TIFF 2019 RISING STARS ON BEING PART OF THE CHANGING FACE OF

first_imgAdvertisement Login/Register With: Twitter At a red carpet event for TIFF earlier this summer, some of the Canadian actors spoke about their desire to further Hollywood efforts to achieve gender parity and increase support for diverse voices. Here’s a look at each of their burgeoning careers:NAHEMA RICCI (PHOTO: ANTIGONE)NAHEMA RICCIThis 21-year-old helms one of the buzziest homegrown titles of the fest, “Antigone,” billed as an indictment of the refugee experience in North America.Directed by Quebec filmmaker Sophie Deraspe, this modern-day interpretation of the classic Greek tragedy centres on an immigrant family in Montreal anchored by straight-A student Antigone, played by Ricci — herself a Montreal-born child of immigrant parents of Franco-Tunisian descent.After their parents are murdered, Antigone, her sister Ismene, her brothers Eteocle and Polynice, and their grandmother Menecee attempt to build a quiet life in a tiny apartment in their working-class neighbourhood. But tragedy strikes when Eteocle is wrongfully gunned down by police during the arrest of Polynice, a small-time drug dealer.Speaking about her career, Ricci says she’s buoyed by the chance to forge a show business profile amid an apparent sea-change that emphasizes equity and representation, but she sees any recent gains merely as “a great step.”“Hopefully, I’m getting more opportunity than I would have 20 years ago being a woman and being a woman from a minority,” says Ricci, “but I think there’s a lot of work to do, still, and we have to stay vigilant because we have seen in history a backlash that can happen.”Shamier Anderson (Photo: Getty Images) LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment SHAMIER ANDERSONAnderson arrives at TIFF as a supporting player in Drake Doremus’s “Endings, Beginnings,” which stars Shailene Woodley as an idealistic woman caught up in a love triangle.But he also takes a leading role as co-host of the fourth annual B.L.A.C.K Ball, an event hosted during TIFF and in Los Angeles during Oscars season, with its acronym referencing the initiative’s mission of Building a Legacy in Acting, Cinema and Knowledge.Co-founded and co-hosted by Anderson’s younger brother Stephan James — a TIFF rising star from 2015 — the event’s goal is to foster mentorship relationships between established stars and emerging talent, especially those from marginalized communities. Anderson calls efforts to support onscreen diversity “a human issue.”“It starts before we get here, it starts back in the projects in Toronto, in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods. I think we’ve got to get to those places because that’s where I’m from,” says Anderson, a Scarborough native whose credits include the feature films “City of Lies” and “Destroyer,” the Space series “Wynonna Earp” and Netflix’s “Dear White People.”The 28-year-old recently wrapped work on the civil rights drama “Son of the South” and the sci-fi thriller “Stowaway.”Anderson says he and his brother James — pegged in a recent Variety profile as poised to join Hollywood’s A-list — are committed to making a difference: “We have a responsibility, especially coming from Scarborough, and (are) hoping that our city and our country can help us in this change.”Kacey Rohl (Photo: IMDB)KACEY ROHLThis Vancouver actress has amassed several TV roles over the past decade in series including AMC’s “The Killing,” CW/Space’s “Arrow,” NBC/Citytv’s “Hannibal,” and Fox/Citytv’s “Wayward Pines,” and is currently shooting CBC’s upcoming spy thriller, “Fortunate Son.”In her new TIFF film “White Lie,” Rohl dominates nearly every frame as a young woman who becomes a campus celebrity after pretending to have been diagnosed with cancer.Directed by Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis, the film is billed as an examination of social media’s impact on contemporary culture, including the alarming proliferation of manipulation and falsehoods across the internet.The 28-year-old Rohl plays the attention-hungry Katie, who finds herself unable to give up the fantasy world she’s created even as it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the elaborate ruse.Co-stars include Martin Donovan of HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” Connor Jessup of ABC/CTV’s “American Crime,” Amber Anderson of Netflix’s “Black Mirror,” and Sharon Lewis of Global’s “Private Eyes.”Mikhail Ahooja (Photo: Andréanne Gauthier)MIKHAIL AHOOJAThis francophone actor has amassed an impressive list of credits in his home province of Quebec, where he can be seen on stage, in television series and film.The 31-year-old performer acknowledges he’s relatively unknown in English Canada, but says he’s ready to change that with his new film, “The Twentieth Century.” The surreal take on the early years of William Lyon Mackenzie King comes from Winnipeg’s Matthew Rankin, whose offbeat style has been described as akin to fellow ‘pegger Guy Maddin.“This is my first English movie that I’ll be in, it’s just amazing to be here with everybody,” Ahooja said. “I want to hopefully meet a lot of people that can help me explore this new market.”Rankin’s bizarre biopic stars Beirne as the former Canadian prime minister, revealed here in his youth as a political hopeful full of “both manic ambition and cherubic naivete.” Like his fellow rising stars, Ahooja says he’s energized by a push for new voices.“People who were silenced for so many years, who didn’t have their place in movies or in big blockbusters now have the chance to be there and have their part to play and they represent a lot of people in the population,” he says. “Twenty years from now this won’t even be a conversation.”The Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5 to 15.Cassandra Szklarski ~ The Canadian Presscenter_img Advertisement It’s hard to stand out amid the A-listers who descend upon the Toronto International Film Festival each year, but a quartet of emerging Canadian performers are willing to try.Shamier Anderson, Nahema Ricci, Kacey Rohl, and Mikhail Ahooja are the fest’s homegrown “rising stars” this year, a designation that gives them access to private industry meetings with casting directors, filmmakers, producers, and executives.An additional four global rising stars include Norway’s Josefine Frida, Australia’s Geraldine Viswanathan, the United States’ Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Argentina’s Chino Darín — son of renowned actor Ricardo Darin. 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Deliver consular services 24 hrs FM asks head of missions

