TIFF Presents Canada’s Top Ten Screenings

Toronto – On December 4th, TIFF saluted the best of Canadian Cinema at the 12th Annual Canada’s Top Ten industry event, hosted by Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method) and Don McKellar (Blindness, Trigger). A panel of industry professionals selected the top 10 Canadian feature and short films. TIFF Senior Programmer Steve Gravestock said that this year’s lineup “champions the work of familiar faces as well as emerging talent – all of whose stellar filmmaking achievements shape the Canadian film community”.

To celebrate the best Canadian films of 2012, TIFF will be hosting a 10-day festival of the winners. Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Festival, says that the festival “offers homegrown talent a dedicated platform to showcase their success, and we couldn’t be more impressed by the calibre of films the industry has produced this year.”

The selected top ten are as follows, in no particular order:

Short Films

Bydlo dir. Patrick Bouchard

Chef de meute (Herd Leader) dir. Chloé Robichaud

Crackin’ Down Hard dir. Mike Clattenburg

Kaspar dir. Diane Obomsawin

Ne crâne pas sois modeste (Keep a Modest Head) dir. Deco Dawson

Lingo dir. Bahar Noorizadeh

Malody dir. Phillip Barker

Old Growth dir. Tess Girard

Reflexions dir. Martin Thibaudeau

Paparmane (Wintergreen) dir. Joëlle Desjardins Paquette

Feature Films

Cosmopolis dir. David Cronenberg

Cosmoplis follows the personal odyssey of a 28-year-old New York City billionaire, played by Robert Pattinson, who traverses a crumbling Manhattan while going for a haircut in his tricked-out limousine. Divisive to say the least, Cosmoplis has a particular wavelength that will cause some to tune in and others to tune out. While some may see the stilted rhythm and  dialogue of the film (taken almost verbatim from Don DeLillo’s novel) as a perfect representation of a 1%er’s inability to understand and conform to the typical ebb and flow of the 99% (hence the character’s strange sense of priorities amidst rampant chaos), others will find the same qualities frustrating and distancing. “Cosmopolis has little nuggets of gold waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by the viewers… That being said, the dialogue is where the film suffers most. It is too clinical and too determined to make many of the characters come across as philosophers as opposed to real people.” (Sound on Sight). The film premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

The End of Time dir. Peter Mettler

Peter Mettler travels the globe to explore, in an almost Chris Marker-like way, our conceptions of time in this hybrid of documentary filmmaking and philosophical contemplation. “At once more accessible and even trippier than its 2002 companion piece Gambling, Gods and LSD, The End of Time explores an impressive variety of ideas related to humankind’s relationship to time, while providing an uncommonly intense degree of audiovisual stimulation.” (The Grid). The film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, and was the opening night film at the Montreal International Documentary Festival.

Goon dir. Michael Dowse

In a surprising turn, Sean William Scott stars as a rough and tumble bouncer-turned-minor-league-hockey-player with a heart of gold. Equal parts crude, violent, and funny, the film also has a decent amount of heart and affection for both the characters and Canada’s favourite sport. “Goon‘s script, written by co-star Jay Baruchel and screenwriter Evan Goldberg, inserts a cuss into every second phrase, maybe every second word… despite however many cuss words characters can toss out in a single minute like a machine gun firing bullets, the cast is uniformly entertaining, with special mention going to the two at the heart of the film’s love angle, Sean William Scott and Allison Pill.” (Sound on Sight)

Laurence Anyways dir. Xavier Dolan

A bohemian couple has their relationship spiral in ways they didn’t expect when the man confesses that he believes himself to be transgendered. “Dolan’s film contains revelatory performances, moments of startling beauty, and his most strikingly empathetic material, but his excesses nearly discard the goodwill built up over the film’s first 100 or so minutes.” (Sound on Sight). Laurence Anyways won the Best Canadian Feature Film award at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Queer Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, where Suzanne Clément also won the Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress.

The World Before Her dir. Nisha Pahuja

Nisha Pahuja’s documentary examines the two radical extremes of modern India. On the one hand, the film follows a large group of women in a fundamentalist Hindu faction, and on the other hand, it follows a group who embrace the “new” by entering the Miss India beauty pageant. Crosscutting and juxtaposing the two, the film offers a jarring look at contemporary India. “The World Before Her is one of the best documentaries on femininity and culture in years. It is lively but thought provoking, interesting while remaining accessible, and mercifully—mercifully—jargon-free.” (Sound on Sight). The film was the winner of Best Feature Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs, and also screened at the Calgary International Film Festival.

Stories We Tell dir. Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley’s first foray into the documentary form explores the secrets behind a family of storytellers – her own. “Stories We Tell is as direct as a blood transfusion. It’s a film of fact, remembrance and forgiveness, with no clear path. You just have to trust in Sarah Polley’s steely determination and follow her relentless lens. In a word: Wow.” (The Toronto Star). Stories We Tell premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, won the Grand Prix Focus for best feature film at the Festival du nouveau cinéma, and screened at the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Still dir. Michael McGowan

Based on true events, Still follows the story an 89-year-old man (played by James Cromwell) who, counter to the behest of the government, builds a house for his infirm wife. “Michael [McGowan] has created an incredibly touching and triumphant film and James Cromwell, afforded the role of a lifetime, delivers a truly remarkable performance.” (Samuel Goldwyn Films). The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

My Awkward Sexual Adventure dir. Sean Garrity

My Awkward Sexual Adventure tells the story of a severely repressed accountant who promises to help a stripper out of an equally repressing debt if she, in return, helps him become a better lover – all in the hopes of winning back his girlfriend. “Rare is the sex comedy that provides genuinely useful tips. But there are plenty more reasons to recommend this affably lewd and consistently funny Canadian entry.” (The Grid). My Awkward Sexual Adventure had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Midnight’s Children dir. Deepa Mehta

On August 15, 1947, two newborn babies are born on the day that India proclaims independence from Great Britain. The nurses, however, switch the babies. One baby goes to a poor Hindu family, while the other to a wealthy Muslim family, and as they grow up, their lives seem fated to intertwine. In Midnight’s Children, director Deepa Mehta has “crafted an epic, visually pleasing tale weaving politics, colourful splendour, romantic love and magic with her most ambitious film to date.” (The Toronto Star). The film, which is an adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s award-winning novel of the same name, was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival, and the BFI London Film Festival.

Rebelle dir. Kim Nguyen

Set in Sub-Saharan Africa, a 14-year-old girl tells her unborn child the story of how she became a child soldier and the love story between two young people caught in a violent yet beautiful situation. Let it be made clear that, even though Rebelle is a harsh experience that asks a lot out of the audience so far as willingness to see a pitiful, unenviable lifestyle, Kim Nguyen sprinkles the film with some peculiar stylistic touches which lend it a special sense of identity… A crowd-[pleaser] Rebelle most certainly is not, but it is  brave project.” (Sound on Sight). The film screened at  the Berlin International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival (with actress Rachel Mwanza winning a Silver Bear for Best Actress at the former and Best Actress at the latter), and the Toronto International Film Festival. Rebelle will also be Canada’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 85th Academy Awards.

The festival runs from January 4-13, 2013, and screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox. The programme will also make its way across Canada to cinemas in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Montreal. For ticket information and general inquiries, please visit tiff.net.

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By Justin Li

Born, raised, and educated in Toronto, Justin joined Sound on Sight in 2012 and has since been accepted into the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS).

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