Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This Year's Canadian Films

The festival has announced the Canadian films that will be showing this year. 87 films have made it in, culled from a list of 733 submissions including 220 feature films and 513 short films.

The Canada First! programme features films from Canadian filmmakers who are making their first appearance at the festival, or who have made their first or second feature film. This year, the programme will open with the film Familia from writer/director Louise Archambault. Familia is Archambault's first feature filmand focus on the relationships between two women and their teenage daughters.

Also in Canada First! are seven world premieres, including:

  • The Cabin Movie from Dylan Akio Smith, about three swinging couples on a weekend retreat that soon pushes all of them to the edge.
  • Eve and the Firehorse from Julia Kwan, about a nine-year-old girl with a wild imagination influenced by the Confucian, Buddhist, and Catholic traditions of her family and the people around her.
  • Fetching Cody from David Ray, about a street kid who travels back in time to save the life of his girlfriend.
  • Saints-Martyrs-Des-Damnes from Robin Aubert, about a reporter sent to a small town to investigate a rash of disappearances.
  • A Simple Curve from Aubrey Nealon, about a small-town man who sees his fortune in an old friend who comes to town to open a fishing lodge, which leads to deception and betrayal.
  • Six Figures from David Christensen, about a man and his family who end up moving to a boomtown where they quickly seem to fall behind everyone else, leading to an explosive situation.
  • These Girls from John Hazlett, featuring David Boreanaz (Angel) and Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls). Dhavernas has been at the festival in previous years in such movies as The Tulse Luper Suitcases and The Baroness and the Pig.

Other films in Canada First! include:

  • The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico from Michael Mabbott, a fake documentary about the rise and fall of the titular country singer, which also features appearances by real-life musicians Ronnie Hawkins, Levon Helm, Kris Kristofferson, and Merle Haggard.
  • Les Etats Nordiques from Denis Cote, about a man who ends the life of his terminally-ill mother and then attempts to start a new life for himself.

The Visions programme features films that are more experimental in terms of their approach and techniques. This year, Canadian films include:

  • Lie With Me from Clement Virgo, based on the sexually-explicit novel written by Virgo's wife, Tamara Faith Berger.

The Contemporary World Cinema programme is the core programme in the festival and features films from all over the world. Canadian films in this year's programme include:

  • Lucid by Sean Garrity, about an insomniac psychotherapist whose treatment of three sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder may give him the key to figuring out the problems in his own personal life.
  • The French Guy by Ann Marie Fleming, who has been at the festival previously with The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam. This movie is an absurdist comedy about a woman recovering from brain surgery who brings home a man she finds on the beach. The situation soon deteriorates into her stabbing and cannibalizing old friends.
  • Whole New Thing from Amnon Buchbinder, featuring among others Rebecca Jenkins, Daniel MacIvor and Callum Keith Rennie. The film is a coming-of-age story about a 13-year old boy with an aptitude for math raised by a pair of hippy parents.
  • C.R.A.Z.Y. from Jean-Marc Vallee, in the words of the writer/director, "A mystical fable about a modern-day Christ-like figure, [which] exudes the beauty, the poetry and the madness of the human spirit in all its contradictions."
  • Horloge Biologique, a comedy from Ricardo Trogi, a comedy about three men who are facing the prospect or reality of fatherhood.
  • La Neuvaine from Bernard Emond, an exploration of personal faith.

Four feature-length Canadian documentaries are in this year's festival:

  • Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company from Allan King, who has previously been at the festival with another documentary, Dying at Grace. This film focuses on four residents of a geriatric care centre. This film is in the Masters programme, which features films from renowned filmmakers.
  • Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, from Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen, and Jessica Joy-Wise, which focuses on the culture of heavy metal. This film is in Midnight Madness, which features thrillers, horror films, and rockumentaries that are often outside the mainstream.
  • Souvenir of Canada from Robin Neinstein, based on the book by Douglas Coupland (Generation X) that explores Canadian identity. This film is in the Real to Reel programme, which specializes in non-fiction works.
  • Zizek, from Astra Taylor, about the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek. This film is also in Real to Reel.

Short Cuts Canada features short films under 50 minutes from Canadian filmmakers. There are 44 films in this year's festival.

The Canadian Retrospective showcases the work of a single Canadian filmmaker eachyear. This year's subject is Don Owen (Nobody Waved Good-bye).

The Canadian Open Vault features each year a recently restored Canadian film. Thisyear, Michel Brault's film Entre la mer et l'eau douce (Between Sweet and SaltWater) is the featured work.


I saw Aubrey Nealon's "A Simple Curve" at the Vancouver Film Fest. I highly recommend the film.

There are some beautiful shots of the remote Slocan Valley where the story takes place. Overall, the film is very well acted and really shows off Nealon's screenwriting abilities.

The dialogue moves seamlessly from drama and high seriousness to dry wit and sarcasm, weaving together the stories of a strong cast of central characters.

This coming of age story bucks the conventional model by drawing a link between Caleb's quest for identity and independance, and the story of his father's first few years in the Valley. The more Caleb tries to escape the legacy of his parents, the closer he comes to them.

Some great twists and genuine comedic moments, this film comes off as a tremendously well-rounded first effort for Nealon.

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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