Friday Film Pick – The Last Waltz

The Last Waltz Film Poster

“This film should be played loud!”

The Last Waltz in my household is a Thanksgiving tradition. Though the actual performance took place during the American Thanksgiving in November, we still watch it every year on the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend.

The Band

If you like music, and you like docs AND you’re a Scorsese fan, well then you’re in for a treat. Directed by Martin Scorsese The Last Waltz documents the Band’s final concert at the Winterland in San Francisco, after 16 years on the road together.

Continue reading Friday Film Pick – The Last Waltz

Friday Film Pick – Good Ol’ Freda

Good Ol Freda Poster

The Beatles were together for 10 years – Freda, she was there before they made it and after they finished.” – Billy Kinsley, The Merseybeats.

One of my favourite films from this years Hot Docs 2013Good Ol’ Freda is back for a second round starting this weekend at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema here in Toronto.

Continue reading Friday Film Pick – Good Ol’ Freda

Santa Needs a Drink

The Toronto Santa Claus Parade always marks the unofficial start to the holiday season.

Despite this, retailers have increasingly begun their Holiday marketing earlier and earlier each year. Unlike our neighbours to the south in the U-S of A, we don’t have a buffer holiday since as our Thanksgiving is at the start of October. Once Halloween hits the Ho-Ho-Ho’ing begins in full force.

NYC Xmas Tree

So, instead of fighting it, especially now that the parade has come and gone (side note: I love the parade site! Great UI and Design! The “Memories” section is really sweet), for this segment of Docs that Rock, may I present to you a gem of a documentary called “Becoming Santa”.

I had the chance to see “Becoming Santa” during Hot Docs 2011 at the end of April. It was as enjoyable to watch in the Spring as it is now in late November.

Jack in Becoming Santa on the Polar Express

The doc follows the story of Jack Sanderson looking to reconnect with the Christmas spirit after the death of his father. To do so, Jack takes on becoming Santa Claus for a Christmas season. But it’s a lot more than just donning a costume and asking children what they want for Christmas. “Becoming Santa” lifts the curtain for a glimpse at what’s really required for those involved in the Santa Trade. A fascinating look at a cherished childhood icon and the men and women who work so diligently each year to bring this character to life.

Jack Dying His Beard White in Becoming Santa

For any film surrounding the legend of Santa Claus, a fine line is often tread with being overly saccharine, “Becoming Santa” manages to handle the material very well and avoids being unnecessarily sweet. Jack Sanderson is naturally endearing with a wry sense of humour and is delightful to watch as he experiences getting kitted out in just the right Santa costume, to his classes as the surreal ‘American Events Santa School’ in Denver, Colorado.

OMG! Look at all the Santa's!

The doc is peppered with fascinating interviews of other Professional Santa’s and those in the industry in addition to some historical insight into the legend of Santa and how we celebrate the season in North America.

A thoroughly enjoyable and heart-warming documentary to watch!

Santa learns how to make a cut out snowflake

The Way Home After Hurricane Katrina

“If you’ve never lost anything, you don’t know what it’s like.”

A couple of weeks ago we noticed a new Doc pop up in our NetFlix called Mine directed by Geralyn Pezanoski, which we decided to watch one evening. What followed for both of us was a boat load of tears and an exhausting emotional ride over what the people in the documentary experienced.

Mine is a documentary about what happened to all the pets in New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It’s a highly personal, heart wrenching doc that follows several different people looking to find their lost and beloved pets, and just how difficult this proves to be.

Mine Documentary Still - Lost Pet FormMine Documentary - Bandit's New DoghouseMine Documentary Still - Malvin CavalierMine Documentary - A New Home for His DogMine Documentary - After Hurricane KatrinaMine Documentary - Bandit

It’s clear that people mean to do good with the rescue of animals in this particular situation. However, what happens after the initial rescue and the disbursement of animals is another thing. What I found the most frustrating when watching, were some of the sweeping judgement calls made upon the people of New Orleans. That they weren’t “good” owners and didn’t care about their pets, and therefore shouldn’t get them back. Which you quickly realize from the stories of those in NOLA searching for their animals, is a very unfair statement.

I honestly don’t know what I would or could do if I was in a mandatory evacuation zone, forced to leave and unable to bring my cat. It would be absolutely heartbreaking.

Mine Documentary Still - Cat Rescued

I lived through a flood several years ago, the whole town flooded and our house was 8 feet under water. It was a horrible experience and I remember feeling numb and hollow. At the time though I didn’t have any pets where we lived, so it was never an issue. But to survive a disaster the scale of Hurricane Katrina – to lose your home, your possessions, and then a family member as well?

What if that family member was still out there somewhere. Wouldn’t you want them back? Wouldn’t you fight to get them back?

And that’s exactly what the people in  this doc do.

Mine was incredibly harrowing to watch. In the wake of such devastation, something like this can be swept aside and taken for granted, and Mine fills that gap, handling the subject matter very well.

I find myself reflecting on this film even more so now in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and how things hopefully have changed for the better in regards to pet evacuation in disasters. In place now after Hurricane Katrina is PETS – the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006.

I urge you to check out Mine if you haven’t already.

And, AFTER you watch it, go and read this story. You’ll be really glad that you did. Trust me. (And spoilers if you skip ahead and read it before watching!)

Mine Documentary Still

Social media pages are springing up as well to help with reuniting Hurricane Sandy lost and found pets with their families. Below are some links to these pages in addition to sites for donations specifically in regards to animal welfare.

For Information on Hurricane Sandy Lost & Found Pets:

Hurricane Sandy Lost & Found Pets Facebook Page

Up to date Twitter posts on Hurricane Sandy Pets – Twitter Hashtag #SandyPets

Humane Society Resources 

For Donations to Hurricane Sandy Animal Rescue Efforts:

Hurricane Sandy Feral Cat Relief Fund

Humane Society of the United States 


International Fund for Animal Welfare