Lebanese-Canadian author Rawi Hage published Cockroach: A Novel, in 2008 to generally positive reviews and even snagged a few literary awards.
In a small patio nestled in a high-rise apartment building in downtown Toronto, I sit across from Albert Shin. Despite the periodic sounds of honking from below and the roar of planes from above, the spot is peaceful, illuminated by the mid-morning sun. The young Canadian writer-director is friendly and informal, with a boyish face and irrepressible grin.
In all the hubbub of the Toronto International Film Festival, sometimes it's easy to forget where you are. Amidst the wall of people crowding the streets, the buzz of foreign languages, and Hollywood celebrities emerging from black SUV's you might be at any major world film festival.
A teenage boy stares at his reflection in a fogged mirror shrouded in darkness. Moments later the same boy watches a train derail off a bridge. Then he is trapped in one of the train' cars as it fills with water. He impotently slams his hands against the ceiling in an attempt to free himself.
With its endless capital and battalion of stars, Hollywood habitually eclipses everything else and leaves North American cineplexes turgid with stale super-hero flicks, listless comedies, and their sequels.
For the second time I was given the pleasure of interviewing Toronto-based filmmaker Ingrid Veninger. Since the debut of her film Modra at last year's festival, she has become one of the most recognizable new faces in Canadian cinema.
During the final days of this year's Toronto International Film Festival, I had the opportunity to speak to three Canadian women, all at the festival promoting their feature directorial debuts: Deborah Chow (winner of the Skyy Vodka Award for Best First Feature by a Canadian Director), Katrin Bowen, and Ingrid Veninger.
The first thing I noticed upon arriving at the Gala screening of Janie Jones at this year's Toronto International Film Festival was the inordinate number of beautiful and svelte six-foot-tall women towering over me -- enough to make anyone of normal proportions (i.e. myself) a trifle self-conscious.