Of all the talent that goes into making a film, the actors probably get a disproportionate amount of the recognition since they’re the only ones we see in the finished product. Of course, directors get their share of accolades, as do writers, producers, etc. Rarely are casting directors lauded for their contributions, which is ironic when you consider they’re largely responsible for choosing those actors that we fall in love with.
Casting By sings the praises of these unsung heroes but concentrates mainly on Marion Dougherty, who helped kick start the careers of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars (Dustin Hoffman, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino, to name just a few) by always finding the best vehicle for their talents. At the beginning of her career, casting directors didn’t even get an onscreen credit, by the end of it there was a contingent of supporters who believed the job was worthy of its own Oscar category. It’s a solid doc that benefits greatly from the actors Dougherty helped make celebrities coming out to show their appreciation for her and her profession. (Noah Taylor)
Director Tom Donahue will be present for Q&As following the screenings of Casting By on Friday, July 19th at 6:30pm and on Saturday, July 20th at 4:00pm and 8:45pm.
The Tagu Kung Fu School is located right next to the Shaolin Temple Monastery (the birthplace the famed martial art) and is home to over 20,000 students. Dragon Girls follows three young female students at the school, living far away from their homes and families. They sacrifice the luxuries of childhood like days off, playtime and seeing their parents for the honour, respect and skill they will gain from their training. The physical and mental exhaustion and constant drive for perfection weigh heavily on the young warriors as they learn to cope with constant pressure to perform from every corner.
It’s easy to tell why director Inigo Westmeier has chosen her three subjects, as they run the spectrum of the students at the school. There’s the nine year old prodigy, whose father will only visit if she wins first place. Then there are the two teenagers, one who still tries hard every day but is just not as gifted as the rest, and the other, a returned run away from the school who doesn’t want to be there. Through the lives of these girls, and several others, we see the almost cult like attitude that the school fosters in their pupils. It’s a fascinating watch, and the girls are engaging onscreen presences.
The living quarters are in near squalor and the kids sleep in bunks beds with double digit roommates in each room. They are allowed to shower only twice a week and have to resort to a bucket and a tap at the end of corridor to scrub clean each morning. But the dedication to their craft of martial arts carries them through. (Kirk Haviland)
Also at The Bloor this week:
The documentary Somm, about four men preparing to take the hardest sommelier exam in the world, will have a special screening on Wednesday, July 24th. The screening will also be preceded by a special wine and cheese reception to get viewers in the mood, and a post-movie Q&A with noted sommelier Robert Gravelle from Brassail and Brant House. The reception starts at 5:30pm, and the film screens at 7pm. VIP tickets that include the reception, film, & Q&A are $28 for the public and $25 for members. The screening on its own is available at regular admission prices. The film will also screen again without all the bells and whistles on Monday, July 29th at 7:00pm.
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