×

Toronto: Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniel Radcliffe Turn to Canadian Pics

Villeneuve among helmers with high-profile preems set for the next few days at festival.

The immediate future looks promising for Canadian films on this year’s Toronto slate, with the world preems this weekend of acquisition titles like “Incendies” helmer Denis Villeneuve’s psychological thriller “Enemy” (WME Global), starring Jake Gyllenhaal; Michael Dowse’s romcom “The F Word” (UTA, pictured), starring Daniel Radcliffe; and Don McKellar’s “The Grand Seduction” (Jeff Sackman), the English remake of the 2003 Quebec hit “Seducing Dr. Lewis.”

Tuesday will see the North American preem of wunderkind Xavier Dolan’s Venice-bowing thriller “Tom at the Farm” (MK2), which Variety’s review dubbed his “most accomplished and enjoyable work to date” and “his most commercially viable.” The film also nabbed the Venice Fipresci jury’s top prize.

Also screening Tuesday is Richie Mehta’s Venice-preeming “Siddharth” (Fortissimo), an India-set story about a father’s quest for his young son, which Variety’s review called “a small gem whose humanity should play nicely on the international arthouse scene, including Stateside.”

While Canadian filmmakers rubbed shoulders with their compadres at two packed evening socials on the eve of the festival, right now they are mingling with the world.

The festival dropped the feature program Perspective Canada — which to many outsiders was perceived as a sidebar — in 2001 and, quietly last year, shed its Canada First strand — both moves reflecting new realities in the domestic industry.

“Canadian film as a recognizable genre has gone away, and that’s a positive thing,” said eOne senior VP of acquisitions Mark Slone. “For one thing, we’re seeing films with bigger budgets and with bigger stars — which is hugely important. And we’ve now got a pool of directors, particularly in Quebec, that the world is looking at — and they’re all being dragged to the U.S.,” he laughs.

Indeed, Villeneuve is a double threat this year, with his first studio pic, “Prisoners,” world preeming Friday night along with Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Veteran helmer Atom Egoyan’s dramatization of the West Memphis Three story “Devil’s Knot,” starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon and produced by Worldview, bows Sunday.

“In general, I’m seeing Canadian features working with bigger budgets and reaching for and attracting a higher level of cast,” said producer Nicholas Tabarrok, who nailed deals with TWC/Radius and eOne (Canada) before shooting a frame of Jonathan Sobol’s “The Art of the Steal,” an ensemble caper starring Jay Baruchel, Matt Dillon and Kurt Russell, which world preems as a Gala next week.

At the start of last year’s fest, eOne confirmed it would purchase Alliance, and a year later the company has a powerhouse presence not only as the distributor/exec producer of several domestic titles seeking U.S. love but also as a market player sparking new projects.

“With the merged companies, I’m seeing an interesting change in the number of people wanting to quiz me about co-pros with Canada,” Slone said, noting that “Enemy,” “Seduction” and “F Word” are all Canada-international productions.

Among this year’s emerging talents, Jeff Barnaby is generating buzz with his eye-catching, 1970s-set feature bow “Rhymes for Young Ghouls” (eOne), about a teenage, aboriginal, revenge-seeking drug-dealer.

“Ghouls” is one of trio of First Nations-themed Canadian films here, along with “Defender” helmer Peter Stebbings moving family drama “Empire of Dirt” (Mongrel for Canada) and veteran documaker Alanis Obomsawin’s “Hi-Ho Mistahey!”

“I just met with an American producer who was telling me I need to watch out for Jeff Barnaby in terms of an up-and-comer,” laughed eOne’s Slone. “I told him we had it covered.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Yao Chen in “Send Me to

    Cheng Cheng Films Nabs North American Rights to China's 'Send Me to the Clouds'

    New York-based distributor Cheng Cheng Films has acquired North American rights to first-time Chinese director Teng Congcong’s comedy drama “Send Me to the Clouds,” starring and produced by A-list actress Yao Chen. The company is planning a theatrical release for fall 2019. “Cheng Cheng has always championed films with strong female leads,” the firm said [...]

  • A White White Day

    Film Movement Brings ‘A White, White Day’ to the U.S. (EXCLUSIVE)

    OSLO  —  New-York based distributor Film Movement has acquired U.S. rights to critically-lauded Icelandic drama “A White, White Day,” today’s opening film at New Nordic Films in Haugesund. In a separate deal, sales agent New Europe Film Sales has closed French-speaking Canada with Funfilm and English-speaking Canada with Game Theory. Hlynur Pálmason’s sophomore pic, “A [...]

  • (from left) Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)

    Korea Box Office: ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Topples ‘Exit,’ ‘Roar to Victory’  

    Opening on Wednesday, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” debuted on top of the South Korean box office. Showing on some 1,311 screens nationwide, the UPI release earned $15.1 million from 2.03 million admissions over five days. That included the four-day National Liberation Day weekend. “The Battle: Roar to Victory” remained in second. The [...]

  • Tracy Morgan Netflix stand-up special

    Film News Roundup: Tracy Morgan Joins Eddie Murphy's 'Coming 2 America'

    In today’s film news roundup, Tracy Morgan and Michael Rooker book roles in major movies, and Gravitas buys “Christmas Break-In.” CASTINGS Tracy Morgan has signed on to appear in Eddie Murphy’s “Coming 2 America” sequel as the brother of Lesley Jones’ character. “Hustle & Flow” helmer Craig Brewer is directing the project with Murphy, Kevin [...]

  • Spider-Man Far From Home

    'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Gets Re-Release With New Scene

    Sony Pictures is re-releasing “Spider-Man: Far From Home” with a new action scene. Starting Aug. 29, a new extended cut, featuring four minutes of a never-before-seen action sequence, will be released in theaters in the United States and Canada. The film will also be available in IMAX and large formats in select locations. “Spider-Man: Far [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Supporters Back Matthew Modine After Clumsy Joke at SAG-AFTRA Meeting

    More than 100 women, including Ellen Barkin and Allison Janney, have voiced support for Matthew Modine’s campaign for SAG-AFTRA presidency, following a joke at a SAG-AFTRA meeting that some decried as misogynist. With voting set to conclude on Aug. 28, the campaigns have featured vitriolic attacks between supporters of Modine, secretary-treasurer Jane Austin and incumbent [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content