Bonjour film festivals

Tara Thorne writes a letter, brings you some arts news.

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Two very different but compelling film festivals kick off this week. (Dear Halifax arts people, Please start sharing schedules with one another so everybody stops doing everything all at once, leaving weeks of empty nights at a stretch, followed by action-packed, conflict-filled weekends every other month. With mad respect, The Dope Show.)

The Atlantic Film Festival's junior edition—which we wholly endorse as the most important film festival in Halifax, exceeding even the AFF, because our future filmmakers have even fewer options than us old folks, what with their curfews and ratings restrictions and pandering marketing—opens on April 24. The sixth edition of ViewFinders kicks off with the Sundance winner War/Dance, and runs until April 28, when it will close with God Grew Tired of Us.

"This year's program will leave you truly inspired," said compelling new VF director Julie Glaser a few weeks ago at the fest's launch party. "We know that young people are utilizing film, video and new media to tell their own important stories and we're proud to support that creative process right here at home with the ViewFinders Festival." Keep an eye out for more on ViewFinders next week, and in the meantime download yourself a guide at atlanticfilm.com/view.

The fifth edition of the DiverCiné festival, an annual exhibition of francophone films based in Ottawa and Vancouver, will expand across the country this year to hit Moncton, Calgary, Toronto and, beginning April 23 at Park Lane, Halifax.

The fest opens with Mahaleo, a doc that uses the titular band, which plays Malagasy music, as the catalyst "in this colourful look back at the anti-colonial movement and various island crises since then." The remaining screenings will drop at the Alliance fran<0x00E7>aise (5509 Young), for two bucks a pop, and they include Raja, La petite Jérusalem, MaRock and Le Voyage en Arménie. For more info on the films and screening times, hit www.divercine.com

Don't you hate pants?

The Halifax Comedy Fest opens this week with a big gala show down in the Schooner Room at Casino Nova Scotia. Fans of Video on Trial will be stoked to see Trevor Boris in the line-up, alongside 22 Minutes staffer Irwin Baker, Air Bud star Doug Funk, "Best Comic in Ottawa" winner Carrie Gaetz and Irish vet Matt Sadlier. The night will be hosted by Steve Patterson. There are a bunch of other shows—including an April 25 set from Dartmouth's Tracey

MacDonald at the Schooner—dropping throughout the week and into next. Visit halifacomedyfest.ca for more comedy than you could spray a can of laughing gas at. (Yeah, that's why we don't do stand-up.)

Clickin' it with Michael Ondaatje

We were surprised, upon reading the fab Johanna Schneller's Q & A with him in last weekend's Globe and Mail, to discover that Michael Ondaatje has as much self-doubt and insularity as any schmo writer, like us. "There are writers who plan everything beforehand and know what the last sentence is going to be. I'm so envious of them," he said. "Even five days before the end, I'm not quite sure if this thing is going to click together." So keep that in mind when you head to the Lord Nelson on May 10 to see him read from his new work Divisadero, his first novel in seven years. Get your tix for $8 at Frog Hollow Books in Park Lane, or if you're a superfan, pay $40 and attend a private reception with the man himself.

You are what you read

If you eat vegan and like reading about it, it's your lucky week. Tumbleweed Publishing is launching TOFU: Living and Breathing Vegan in a World That Smells Fishy. Contributions to the mag come from Winnipeg legends Propagandhi, the kids in Vancouver's Immaculate Machine and Mat Dunlap and Dave Ewenson from CKDU fave Let's Get Baked. TOFU launches April 22 at 2pm at One World Cafe, featuring performances from VeganDreamCake and the Cutie Pies (who will release a special, launch-only EP) and Kev Corbett.

"Releasing this magazine will not only allow us to promote veganism, it will also provide us with a way to promote music as well," says TOFU co-editor, with Claire Gallant, Ryan Patey. "These two things have been an important part of both Tumbleweed Publishing and Tumbleweed Entertainment and it feels incredible to be able to combine them on a national scale."

Hungry just thinking about it? Email: tarat@thecoast.ca

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