Shane Koyczan walks onto a stage, his finger nudging the bridge of his eyeglasses up to the radix of his nose. Nervously he rubs his hands together, folding one palm over the other, forming a solitary handshake before an audience awash in a hazy blue light.
He looks out to a gathering of attendees, who despite their successes find resonance in the empowering prose he was invited to disclose at the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif. “There’s so many of you,” he begins, a thick beard, perhaps his most distinguishable feature, framing his cherubic face. With one hand in his pocket, the other flailing around, the spoken word poet travels back to his childhood, a time when he was asked to abandon his dreams, a place where he was discouraged from being different, a stage on which school bullies tried to get the best of him.
Swinging from humour to sadness, undulating with anger and optimism, Koyczan’s chocolate voice is a pendulum of emotion as he segues into the lyrics of his most stirring poem to date. Peering into his personal bout of being bullied and the psychology of children contending with an issue that can impart profound impacts, he explores one of the universal drawbacks of our early years with an indubitably trenchant effect.
This year, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is celebrating the second and third seasons of its Subscription Series — Food on Film and Science on Film are celebrating their second seasons and Books on Film is celebrating its third season — by continuing to pair screenings of notable films with insightful lectures by experts in their fields. This year’s selections feature powerful literary adaptations, a thought-provoking look at how food shapes our lives and fascinating insider perspectives on the world of science and technology. Here is a selection of the events you can attend in April and May. Tickets for individual events are available at tiff.net/subscriptionseries.
BOOKS ON FILM
Eleanor Wachtel, of CBC’s Writers & Company, hosts discussions with writers and filmmakers on the challenges of adapting literature into film.
Monday, April 8 – 7 p.m.
Lisa Cortés on Precious
Lisa Cortés, executive producer of the film Precious, has spent her career illuminating the stories of those marginalized by society. Ten of those years were spent working with director Lee Daniels on adapting Sapphire’s novel Push to the big screen.
When Chevrolet rolled out the 2014 Silverado at the Canadian International AutoShow, it was to some strong words: “From hood to hitch, Silverado is the most refined, best engineered pickup ever.”
Boldness certainly hasn’t been in short supply at the General Motors camp. But when your bestselling pickup consistently plays second fiddle to Ford’s F-Series, and Chrysler’s Ram lineup is nipping at your heels with substantial sales growth and Motor Trend’s 2013 Truck of the Year, you gotta make some noise. “Stronger, smarter, more capable” — that’s the new Silverado. And from early looks, GM might be on to something.
What we find in the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is not so much a revolutionary leap but a back-to-basics refinement. It’s a truck meant to appeal to the heritage of pickup ownership; those traditional blue-collar sensibilities rooted in dirt under the fingers and an honest day’s work.
Casinos: the flashing-light fantasy of cascading quarters, the thrill of chance dancing around a wheel, the ecstasy of hauling in newly won chips; the hunched backs of slot machine junkies, the dejection of “22, player busts,” the empty wallets of the down-on-their-luck. Two sides of the same coin, but it’s the former that gambling pushers wish to sell. Especially when Toronto is being courted for Ontario’s next casino.
Indeed, gambling is a sizable cash cow for governments. The seedy underbelly is ideally avoided, hence the euphemism “gaming.” But Ontario is cash-strapped, drowning in a nearly $12-billion deficit of red ink. Gambling has become a lifejacket and addiction, a means of income — of escape — too substantial for the province to wean off of it. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Las Vegas powerhouses alike are attempting to woo Toronto. The prize: the potential gambling dollars Canada’s biggest metropolis could generate.
In the past few months, Toronto has entertained propositions for an “urban integrated casino” at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) from Caesars Entertainment; a similar pitch for the MTCC by The Las Vegas Sands Corp.; and, more recently, a three-million-square-foot “integrated resort” at Exhibition Place by MGM Resorts International. The MGM pitch, for example, dangled an investment of $3 billion to $4 billion, a 1,200-room hotel, 10 restaurants, 750,000 to one million square feet of retail, 12,000 underground parking spaces, a permanent home for Cirque du Soleil and permanentemployment for upwards of 10,000 and more than 5,000 construction jobs during the proposed three-year construction period. These job prospects have been a pillar for casino advocates, which include Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Jobs, of course,mean revenue.
