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Archive for October, 2014

The Dalai Lama Preaches Love And Compassion To The Young And Old In Vancouver ***Exclusive Photos and Coverage
by Staff Writer

Earlier this week at an East Vancouver school, things were less then ordinary when one of the world’s most admired spiritual leaders paid a visit to preach about ethics. Police and security were brought to John Oliver Secondary School to direct traffic, rope off certain areas and protect His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he made his way to the venue.

His visit to Vancouver came courtesy of the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education which organized the Dalai Lama Vancouver 2014 Heart-Mind Summit.

For members of the news media, one had to preregister in order to cover this most extraordinary school event. A  cross section of print, TV, Chinese media, as well as online news media assembled in the gymnasium waiting for prearranged photo ops that took place later inside a classroom and the auditorium. Although there would be no chance to have a news interview with the Nobel Peace prize recipient, that was all right with the onsite media. Yet it was a bit tough-going for this writer-photographer, who jostled with other media jutterbugs trying to get a good position for taking a picture of His Holiness as he chatted with selected guests.

Inside the hallways of this school, it was clear that students and teachers spent countless hours preparing for the Dalai Lama’s visit. Walking down the hallway,  I saw a display case featuring drawings of His Holiness’ likeness and inside the library, kids filled out personal messages echoing the Dalai Lama’s messages encouraging people to be compassionate and grateful.

During the first photo opportunity, enthusiastic photojournalists hurried down the hallway, trying to keep up with  media officer, Natalia, who directed us to go inside a library, where a group of well-behaved children and their teacher were patiently waiting for His Holiness. As the clock ticked past 10 am, the media assembled in a fairly well-organized way –we faced a group of dignitaries and a student leader standing frozen with anticipation. Still, after waiting a few more moments, everything changed suddenly, much to our amazement.  His Holiness would be  coming down a different way!  Members of the media and the row of selected dignitaries disbanded quickly and scrambled to meet up with the Dalai Lama and his entourage. Clearly, everything about the Dalai Lama’s visit was unique and full of pleasant and intimate surprises, which included myself having the opportunity to shake hands with His Holiness himself.

During the event which we viewed “live” on monitors inside the media centre, It was clear that the Dalai Lama bonded with the student leaders, laying his hands on many of the student leaders and listened intently to their questions.

Here’s a selection of photos taken during Dalai Lama’s visit to Vancouver.

Photos: left: A selected group of people wait patiently to meet the Dalai Lama inside the library.


Center: photo:

Children pen messages of  gratefulness which are on display at the school library.


The Dalai Lama meets with school leaders at John Oliver Secondary School in Vancouver.


 The Dalai Lama poses for a photo with educators and staff from  John Oliver Secondary School.IMG_4668

The Dalai Lama meets with children and  educators at the school library.


Student drawings of the Dalai Lama are on display at the school hallway.


Children listen intently to the event held at the school auditorium


The Dalai Lama with a panel of leaders from the business, community, education research and the arts at the Vancouver Trade and  Convention Centre.



Flash! Flash!!!!!!!!!!


News Extra!

Halloween Events! Read All About It! Written by Our newest writer who discovers some fascinating things to do this Halloween!

by L. Chan
Halloween is the time of year where urban adults can dress up without feeling self conscious. They can preen and primp for a night on the town and scare their friends in the process.  Yes that’s right; Halloween is not only for the very young.
Older kids can play too.  They can dress up as a action hero from the latest Marvel Comic Com series, be ghoulish and grotesque, elegant or zaftig.

Who said Vancouver was a no fun city?

Here are 10 events ranging from the uber extravagant, fitness, dining, arts and amusement park frolics.

