The Toronto International Film Festival unveiled a strong lineup of Canadian films including new works by acclaimed Canadian filmmakers Xavier Dolan, Sturla Gunnarsson, Ruba Nadda, Jacob Tierney and Denys Arcand, and an impressive number of first-time feature filmmakers. Jam-packed with compelling works ranging from thrillers and comedies to romances and musicals, this year’s Canadian offerings promise to entertain, inspire and move audiences.
“These are filmmakers at the top of their craft, bringing fresh perspectives to traditional genres like comedies and less traditionally Canadian genres, such as musicals,” said Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF. “This year’s slate truly showcases the diversity of talent in our country, featuring films from coast to coast.”
“We are inspired by the number of exceptional debut features from Canadian directors, reflecting the depth of talent in this country,” said Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo, Canadian Features Programmer, TIFF. “Extremely exciting is also the fact that female-driven narratives play a significant part in this year’s programming, highlighting the strong, rich tapestry of our storytelling.”
The Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film will be given to one of many outstanding Canadian filmmakers, with the City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film being presented to the Canadian filmmaker with the most impressive debut feature at the Festival. This year’s esteemed Canadian awards jury includes filmmaker Michael Dowse (The F Word); director, writer and producer Ingrid Veninger (The Animal Project); producer Jennifer Jonas (Gerontophilia); and film critic Jason Anderson.
An Eye for Beauty (Le règne de la beauté) Denys Arcand, Canada Toronto Premiere
Luc, a talented young architect, lives a peaceful life with his wife Stephanie in the stunning area of Charlevoix. He has a beautiful house, a pretty wife, dines often with friends, plays golf and tennis, and goes hunting — leading a perfect life, one might say. One day, he accepts to be a member of an architectural jury in Toronto. There, he meets Lindsay, a mysterious woman who will turn his life upside down. Starring Éric Bruneau, Mélanie Thierry, Melanie Merkosky and Marie-Josée Croze.
The Elephant Song Charles Binamé, Canada World Premiere
Xavier Dolan, Bruce Greenwood and Catherine Keener star in this big-screen adaptation of the play by Nicolas Billon about a psychiatrist who is drawn into a complex mind game when he questions a disturbed patient about the disappearance of a colleague.
Mommy Xavier Dolan, Canada Toronto Premiere
In a fictional Canada, where a new law allows distressed parents to abandon troubled children to the hospital system, Die Despres, a feisty widow, tries to cope with Steve, her wild yet charming ADHD son. While they both try to make ends meet and live under the same roof, Kyla, their mysterious neighbour, offers her help. As Kyla’s heartwarming presence becomes increasingly intense, questions emerge about her own mysterious life, and the way her destiny may ultimately be linked to that of Steve and Die. Starring Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement and Antoine Olivier Pilon.
October Gale Ruba Nadda, Canada World Premiere
Helen, a doctor mourning the sudden passing of her beloved husband, has retreated to their beautiful island cabin to put his things in order. Unable and unwilling to return to her job and normal life in the city, she stays alone at the remote cabin. When a small boat washes up on her shore carrying a mysterious man — unconscious and bleeding from a gunshot wound — Helen pulls him in and saves him, leaving her alone with this unknown and potentially dangerous stranger. Starring Patricia Clarkson, Scott Speedman and Tim Roth.
Preggoland Jacob Tierney, Canada World Premiere
When 35-year-old Ruth ruins a baby shower with her juvenile antics, her old high school cronies — who are all mothers now — promptly de-friend her. Later, when she is mistakenly thought to be with child she is inexplicably welcomed back into the group. Although she initially tries to come clean, the many perks of pregnancy are far too seductive to ignore. Preggoland is a comedy about our societal obsession with babies and the lengths people will go to be part of a club. Starring Sonja Bennett.
Monsoon Sturla Gunnarsson, Canada World Premiere
Part road movie, part spectacle, part drama, Monsoon is Sturla Gunnarsson’s meditation on chaos, creation and faith, set in the land of believers. The subject is the monsoon, the incomparably vast weather system that permeates and unifies the varied culture of India, shaping the conditions of existence for its billion inhabitants.
The Price We Pay (La Face cachée de l’impôt) Harold Crooks, Canada World Premiere
Director Harold Crooks (The Corporation, Surviving Progress) blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance with this incendiary documentary about the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, which has seen multinationals depriving governments of trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harbouring profits in offshore havens.
