They say the little things mean a lot which can be said for the character James Wong, played by Kenny Wong, in the short film Dystonia. The film is based on the experience of Kenny Wong when he was studying at McGil University and part of the school’s top string quartet. While playing the violin in front of his teacher, one of his fingers is not doing what he wants to do while he is playing. He is then diagnosed with a Focal Hand Dystonia, where it is a neurological movement disorder that causes the muscles of the hand to involuntarily contract. Something that seems to be as minor as a thing like dystonia has massive complications and turns the fate of James in this film. Even though Dystonia is a short film, there was so much put into this masterpiece. FERNTV spoke to Kenny Wong and what it took to put Dystonia all together.
The 98-year old toy inventor has no signs of slowing down
Most of us when we were children would have come across or played with one of Eddy Goldfarb‘s toys. The man who has invented over 800 toys has not only made a name for himself but has brought many families together who have played with his inventions. It did not all start on the right foot for Eddy who served on the submarine Batfish in WWII before becoming a toy inventor. He met his wife Anitas June Stern in 1947 and knew that she was the one and quickly married her afterwards. She supported him for two years after his service in the war when he was unemployed. Eddy worked diligently on his inventions in this downtime and in 1949 he had three toys in the New York City Toy Fair which included the Yakity-Yak Teeth, the Busy Biddy Chicken and the Merry Go Sip.
The wisdom that Eddy shares with the audience about leading a meaningful life is charming and inspiring. He gets up every morning to create something in his garage in California where he has a 3D printer along with all the tools to make his magic. This key to keeping on enduring in his life is simply stated. Eddy has been disciplined behind his mantra even after going through tumultuous events such as his service in WWII and the death of his wife. Incredibly, a man of his age of 98 can keep on doing what he loves without missing a beat. Where many would have thrown in the towel by now, Eddy Goldfarb is still to this day works to achieve a fulfilling and meaningful life. He is currently in a relationship with Greta Honigsfeld whom he met six years ago and is also involved in a writing group where he writes 100-word stories. These stories uplift his colleagues.
His daughter Lyn Goldfarb who directed this short biopic Eddy’s World gives the audience a most charming perspective on the life journey of her father. They get a fresh look at life from watching Eddy’s consistent and inspirational work ethic. He makes you think that the only person that is stopping you from achieving success in life is you. Now Eddy does not come out and say that to the audience in the film but his actions do the talking. For many of us who feel that there is not enough support to help you achieve in life then it’s time to watch Eddy’s World. He makes no excuses and produces results and of course magic. That’s the key.
Actress Catherine Saindon displaying her talent across all mediums.
Many films are easy to judge especially when it comes to short films where we can easily say that the budget of the film will be low and the actors or actresses are not something to rave about. That may be the case sometimes but often we overlook those involved in the production. Director Vincenzo Nappi‘s short film First Bite starring Catherine Saidon is one that the audience should pay attention to. Coming from Montreal, Quebec, Vincenzo Nappi directs this film about Alex, played by Catherine Saidon, who is struggling to keep stuff down in the washroom of a metal concert. We here on FERNTV have always been supported and delighted towards the many short genre films that have come from la belle province as they have really carved out this niche and there is no sign of them stopping. The audience should also focus on the talent of actress Catherine Saidon who has honed her craft ever since the age of 10. FERNTV spoke to the talented Catherine Saidon who refuses to leave no stone unturned in the industry.
FERNTV: How did you find out about this film and can you tell us here on FERNTV what the audition was like for First Bite?
Catherine: I found out about First Bite when a friend from Yellowbug Theatre and the college sent me a message asking if I’d be willing to be part of this project. I think he compiled a list for Vince to go through of all the Dawson graduates from approximately the past 5 years. Vince stated that he recognized me from another gore film I had previously done (shamelessly plugging Game of Death) and I was offered the role.
FERNTV: You have done feature films, as well as a series called Spinning Out on Netflix. Can you tell us what is the biggest difference between doing full-length features as opposed to shorts because they all have their different challenges?
Catherine: In my opinion, it’s not really about the type of project, but more so the type of role and its importance. The purpose of some roles is to be the character that allows the lead actors to shine, while other times you’re the character that carries the story. Both are exciting, and both have value and purpose.
I would sooner outline the challenges between film and theatre. I come from theatre, where you spend a month rehearsing daily, for hours, working and re-working your character, so that by opening night, it’s really second nature. I can’t even tell you how many times I have been in the wings, about to go on, and I can’t remember any of my lines, but as soon as you step on stage, it all comes back. You have become so comfortable with how you developed the character that you don’t even have to think anymore, you just have to be present. In the film, scenes are constantly being re-written, and you can receive a brand-new version minutes before you’re expected to shoot. It definitely keeps you on your toes. It’s also shot out of sequence, so I think that adds a layer of work you don’t have to worry about in theatre. You could film a reaction to a traumatic event before actually filming the event. So that has its challenges.
