What’s on this month, in Ottawa and beyond

Martin Scorsese received a lifetime award at the 74th Berlinale Film Festival. (Tony Wohlfarth/The BUZZ)
Martin Scorsese received a lifetime award at the 74th Berlinale Film Festival. (Tony Wohlfarth/The BUZZ)

Tony Wohlfarth

The 74th Berlinale (Feb. 15-25, 2024)

A highlight was hearing from Martin Scorsese, who received a Golden Bear for his lifetime of work as a film director. Two Canadian films were screened in Berlin and featured at a Canadian Embassy reception.


This film is based on telephone calls between Russian soldiers, who were assigned to the war front in the Kharkiv region in 2022, and their mothers. They share their antipathy toward Ukrainians and their desire to return home. The film is not narrated, so the audience hears their conversations against a backdrop of utter devastation in the villages they are seeking to liberate. At one point, we hear one soldier admit to assassinating a family whom he deems to be sympathetic to the Ukrainian cause.

The film was produced with financial support from Telefilm Canada and directed by Oksana Karpovych. It won a special mention from the jury award in Berlin. Running time: 1h35m.

Matt & Mara

Blackberry director Matt Johnson plays himself in this film about his chance encounter with Mara (Derragh Campbell), an old friend and aspiring author. They go to a writer’s conference and she helps Matt prepare for his father’s funeral. They banter and argue (a lot).

Critics have said this film is all about Mara’s failing marriage. But I saw a fascinating reflection on modern day relationships with a witty script. Directed by Kazik Radwanski. I will keep an eye on whether this film gets distributed commercially. Running time: 1h18m.

William Prince (photo by Danny Shumov)
William Prince (photo by Danny Shumov)

Folk Alliance International (FAI)

The 36th annual gathering of folk musicians kicked off on February 21 with the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs) in Kansas. Canada’s own William Prince was nominated for best album of the year.

There were 75 dedicated music fans-volunteers-who delivered an astounding festival in Kansas City. The crew helped deliver four days of workshops, showcases and panels to over 2,300 participants.

In 2025, FAI shifts to Montreal from February 19-23. Consider volunteering for this event later this year. See: www.folk.org

National Gallery of Canada (380 Sussex Dr.)

A new photo exhibition, “A Matter of Place” by Japanese photographer Kan Azuma, has opened until June 24. The more than 160 photographs by Azuma include poetic and contemplative interpretations of the Canadian landscape. See: www.gallery.ca

International Film Festival of Ottawa

The IFFO runs until March 24 at the ByTowne, the Mayfair, and Arts Court. Besides films from Canada and around the globe, it also includes a Screen Summit industry event. See: www.iffo.ca

Redbird Live (1165 Bank Street)

  • Mar. 15: singer-songwriter Rachael Kilgour;
  • Mar. 17: Kelly Sloan and JIG for St. Patrick’s Day;
  • Mar. 30: Colin Linden matinee performance;
  • Apr. 11: Christine Graves;
  • Apr. 13: Benj Rowland with Ali McCormick;
  • Apr. 14: Lloyd Spiegel.

Tickets: https://redbirdlive.ca/

National Arts Centre (1 Elgin Street)

  • Mar. 16: The Pairs trio;
  • Mar. 16: Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents Sing and Swing: Our American Songbook with Bria Skonberg and Benny Benack III;
  • Mar. 20: traditional Quebec music from Le Diable à Cinq;
  • Mar. 21: The Once from Newfoundland;
  • Mar. 30: The Official Canada Drag Race Tour;
  • Apr. 4: Land of Talk with Chinese singer Hua Li;
  • Apr. 5: music of Creedence Clearwater Revival;
  • Apr. 6: Haley Blais with Gabrielle Shonk;
  • Apr. 11: South African born Toronto singer Zaki Ibrahim;
  • Apr. 11-13, Royal Winnipeg Ballet performing “Snow White”; and
  • Apr. 14-15: Shen Yun ballet from China.

Tickets and show-times: www.nac-cna.ca

Salle Odyssée (Gatineau)

On April 1, set your sights on Gatineau (La Maison de la Culture at 855, boul. de la Gappe) to see Canada’s consummate jazz singer, Emily-Claire Barlow. Tickets at: www.reseau.ovation.ca

Montgomery Scotch Lounge (750 Gladstone)

  • Mar. 15: jazz trombonist Peter Turner with Peter Brown: Notes from the Dirty Thirties;
  • Mar. 16: Mike Essoudry’s Future Pasts;
  • Mar. 21: The Low Keys;
  • Mar. 22: the Wade-Laroche Duo;
  • Mar. 23: the Liftoff Trio;
  • Mar. 29: Finely Tuned Elephant;
  • Mar. 30: Ottawa Guitar Trio;
  • Apr. 3: Courage4;
  • Apr. 4: RedFox from Montreal;
  • Apr. 5: 3 of Hearts;
  • Apr. 6: Miguel de Armas Trio;
  • Apr. 11: Boshko Maric;
  • Apr. 12: Mikhail Laxton; and
  • Apr. 13: Kaeley Jade.

See montgomeryscotchlounge.com

Next Month

The Empowering Women in the Music Industry (EWIMI) Conference takes centre stage at the NAC on April 25-27:
www.axeworldfest.com/. EWIMI is on the same weekend as the annual Grassroots Festival: ottawagrassrootsfestival.com/

Out of Town

Irish Mythen is one of the most accomplished and energetic folk musicians in Canada. See her perform live in Deep River on March 21. For tickets and more information, check out: www.irishmythen.com/shows

Tony Wohlfarth is an Ottawa-based freelance film and entertainment writer. He covered the 54th Berlinale and FAI in February.

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