♦ Guillermo del Toro just can’t get enough of the Greater Toronto Area! The high-profile Hollywood director has made his love of southern Ontario known on several occasions, most recently while discussing his Hamilton-shot sci-fi love story, The Shape of Water, at a TIFF press conference last week. “I love Hamilton. I love it!” he gushed, heaping praise on the city’s charm, hospitality and professionalism. “If I have it my way, I’ll have a studio there soon”, he added. Not a man of idle words, del Toro wasted no time linking up with mayor Fred Eisenberger on Twitter and sending a crew to ‘The Hammer’ to start scouting out potential locations. Unsurprisingly, Hamiltonians are ready to receive him with open arms — during production of The Shape of Water last year, del Toro spent much of his downtime live-tweeting his visits to shops and eateries and making nice with the locals, who responded in kind.
♦ The fifth annual Buffer Festival kicks off next week in Toronto, bringing popular streamers and their subscribers together to celebrate the best of YouTube videos from all over the world. Starting with Industry Day on September 28, followed by Creator Day on October 1 and peppered with screenings of the year’s best online content everywhere and in between, Buffer Fest has become one of the top annual forums for artists, brands, broadcasters and brilliant minds in the digital age to meet and share innovative ideas. Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has played an integral role in the ever-evolving face of the entertainment industry and has even helped launch the mainstream careers of countless talented “nobodies” worldwide — with some notable Canadian examples including pop singers Justin Bieber and Alessia Cara, model/trans activist Gigi Gorgeous (who was recently hired as a social media correspondent for the revival of MTV’s Total Request Live) and Lilly Singh aka IISuperwomanII, whose YouTube stardom helped her land a coveted role as a vlogger in HBO’s upcoming adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (which just wrapped shooting in Toronto with casting by Robin D. Cook).
♦ Speaking of Fahrenheit 451, things got heated during a shoot at a house on Pape Avenue last week when a fed-up neighbour disrupted filming by blasting music from a portable stereo, in protest of ongoing film production that he described as “out of control”. Police were called to the scene twice and eventually arrested the man, identified as Nick Shcherban, when he refused to comply with orders to turn the music down. This is not the first time the city has faced complaints related to film production, especially in that area — scenes from the blockbuster smash It filmed in the same historic house last year, reportedly subjecting residents to an exasperating 42 days of bright lights, loud noises and enormous crowds — but some locals rushed to the defense of the shoot, pointing out that the crew currently working on the HBO film have been “incredibly respectful” and have taken great care to provide notice of upcoming activity and seek consent. As with other similarly publicized complaints, most citizens agree that the economic benefits of Toronto’s booming film industry far outweigh the pitfalls, and that dealing with it is just an inevitable part of urban living. It’s also worth noting that the city does not take the issuing of film permits lightly and that residential-area shoots are only given the green light after those living in the neighbourhood have voted in favour of it.
♦ Yet another piece of Toronto’s beautifully-woven cultural tapestry is proudly on display this month at the 10th annual Toronto Palestine Film Festival (TPFF), where visitors are welcome to take in a rich variety of Palestinian films, food, music, art and literature. This year’s festival lineup is full of unique perspectives and stories that need to be told, from heartbreaking war documentaries to empowering tales of women fighting for their rights and even a few films with surprising subject matter (such as Gaza Surf Club, which also screened at TIFF this year). Film screenings will take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, while other exhibits and events can be stumbled upon at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, OCAD University and at local “Middleterranean” eatery District Oven.
By Miranda Cross