first_imgForeign minister AK Abdul Momen. File photoForeign minister AK Abdul Momen has directed all Bangladesh missions abroad to provide consular services for its citizens round the clock, reports UNB.He has already written a letter outlining necessary measures to all the heads of missions abroad with much focus on building stronger relations with Bangladeshi expatriates.In the letter, he directed the mission heads to keep the consular services line open for 24 hours with immediate effect, said the foreign ministry on Thursday.The foreign minister said it is urgent to improve consular services making it friendly for Bangladeshi expatriates through bringing necessary changes.He said the flow of investment and remittance into Bangladesh will increase if the Bangladeshi expatriates can be involved in Bangladesh’s overall development process.The desired success depends on friendly relations with expatriates with required services in place, said the foreign minister.He also directed them to make a database on expatriates as per their professions.last_img read more

Jama Masjid Illuminated in Iftar fervour

first_imgDecked like a bride, with garlands of glittering lights wrapped around her ensemble, she stands tall and bright as hundreds horde towards her before breaking the day long fast. Iftar at Jama Masjid is a treat for the uninitiated, for whom Old Delhi stands only as a symbol of what the city was, what it is not, what it will never again be. At sunset, a walk down the lane adjacent to Meena Bazaar and Jama Masjid one is greeted with a line of shops, each selling paraphernalia particular to the holy time of Ramadan. While the festival is one; its antiques, many. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfJust as you cross the newly constructed Jama Masjid Metro station on your left, on your right is an organized line of shops selling everything – from raw chicken to Lucknowi chikan. The holy month of Ramadan, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed as a holy month by Muslims across the globe, to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Mohammed. The fast is a rigorous test of one’s potential, to cleanse the mind and the body of impurity, to test perseverance and the power of unflinching devotion. The day begins with a meal before sunrise, which is followed by an entire day of fasting- where the staunch are even prohibited from swallowing their own saliva, it all ends with a meal after sunset. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveAfter 7pm, when the Delhi sun finally decides to dip, hundreds gather at Jama Masjid to partake in the festivities that are held both inside and outside the complex. While inside, lines of people are welcomed to break their fast without having to shed a penny, outside, the shops provide a repertoire of delicacies – from fruits, to sweets, to the lip smacking kebabs and biryanis which have been the pride of the Nawabs. “My favourite Iftar dish is Sevaiyah (Semolina pancakes), the ones we get here at Jama Masjid are lip-smacking,” said Raheem, a beaming 10-year old from Daryaganj who was accompanied by his father, who looked almost exhausted at fulfilling his son’s eager demands. “One day he likes Sevaiyah, and the next day he wants Biryani. But that’s what festivals are for; and this is what children will do,” said the exhausted but nevertheless complying father of young Raheem. “We do not observe the fast because we have to; it is because we want to. It is our token of love to Allah,” says Ruhani, an enthusiastic 17-year old, who has been visiting Jama Masjid with her family since the tender age of 10. Wasim a rickshaw puller in his 40s visits the Masjid after an entire day of toiling in the sun, “It (the fast) does not make me weak, it makes me work harder, this is the time I prove my devotion, I struggle through the day to come here in the evening and finally take a bite. But I will not lie, I do relish that first sip of Shikanji,” he said, breaking out in an almost child-like laughter.While the austerities of devotion are contested across the world, what we miss is how there is a parallel and immediate journey back to an innocent phase of naivety. Whether Chistmas, or Durga Puja, Navratri or Ramadan, festivities glorify a phase of nonchalance which has to be otherwise masked in the adult world, where the real austerity thrives.Walking down the lane at Jama Masjid, you will be welcomed by an exciting aura of differences – aromas of beautifully cooked food- somewhere there are kebabs being roasted, elsewhere tea being freshly brewed; move forward and you will hear faint whisperings of a variety of languages- some speaking in hushed Urdu, others ranting in crisp Persian, still others in confused English; and then of course you will see honest devotees in well ironed white kurtas, eager tourists with dangling DSLR-s, and rushing journalists with a paper and pen.Who said India cannot thrive in diversity?last_img read more

