You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto Festival Touts Canadian Rookies and Auteurs in Lineup

This year’s Canadian feature slate — 25 in all — can be seen in six TIFF sections including Discovery, TIFF Docs and Wavelengths.

Among the selected features are highly anticipated films from fest alumni including Denys Arcand, Barry Avrich and the late Rob Stewart.

Arcand’s “The Fall of the American Empire” stars Alexandre Landry as Pierre-Paul Daoust, who faces a moral dilemma after discovering two bags of money. Sony Classics bought the North American rights to the film during the Cannes Film Festival in May. The film, which will play in TIFF’s special presentations section, is a thematic cousin to Arcand’s Oscar-nominated “The Decline of the American Empire” and the Oscar-winning “The Barbarian Invasions” (2003).

Avrich returns to TIFF’s docu section with “Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz,” a portrait of the United States’ chief prosecutor during the Nuremberg trial. Stewart’s final film, “Sharkwater Extinction” will debut as a fest special event. (The filmmaker-conservationist died in February while making the “Sharkwater Extinction”  —  a sequel to his first documentary “Sharkwater,” which premiered at TIFF in 2006.)

While last year’s Canadian feature lineup had one of the highest numbers of feature directorial debuts in the festival’s history (over 30% of the titles were directed by a newbie helmers) this year’s lineup boasts a strong female director roster. In all 10 of this year’s 25 selected Canadian features were directed or co-directed by a woman.

But Danis Goulet, TIFF Canadian features programmer, was quick to point out that the strong presence of women at this year’s fest in not in reaction to any gender parity movements.

“Inclusion in the industry is important, and for the Canadian selection, support for women directors has been a goal for us since before the #Metoo movement arose,” Goulet said. “So I would say that the percentage of women directors in the line-up this year is not a direct response to the #Metoo movement, as I think we’ve been engaging in the conversation about inclusion for longer than that… Women’s voices are essential to cinema and we are committed to supporting them.”

Jennifer Baichwal, Miranda de Pencier and Darlene Naponse are among the emerging and established Canadian female filmmakers TIFF is standing by this year.

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” is Baichwal’s third collaboration with photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmaker Nicholas de Pencier. The documentary continues the trio’s exploration of industrialization and extraction following “Manufactured Landscapes” (2006) and “Watermark” (2013).

“Anthropocene,” will make its debut in the special presentation section alongside Arcand’s “The Fall of the American Empire,” Keith Behrman’s “Giant Little Ones,” Kim Nguyen’s “The Hummingbird Project,” Patricia Rozema’s “Mouthpiece,” Don McKellar’s “Through Black Spruce” and Miranda de Pencier’s “The Grizzlies.” :  The Special Presentations also include Xavier Dolan’s “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” and Patricia Rozema’s “Mouthpiece.”

Based on a true story, “The Grizzlies” is de Pencier’s feature film debut. The film is about the determination and resilience of a group of Inuit youth in a small Arctic community. It is one of three Canadian features that showcase Indigenous talent. Alongside “The Grizzlies,” Darlene Naponse’s dramatic feature “Falls Around Her,” pictured, and Helen Haig-Brown’s “Edge of the Knife,” which she co-directed with Gwaai Edenshaw, also highlight Indigenous peoples.

Naponse’s “Falls Around Her” is a portrait of a world-famous Anishinaabe musician who returns to the reserve to rest and recharge — only to discover that fame and the outside world are not easily left behind, while Haig-Brown and Edenshaw’s “Edge of the Knife” is the first feature-length film made in Haida, which is classified by UNESCO as an endangered language.

Goulet predicts that audiences will be particularly taken with the four Canadian features featured in the Discovery section, which is described by programmers as the “directors to watch and the future of world cinema” section.

In addition to “Edge of Knife,” Akash Sherman’s “Clara,” Jasmin Mozaffari’s “Firecrackers,” and Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein’s “Freaks” are featured in the Discovery section.

Goulet calls it an “exciting time” to be a part Canadian cinema.

“The Canadian film scene has been marked by greater volume in recent years, and most of the volume seems to be in new low budget production,” says Goulet. “I would say that this new wave of work challenges our ideas of Canadian politeness as it is anything but that. Instead the work feels unapologetic, scrappy and bold. Canadian filmmakers are being defining, instead of allowing an existing context or system to define them.”

More Film

  • Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in

    Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' for Netflix

    Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman will star in the movie adaptation of the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” for Netflix. George C. Wolfe (“Lackawanna Blues”) will direct from a script by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, based on the award-winning play by August Wilson. Other cast include Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Michael Potts. Denzel [...]

  • Crazy Bitches

    Why the CASE Act Will Empower Creatives to Fight the Horrors of Piracy

    Our horror film, “Crazy Bitches,” was released on Valentine’s Day 2015. We invested in an online marketing campaign that resulted in two times the industry clickthrough rate and 2.6M social media impressions in the week leading up to the release. So, we had reason to expect a successful return. What we didn’t count on was [...]

  • Alamo Drafthouse LA

    Alamo Drafthouse to Open in Downtown Los Angeles in July

    The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain is planning to open its first Los Angeles location with a “soft launch” in early July in the city’s downtown. The Texas-based chain, which has 38 locations, specializes food and drink service with unique programming. It announced Wednesday that the Los Angeles site, located at the Bloc, would offer an [...]

  • Max Landis Dropped by Manager Following

    Max Landis Dropped by Manager Following Sexual Assault Allegations

    Max Landis has been dropped as a client by his manager, a day after sexual assault allegations emerged against the  screenwriter. “I do not represent Max Landis,” Britton Rizzio at Writ Large Management told Variety in a statement. Landis is facing allegations of sexual abuse and psychological manipulation from eight women who told their stories [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Another Round of Layoffs Hit Disney and 20th Century Fox Film Divisions (EXCLUSIVE)

    Another round of layoffs are going down for employees merged in Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, individuals with knowledge of the company told Variety. The Wednesday reduction is the smallest round the studio has enacted since formally acquiring the film and TV assets of 20th Century in March, with a few dozen employees being [...]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Netflix Lands Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Tick, Tick... Boom' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following a heated bidding war, Netflix has walked away with the rights to “Tick, Tick… Boom,” a musical adaptation to be directed by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Sources say Andrew Garfield is the top choice to star, though no deal is done. “Dear Evan Hansen” writer Stephen Levenson adapting the script based on the original [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content