Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – NXNE Part Two

Thursday – Straight to the NFB for noon as we are screening a very cool French rock’n’roll movie “Polaroid Song” along with the documentary “Down: Indie Rock In The PRC”. Director Andrew Field, a professor of ancient Chinese studies, flew in from Shanghai to join us and after his incredibly interesting film had Toronto native Jon Campbell join him for a Q&A. Campbell is one of the foremost experts on rock’n’roll from the PRC and is the author of the book “Red Rock”. You can read Andrew’s blog at and find out information on Jon’s book at Andrew stays in Toronto for three more days and attends almost every movie that we screen and meets as many other directors and industry types that he can. Ambrose and I unofficially awarded Andrew the title of most active participant of this years festival.

Next up were a couple of our hip-hop films, “Fugitive: Wax Live” a low budget locally shot film about American rapper Wax who, during his stay in Toronto, was wanted by airport authorities for not having the proper paperwork, and “KMS-Jewish Negroes” the story of Ethiopian rappers in Israel and the hardship they face. It was a good pairing and there was a lively discussion after with “Wax” director Shawn Thomsen.

We then had the Canadian premiere of “Letting Go” by 13 year old Fargo. North Dakota resident Cameron MacKenzie. She is the youngest director ever at the Film Festival and we were so charmed by her and her eight minute film we screened it three times during NXNE. She also blogged for us and you can see her updates at Watch for this kid in the future.

As Ambrose headed up to The Royal to introduce “Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy” I headed over to the eOne house party behind the Horseshoe to toast the new Gloryhound deal with the label and also to meet a film maker who was delivering the final cut of his movie (which was screening the next day). After a quick dinner with the Halifax crew, and a Jager shot with Robin Black, it was off to The Bovine for Gloryhound. As usual the boys killed it.

It was nice to see  Doughboy/Asexuals rocker John Kastner in the crowd with his lady Jessica Pare. A few years back Jessica was in the locally shot vampire rock movie “Suck” but today is better known as Mrs. Don Draper #2 on Mad Men.

Friday – It was a double faux pas day. I really should have checked the Euro soccer schedule before I booked certain films, and also should have done a clothes check before introducing a movie. On Friday we had both The National Film Board and The Toronto Underground Cinema screening films. As Ambrose hosted world renowned conductor Joel Thome ( ) and the film “Inside The Perfect Circle – The Odyssey of Joel Thome” at the NFB, I headed over to the TUC to introduce “Sa Javia Metal – The History Of Swedish Hard Rock And Heavy Metal”. It is a great film and I had local band Famous Underground “open” for it with their new video “Dead Weight”. The screening was at 3:00 PM the exact time of the kick-off between Sweden and England in the Euros. Of all the films to schedule I had to pick the one that was from Sweden. To add insult to injury I introduced the film wearing my English football jersey. I also volunteered to interview director Gorman Bechard at 3:45 PM on the NXNE stage at the Hyatt (during the height of the game). Gorman and I had a great chat of all things rock’n’roll and movies and then I dashed to the Friar to catch the last ten minutes of the match (England 3 – Sweden 2). After “Rising Above The Blues – The Story Of Jimmy Scott” we aired “What Did You Expect? The Archers Of Loaf Live At Cat’ Cradle”. Gorman directed the movie and we were ecstatic to have three of the members of the band in attendance and seeing the finished film for the first time. Local fans of the band were thrilled to see the lads in attendance and the band answered each and every question directed to them. We love when we have both a film and live performance from a band back to back and it happened a few times over the course of the week. Back at the TUC we had the world premier of “Ghostface Killah And Toronto’s Apollo Kids” and it was great to see scores of Parkdale kids who were featured in the locally shot movie crowded in the theatre wearing their new Ghostface shirts. Ghostface and Raekwon would tear up Yonge and Dundas Square a couple of nights later.

