TIFF Unveils Canadian Line-up

Toronto International Film Festival organizers have announced this year’s slate of films by Canadians, and it includes world premieres from Xavier Dolan and Deepa Mehta, Alanis Obomsawin, Bruce McDonald, Johnny Ma, and Brigitte Berman.

The lineup is diverse and exciting, with everything from hard-hitting documentaries to moving dramas to animation to dystopian sci-fi to comedy to a classic of Canadian film history.

They include: Two Lovers and a Bear, Kim Nguyen’s latest, starring Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan. In Below Her Mouth from April Mullen, two women share a powerful and immediate connection that inevitably derails both of their lives. And It’s Only the End of the World is the latest from Xavier Dolan, and tells the story of a writer returning to his hometown after 12 years away.

The animated feature Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphaney of Rosie Ming is directed by Ann Marie Fleming and features the voices of Sandra Oh, Don McKellar, Nancy Kwan, and Shohreh Aghdashloo. It follows the journey of a young Canadian poet, and is filled with poems and histories created by a variety of artists and animators.

On the doc side of things, there’s Giants of Africa, in which Masai Ujiri, the first and only African-born president of a North American major league sports franchise, runs yearly summer basketball development camps in various African countries and shares the amazing physical and emotional journey of the young men who attend them. There’s Black Code, about how the internet is being controlled and manipulated by governments in a bid to control their citizens. And Mostly Sunny tells Sunny Leone’s story: growing up in small-town Sarnia as the daughter of strict Sikh parents, no one anticipated Leone’s transformation into an adult film star, or her next step from there into becoming a huge reality TV star in India and successful Bollywood actress. The film explores her journey and how she arrived where she is.

Science fiction is in the lineup courtesy of ARQ, a film set in a dystopian future where corporations battle against sovereign nations for control of the last of the world’s energy supplies; in this world, Renton and Hannah find themselves reliving a deadly home invasion again and again as intruders try to procure the ARQ, an experimental energy technology that could end the wars.

There are also stories of youth and pain: X Quinientos from Juan Andrés Arango, tells three separate and powerful stories of teenagers who must learn a new reality when they are forced to migrate to different parts of the Americas after the loss of someone they loved. Kevan Funk’s new one is Hello Destroyer, a film about a young junior hockey player’s life destroyed by an in-game act of violence. It stars TIFF Rising Star Jared Abrahamson. Mean Dreams from Nathan Morlando is a tense coming-of-age thriller about a 15-year-old boy who steals a bag of drug money to run off with the girl he loves, and Weirdos is Bruce McDonald’s 1976-set story of a young couple in Nova Scotia running away from home.

If you’re looking for comedy, their Primetime programme has it in spades with nirvanna the band the show, the new show from Matt Johnson and Jay McCarrol based on their web series of the same name.

And a long-thought-lost classic of Canadian cinema is making its triumphant return this year at TIFF: A Cool Sound from Hell, a striking record of hipster Toronto in the 1950s, is Sidney J. Furie’s second feature, and it’s showing as part of our TIFF Cinematheque programme.

In total, 37  short films by Canadian directors will be presented at this year’s TIFF, which runs from September 8-18.

Photo: TIFF