FERNTV: The poster for this film First Bite reminds me of David Cronenberg’s classic Rabid. What are your thoughts on the poster?
Catherine: I’m not going to lie, I had to look up Rabid’s poster and I can definitely see the parallels. I think the poster for First Bite is well done! I think it creates an image of despair and struggle. It encompasses the theme of the film perfectly.
FERNTV: What was it like to work with director Vincenzo Nappi?
Catherine: Vince is a very collaborative director and I could tell he had a great vision right from the start. I could truly see the passion and the excitement he has for his work just in how he carries himself on set. He’s open to discussing the role and the scene and allows for changes to occur throughout the process when it becomes apparent something cannot be performed the way it was visualized while writing. He’s made himself a very approachable and very supportive director. Vince gives his actors the direction and tools necessary to carry out his vision while also allowing them the freedom to play.
FERNTV: There has been a surge in punk or metal horror in film? After doing a film like this can you explain why this formula works?
Catherine: This genre seems to have struck a chord with its target audience. There has always been a fascination with horror films; metal horror has blended to create the perfect marriage and I’m thrilled to be part of this trend.
FERNTV: Do you feel that this film comments on eating disorders and the horrors of going through it?
Catherine: I’m happy to hear that the film goes deeper than what’s on the surface and that it can invoke a discussion about deeper issues. There are many ways to interpret the film, and if that’s the message you take away, I am grateful to be part of something that starts a conversation.
FERNTV: Can you describe your experience at Yellowbug Theatre School where you attended for 11 years?
Catherine: I am so insanely thankful for Yellowbug Theatre. I started when I was 10 years old. I met my best friends at Yellowbug and 13 years later we are closer than ever. Milva Franzini, the owner of Yellowbug and our teacher/mentor, created such a safe space where we could explore and play, without judgement. For us to help us grow as actors, she encouraged us to try and to fail and learn from it.
Susan Fuda, our playwright and director would write the most amazing plays for our end of year showcase, really focusing on highlighting her students’ strengths. They have both become some of my biggest supporters, like second and third Mom to me. I am so, so grateful for my time at Yellowbug, I can’t say it enough. I could go on forever.
FERNTV: How does an actress like yourself keep busy during a pandemic?
Catherine: It was tough, especially at the beginning, but I decided to take this time to learn and to grow as an artist. I participated in a lot of interviews on Zoom with casting directors, actors, directors, to just try to get as much information as possible and to learn about all of the moving parts within the industry. I tried writing but… I’m not really any good at that. I’ll try again eventually. I did start learning to play the piano however, and that has been very therapeutic for me. It’s brought me so much joy, and it’s been inspiring to see myself improve day by day and begin to play songs I grew up listening to. I’ve also been taking a course in creativity; I want to keep my juices flowing during this rest period and come out at the end of it better than before.
Toto steals everyone’s hearts in a robotic form.
One of the best shorts of the year that is brilliant and heartwarming is Toto from director Marco Baldonado which should receive awards after it runs in the festival circuit. Screening at this year’s Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival, Tota focuses on a 90-year old Italian grandmother named Rosa Forlano, who plays herself in the film, who is given a robot named Toto to give her companionship and to help her around the house. A quick friendship is built between Toto and Rosa that she has the robot doing things that she wishes. Starting from a tabula rasa state, Toto begins to understand Italian, making pasta from scratch, cooking spaghetti and setting the table up for dinner. Nonna Rosa passes on the Italian traditions to Toto that she has the robot right where she wants and needs him. Unfortunately, she has to babysit her grandaughter Santina one day, played by Gabriela Francis, where her selfishness and naivety change the home and stop those traditions of her grandmother.
Do you remember those feelings that hit you in the heart when you watched a film like E.T., The Extra Terrestial which made you want to watch the film again and again? Those are the feelings you will get when you watch Toto because it is so charming in its narrative. You want to watch the connection between a futuristic artificial intelligent life form like Toto and a nonna who in the last stanza in her life and ready to teach what she knows. It should come out as awkward but it is surprisingly beautiful as two opposite forms of life working towards making the perfect pasta. Director Marco Baldonado will make you want to relish every minute you have with your grandparents and paradoxically to teach your children to not be foolish. It so funny when Rosa talks to Toto in Italian without a care in the world if he understands or not. So brilliant but God do I miss my grandmother.
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