1.Hotel Vancouver,
900 West Georgia St, Vancouver
For those with deep pockets, plunk down $$$ at “Halloween at the Hotel Vancouver”.16 events under the same roof to satisfy all music tastes.
Price range from $40 to $1962.95(table of 12)- 8pm to 2am

2.Sutton Place Hotel
845 Burrard St, Vancouver BC
Champagne anyone? Veuve Clicquot Champagne presents the Annual |Jetset Halloween Party $60
Swank it up at this swish affair with adult party trick or treat fun bags. Music provided by New York’s DJ Timka
Prizes for best women’s,men’s couple and group costumes.

3. Flashquerade IV- Canadian Cancer Society Benefit- for a more altruistic and charity oriented venue. Costume up for a good cause.
Pink Elephant Thai
1152 Alberni Street, BC
$40- all proceeds towards the Charity, 10pm to 2am

4.Halloween at the Fox Cabaret
2521 Main Street, Vancouver, $20.97 from 8pm to 2am
You are in for some exotic and erotic fun with burlesque performances and indie 80s DJ music.

5.Halloween All Star Kirta
Yoga on Halloween
Yoga on 7 th, 7 Avenue E, Vancouver 7pm to 10pm, costs $16.89
Spend Halloween practicing yoga moves. For the yoga aficionado

6.Halloween Ghost Train in Stanley Park
from 5pm to 10pm, adults $11, for more information call 604-252-3700 or visit www.ghosttrain.ca

The Stanley Park train is taking you along for a ride into a transformed scary forest filled with nursery rhymed characters. Book ahead as it may get busy with families and young children.

7. An 80’s Themed Party At Federico’s
1728 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

Live music by Mark Olexson and the A-Deez, 3 course dinner and dancing.
A more sedate sit down Halloween event looking for a more relaxed evening.

8. Jagermeister Halloween Party at the Roxy
932 Granville Vancouver

A Halloween bash filled with a drawing room full of surprises from a mysterious phone booth and creepy cages. The Roxy will provide rock and roll music. No reservations. $13 at the door. Live music by the Troys ‘ R Us

9. Fright Night at the PNE
Playland entrance at East Hastings and Windmere

What Halloween would not be complete without a visit to a haunted house or more? Take in the annual playground of horror at the PNE.
General Admission Price gets you into 7 Haunted Houses, 15 rides, Monster show and Kinshira Fire Performance. Fast Pass allows faster access into the events. Visit frightnights.ca for times and prices.

10. Rio Theatre
1660 East Broadway, Vancouver

The Crypt Performance at 8pm, $12/$15. Live spooky performance show hosted by The Crypt Master Brian Milne and The Vault Keeper Tyler James Nicol and Old Witch Jesse Inocalla.  Ramp it up with parody, spookiness and comedy. A horrifying and campy way to spend Halloween filled with contests, trivia and horror variety comedy show plus an improv  And if that is not enough there is the film featuring the Tim Burton film Beetlejuice at 11;30pm
$6 advance or in costume/$8 at the door.



October 24th


Two Movies Reviewed: The Equalizer Offers Denzel In A Violent Thriller and The Maze Runner Is Suspenseful And Intriguing
by Staff Writer

