High Society Event Review: Prism Award 2017, Tiff Lightbox

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The summer never really starts until the Prism Prize has been awarded. Now in it’s fifth year, the Prism Prize has clearly established itself as the most important award in the Canadian music video industry and one that is easily more respected then say, the MMVA’s. Consisting of over or exactly 100 jurors, all the Canadian music videos go through a rigorous screening and voting process to get down to the final ten. For your pleasure, the final ten in the 2017 were:

- A Tribe Called Red feat. Black Bear, “Stadium Pow Wow” (director Kevan Funk)
– Andy Shauf, “The Magician” (director Winston Hacking)
– BadBadNotGood feat. Kaytranada, “Lavender” (director Fantavious Fritz)
– Grimes, “Kill v. Maim” (directors Claire Boucher and Mac Boucher)
– Harrison feat. Clairmont the Second, “It’s Okay, I Promise” (director Scott Cudmore)
– July Talk, “Picturing Love” (director Jared Raab)
– Kaytranada, “Lite Spots” (director Martin C. Pariseau)
– PUP, “DVP” (director Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux)
– PUP, “Sleep in the Heat” (director Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux)
– Wintersleep, “Amerika” (director Scott Cudmore)

So it is with this list of nominees that we all gathered at the Tiff Lightbox on a warmish Sunday night to award one winner.

The event was hosted by Aisha Brown who was absolutely hilarious and the awards show consisted of various other awards handed out interrupted by the screening of nominated videos. I really appreciated the amateur hour operation of this award show, as it made for a loose and fun vibe. It was also refreshing to see good non-rehearsed victory speech that were so short that the person accepting the award felt the need to tack on an additional 30 seconds saying how important the Prism award is. It all made for a fun event.

As you can see, Kaytranada won but here are my rankings.

10. Grimes, “Kill v. Maim” (directors Claire Boucher and Mac Boucher)
This Mad Max influenced video was filled with quick cuts and didn’t really stand out in anyway. If anything, the Mad Max influence made the video feel dated. This video could have been nominated for costume and design, but it was pretty much a mess of quick cuts, weird looking costumes and random dances. Not very impressed.

9. Andy Shauf, “The Magician” (director Winston Hacking)
For the 2nd time in three years, I question how this “audience voted” award works as this video was the one the peasants deemed most pleasant. For me, this video was not much more then a series of artsy shapes and visuals put together in a random sequence. If I’m missing something, then shame on me but really, it’s a music video and I shouldn’t have to think too hard about it. The video didn’t necessary capture the essence of the song or did it enhance it in anyway. I suppose there were probably a lot of people from Saskatchewan voting for it, either that or an arts and craft club took a look at it and started a viral campaign.

8. A Tribe Called Red feat. Black Bear, “Stadium Pow Wow” (director Kevan Funk)
It’s pretty hard to do videos for electronic music, and while the collection of shots of Native Canadians doing their thing was nice, this video’s struck me as something a ministry of tourism would have made instead of an actual music video for the song.

7. Wintersleep, “Amerika” (director Scott Cudmore)
A very pretty video absolutely ruined by a Donald Trump audio clip at the end. Pretty much everyone is sick of hearing this guy talk, no need to have to hear it every time you think about the song. An end of world theme was nice, but didn’t really have the conclusion it deserved.

6. July Talk, “Picturing Love” (director Jared Raab)
I learned two things during this video. One – I learned what July Talk looks like and two, I learned what July Talk sounds like. The video is creatively shot (maybe with some David Fincher inspiration) and told a story of some sort. It reminded me of the 90’s Edgefest rock kind of videos, but perhaps that was more the music then the audio. Either way, it pairs pretty well, like a fine wine and a tenderloin.

5. Harrison feat. Clairmont the Second, “It’s Okay, I Promise”
A very creative video that at times felt a bit disjointed, nevertheless, this video was well done and probably caters to film makers as much as it does with the audience with it’s multi-camera one shot setups. When I watched this video i was questioning whether or not I was watching a music video or an art film. That’s a good sign.

