The above image of Pink perfectly sums up my feelings about the AMAs.
Last night, the usually underwhelming award show took place honouring some of the "biggest" artists in the music industry. The majority of the performances were complete snoozefests and I didn't think the winners made sense. There were a couple of moments that I loved, while the rest of the show pretty much sucked. The only reason why I tuned in was to catch Christina Aguilera pay tribute to Whitney Houston and Diana Ross received the lifetime achievement award. Speaking of Diana Ross, her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross was the host. She was alright.
Let's start with the opening performance courtesy of Pink and Kelly Clarkson. To be completely honest, I tuned in 10 minutes after the show started, so I'll let you judge for yourself:
Other performers included Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Haley Steinfeld + Florida Georgia Line, Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Macklemore + Skylar Grey, Portugal. The Man, Alessia Cara + Zedd, Khalid + Imagine Dragons, BTS (made their American television debut) and Pink returned for a "gravity defying" performance. Of all of these, there are three worth talking about.
Christina Aguilera received mixed reviews for her tribute to Whitney Houston by performing hits from The Bodyguard. Personally, I thought she shit the bed. She was off-key and the timing wasn't right. This could have been a combination of poor audio and her not being Whitney Houston. She's not my first choice to pay tribute to Whitney. I think anyone else could have done a better job. Watch below:
Pink took things to a whole other level. Literally. I had no words. I was entertained from beginning to end. She always kills it when she performs and restores my faith in the music industry.
As mentioned at the beginning of this recap, Diana Ross received the Lifetime Achievement Award and showed all of the artists how it's done. The highlight of the performance was when her family joined her on stage. Her "grandbabies" have the entertainment bug too.
BONUS: Because as an entertainment blogger, I'm kind of obligated to share BTS' performance. They left everyone speechless as they made their American debut and never stopped moving. I was exhausted watching them, but they were certainly entertaining.
In terms of who took hardware home, Keith Urban cleaned up in the country categories (Country Male, Country Album, Country Song), Imagine Dragrons won Best Pop/Rock Duo/Group, DJ Khaled won Best Rap/Hip Hop Song, The Chainsmokers won Best EDM Artist, Shawn Mendes won Adult Contemporary Artist, Lady Gaga won Best Pop/Rock Female, Niall Horan won New Artist of The Year, Collaboration of The Year went to Luis Fonsi, Alternative Artist went to Linkin' Park and Bruno Mars won the big one - Artist of The Year.
I am really craving "real award shows" so the AMAs were a warmup for me. I'll be kind and give them a 4/10 rating.
I had the chance to watch Netflix Original series Marvel's The Punisher before it begins streaming tomorrow and boy are you guys in for a real treat.
When I think of Marvel, I think superheroes. I couldn't help but roll my eyes when I first heard about this series. It sounded super cheesy. However, I was quick to change my mind as soon as I started watching. The synopsis goes a little like this: " After exacting revenge on those responsible for the death of his wife and children, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) uncovers a conspiracy that runs far deeper than New York’s criminal underworld. Now known throughout the city as The Punisher, he must discover the truth about injustices that affect more than his family alone."
I'm not going to give too much away, but it is true that not all heroes wear capes. There's non-stop action from the second the series starts, until the second it ends. You have no idea who to trust or what's about to happen next. It's dark and captivating. Oh, and Jon Bernthal and Ben Barnes are hot as f*ck.
I highly recommend that you guys watch the show and pray that the lovely peeps at Netflix will order another season.
The Hamilton Film Festival has officially kicked-off so let's continue to explore the films being screened this week. Here is my interview with Jasenko Pasic:
What did you learn about yourself and your craft while making this film?
As I am an actor and not a film-maker, everything was new for me. But, as lucky as I am, I had great a team of professionals around me supporting me with their crafts and knowledge. That being said, this experience was a life-changing one. It took us 4 years to make and if there is something I have learned from it, it is that everybody should have much more respect for film-makers as making the film is not a piece of cake.
How is it different from other films a part of the HFF program?
I know that it is different, if by nothing else, by story itself. I do not think that there is another film about crazy metal gig in besieged city.
Why should people watch it?
Because it is the film about besieged Sarajevo from music perspective. It is a film about love, hope and life; a film about people who risked their lives to play a metal gig in front the people who have risked their lives in order to live them.I hope that this film can change stuff. Even now, 21 years after the siege of Sarajevo ended, it seems that humanity didn’t learn much. And not just Sarajevo. The reason why people should see it is that it is still relevant, and it always will be. There are hundreds of artists living under similar circumstances as those in Scream For Me Sarajevo.