When I pulled up to the house, I was kind of nervous,” says Paul Mandarino. After the recent maelstrom of media reports focused on vulnerable kids being bullied, the 25-year-old Vaughan resident saw an opportunity to join the revolution of resolution. Knocking on a stranger’s door was his first move.
After expressing interest in empowering kids, a York Region police officer informed him about Youth Assisting Youth (YAY). The not-for-profit program matches children aged 6 to 15 with volunteers aged 16 to 29 who can set an example and prevent potential consequences that can stem from social, community or familial issues. “You can reach out to those kids and you can help them through a tough time.”
Before he could become a philanthropic force in his community, Mandarino had to go through an intensive application process that included an initial orientation, multiple training sessions and a one-on-one meeting with his mentee-to-be. “If he didn’t like me it would crush my heart,” he says, looking back on that nerve-racking introduction.
After arriving at 10-year-old Jonathan’s house with his YAY case coordinator, they moved to the dinner table to discuss the details of the program with his mother. “When I started talking to her and having a conversation, things got really comfortable,” he remembers. Mandarino and Jonathan immediately hit it off as well. “We found out that we have a lot of things in common and it was easy from there.” The aspiring police officer meets his mentee twice a week for a total of three hours. They play catch, tennis, Lego, video games, read together and watch Argo games — and the rewards are reciprocal. “I’m still getting something out of it now,” Mandarino says. “The experience has shown me that a future is based on kids and if we show them the right way, the future would be a lot less of a mess later on.”
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4. Leave the clutch behind and go big with a cut-work bag that means business. www.zara.com
5. Get your Great Gatsby glam on with Zara’s vintage-inspired Maxi Pearl necklace. www.zara.com
6. Forget the cloth, let your accessories do the colour blocking for you with this geometric necklace. www.anthropologie.com
7. Fashion house Joe Fresh’s forte is affordable style. For just $8 why wouldn’t you want this? www.joefresh.com
8. Any worldly bookworm would cross the ocean for The New York Times 36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe. Luckily, it’s sold at your local Anthropologie. www.anthropologie.com
9. This staple ace skirt will take you from work to play all in one day. www.joefresh.com
10. The sandal of the summer: chunky, strappy and printed. Zara’s Stretch Combination Print Sandals are just the trick. www.zara.com
11. Stay grounded in Zara’s Vamp Glitter Sandal. www.zara.com
Three-time world champion Patrick Chan keeps his head high and his focus steady. After all, this latest win (his third consecutive World Championship title) brings him one step closer to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and he’s got his eye on the gold.
Chan leads a hectic life, flying back and forth between competitions, and to his hometown in Toronto and Detroit, where he recently moved to train at the Detroit Skating Club, along with other competitors, for the World Championships in London. I catch up with him on the phone as he waits for a flight out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and he tells me how he came to the sport he believes is a great way to express yourself.
A native of Ottawa, Chan moved to Toronto at a young age and took up the sport of figure skating on the recommendation of a hockey coach who told him he should learn how to skate well before he started to play hockey. “I just got better and better really quickly and then just went ahead and stayed in figure skating.” Luckily for him, he also had a lot of support from friends and family growing up, making for a positive environment that was integral to keeping him motivated on the rink. “[They were] always really supportive of me, and so [were] my fellow students and especially my friends. They never alienated me because of what sport I did, they just really admired the fact that I was a really good athlete,” says Chan, who attended North York’s École secondaire Étienne-Brûlé. “I don’t know if I would have kept on skating if I was ever bullied. It would have really discouraged me and then I wouldn’t have had the confidence just to skate,” he adds.
Who to bring, what to wear, when to leave, how much to give and why it all matters. The evolution of wedding guest etiquette.
