Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Canadian Films Announced

The festival issued a torrent of releases today highlighting the Canadian content present at this year's festival, which are summarized below.

In the Canada First! programme:

  • Year of the Carnivore, from Sook-Yin Lee. A romantic dramedy about a girl who decides to get more sexual experience to win the boy of her dreams who thinks she's bad in bed. Lee doesn't act in the film, so unlike previous years with Shortbus and Toronto Stories, we won't see her naked this year (probably much to the relief of her bosses at the CBC).
  • All Fall Down, from Philip Hoffman. A documentary that looks at the last years of Toronto writer George Lachlan Brown.
  • Crackie, from Sherry White. About a woman who dreams of getting out from under her domineering grandmother (Maritime stalwart Mary Walsh).
  • George Ryga’s HUNGRY HILLS from Rob King. Adaptation of the Canadian playwright's (I studied The Ecstasy of Rita Joe in university) 1963 work Hungry Hills, about a Alberta family trying to survive through the Great Depression.
  • Machotaildrop, from Corey Adams and Alex Craig. Follows a teenage skateboarder as he is groomed to be the next big star.
  • The Wild Hunt, from Alexandre Franchi. An ancient ritual conducted in the woods north of Montreal leads to a meeting of reality and fantasy.
Galas include:
  • Chloe, from Atom Egoyan. Julianne Moore plays a doctor who hires a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) to test her husband's (Liam Neeson) fidelity.
  • Cooking with Stella, from Dilip Mehta (brother of Deepa Mehta). About a Canadian diplomat and her husband (Lisa Ray and Don McKellar) who move to New Delhi, and their new cook.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, from Terry Gilliam. The last film of Heath Ledger, which director Gilliam needed to creatively adjust following Ledger's death, with the help of actors Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law.

In the Special Presentations programme:

  • Cairo Time, from Ruba Nadda. Follows a woman (Patricia Clarkson), who comes to Cairo to be with her husband, but when he is delayed, ends up exploring the city and culture with his friend (Alexander Siddig), and soon finds herself drawn to him.
  • Defendor, from Peter Stebbings. Stars Woody Harrelson as a man who by night becomes superhero Defendor, determined to defend the city against Captain Industry, a criminal he holds responsible for the death of his mother. Also stars Kat Dennings as a prostitute who Defendor befriends along the way.
  • Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, from Brigitte Berman. A documentary about the founder of Playboy and the battles that he fought along the way.
  • J’ai Tué Ma Mère, from Xavier Dolan, about a teenager and his love/hate relationship with his own mother.
  • The Trotsky, from Jacob Tierney, with Jay Baruchel as a teenager that is the supposed reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.

In the Vanguard programme:

  • Carcasses, from Denis Côté, about an old man living his days out in a junkyard.
  • Leslie, My Name Is Evil, from Reginald Harkema, about a chemist who falls in love with the defendant in a hippie, death-cult murder trial.

In the Real to Reel (documentary) programme:

  • Glenn Gould: The Inner Life, from Peter Raymont and Michele Hozer, about the famous Canadian pianist.
  • Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands, from Peter Mettler, about the Alberta tar sands. Mettler was cinematographer for Jennifer Baichwal's documentary Manufactured Landscapes, about the industrial photography of Edward Burtynsky.
  • Reel Injun, from Neil Diamond, looking at native stereotypes in Hollywood films, with interviews with Wes Studi, Adam Beach and Sacheen Littlefeather.

In Contemporary World Cinema:

  • A Gun to the Head, from Blaine Thurier, about an ex-criminal drawn back to the dark side in one fateful night.
  • Cole, from Carl Bessai, about a man who yearns to escape his small town life through his writing and with another student from his creative writing class.
  • Excited, from Bruce Sweeney (American Venus), a romantic comedy about a man whose quest for the perfect woman is complicated by his mother and his various sexual hangups.
  • High Life, from Gary Yates (Niagara Motel), about two brothers searching for that one last big score.
  • Passenger Side, from Matthew Bissonnette, two brothers discuss their love lives while crusing around Los Angeles.
  • Suck, from Robert Stefaniuk, about a band that suddenly finds success when their bass player falls in with a vampire. With cameos from Alice Cooper, Alex Lifeson from Rush, Moby, Iggy Pop, Carole Pope and Henry Rollins.

In the Masters programme:

  • La Donation, from Bernard Émond (20h17 rue Darling, The Necessities of Life), about a big city doctor who travels to a small town to temporarily relieve its aging doctor and soon faces a choice about her future.

In the Sprockets Family Zone programme:

  • A Shine of Rainbows, from Vic Sarin, set around Ireland and about a woman who helps an young orphan boy.

In Short Cuts Canada, which features short films, the complete listing can be found here:

The festival announced juried awards for Canadian films, including:

  • The City of Toronto and Astral Media's The Movie Network Award for Best Canadian Feature Film (and longest award title), with a cash prize of $30,000.
  • The SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film, with a cash prize of $15,000.
  • The Award for Best Canadian Short Film, supported by the NFB, with a cash prize of $10,000 cash prize.

All three awards are selected by a jury consisting of:

  • Jerry Ciccoritti, who's directorial resume reads like a history of modern Canadian TV (everything from Sweating Bullets, to Due South, Nikita, Trudeau, ReGenesis, Lives of the Saints, and Shania: A Life in Eight Albums).
  • Sean Farnel, director of programming for Hot Docs.
  • Kerri Sakamoto, a Canadian novelist (The Electrical Field)
  • Peter Lynch, director of Project Grizzly, as well as Cyberman.

The short film jury members are:

  • Director, cinematographer and editor Shane Smith (The Countdown).
  • Producer Ingrid Veninger.
  • Screenwriter Shane Belcourt.

The Canadian Open Vault, which features classic Canadian films, this year is screening:

  • William Beaudine’s Sparrows, with Mary Pickford.
  • A new print of Atom Egoyan’s The Adjuster.

There will be special events during the festival to tie into Toronto's 175th anniversary as a city.

To summarize, not counting the Open Vault presentations, this year the festival will have 27 Canadian features (up from 25 last year), and 41 Canadian short films (up from 38 last year).


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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