We're devoting this week to sharing Q&A's with filmmakers with films screening at the Hamilton Film Festival.
When They Awake will be screened on opening night of the festival on Monday, November 6th at The Staircase following the traditional gala. Check out my interview with P.J. Marcellino below:
What inspired When They Awake?
When They Awake started off as a very different film, which followed a youth engagement project in the Northwest Territories. We knew our story would be broader but we did not know exactly how. We were willing to let things happen on its own time, though. About one year into the production — just as we were supposed to wrap up — the interim reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were published, generating a flurry of really interesting, emotional, politically-charged discussions all over the country. These conversations that were happening all around us, as well as a few pivotal ones we had with some musicians (Leela Gilday, Susan Aglukark, Leanne Goose) convinced us that we had to dig deeper. So, we did just that. We never expected it to lead to another two and a half years in production… By then, so many Indigenous culture keepers, Elders, and youth leaders had shared their stories, their songs, and their memories with us, that we felt the responsibility of bringing the story out, come what may.
Did you discover anything new about yourself and/or your craft while making this?
One always learn from intense situations, and making a feature film of this magnitude (involving 40+ musicians), shot all over Canada, including some of the country’s most remote areas, is as challenging as it gets for a duo of emerging filmmakers. From that angle alone, making When They Awake was the most incredible hands-on filmmaking school. But, the most important things we’ve learned through this process were related to how to become better allies for Indigenous friends, neighbours, communities; how to more efficiently engage in intersectional solidarity at this crucial junction; how to be more aware of our own responsibility, of our own position.
Why should people watch this film?
As luck would have it, the production delays landed the wrap up of post-production right in the middle of Canada 150 — which we took as an incredible opportunity to question what Canada 150 means; who has been included historically, and who has not; and how do we build positive dialogue around it. As part of our personal commitment to the story we decided to take it on the road to community screenings all around the country, starting with 20 in all three northern territories, but ultimately aiming for 150 screenings by the end of the year, which are really 150 opportunity for people to engage in a very important dialogue about decolonization and about reconciliation. But perhaps I’m making When They Awake sound way heavier than it is. People should watch this film because it is a joyful, uplifting, poetic, and empowering film about an incredibly talented and outspoken generation of Canadian Indigenous musicians (from Tanya Tagaq to A Tribe Called Red, and from Hamilton-based Iskwe to Brantford-based Logan Staats) whose music is helping build bridges by channeling their cultures, their peoples’ histories, their languages, and their musical traditions into stirring, exciting art, at a moment when the rest of Canada is finally paying attention. Music, thus, becomes the gateway for dialogue, understanding, and healing. We feel people will come out with fuzzy feelings about how we can — all together — build better communities, but also an appreciation for the vast array of incredible Indigenous music out there, and a better understanding about the history of Indigenous peoples in this country.
The Hamilton Film Festival kicks off this weekend so I'll be sharing a Q&A with the filmmakers everyday this week.
My first Q&A is with mother and daughter filmmaker team, Marla and Kasha Slavner, regarding their documentary Sunrise Storyteller. Check it out below:
What did you learn about yourself and your craft while making this film?
As I was working on a minuscule budget, I learned how to be resourceful, and problem-solve. I also learned how to do most roles within the filmmaking process; directing, cinematography, screenwriting, editing, and sound. The making of The Sunrise Storyteller has taught me so much about building my confidence, learning to believe in myself, and connecting with others. I don’t think I truly understood what a profound impact the film could have until it was released. Since it was a journey piece for me as well, It has opened a much broader dialogue about global citizenship, resilience, and youth empowerment.
How is it different from other films being shown at the Hamilton Film Festival?
I really don’t like to compare my film to others. For the most part, filmmaking is such a labour of love and very personal. It takes a lot of passion and purpose to take this path so I have an admiration and respect for all filmmakers. Especially at festivals where hundreds, if not thousands of films have been submitted and a small percentage of those are selected. I’m here to support them, as well as all those others who may not have been selected but are working just as hard to have their films seen. I know that side of the equation as well and it feels very personal which it shouldn’t be.
Why should people watch it?
The world is in turmoil and it’s easier than ever to be disempowered by how traditional media covers news current events. People should watch the Sunrise Storyteller to re-awaken their sense of hope and inner-hero/heroine and question themselves as to the individual and collective role we all have to play as global citizens.. The film highlights everyday changemakers, who have risen above the challenges and adversity they’ve faced to help make the world a better place. They’re incredibly inspiring to me and to the audiences who have seen this film so far.