stop when I was first starting out in standup comedy, and I will argue to the death that he’s one of the top 5 funniest people to ever walk the Earth.

And, true to the brother/sisterhood of standup comics, there are about 80 of them in this movie, either playing themselves or other random roles (Brian Regan is especially funny in his not-himself role) as the casting director for Top Five essentially just played eeny-meeny-miney-moe with Rock’s iPhone contact list.

So yeah, I loved watching Top Five. I loved what it was trying to accomplish, I loved Rock’s trademarked mix of smart and dirty comedy (comedy nerds like myself will know that the nasty flashback featuring Cedric the Entertainer is based on a real-life experience that Rock recalled in the book I Killed), and I even made the deep stretch to believe all the things that happened did so in a 24-hour period while navigating at least two boroughs’ worth of NYC traffic, one of which was Manhattan. There are very few directors I’d make that stretch for.

Maybe you should just know this: Jerry Seinfeld, playing himself, makes it rain in a strip club and then insists that a stripper stole his wallet and is hiding it in her hoo-ha with a line that’s as Seinfeldian as eating a marble rye while wearing a puffy shirt.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: Actually, not great. Paramount just won a reportedly vicious bidding war for Top Five, and Paramount is a major distributor. The FBAC hasn’t played many Paramount titles in its short existence because those titles are typically at all the surrounding multiplexes. We’ll see.

The Last Five Years

  • Starring Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan.
  • Directed by Richard LaGravenese.
  • Music (and based on the musical) by Jason Robert Brown.

I did not expect to like this movie as much as I did. It’s almost entirely sung through; there is very little spoken dialogue. The couple is doomed to split – we know that from the start – as her storyline starts from the end of the relationship and goes backwards while his starts from the beginning and goes forwards in an inventive move that helps the movie a lot but does hurt it at least a little.

Because each song trades off perspectives, and, therefore timelines, someone not familiar with musicals may not know when one song has ended and another’s begun, so you do have to pay attention to some visual cues (rings, mainly look for the rings) to keep up. The storytelling approach does also put some emotional peaks and valleys in spots movie-goers aren’t quite accustomed to, making the film feel uneven in spots.

That said, Kendrick and Jordan are great. They’re counted on to carry a lot more than your typical romantic leads, and they do it well.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: Moderate, depends a lot on what distributor lands the film.
Richard Gere in "Time Out of Mind"

Richard Gere in “Time Out of Mind”

Time Out of Mind

  • Starring Richard Gere, Ben Vereen, Jena Malone.
  • Directed by Oren Moverman.

The last film of the 5-film day, this was definitely a test of my patience. Gere plays a homeless man in New York City who stubbornly refuses to admit that he is homeless.

Moverman never makes this film a indictment of how the system treats the homeless (although Gere’s character’s disbelief at the fact that NYC is legally bound to give him a bed for a night seems to say at least a little), he instead seems to just want to get across what being homeless is like. And he does so by spending the first half of the movie with Gere not doing or saying too much of anything. It’s all just tone and feel, which wasn’t easy to sit through during my 9th hour of movie-watching today.

  • This film will be (and is becoming) a critical darling, but it will be a hard sell to theater audiences.



The line to get into the screening of Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater”

Ryan Hill is ArtsQuest’s Programming Manager for Cinema and Comedy.

This year, we sent him to the Toronto International Film Festival to do some recon on the up coming film season.   Below is his journal from the Great White North.

Sent: Wednesday, 9/10/2014
From: Ryan Hill
Subject: Toronto International Film Festival – Day 4

It was only a 2-film day in TIFF-land today, as this festival-goer hit a bit of a movie-watching wall.

I plan on getting back to 5 films tomorrow, including 3 in a row I am really looking forward to: Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young, Welcome to Me (starring Kristen Wiig), and Chris Rock’s Top Five, a film that has sparked a major bidding war amongst studios after strong reviews from the festival.

I also did much less Canadian stuff today, as I kept it American by napping, watching Dr. Phil (my girlfriend made me), and totally over-eating at dinner.

Still didn’t meet James Franco.


Eddie Redmayne as Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”

The Theory of Everything

  • Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones.
  • Directed by James Marsh.

In the official TIFF program guide, the description for Theory claims that Redmayne’s transformation into renowned scientist Stephen Hawking is on par with that of Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot or Mathieu Amalric in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I couldn’t have said it better myself (which is why I’ve mentioned it); Redmayne is another quite-likely Oscar nomination for what is incredible work in this film.

The movie itself, which details Hawking’s personal life much more so than his professional, isn’t quite as brilliant, but it’s still good, and very much worth a watch.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: High


  • Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Kim Bodnia, Haluk Bilginer, Shohreh Aghdashloo.
  • Directed by Jon Stewart.

Smack the person that tells you Rosewater is an episode of The Daily Show without the jokes. There are, even in this, the 2nd film I’ve seen at TIFF regarding the controversial Iranian elections of 2009, jokes. Really funny jokes, including a New Jersey slam, complete with a callback later in the movie. And, my favorite line of the festival, which would have fit in any Mel Brooks movie, involves dialing 9 to get out.