Microsoft amplifies focus on conversational AI Acquires XOXCO shares guide to developing

first_imgOn Wednesday, Microsoft shared that it has signed an agreement to acquire XOXCO, an Austin-based software developer with a focus on bot design. In another announcement, it shared a set of guidelines formulated to help developers build responsible bots or conversational AI. Microsoft acquires conversational AI startup, XOXCO Microsoft has shared its intent to acquire XOXCO. The software product design and development company has been working on conversation AI since 2013. They have developed products like Botkit which provide development tools and the Howdy bot for Slack that enables users to schedule meetings. With this acquisition, Microsoft aims to democratize AI development. “The Microsoft Bot Framework, available as a service in Azure and on GitHub, supports over 360,000 developers today. With this acquisition, we are continuing to realize our approach of democratizing AI development, conversation, and dialog, and integrating conversational experiences where people communicate,” reads the post. Throughout this year, the tech giant acquired many companies which have contributed to AI development. For example, Semantic Machines in May, Bonsai in July, and Lobe in September. XOXCO is another company added to this list enabling Microsoft to get more closer to its goal of “making AI accessible and valuable to every individual and organization, amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technology.” Read more about the acquisition on Microsoft’s official website. Building responsible bots with Microsoft’s guidelines Nowadays, conversational AI is being used to automate communication, query solving, and create personalized customer experiences at scale. With this increasing adoption, it is important to build conversational AI that is responsible and trustworthy. The 10 guidelines formulated by Microsoft aims to help developers do exactly that: Articulate the purpose of your bot and take special care if your bot will support consequential use cases. Be transparent about the fact that you use bots as part of your product or service. Ensure a seamless hand-off to a human where the human-bot exchange leads to interactions that exceed the bot’s competence. Design your bot so that it respects relevant cultural norms and guards against misuse. Ensure your bot is reliable. Ensure your bot treats people fairly. Ensure your bot respects user privacy. Ensure your bot handles data securely. Ensure your bot is accessible. Accept responsibility. Some of them are described below: “Articulate the purpose of your bot and take special care if your bot will support consequential use cases.” Before starting any design work, carefully analyze the benefits your bot will provide to the users or the entity deploying the bot. Ensuring that your bot’s design is ethical is very important, especially when it is likely to affect the well-being of the user such as in consequential use cases. These use cases include access to services such as healthcare, education, employment, and financing. “Be transparent about the fact that you use bots as part of your product or service.” Users should be aware that they are interacting with a bot. Nowadays, designers can equip their bots with “personality” and natural language capabilities. This is why it is important to convey to the users that they are not interacting with another person and some aspects of their interaction are being performed by a bot. Also, users should be able to easily find information about the limitations of the bot, including the possibility of errors and the consequences of these errors. “Ensure a seamless hand-off to a human where the human-bot exchange leads to interactions that exceed the bot’s competence.” In cases where a human judgment is required, provide a means or ready access to a human moderator, particularly if your bot deals with consequential matters. Bots should have the ability to transfer a conversation to a human moderator as soon as the user asks. Users will quickly lose trust in the technology and in the company that has deployed it if they feel trapped or alienated by a bot. “Design your bot so that it respects relevant cultural norms and guards against misuse.” Bots should have built-in safeguards and protocols to handle misuse and abuse. Since bots can now have a human-like persona, it is crucial that they interact respectfully and safely with users. Developers can use machine learning techniques and keyword filtering mechanisms to enable the bot to detect and respond appropriately to sensitive or offensive input from users. “Ensure your bot is reliable.” Bots need to be reliable for the function it aims to perform. As a developer, you should take into account that since AI systems are probabilistic they will not always give the correct answer. That is why establish reliability metrics and review them periodically. The performance of AI-based systems may vary over time as the bot is rolled out to new users and in new contexts, developers must continually monitor its reliability. Read the full document: Responsible bots: 10 guidelines for developers of conversational AI Read Next Microsoft announces container support for Azure Cognitive Services to build intelligent applications that span the cloud and the edge Satya Nadella reflects on Microsoft’s progress in areas of data, AI, business applications, trust, privacy and more. Microsoft Azure reportedly chooses Xilinx chips over Intel Altera for AI co-processors, says Bloomberg reportlast_img read more