Our last movie on Friday was the world premiere of “My Father And The Man In Black” the story of Canadian born Johnny Cash manager Saul Holiff as told by his son Jonathon. It is an incredible story and one worth checking out. As anticipated it was one of the big hits of the festival.

After a long day of screenings and schmoozing we headed over to the Football Factory for the annual SonaBlast party. We had just missed local faves Papermaps who reportedly slayed the beer and BBQ crowd.

Saturday – Hone stretch. We started the day with “Once In A Lullaby – The PS 22 Chorus Documentary”. This inspiring film is the story of the Staten Island students who became viral sensations with their covers of Top 40 hits and ultimately were selected to sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” at the Oscars. This type of movie should be shown at every elementary school in the country. Three of our fave films were up next. “Jim Talks” is a short film about great local photographer Jim Allen. It was followed by a nine minute crazed drug fuelled Mick Farren narrated film “Memphis Psychosis”. We loved the film but the relative silence that met the conclusion of the film let us know we many have misfired on the grouping we placed it with. “The Ballad Of Hugh’, another locally made movie, is the intriguing story of poet, author and musician Hugh Oliver. Hugh is 82 years old and still playing the clubs with up and coming artists. He is a true legend on the local scene.

A special screening of “My Father And The Man In Black” was arranged for Saturday afternoon in conjunction with artScene at the Rivoli. I popped over to see Jonathan Holiff and a noted Johnny Cash historian discussing the film and answering questions from the crowd. It was nice to have a quick five minute chat with noted former LA Times pop writer Robert Hilburn. Hilburn is just finishing his new book “In Search Of Johnny Cash” and  sure he found some new information in the film. I couldn’t stay longer as I had to head back to the NFB to intro “Jobriath AD” to which Hilburn asked if it was about the seventies glam artist (which it is). Would have loved to have spoken more to Bob but I had work to do. Around the same time the news of the stage collapse at Downsview was heating up Blackberries and iPhones all over the city. Another sad day for rock’n’roll. Condolences to the families of those lost or injured. We had a great crowd for the Jobriath film, and considering Goldenvoice’s Elliott Lefko and I were probably the only ones in the audience who remembered the artist, it was very well received. It was very gratifying when a kid from the L.A. band The Dead Ships came up to me and thanked us for picking great films and having a film festival that went hand in hand with the music portion of NXNE. You can check out the Dead Ships at

After a quick stop in at the pre-MMVA party for The NE we headed back to the NFB for the world premiere of “Slaughter Nick For President” and another sold-out crowd. A funny and touching movie about Canadian actor Rob Stewart (“Tropical Heat” anyone?) who finds out on Facebook that he is a cultural and political hero in Serbia. A great movie and our second monster hit of the festival. After a quick post-screening party at the theatre it was off for some rock’n’roll debauchery at The RockStar Hotel. Hosted by the fine folks at Front Row Centre marketing this is one of the great parties of the year and they seemed to have found a great home at The Spoke Club. Good friends, good bands, good times.

Sunday – For the last couple of years our Sunday crowds have been great. With the massive crowds and street closings around the MuchMusic Video Awards (the NFB is across the street from Much) coupled with Father’s Day, you would expect the opposite, but the numbers have been great. This year we went for second screenings of “Slaughter Nick” and “My Father” and both played to capacity crowds. It was a great finish to a fantastic festival. After a heartfelt thank you for 12 years of partnership with the amazing team at The National Film Board (they are closing the screening room this fall) we headed to the Friar for a collective toast with the film team from the last twelve years.

As is tradition Wendi and I headed over to the pre-MMVA party for Cherie Sinclair’s company The Field. Another fabulous event and as always Kim Hughes, Yvonne Matsell, Bonnie Federau and crew occupied the old school table just inside the doors. A perfect ending to a pretty perfect week.

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Contact us at:

Don’t forget to stop by  at The Shanghai Cowgirl (538 Queen Street West) to see the great new Joe Strummer portrait. It makes me happy to see Joe’s face greeting each new customer.

Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, NXNE, The Daily XY and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

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