4. BadBadNotGood feat. Kaytranada, “Lavender” (director Fantavious Fritz)
A clever and cute video about Dungeons and Dragons. The video was funny and creative and thoroughly enjoyable. Normally this could have been a winner, but the next three were just better. This is kind of like how someone like Dame Lillard feels in the NBA. Very good point guard and otherwise an allstar, but then there’s Steph Curry, Russ Westbrook and James Harden. Tough luck.

3. PUP, “Sleep in the Heat”
It almost pains me to put this third. A sequel to Pup’s excellent video Guilt Trip, this video once again follows the trials of a young band (maybe Pup?) as they live out the rock and roll life, only this time they adopt a four legged furry friend. The video tells a complete story that will tug at your heart strings and does it all within three minutes. Excellent music video making here. It also stars the kid from Stranger Things. I really hope the third part of this Pup music video series shows the parents of the kid in Stranger Things adopting this kid.

Fellow music video enthusiast Sarah says:
“I am not surprised people didn’t vote for a video about a dog dying. If that video was about a dog being happy and alive and a successful independent business owner, Pup would definitely have walked away with the prize because people love a good success story. They should keep that in mind for the third video.”

2. Kaytranada, “Lite Spots” (director Martin C. Pariseau)
This video won the Prism prize and it’s a great video, featuring Kaytranada, a robot and absolutely gorgeous shots of a sunny Los Angeles. Kaytranada’s had an excellent 12 months and this award caps off an awards season that also saw him win the Polaris. There is nothing wrong with this video, and the cute animations on the robot will make you smile. Kind of similar in tone to Blur’s Coffee and TV in that an inanimate object that comes to life becomes the heart of the video.

1. PUP, “DVP” (director Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux)
As a person who grew up in the 90s playing video games, I could not deny the absolute joy I had trying to identify all the games featured in this Pup video. Therefore, it is my favorite.

What was your favorite?

Burger Review: The Burger, Wickson Social

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment


Welcome to part 4 of the Burger Review. This is a series based on a top 10 list of burgers published in Toronto Life.

If you have been following this series (and you better be), you will know that thus far the burgers have not met our high standards of excellence. We were seriously doubting our source. Surely the guy ate a burger a day, but I mean, how refined is his palette? Or perhaps how unrefined is our palette? There was a lot of doubt and angst at this part of the journey.

It was with some trepidation that we continued. The next burger took place at the Wickson Social, a place from the owners of the Queen and Beaver and the Oxley.

The Burger:
The Burger & Fries – hand chopped steak, aged cheddar, house cured bacon – 19$

Just a reminder, the control burger in this experiment is the Skyline burger (that is the middle of the pack) with the upper range being Casino El Camino’s Amarillo burger from Austin, Texas.

The Verdict:

Since the Wickson Social menu takes it’s inspiration from British grub, I’ll quote a song from English band Primal Scream about the experience:

I was blind, now I can see
You made a believer out of me
I was blind, now I can see
You made a believer out of me

I’m movin’ on up now
Getting out of the darkness
My light shines on

Finally, a good burger.

The burger came with a nice crispy bun that was firm but fair. Unlike the greasy mess that was some previous burgers, this burger had a clean taste and experience and never broke shape during the whole eating experience. Excellent handfeel. I loved the fact that my fingers did not glisten with grease after eating this thing.

The patty itself was excellent. The menu highlighted that this was “hand chopped” steak and the meat definitely had a more refined quality to it. It certainly didn’t taste like grounded up chuck. I wonder what hand chopped steak burger actually means. Do they take a steak, and then chop it up into bits and then use those bits to form the patty? We will never know. A mystery unsolved for the rest of eternity. Nevertheless, the patty was very tasty.

The burger itself was simple and to the point, much like the English. There was the high quality patty, a very nice aged cheddar and bacon on it. There was nothing else besides those items. No tomato, no lettuce. The burger didn’t need any of it. You could make an argument that the bacon in this burger was not necessary, as the saltiness of the bacon detracted from what you should be focusing on – the patty. This is coming from a guy who routinely goes to the butcher shop, buys bacon and then figures out what to do with it afterwards.

