Wednesday 18 September 2013

Laval council candidate Nicholas Katalifos impresses a constituent

Nicholas Katalifos meets Victor Soussana and Georges Ouaknine.
One of the many reaons why Jean-Claude Gobé is favored to win the race to become the City of Laval's mayor is because of the quality of candidates he has chosen. Such is the case in the St. Martin District, where well known educator and community organizer Nicholas Katalifos is seeking his  first shot at elected office.

I have known Nick for many years and  I would  need more than two hands to count the number of times I encouraged him to take the leap into municipal politics as I did eight years ago in Côte Saint-Luc.  I wish him well and must say I am impressed with the efforts he is putting into the campaign for his Action Laval team.

Earlier this week I was having my haircut by Georges Ouaknine at Inter Coupe Monsieur on Decarie. Nick was driving towards the West End at the time and when I told him Georges lived in Laval and within the confines of his district,  he dropped in to shake hands and accept the encouragement of Georges to visit the local Sephardic synagogue. Georges and his boss Victor Soussana, whose brother-in-law Maurice Cohen is a borough councillor in St. Laurent, were most impressed.

Nick will make an outstanding councillor. I am sure his future constituents will be able to see this the moment they meet him.

Extraordinary documentary on 100 years of the Herzl Clinic debuts on City Montreal Saturday

For some time now I have been looking forward to seeing the much anticipated documentary by filmmaker extraordinaire Ezra Soiferman about the  Goldman Herzl Family Practice Centre
 at the Jewish General Hospital. While Dockside to Bedside: 100 Years of Herzl will premiere on Saturday, September 21 (8 p.m.) on City Montreal, I was fortunate to get a sneak peek for the purposes of this article. 

The film was, in fact, originally scheduled to air a week later. However, some last minute scheduling changes forced Soiferman and his team into emergency advance publicity mode.  Fortunately, he is quite good at what he does. Judging by the fact he responded to a 1:20 a.m. email me only moments later, the man never sleeps. I won't get into my late hours by the computer. First of all, here is a trailer to watch.

Soiferman spent a year as a “fly on the wall” at Herzl, documenting the institution's mosaic of patients, staff and stories throughout its milestone 100th anniversary year.

Located in the unlikely locale of a former Catholic convent on the grounds of then Jewish General,  the  Herzl is one of Canada's first free medical clinics and an innovative healthcare model. For a century, it has pushed the boundaries in areas as varied as family medicine, breastfeeding, teen health, urgent care, home visits for the elderly, drug addiction, palliative care and many more.

“I've directed films about greasy-spoon chefs, Christmas tree sellers, working dogs, pickle makers and fishermen,” says  Soiferman. “Nothing could have prepared me for a film about a busy medical clinic and all it entails. What a privilege it was to be able to spend a year following the staff and patients of such a humbling and historic institution as Herzl.”

Dockside to Bedside: 100 Years of Herzl which runs an hour with commercials, looks back at the clinic’s hundred-year history, from makeshift dockside dispensary serving newly arrived Jewish immigrants and Montreal’s poor, through its transformation into part of the bedrock of Canada’s medical landscape, becoming a recognized leader in preventive medicine and compassionate care. Today it thrives under Dr. Michael Malus, who is Herzl’s Director and JGH Chief of Family Medicine.

Dr. Michael Malus

“Working closely with Dr. Malus and his team as they cared for Montrealers and Quebecers of all ages and ethnicities was a really eye-opening experience," Soiferman says. " A little like going to medical school, I imagine, except without any dissections or exams, just a final film to present. This is a film I'm eager to share with viewers looking to learn about the roots of preventive medicine in Canada. Compassionate medicine, too."

“Ezra got it,” says Dr. Malus. “Our definition of health is more than the absence of disease. It is about enabling people to be who they really are. Our staff partners, with our patients, make it work. It is infectious.”
Veteran nurse clinician Karen Tafler is featured in the film.
Among the people featured in the film is    West Island resident Karen Tafler, a veteran nurse clinician at Herzl. She is seen consulting with doctors and taking care of patients while doing her own on camera interview.  Tafler has been at Herzl for an incredible 39 years and a nurse for 41. Her late grandfather Dr. Samuel Ortenberg, was one of the 12 original founding doctors of Herzl back in 1912 and her grandson  cut the ribbon kicking off the 100th year celebrations  back in January 2012.