Film Critic
‎He’s soft-spoken, funny, handy with tools, and he’s a killer, one who equals the odds. Bringing an eighties TV drama to the big screen, The Equalizer is unrepentedly violent, unsubtle and traffics in more than a few stereotypes. It’s revenge porn in a big way.
Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall. Ordinary guy in an ordinary job at a big-box home improvement outlet. He’s helpful at work and after work, encourages co-worker Ralphie in losing weight and getting fit so Ralphie can get his dream job as a security guard.
At night, McCall, being an insomniac, heads out to an Edward Hopper-era coffee shop with a hardcover classic in hand, tasteful stuff too like The Old Man and the Sea or The Invisble Man. He starts to bond with Elena, a young prostitute ( Chloe Grace Moretz) also a patron of the cafe, and one night witnesses her being manhandled into a car by some unsavory types.
We’re dealing with the mob here folks, Russian mafia, involved in sex trafficking and money laundering. There’s corrupt cops too. An enforcer named Nicolai comes from Russia to investigate when McCall takes action and goes after the thugs who put Elena into hospital after she fights back against a bad trick.
When you have Denzel Washington playing it cool,it’s not hard to imagine the damage he can do, like take guns away from miscreants‎, and actually clock the amount of time it takes him to bring down five bad guys. Marton Csokas, who looks a bit like Kevin Spacey, chews scenes with abandon, playing a psycho with a smooth insinuating manner. He begins to suspect he’s not dealing with your average handyman.
The Equalizer has its moments between the excessive violence. There’s a few scenes that perplex. What’s the bit with the glass skulls?  What’s all that stuff McCall is gathering at the outlet? Did he just grab toothpaste? Is that for home use or another potential lethal weapon? How come the dirty cops seem so cartoonishly bad, like they learned their moves from watching second-rate TV? You will have many thoughts like these.
The actors do what they can to invest something solid behind the simple unsubtle plot and are all eminently watchable.  ‎This is a film for when you in the mood for believing that grim defenders dealing in death and destruction to those who merit it, can right all the wrongs in the world. Just takes some duct tape and a drill gun.

The Maze Runner

Review by Nancy Chan

‎One long elevator ride up, and you find yourself and in a bleak place surrounded by grey, forbidding walls. Hey, isn’t that my daily work routine every morning?

Kidding – it’s actually the start of our young hero’s journey as he lands in unknown terrain, surrounded by other youngsters ( they seem to vary from late teens to twenty somethings).   At first the Gladers mockingly call him ‘greenbean’, then ‘greenie’, because no one remembers their names or their pasts once they take the one-way elevator up; their names, but nothing else, come back to them eventually.  Thomas finds himself getting the tour of the settlement and various warnings not to venture into the mysterious rents in the walls that lead to a maze from leader Alby and second-in-command Newt.

Only ‘runners’ are allowed into the maze, mapping out its tortuous paths in the hopes of one day finding a way out. They have been searching for three years.  In their way are monstrous ‘grievers’ – giant spider-like creatures.  Of course, what happens when you give someone a warning – Thomas immediately wants to break the rules and venture out.  So our Thomas does, against the opposition of Gally, another of the boys who sees in Thomas trouble, trouble in maintaining the rules, and trouble in asking too many inconvenient questions.

Thomas does ask questions, and when he has the chance to take the place of an expelled runner, he does, exploring with Minho (the lead runner), fighting off or escaping from grievers and trying to find within the maze patterns that will help them escape.  The maze seems to have a life and a character all of its own, as it appears to change form every night, with frighteningly loud grinding noise accompaniments.  Actions scenes are suitably breathless and will leave you wondering what’s next, which is not always the case with big-screen offerings that can be tediously predictable. Cast standouts are Dylan O’Brien as Thomas, Ami Ameen as Alby, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt, as well Blake Cooper as Chuck (the youngest and most pitiable of the group) and Ki Hong Lee as Minho.

The community is part Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Flies, and the dynamics between each character are well established.The equivocal ending is not an ending at all, as it’s clear this is the start of a planned series.  It’s suspenseful and the director, producers and actors have succeeded in creating a believable world where survival means either staying within the group, or taking a chance outside the walls.  See it in IMAX for the full maze experience.





October 21st


Crowdfunding Secrets To Build Your Film –VIFF Industry Workshop And VIFF Film Review of Chinese Film Noir “Black Coal, Thin Ice”
by Staff Writer


Above: Fundraising workshop offered at VIFF Industry Conference.

Part 2

If you read my previous post, you would have learned that I attended several film workshops put on by the Vancouver International Film Festival geared towards people interested in the film industry.  One final workshop I attended dealt with the delicate art of film fundraising. Just how does one get the money to fund your film project? A lecture discussing film financing  was discussed  by Emily Best, CEO/founder of Seed&Spark.

Best was greeted by a packed auditorium and it was clear that attendees were there for one thing: learning about raising funds for their project. This was evident when Best asked attendees how many people had previously used a crowdfunding platform for their project –there was a large show of upraised hands.

