ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film

Learning to Drive
Directed by Isabel Coixet
90 minutes, UK, USA, 2015

Friday, September 4 - Monday September 14, 2015

Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson

In many ways, Learning to Drive is a “love story,” but it’s not your usual romantic fare. It’s a strong connection between very good friends. The main characters come from very different cultures, and as their stories constantly intercut, we gain a perspective on how some people’s lives are not always like our own.

Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) is a literary critic. She works at home, and that’s where her life has been – stuck in books. Her 21-year-marriage loses its luster, and her husband, instead of having a mid-life crisis where he buys a sports car, has an affair. Reality hits when Wendy realizes he has left for good and isn’t coming home.

At the insistence of her daughter Tasha (Grace Gummer), Wendy decides to learn how to drive.  All this time, she didn’t have to. Her husband drove her.  Darwan (Ben Kingsley), a Sikh Indian, becomes her instructor. He’s struck by her sadness and wants to help her live an active life again.

Darwan lives in a rooming house in Queens. He teaches driving during the day and drives taxi at night just to survive. He’s not rich, and he’s not married. His sister’s son lives with him. We see glimpses of his life during religious services, cooking at home, doing laundry, and watching cricket matches with the guys in the rooming house. In his country, marriages are arranged.

He gives Wendy driving lessons, but he also adds words of wisdom… Driving:  You must see everything. Be aware of living.

When bullies harass him in the street yelling “Osama,” he says, “You can’t always trust people to behave properly. People think I look dangerous.”   But he seems to take things in stride….This is the way things are.

Wendy faces various driving obstacles: night driving and crossing a bridge. Darwan calls it “The road in the sky.”  He warns her about road rage “Be calm, and in life as well.”  You can arrive in 1, 2, or 3 pieces. His philosophy hits home. The film is full of subtle humor.

Darwan faces his own challenges: His sister in India sends a wife to him - someone he has never met. He meets her in the airport by holding up a placard with her name on it: Jasleen (Sarita Choudhury).  That is the ‘romantic’ setting where he first meets her. She doesn’t speak much English, is uneducated, and scared.

There are changes in both Darwan and Wendy’s lives. Wendy gets ‘fixed up’ with Peter (Matt Salinger - son of J.D.) at a restaurant dinner party.  Jasleen watches TV to learn English. All their lives are constantly intercut in the film.  It’s only when Jasleen finally ventures outside the small apartment that her life comes alive.  The film seems to be saying:  One has to make life happen. It’s up to you.

Passing the driving test is just a backdrop for the real stories in the film.
Darwan and Wendy have a solid friendship that could lead to something more, but they live very different lives and because of this, they must move on.  

Stay for the credits. The story continues visually.

Review by Lois Siegel


ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film

What We Did on Our Holiday
Written and Directed by Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin
95 minutes, UK, 2014
BBC Films

Friday, September 4 - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Trying to get a family with three young kids organized to go on a trip is every parent's nightmare.  And it's even more complicated if the parents  aren't getting along. Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) argue all the time and are getting divorced.

In a sense, What We Did on Our Holiday is a tragicomedy because it's never that fun when parents are breaking up. But this film is essentially delightful because of the talents of the three kids: Lottie-10 (Emilia Jones), Mickey-8 (Bobby Smalldridge), and Jess-5 (Harriet Turnbull).  They are tremendous.

Whether it's pet rocks that have to be taken on vacation or the father falling asleep at the wheel, saved by his 5-year-old daughter who is bravely steering the car, you won't be bored.

The scenery is lovely - Scotland Highlands. They are travelling to celebrate grandfather's (Billy Connolly) birthday.  The event turns out quite different from what one would expect. The adults know that this may be grandfather's last birthday because he has cancer.

They arrive at Doug's brother's house. Gavin (Ben Miller) is a rich, tight ass, social climber and has created a Smart Home. The lights go on when you clap.  The grownups are uptight about preparing for the 215 guests who are due to arrive. Grandfather insists on taking the kids on a drive for the day. The adults know this isn't a good idea, but they are distracted. Grandfather takes off with them in his truck. First, they meet his friend Doreen (Annette Crosbie) a lesbian who raises ostriches. Then he takes the kids to the beach.

Grandfather's motto - Live more and think less. The day doesn't go exactly as planned. When grandfather becomes ill, the kids come up with solutions that you would never dream of... in fact, you can't predict hardly anything in this film. It's sad and delightful, but always imaginative. Whether it's the story of Vikings or an embarrassing videotape accidently broadcast on YouTube.

What can go wrong does on this holiday, but dysfunctional families can make for interesting stories.

Review by Lois Siegel


Audrey's Costume Castle & Dancewear

"Await The Freight"

Mitch St. Pierre

Intermode Media
It will also air on Current TV (United States)

Produced by Intermode Media with the help
 of Story Editor Sue Stranks
 Director at the Canadian Film Television Production Association

Two daring travelers embark on the journey of a lifetime.

Mitch and Skot

Along the way they encounter countless difficulties and obstacles
 that come rolling with the wheelchair and living life off the beaten track.
Come along for the ride and see how they meet adversity and beat overwhelming odds.
Mitch, who has been diagnosed with a brittle bone disorder
sets out on this dangerous expedition in a wheelchair.