The only complaint we had was that the burger was pretty small for 19$. It was by far the smallest burger we have had and for 19$ you expect a bit more. I don’t even think it was 1/3 of a pound. Maybe I’m cheap. I don’t know. The fries were also the weakest we’ve had so far, but this isn’t a fries review. The fries were too thick for my liking.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of ground meats over the last few months, and I for one was very happy with this burger. If anything, it vindicated this guy’s list (although we are still highly skeptical). Another bad burger would have left severe distaste in our mouth and minds but the quality of this burger has shown that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Here is fellow burger enthusiast Sarah’s take on it:
“This burger was definitely the best we’ve had so far. It helped to restore my faith in the concept meat between two buns. And I liked the pepper kick. I’d go back and eat this one again (if I was celebrating something like finding a $20 bill on the floor, because this burger wasn’t cheap.)”

We have decided this is now at the top of our list (for Toronto).

Burger Scale

Amarillo Burger, Casino El Camino – 10$ USD
The Burger, Wickson Social – 19$
Prime Beef Double Cheeseburger, Museum Tavern – 19$
Skyline Burger, Skyline Diner – 14$
Game Burger, Antler – 18$
Vegan Mac Daddy, Doomies – 16$

Hot Docs Review: Do Donkeys Act? (David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, 2017)

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Hot Docs, Reviews | Leave a comment


In your younger days, at zoos, did you ever imagine the fate of the animals that brightened your half-day, in 10 to 20 years? It’s a strange question, in spirit similar to “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound”? If we go further with the anthropomorphization – does the tree hurt? Do Donkeys Act if no one is watching? This film is a meditation on these oblique questions, seen from the inside of donkey rescue centres around the world.

Rather than asking why, it’s perhaps easier to question why not donkeys. They aren’t often thought highly of. They aren’t typical mascots of sports teams, and have rarely been imbued with any honorable ideals unless steadfast stubbornness is a virtue. And unlike bird or whale songs, all that braying can be harsh and almost too primal to relate to as a human. The fact that asses still bookend jeers and jokes all around the world in many cultures is telling. But of course they are just as adjective as that horse on the Ferrari badge. And all any human has ever done with either is to burden them – with weights, status, morals, and other mostly human concerns. Without all the projections, even donkeys can be interesting.

As with many engrossing and immersive projects, Do Donkeys Act requires a degree of patience. Watching veterinarians’ and donkeys’ daily routine has never topped any list of things to do before one dies. But we (some of us) naturally become observant and empathetic if there are no immediate alternatives. This film will definitely draw a self-selected crowd. As a conservation slash humanitarian piece, Do Donkeys Act is indeed very charming. Many things magically transform when put in front of a portrait lens with good bokeh. My problem, which will perhaps be other people’s delight, is the poetic narration courtesy of Willem Dafoe. If the whole idea of removing imposed morals and emotions to see whether “donkeys act” of their own volition was the aim, then the pointed prose instructing the viewers on how to interpret donkey behavior is a direct, condescending antithesis. Anyone who volunteered to watch donkeys bray, walk, defecate, and give-birth for 70 odd minutes likely pride themselves in forming cogent thoughts. This film will do just fine without anyone complementing a donkey’s “hidden dynamism” as it trots along. Of course, if you are looking for an Ode to Beasts of Burden Past, this is perfect. Personally, I’d rather imagine the smells in those rescue centres than be told of it.

Hot Docs Preview: Tokyo Idols [Kyoko Miyake]

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 11.57.00 AM

Tokyo Idols is an absolutely fascinating documentary about “idols”, a Japanese music phenomena mostly consisting of young girls dressed up in costumes and performing J-pop songs. Following both the Idols and their fans, the documentary presents the story of idol obsession from both sides, and how closely the two are intertwined.

There are some wow moments in this documentary and it sheds light on subculture in a culture that for the most part, is mostly closed off to worlds like ours. It’s a riveting piece and will spark all types of conversations among those who watch it.

Highly recommended

Mon, May 1, 9:15 PM @ Scotiabank, Cinema 4
Wed, May 3, 10:30 AM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Sun, May 7, 10:00 AM @TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

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