She started out by discussing the difficulty for women and people of an ethnic background to break into the film industry and emphasized the importance of  creating an “action plan” and a crowd funded wishlist. Still, dispute the difficulty of filmmaking finances, she also advised that now, more than ever, it is “possible to make independent, meaningful careers.”

To find the funds, one must understand the audience. She said that filmmakers should find out who is their audience, where  their audience is located and  how to gather their email addresses.

And she said she believes that filmmakers  should “ask for what you need, not what you want.”

Another key point is that savvy filmmakers should be watchful of the cost of incentives offered to people who fund their project. In fact, the cost of manufacturing t-shirts could cut down the amount of money raised. Better still, she advised is to offer incentives that don’t need to be manufactured. Other elements of a successful crowdfunding platform include providing regular updates to supporters of the project, thanking  people publicly for their support and providing bonus elements.

Best also agreed that at times, the project could stall due to the lack of support. She advised filmmakers to  not to stick to a failing plan and stick to a schedule that involves email marketing and an approach that is neither desperate nor pleading.

So filmgoers every where should know that the film you watched for 2 hours in the theatre may have taken years to make and many hours of stressful fundraising.  Quite possibly the film you help fund today could be a contender for the Oscars.


And lastly

By NANCY CHAN, film critic
Movie Review
Black Coal, Thin Ice at the VIFF
Body parts disposed of in coal transports, a mysterious woman, a tough-guy cop, and wintry scenes in a drab urban landscape, this is noir, Chinese style.
Lieutenant Zhang is on the trail of the killer, once the said body parts are found. The victim’s wife works at Rong Rong Laundry for a boss with a weird rug and wandering hands. A multitude of clues like body parts,  emerges, but they don’t seem to add up to much. In the meantime our hard-boiled anti-hero, divorced, a drinker, still recovering from an unspecified wound, keeps returning to the laundry.
Like other noirs (Fatal Attraction, Vertigo), there is something of the obsessive in our man’s growing interest in the young widow, who seems to carry a deep malaise within her.
A ruined leather coat, ice skates, and a dance hall all figure in the story, plus a lot of surveillance. It’s not all police work, though, as the personal intermingles with the professional and we’re not always sure which is paramount.
Good noirs create atmosphere and a sense of unreality amidst a growing tension. Our everyman cop with his wintry leathers and his haphazard approach to detective work leads the viewer willingly down the rabbit hole.
Revenge, missing persons, sudden violence and incongruity are all here. ‎While a big sluggish in parts, overall stylistically there are some good moments here – the evocative sound of skates on thin ice, as the cop on the trail is himself being tailed, love, or at least sex on the ferris wheel, a rain of fireworks going off like gunfire, and the wintry setting which is its own character – all combine to throw the viewer plenty of red herrings.   Both principal actors Lian Fan as Zhang and Gwei Lun-Mei as the tragic widow create dynamic personalities and  are ably seconded by strong character actors such as Yu Ailei as Zhang’s captain, as skeptical and clear-headed as they come.
A winner at the Berlin Film Festival, this VIFF offering is offbeat, violent and romantic all at once.
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October 5th


VIFF Film Reviews! Recommended Movies/ The Vancouver Asahi and La Sapienza
by Staff Writer