THE PRESENT MOMENT
While the rule of thumb used to be that you pay for your plate, Toronto wedding planner Karina Lemke believes people have long been smashing that sacred proverb (often without even realizing it). With a nuptial landscape that’s greener than ever, covering your palatable plate of rosemary organic chicken, truffle risotto and the cavalcade of buttercream desserts that follow can mean dishing out $600–$1,000 per couple, if you consider the countless rounds of Cabernet that coincide. Instead, Lemke estimates that the average couple gives closer to $250–$400, regardless of how posh the property is. While you should consider boosting your busta to cushion the blow, “most etiquette experts would back up the philosophy that if you’re throwing or hosting a party, you’re doing so with the expectation of nothing in return. You’re doing it because you’re a host.” The rise of destination weddings has also ushered a new wave of gifting, which Lemke personally experienced while exchanging vows with Yuk Yuk’s founder Mark Breslin in an intimate Laguna Beach ceremony in 2010. “If you’re getting married away you have to assume that you’re not going to get very much because their contribution is the fact that they’re going — and they’ve probably spent anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 a couple to join you for the week.” The Emily Post Institute Inc.’s etiquette blog also dispels the pay-your-plate myth, suggesting that “the amount you spend is strictly a matter of your budget, how close you are to the bride and groom and what you think is an appropriate gift.”
Copies of Stefan Sagmeister’s Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far are carefully culled from a cardboard box and arranged like the Great Pyramid of Giza in the gift shop at Toronto’s Design Exchange. Handled like bone China, this inanimate book with content so far from idle has the razor-edged expression of irony. Its author, a wonder of the design world, is upstairs readying his highly anticipated exhibition for tomorrow’s big reveal. True to stereotypes, the New Yorker is running half-an-hour behind schedule.
It’s 12 p.m. and beside the shop, two men have just begun adhering life-size letters to a freshly painted taxicab yellow wall in an artery of the original Toronto Stock Exchange building. By the time Sagmeister is ready, the first six characters of his forthcoming exhibit’s title, “The Happy Show,” are revealed. A cheeky caricature of a copulating couple covers the face of an elevator, offering a taste of what awaits as its doors provocatively slide open to let us in. On the second floor, the man of the hour is heard though not seen, wrapping up his third consecutive interview. Visitors are cautiously welcomed by Sagmeister’s handwritten advisory: “This exhibition will not make you happier.”
The show is a sensorial glimpse of the designer’s decade-long exploration of that very emotion. This multimedia endeavour metamorphosed from maxims in his personal diary to a poetic book to a public portrayal of finding life’s ultimate purpose that will unravel in a feature-length documentary scheduled to debut in the fall of 2013. Sagmeister makes his mission clear through the words of French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal lacquered on one of the walls: “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views.”
Evanka Osmak was standing at the centre of the Sky Dome in the spring of 2006 when she saw an opportunity. The budding Oakville-raised news reporter, who was working for an NBC station in Yuma, Arizona, had flown to Toronto to interview Blue Jays’ catcher Bengie Molina. “I thought, ‘OK this is my chance. I’ve got to say something, I’ve got to act,’” says Osmak, who aspired to return home and cover Canadian sports once her contract was up. Surrounded by veteran journalists, she stepped up to the plate and marched over to Sportsnet anchor Jamie Campbell. “I’m Evanka Osmak, I’m from Oakville but I’m working down in Arizona. Is there any chance I could send you my tape and you could critique it?” she said. Impressed by her confidence and charisma, he handed over all of his contact information and agreed to review her demo.
He never heard from her. Six months later, Campbell was hosting a holiday dinner at his family home when the phone rang. It was Sportsnet news director Mike English. He was combing the country for a female sports anchor and wanted to see if Campbell, who’s regularly approached by aspiring broadcasters, had any qualified leads. Campbell immediately recalled his conversation with Osmak, but her name escaped him and he had no contact information. The only thing he could remember was that she was raised in Oakville and working in Arizona.
“I said, ‘Look, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to spend no more than 10 minutes on the Internet and I will see if I can find her.’”
Realizing his chances were slim, he monotonously typed the words “Arizona Television Stations” into Google. His search rang up 40 or 50 news stations, but when he saw the word Yuma, something struck him. He clicked the on-air talent link and “up comes this picture of Evanka from Oakville, Ontario. I remember sitting there going, ‘I cannot believe how lucky I was to find her so quickly and so randomly.’”