Starting next Monday, North By Northeast Festivals and Conference will be taking over Toronto. NXNE is known as the Canadian destination for emerging artists and some major-label headliners, as well as a place for artists, industry and fans to come together.
The festival stretches over 7 days and nights, presenting over 780 bands and 40 films with an expected attendance of over 300,000. And NXNE Interactive's media conference brings together content-creating artists, tech entrepreneurs, digital marketing gurus, web business experts and social media aficionados over four days. To celebrate its 18th year, we've pulled together some of our essential picks for music, film, comedy and interactive at the festival.
The Ballad of Danko Jones/Bring On The Mountain
Perhaps to make up for lost time, Toronto's heroes of Rock'n'Roll, Danko Jones, return to the spotlight with two separate offerings. 'The Ballad of Danko Jones' is short film/music video about life and death, right and wrong and the overall human instinct of survival with some crazy cameos from the likes of Elijah Wood, Ralph Macchio, Selma Blair, Jena Malone and Lemmy!
'Then Bring On The Mountain' tears back the layers and at least some of the mystery behind the man himself - Danko Jones. The new documentary tells the tale of hard fought success, European domination and even some bloodletting. Both films will be included in a DVD package along with lots of other goodies out this month.
Ghostface Killah & Toronto's Apollo Kids
He's been called rap's greatest story teller so a new doc about Wu Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah's latest visit to Toronto should be a no brainer. Part concert film, part fly on the wall footage of the MC sharing his story and insight with a group of inner city Toronto youths, this world premiere is one not to miss for hip hop fans.
Once In A Lullaby: The PS22 Chorus Story
Even the most hardened of hearts has likely looked up a PS22 YouTube video in the last few years and held back a smile. Call it an upside to the "anybody can achieve anything" American Idol generation. These NYC 5th graders went from performing in their school auditorium on Staten Island to closing the show at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards with a stop at the White House in between. This is a truly feel good story of their journey.
The Ballad of Hugh
Look up Hugh Oliver on YouTube and you'll find a bevy of well produced video recordings of original songs dedicated to Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and Rihanna, Lady GaGa and Adele to name of few. Hugh's fascination with stars a quarter of his age (he's 82!) perhaps stems from his own near miss at a celebrity life. This new doc (and accompanying album) is a coming out party of sorts thrown by a host of fans including Polaris prize winner Patrick Watson.
Down: Indie Rock In The PRC
A thorough document of a little known phenomenon, 'Down: Indie Rock In The PRC' chronicles the contemporary Beijing rock scene. Set in the context of modern China, we watch as these bands struggle to make music in a country that is run by the authoritarian Communist Party and acts as yet another testament to the power of music to bring people together.