by Nancy Chan/VIFF movie review Critic

A hard scrabble baseball team composed of first generation Japanese-Canadians, based on a real team that played in Vancouver since 1914 and was eventually disbanded during the second World War is the subject of this absorbing drama, ably directed ‎by Japanese director Ishii Yuya and starring big-name Japanese actors Tsumabuki Satoshi and  Kamenashi Kazuya.
I’m a sucker for underdog, inspirational films and this one is a winner.
Yuya recreates Japantown with its modest wooden houses, a warren of crowded lanes and little storefront shops. Set in the late thirties, we follow Reggie ( Reijji ) who works in a lumberyard. The film takes its time chronicling Reggie’s daily routine – hard labour. a strict and racist boss, and a tense home life. His father frequently leaves town to find work but any money he earns is sent home to Japan to impress his own parents. Reggie’s sister, meanwhile, works as a maid for what seems to be an enlightened family while studying hard and hoping to get a scholarship.
Respite from the harsh demands of daily living comes from baseball, as Reggie and his friends practice despite their lack of success against Canadian teams. ‎ “They’re so big!,” wails one of the Asahi, who don’t seem to have a chance of scoring against their taller and beefier opponents.
‎The Asahis’ cunning answer to scoring is the key to success, and the film depicts how their ‘brainball’ game inspires the community. There’s more than just baseball however; the family and personal dramas shown here are equally absorbing:Reggie’s solid though mostly inarticulate support to his family and friends, the angst of teammate Roy and his bitterness against “whites”, to Seijji, the mostly absentee father and his own troubles.
Retelling history through invented characters can be fraught with potholes – it can come across as painfully didactic or feel melodramatic and false. Strong performances and a sympathetic, subtle but unsentimental screenplay ensure The Vancouver Asahi story is well-told, with characters who come aliven in a milieu that captures the world of yesterday, while wider issues of social exclusion, racism, community and sport as fair play are all touched on here masterfully.
‎Note: The Vancouver Asahi had its international premiere at VIFF and the screenings have been so popular here that an additional screening will be added.
La Sapienza film review –
Nothing much happens in La Sapienza. A French couple, Alexandre and Alienor,take a trip to Italy – Milan, Turin and Rome are on the agenda. He wants to study the architectural works of 17th century Baroque architect Francesco Borromini‎, she asks to accompany him. Banal, right? But appearances deceive – there’s a lot going on below the surface of this film.
Alexandre is a successful, prize-winning architect but is having trouble getting his next project green-lighted in its present form. It’s clear too that the couple is broken – he stands impassively beside her during a conversation while her face periodically displays ineffable sadness and unease. I recently reviewed The Trip to Italy – well, this is another kind of trip that goes both inward and outward.
In Stresa, Alexandre and Alienor meet a young brother and sister, Goffredo and  Lavinia. He just graduated and is imbued with a passion for architecture, while she is prone to fainting and seems to be wasting away (a very old-fashioned concept nowadays).
Given the focus on Borromini, he of the geometric symmetry and perfection found in a circle, there s a kind of symmetry in the four people represented, passion juxtaposed against reason, hope against despair.  Alexandre and Goffredo go on a sort of cultural tour viewing the fine buildings imagined by Borromini while Alienor and Lavinia bond.   There’s some beautiful architecture on view here, and the camera lingers on these Baroque marvels. We also get a mini biography of Borromini as narrated by Alexandre. Borromini, a contemporary of Bernini, seems a fascinating character and was riven by melancholy himself.
There’s some nice symbolism in the film amidst the lovely images. The two wooden statues in the living room of Alexandre and Alienor resemble them in their early passivity, their deadness to life and to each other.    Discoveries and self-discoveries await.
The film at 100 minutes is ponderous at times (one film goer in front of me whispered ‘this is killing me’ midway through) but the aesthetic and intellectual truths ring through, with a few flashes of humour interspersed. The actors are uniformly fine, direction by Eugene Green is reverently intense and the script keeps one engaged. See it and discover the meaning of ‘sapience’. In French and English with subtitles. A Vancouver International Film Festival offering.



October 5th


How To Get Into The Movies, And Other Creative Tips Offered At VIFF Industry Conference
by Staff Writer


Part 1

So you wanna be in show biz? Welcome to the millions of other aspiring actors, writers and producers who are thinking the same thoughts. Many dreams just got a little bit closer to reality and many more were undoubtedly inspired after attending the Vancouver International Film Festival’s Industry Conference held in early October  in Vancouver, Canada.

