With movie theatres reopening and then closing and then who-knows-what, there is comfort in knowing that, thanks to streaming and video-on-demand, we can all program our own double (or triple, or quadruple) bills at home. Here are this week’s best under-the-radar digital releases.
Framing Britney Spears, Crave
Finally, Britney is back. In Canada. Legally. Three long weeks after premiering on U.S. streaming service Hulu, the much-discussed documentary Framing Britney Spears is debuting on Canadian streamer Crave this Friday, enabling non-pirating Canadian audiences the opportunity to discover just what all the fuss is about. Turns out: there’s quite a bit to talk about.
Directed by Samantha Stark and produced in partnership with The New York Times, the doc sensitively reshapes the pop-culture narrative around Spears’s rise and shaved-head-umbrella-attack fall, revealing just how ugly the media’s obsession with the star actually was. While Stark offers plenty of evidence that Spears has been used and abused by so many in the celebrity machine, including her own father, the doc does fall down slightly in neglecting to examine much of the toxicity of the fandom movement that started the #FreeBritney campaign in the first place. But I guess that’s just fodder for an inevitable follow-up. Which I’m sure Canadians will receive no sooner than a month after our American Hulu-subscribing neighbours.
Kingston Canadian Film Festival, kingcanfilmfest.com
In any other year, regional Canadian film festivals would have trouble standing out from the long shadows cast by big players such as TIFF, Hot Docs and so forth. But this is of course not any other year, and now smaller, easier-to-miss festivals can deliver big impacts, with virtual screenings opening up access like never before. Case in point: the Kingston Canadian Film Festival, whose 21st edition has the potential to reach more audiences than ever, all while highlighting the best homegrown filmmakers have to offer. Which, lately, is quite a bit.
Although the KCFF contains a handful of promising world premieres that I can’t yet vouch for – including Scott Thompson and Paul Bellini’s comedy Mouth Congress and Ryan Noth’s shot-in-Prince Edward County drama Drifting Snow – the lineup is stacked with excellent films that audiences likely missed during their film-fest-circuit premieres last fall. Quick highlights include Tracey Deer’s coming-of-age drama Beans, the acclaimed music-world documentary No Ordinary Man, the dark comedy Shiva Baby, the visual-art documentary The Paper Man and the drama You Will Remember Me (Tu te souviendras de moi) starring Québécois icon Remy Girard. Each film will include post-screening Q&As to replicate the festival experience. Certain films will be only available to audiences in Ontario, but others will be available across the country.
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