"I started at Herzl in 1975," Tafler says. "My grandfather died a year later, so he was well aware of my job. So naturally this place is very sentimental to me. It is a very special place. Herzl has never turned anyone away. I think this film is terrific and really tells our story well."

City Montreal can be accessed  on Videotron Classic: Channel 14; Videotron illico: Channel 14 or 614 for broadcast in HD; Bell Satellite: Channel 207; and Bell Fibe: Channel 204 or 1204 for broadcast in HD.

It was great to hear Dennis Trudeau as the narrrator. He's an old friend of Dr. Malus,” Soiferman explained. “When Michael asked him if he wanted to be involved he happily agreed. Also, Dennis and I crossed paths about 10 years ago when we both worked in the CBC-Montreal newsroom. He was anchor of Newswatch and I was a segment producer on Mitsou's old show Au Courant.”

It is very likely that this film will air again after Saturday.  “Our distributor, Incendo Media, is currently shopping the film around to broadcasters outside of  Montreal,” Soiferman says. “ Hopefully there will be more screenings in the near future, as well as French broadcasts too. 

Earlier this week Soiferman  arranged for a screening for  about 100 Herzl doctors and nurses. “They loved  it,” he said. “I was blown away by the feedback. “
Ezra Soiferman (photo by Stella Walker) 

Soiferman shoots and directs stories about fascinating people and places that warm hearts, uplift spirits, and provoke thought and laughter. Among these are Man of Grease - from legendary Montreal greasy spoon Cosmos to the island of Crete, following Tony Koulakis, breakfast chef, on his first holiday home in over 30 years; Posthumous Pickle Party - a quest to find the secret recipe for the late Simcha Leibovich’s homemade pickles, upon the closing of his small but important Montreal landmark, Simcha’s Grocery; Tree Weeks - shadowing the quirky and dedicated Québécois Christmas tree vendors who migrate each year to Manhattan to sell their wares; and Cod Help Us - capturing the plight of spirited cod fisherman in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as their livelihood for generations slips away.



Monday 16 September 2013

Montreal Mayor candidates to do Global Morning News weather

Melanie Joly
Faced with new competition from City Montreal's Breakfast Television, the Global Montreal Morning News has come up with a novel idea to gain viewers.
Marcel Côte

This week mayoral candidates Melanie Joly, Marcel Côte, Denis Coderre and  Richard Bergeron  are joining the team to do guest weather, spiced with some politics between 7 a.m. and 7:30, joining co-hosts Camille Ross and Richard Dagenais and charismatic weather specialist Jessica Laventure. It all started off here  with  Joly on Monday and her interview. I caught Côte on Tuesday morning and I must say he did quite a good job, doing some clever ad libbing when it came to describing poor weather conditions heading our way next weekend. Check it out here.  Laventure tutored him on where to stand near the large blue weather screen. After the forecast, he sat down to talk politics with Ross. Here it is.

Denis Coderre
 Coderre was very entertaining, noting that things will "heat" up with the election of November 3.

Bergeron seemed like quite a natural during his forecasts.

Hats off to station/news director Karen MacDonald for thinking outside the box. The Morning News made its debut last January. Dagenais, who was part of the original Global wakeup show, was happy to return to the posting. Ross was previously a reporter at CTV Montreal while Laventure came over from MétéoMedia, having started her broadcast career at Global after graduating from the Journalism Program at Concordia.

Breakfast Television began its run a few weeks ago, with double the on air staff. This is all good news for Montrealers, who a year ago at this time did not have any local English TV programming. Personally I go back and forth between the two shows and catch highlights on the web.
Richard Bergeron

The Montreal mayoral race is about to truly hit the local media radar screen, with the official election period beginning on Friday.  It will be interesting to see how the politicians on air, live and unscripted. I would suggest that Global expand this feature to include colourful city and borough council candidates and those running in municipalities.