He faces unbelievable barriers when attempting freight train hops in the constraints of his chair. Accompanied by his best friend Skot
 the two document their story as they face the unknown in "Await the Freight."

Canadian Film Institute

Local Movie Listings


Ottawa, Canada
Contact: Danny McLeod T: +1 613 282-3858 E:


Quiet Revolution Pictures, Majika Pictures and Denmark's Fridthjof Films with the support of
Telefilm Canada and The Danish Film Institute will be filming the feature-length dark comedy,
Eddie" in the Nation’s Capital

Photo by Lois Siegel
Miriam Nørgaard and Michael Dobbin

Photo by Lois Siegel
Boris Rodriguez, Director

Starring Thure Lindhart (Angels & Demons, Into The Wild), Georgina Reilly (Pontypool, This Movie is Broken), Al Goulem (18 to Life, The Trotsky) and Dylan Smith (300, Love & Savagery).

Production is scheduled to begin February 7, 2011.
Quiet Revolution Pictures:
Fridthjof Films:
Telefilm Canada:

Ottawa, ON Canada,  February 7, 2011 –the Nation’s Capital is being transformed into the set of a twisted, dark-comedy movie entitled "Eddie." The satirical story is about a once-famous painter who rediscovers inspiration after he befriends a sleepwalking cannibal. Telefilm Canada and the Danish Film Institute have partially funded the project to be directed by Boris Rodriguez (Havana Kids, Beso Nocturno) and produced by Ottawa native Michael A. Dobbin (The Devil’s Curse, Powerful: Energy for Everyone, The Maiden Dance to Death) and Ronnie Fridthjof (Armadillo, Tempo). “The National Capital Region is the ideal setting for this movie. I’m really looking forward to working here,” says Boris.

Photo by Lois Siegel
Michael Dobbin, Producer

Director Boris Rodriguez is a graduate of Concordia University and the Canadian Film Centre. Boris’ films Beso Nocturno (Night Kiss) and Perfect both had premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Beso Nocturno was selected for a retrospective at the Museum Of Modern Art in New York.

Michael’s past work as a producer includes Toni Harman's debut horror entitled The Devil's Curse (aka Credo), (currently available through Lionsgate and iTunes), David Chernushenko’s Powerful: Energy for Everyone as well as Endre Hules' The Maiden Danced to Death. Michael was mentored by BAFTA-winning producer of East is East, Leslee Udwin. He’s an alumnus of the film programme of Ryerson. In October 2006, Michael founded the ‘Just Watch Me!’ Canadian Film Festival and as a story editor, script doctor and lecturer is in steady demand on both sides of the Atlantic.

For further information:
Lois Siegel, Unit Publicist: >>>>>>>
Danny McLeod, Assistant Producer + 613 282-3858

The Independent Filmmakers
Cooperative of Ottawa

319 Lisgar
(Bank & Lisgar)
Ottawa, Canada
(613) 237-0769
Specializing in a unique collection of films
you can't find anywhere else.
Extensive selection of outstanding
 documentary films by independent filmmakers

Ottawa Film Society

Film Office

The Ottawa-Gatineau Film & TV Registry


The 2007-2008 edition of the Registry is available.


Visit our web site or call us to order your copy today.




1386 Richmond Rd., P.O. Box 32114

Ottawa, ON

K2B 1A1


tel: 613.759.0797

fax: 613.721.3953

Ottawa International Animation Festival

Teen Filmmaker First Local to Win

at Ottawa International Animation Festival


©Photo  by Lois Siegel

 Will Inrig's short, animated film
 "The Depose of Bolskivoi Hovhannes" won the
Adobe Prize for High School Animation


This is his first animated film and tells the story of a humble shepherd
on a wind-swept heath in Armenia, whose sheep begin to conspire against him.


Inrig gained significant attention last summer with his debut feature documentary film
"The Exceptional Jivatma Valettas" that chronicles his very eccentric next-door neighbours.
 The film
premiered at the Library and Archives Canada.

He is currently working on another feature documentary
 "The Fantastic Ballet of the Mind and Its Master," exploring the inner fantasies of the autistic mind.

The film is inspired by his younger brother who has been diagnosed with severe autism.
Inrig is working with
the National Film Board of Canada through
 the assistance of Oscar-winning producer Adam Symansky.
Acting as the film’s executive producer is renowned Canadian filmmaker
 and Order of Canada recipient Allan King ("Warrendale," "A Married Couple").

Inrig is mentored by Order of Canada recipient Alanis Obomsawin,
one of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers
 and Ottawa filmmaker Lois Siegel.


Inrig's first dramatic feature about an enigmatic alien landing in northern Ontario,
 is also being supported by the National Film Board of Canada


 "The Depose of Bolskivoi Hovhannes" was made as part of
Canterbury High School's Media Arts Program 


Director: Will Inrig
Camera: Gordon Bailey

AUDIO: Will Inrig talks to All in a Day host Adrian Harewood on CBC Radio July 23, 2008

 International Launch of Mediateque

Lois Siegel's Home Page