30 September 2009


by Brad Frenette
The National Post

Movies of Un-Common Knowledge: It's the theme, and the name of, Toronto's newest film festival.

Wisely staying out of the way of Toronto's other film fest, the M.U.C.K. Film Festival & Forum "turns the spotlight on individual action and meaningful social change. Films covering the span of human rights, the environment, and political, social, economic and corporate imbalances will be featured".

The festival is organized into screening days, with all films showing at one theatre, The Royal on Toronto's College Street.

Among the films making their Canadian premiere include: opening night gala Fuel, which won the Audience Award at last year's Sundance; Pray The Devil Back to Hell, which took the best doc award at this year's Tribeca Film Festival; and Franny Armstrong's Age of Stupid, which stars Oscar-winner Pete Postlethwaite.

Here is the complete schedule:

Thursday, October 1st – Opening Night Gala

7:30 pm: FUEL (112 min., US, dir. Josh Tickell, 2008)
In 1997 Josh Tickell, filmmaker and environmentalist, set out on the road with a biodiesel powered “Veggie Van” and a video camera and began filming what would eventually become known as FUEL. The 2008 Sundance Audience Award winning documentary investigates the possible replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy, providing an uplifting testament to the immediacy of new energy solutions.

Friday, October 2nd

12 noon: RETHINK AFGHANISTAN (81 min., US, dir. Robert Greenwald, 2009)
RETHINK AFGHANISTAN is a skeptical view of America’s war strategies. Greenwald suggests that pursuing a military solution in Afghanistan is not working, won’t work and should be abandoned. His full-length documentary campaign features experts from Afghanistan, the US and Russia, discussing critical issues like military escalation, how escalation will affect Pakistan and the surrounding region, the cost of war, civilian casualties and the rights of Afghan women.

3:30 pm: A CALL TO ARMS (70 min., US, dir. Scott Miller, 2009)
A CALL TO ARMS tells the story of military members who were ordered against their will to receive the controversial anthrax vaccine. The film interviews military personnel who have been adversely affected by this vaccine and others who have refused the vaccine, facing disciplinary action. Years later, after all the disturbing facts about the vaccine have surfaced, the US and Canadian military still intends to vaccinate all troops going to Afghanistan and Iraq.

6:30 pm: PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL (72 min., US, dir. Gini Reticker, 2008)
A story of courageous Muslim and Christian women in Liberia who decide to work together to end the country’s bloody civil war and bring peace back to a country in ruins. Through long-term non-violence combined with emphatic protests, women from different backgrounds demonstrate that spontaneous activism can change the history of a nation. PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL is a commanding, inspiring, and emotionally stirring documentary about the futility of war and the splendors of peace. Winner Best Documentary, Tribeca Film Festival, 2009.

9:15 pm: SHOUTING FIRE (80 min., US, dir. Liz Garbus, 2008)
SHOUTING FIRE uses a handful of post 9/11 events to elucidate the current state of the right to free speech. Garbus postulates that the post-9/11 effect, as evidenced by the fact that when threatened by an outside enemy, perceived or real, we often demonize each other, undermines the very freedom we seek to protect. Mixing vibrant pacing with an elegant journalistic style, SHOUTING FIRE documents the way both the Right and the Left have lashed out in fear, and warns that if we don’t fight for our freedoms every day, we will lose them.

Saturday, October 3rd

12 noon & 12 midnight: RIP: A REMIX MANIFESTO (102 min., Canada, dir. Brett Gaylor, 2008)
Mash-up your life! The ultimate guide to the musical phenomenon of re-mixed mash-ups. The cult DJ, GIRL TALK, pulls magic out of his laptop and the crowd freaks out! A master of mash-ups, he mixes samples of existing music into new songs, and “violates” copyright rules.
Web activist Brett Gaylor is on the side of the “Copy Lefts,” who fight for free access to source material. On the other side, the “Copy Rights” seek to defend the old, established film and music industries.
The Internet is the most effective way human beings have devised to share their ideas. The question is how easy, or not, it is for us to share our music, videos, all our creative works or any media. This is the focus of RIP: A REMIX MANIFESTO, a bold documentary on intellectual property for the Digital Age

3:30 pm: ENJOY POVERTY (90 min., Netherlands, dir. Renzo Martens, 2008)
Deep in the interiors of the Congo, Dutch artist Renzo Martens single-handedly undertakes an epic journey and launches a program that helps the poor become aware of their primary capital resource: Images of Poverty.

6:30pm: AGE OF STUPID (89 min., UK, dir. Franny Armstrong, 2009)
It’s 2055 and Academy Award ® nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father) stars as the founder of The Global Archive, a storage facility located in the (now melted) Arctic, preserving all of humanity's achievements in the hope that the planet might one day be habitable again.

9:15 pm: GENERATION RX (81 min., US, dir. Kevin P. Miller, 2008)
For decades, scores of doctors, government officials, journalists and others have extolled the benefits of psychiatric medicines for children. GENERATION RX presents “the rest of the story” and unveils how this era of unprecedented change in Western culture really occurred – and what price has been paid by our society. This powerful documentary questions whether we have forced millions of children onto pharmaceutical drugs for commercial rather than scientific reasons.

Sunday, October 4th

1 pm: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO (102 min., France/Canada/Germany, dir. Marie-Monique Robin, 2008)
Monsanto is the world’s leader in genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This 100-year-old empire has created some of the most toxic products ever sold, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the herbicide Agent Orange. This never-before-told story of misleading reports, collusion, pressure tactics and attempts at corruption, makes up the history of this global corporation. Behind its “clean green image,” Monsanto is now tightening its grasp on the world seed market, striving for market domination, resulting in a detriment to food security and the global environment.

3:30 pm: BLACK NATION (70 min., Sweden, dir. Mats Hjelm, 2008)
BLACK NATION is a documentary feature film that takes a hard, uncompromising look at the state of black men in America today through the prism of the streets of Detroit and the city’s controversial Church Shrine of the Black Madonna.

6:30 pm: CRUDE (101 min., US, dir. Joe Berlinger, 2009)
Three years in the making, this riveting new documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger tells the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27
billion "Amazon Chernobyl" case, CRUDE is a real-life, high stakes legal drama involving global politics, the environmental movement, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, multinational corporate power and the fate of disappearing indigenous cultures.

9:15 pm: CALL + RESPONSE (86 min., US, dir. Justin Dillon, 2009)
There are more slaves today than ever before in human history. CALL + RESPONSE is the story of the world’s 27 million modern slaves -- from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India. Directed by musician Justin Dillon, recording artists began to accept his persistent vision that popular music owes a debt to the issue of slavery. Music is part of the movement against human slavery and connects the music of the American slave fields to the popular music we listen to today, demonstrating this connection as a rallying cry for the modern abolitionist movement currently brewing.

• M.U.C.K. Film Festival & Forum tickets and passes can be purchased in-person at the T.O. TIX Booth, located at Yonge-Dundas Square on the corner of Yonge and Dundas in downtown Toronto. Tickets are priced at $10 per screening, $20 for the opening night gala, $100 festival pass/$75 for students and a day pass is $30/$20 for students.

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