Sure, it is possible that Rosewater is getting the attention it’s getting because Stewart wrote and directed this movie (a move that essentially cost him Jon Oliver, so let’s not say the man didn’t sacrifice mightily to make this film), but it’s not like he didn’t know what he was doing. Bernal is proof enough of this, as a first-time director should know to get a first-rate actor to dance (literally, at times) between the heavy and the light of this hard story.

I loved the movie and have a lot more to say about it, but I leave you with this: the best part of the TIFF program guide is the fact that Stewart’s role in Half Baked (you know, as the guy who claims everything is better… ON WEED) is included in his director’s bio.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: I will unapologetically show my stand-up comic bias and say high. Quite high.


The most Canadian thing ever?  Maybe.

The most Canadian thing ever? Maybe.

Ryan Hill is ArtsQuest’s Programming Manager for Cinema and Comedy.

This year, we sent him to the Toronto International Film Festival to do some recon on the up coming film season.   Below is his journal from the Great White North.

Sent: Tuesday, 9/9/2014
From: Ryan Hill
Subject: Toronto International Film Festival – Day 3

All of the movies I saw today – all 3.5 of them – were based on true stories. Some well known, like that of The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, some known moreso by those of us who live in Eastern PA, like the story behind Foxcatcher, and some probably closer to not true than true (*ahem* Escobar: Paradise Lost).

And before you think that I hated Wild, the film I only saw .5 of, you should know that the only way I was going to see Love and Mercy was to bail on Wild. And since I’m pretty sure that we’ll get Wild whether I like the film or not, Love and Mercy, a film I knew much less about, had to take precedence. These are the hard decisions ArtsQuest pays me to make, people.

In addition to seeing these movies, I saw a Blue Jays game, ate vegan poutine, and found Bryan Adams’ ‘star’ on the Canadian Walk of Fame. I’m ready for my Mountie training now, so long as they’re cool with the vegan thing.

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Steve Carell as John du Pont in “Foxcatcher”


  • Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo.
  • Directed by Bennett Miller.

There has been so much hype around Foxcatcher coming into the festival, and it is much deserved. Based on the events that led up to John du Pont’s 1996 murder of a man he had hired to coach wrestling on his family’s estate, Miller (who had previously directed Capote and Moneyball) builds the tension perfectly and makes sure the actual killing is portrayed as random and senseless as it was (though some liberties – as per the usual – are taken with the timeline and circumstances).

People will tell you that Steve Carell is amazing in this film. He is, you can safely bet on an Oscar nomination for his work here. But people will also tell you that it’s ‘serious’ acting, something they didn’t expect from Carell. It’s always been serious acting for Carell, the same incredible commitment that obviously went into Brick (Anchorman) went into du Pont. Plus, the packed crowd laughed quite a bit, a credit to both Carell and Miller in not overplaying the drama.

Easily my favorite film of the day.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: Provided there are no delays in the distribution timeline, look for it around Thanksgiving.


  • Starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski.
  • Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee.

The hour of Wild I got to see (the first half) was promising, and somewhat surprising. I went in prepared for Oscar-bait fluff, but got something a bit closer to Cheryl Strayed’s raw story than expected, though the term Oscar-bait still very much applies.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: High.

Paul Dano as John du Pont in "Love and Mercy"

Paul Dano as Brian Wilson in “Love and Mercy”

Love and Mercy

  • Starring John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti.
  • Directed by Bill Pohlad.

A biopic for those of us who are sick of biopics. Two key times in THE Beach Boy, Brian Wilson’s, life, specifically, his time making Pet Sounds and his time under the thumb of a manipulative psychiatrist, are cut together with Dano as the young Wilson and Cusack as the middle-aged version.

Beach Boys fans will be beside themselves; the sound design is incredible, as masters and such are deftly used so that we hear individual Boys cut their vocals on Good Vibrations and the studio musicians work their way through God Only Knows. And Cusack doesn’t sing. Much.

I hope the Beastie Boys are next.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: It’s as if ArtsQuest execs pitched the movie. Of course.

Escobar: Paradise Lost

  • Starring Benicio del Toro, Josh Hutcherson, Moritz Borman.
  • Directed by Andrea Di Stefano.

As mentioned above, this one wasn’t easy to believe. Cursory research says nothing about a lily-white Canadian who becomes part of infamous drug lord Escobar’s inner circle in the year leading up to his surrender to authorities, but hey, I can let that slide (I have to, otherwise, there’s no movie).

What I couldn’t let slide are the circumstances that keep the Canuck (I ate the poutine, I can use the term) within that circle, and the paint-by-numbers feel of the thriller’s script. While tense, it isn’t memorable, and the always captivating del Toro is under-used. It made me wish the film was like the two-part Che biopic from a few years ago. Same thing, but with del Toro as Escobar; that’s worth the time.

  • Probability of coming to the FBAC: Low