Here’s a peak at a few sessions offered at the conference which I had a chance to attend:

At the “Meet the Gatekeeper” panel discussion moderated by Louise Clark, President of Lark Productions, attendees got to hear viewpoints from studio executives John Morayniss, CEO, Entertainment One Television, Nicole Clemens, Senior VP of FX Networks and Steve Foster, Director of HBO Films.

Write original scripts, excel in social media skills, get to know people in the industry –these were a few tips offered at the 90-minute session. Moderator Louise Clark set the easy tone at the seminar by asking how they got their start in the industry, with Morayniss stating he studied law in the beginning, and Foster broke into the business first as an actor and Clemens starting her first job as a production assistant.

Selling Your Story

The first part is the “pitch” or the sales aspect of selling a script or a movie or series. Very “personal stories” that are well prepared and sound like someone is telling a story is what appeals to Moryaniss. Foster echoes that successful pitches allow the buyer to connect to the character. He looks for authenticity and a writer who tells a unique angle. Clemens points out that originality is important and it helps to have a “fantastic character” in the script.

Breaking Into The Business

According to Clemens, it’s still who you know that counts. You can’t just hand her a script. To her, it’s very important that material that reaches her desk come through an agent and if you don’t have an agent? “Find somebody who knows somebody.”

Democratization of Film

Still, others find a way to get through that wasn’t possible before and Morayniss states that Youtube is helping to encourage the “democratization of the business” which makes it “very exciting!” In fact, he believes that official “gatekeepers” of talent are going away and there may not be a panel discussion on this topic next year.

Foster also feels that the popularity of online talent is gathering force, with “Youtube Stars” recently rated more popular than traditional stars. Clemens states that nowadays there are so many ways to break through and emphasizes that there is a scarcity of writing talent which means that “there is never a better time for a nonAmerican to break through.”

For a rags-to-riches story, Wisertraveller.org sat in an another panel discussion:

Crossing Over: From Indie To Studio:
Jay Duplass, Co-writer/Co-director, Jeff, Who Lives At Home
Moderator: Scott Smith, Director, Call Me Fitz

If attendees wanted to get inspired, they came to the right panel discussion. With a gentle but productive interviewing style, Smith managed to get a quick life story from Duplass who started out with him and his brother making lots of home movies which he considered was “bad art” In the early 90’s,  Duplass, whose ambition was to be the next Coen brothers, sold off their cars in order to buy an expensive editing program.

Still throughout his twenties, he stated that he didn’t make anything good, and was “consciously learning what not to do.” Times were tough which meant living on peanut butter sandwiches and making movies that were trying to be” cool and witty.”  His breakthrough film came by way of a short 7 minute film called, “I am John” which depicted a young man trying to record a voicemail greeting on his answering machine. In the film, the young man seems normal but gradually loses his senses and clearly has a nervous breakdown after numerous attempts to record a greeting. The low-budget  film landed a prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the rest, you can say, is history. Duplass obtained an agent, made another short film about scrabble for about $50 which landed in the film festival circuit and won awards. Sundance Film Festival soon came calling and encouraged him to embark on feature films.

His advice to aspiring filmmakers? Duplass seems to advise against emulating other successful filmmakers and encourages filmmakers to make films where the unique happens and “there is an electricity about it.” His first successful short film had such a buzz, and in fact, people were saying, “what the fuc*(bleep) happened?” While Duplass is a writer, he also is a bit nonspecific and states that success comes when “this thing happens.” He states that sometimes filmmakers lose sight of what they can offer especially in film schools, which show other peoples’ works. Film schools, he states, cannot teach you to tell the story that you want to tell.

And if you want to move to Los Angelas? Don’t move to L.A. until LA invites you, he says.  Another advice: Don’t make a feature film until you make a great short film.”

Stay tuned for more from the VIFF Industry Conference. Subscribe to this blog or follow me on Twitter.

Part 2 Coming Up. Follow me to get Part 2


October 5th

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