The Wanted 18 Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan, Canada/Palestine/France World Premiere
Through stop-motion animation, drawings and interviews, this film reveals how 18 cows in the village of Beit Sahour became an inspiration and symbol of resistance during the first Palestinian Intifada. As the Israeli army searches for the illegal bovines, the story veers from comedy to drama to tragedy — with a large dose of the absurd.
Backcountry Adam MacDonald, Canada World Premiere
Based on a true story, Backcountry follows an urban couple who go camping in the wilderness and get hopelessly lost. Without food or water, they struggle to find their way back. When they enter a predatory bear’s territory, their trip turns into a horrific tale of tragedy, will, and survival. Starring Missy Peregrym and Jeff Roop.
Bang Bang Baby Jeffrey St. Jules, Canada World Premiere
A small-town teenager in the 1960s believes her dreams of becoming a famous singer will come true when her rock-star idol gets stranded in town. But a leak in a nearby chemical plant that is believed to be causing mass mutations threatens to turn her dream into a nightmare. Starring Jane Levy, Justin Chatwin, Peter Stormare and David Reale.
Big Muddy Jefferson Moneo, Canada World Premiere
Martha Barlow has a dark personal history she’d rather not remember and more skeletons in her closet than she’d care to admit. After her teenage son Andy becomes involved with seedy characters, Martha must face her violent past in order to secure her son’s future. To do so, she must ward off a crazed racehorse owner, reconcile with her estranged family, and reunite with Andy’s dangerous and long forgotten father. Big Muddy is an outlaw tale played out as a modern-day murder ballad. Starring Nadia Litz, Justin Kelly, Stephen McHattie and Rossif Sutherland.
Corbo Mathieu Denis, Canada World Premiere
Montréal, 1966. Jean Corbo, an idealistic 16-year-old of Québécois and Italian descent, befriends two far-left political activists and joins the FLQ (Liberation Front of Québec), an underground movement determined to spark a socialist revolution. Jean thus begins an inextricable march toward his destiny. Starring Anthony Therrien, Antoine L’Écuyer, Karelle Tremblay and Tony Nardi.
Guidance Pat Mills, Canada World Premiere
A closeted former child actor, an out-of-work alcoholic, fakes his résumé and gets a job as a high-school guidance counsellor, where he thrives while giving bad advice. Starring Pat Mills, Zahra Bentham, Alex Ozerov and Tracey Hoyt.
In Her Place Albert Shin, Canada/South Korea World Premiere
A mysterious woman from a big city arrives at a rural farm in South Korea, where she’s taken in by an old woman and her odd teenage daughter. The three women remain in isolation and, as they begin to fall into a new rhythm of life together, work to fill a void within their lives. But soon enough, their arrangement becomes more than what they bargained for. Starring Yoon Da Kyung, Ahn Ji Hye and Kil Hae Yeon.
Songs She Wrote About People She Knows Kris Elgstrand, Canada World Premiere
Carol, an emotionally repressed woman, loses friends and alienates people when she begins singing songs she wrote about people she knows. But she unexpectedly inspires her boss, to whom she dedicated the song Asshole Dave, to resurrect his dreams of becoming a rock star. As Dave flounders, Carol continues to hone her creative voice. Starring Arabella Bushnell, Brad Dryborough and Ross Smith.
The Valley Below Kyle Thomas, Canada World Premiere
The Valley Below is a multi-narrative drama that chronicles the life of a small town in the badlands of Alberta over the course of one year. The story is told in four chapters, each focusing on a different set of characters, including a pregnant teenager, a hard-drinking musician, a reclusive taxidermist, and an ambitious police officer. The film’s intertwining stories combine to render a rich portrait of rural life in central Alberta. Starring Stephen Bogaert, Kris Demeanor, Alejandro Rae and Lori Ravensborg.
We Were Wolves Jordan Canning, Canada World Premiere
Two estranged brothers return to the family cottage after the death of their father. Over the course of three days they must learn to let go of the man they thought they knew, and accept responsibility for the men they have become. Starring Peter Mooney, Steve Cochrane and Lynda Boyd.
Wet Bum Lindsay Mackay, Canada World Premiere
It’s the start of the spring term in a small northern town, heralding swimming lessons, hanging out with best friends, new classes and new possibilities. But this year, things are different for 14-year-old Sam. While her friends are moving on, focusing on boys, experimenting with drugs, Sam is too uncomfortable to even take off her bathing suit in front of the other girls. After landing herself into trouble, she is forced to work as a cleaner at the retirement home run by her mother. Sam finds unexpected and unlikely friendships with two of the retirement home’s residents who end up teaching Sam a few things about growing up — and growing old. Starring 2014 TIFF Rising Star Julia Sarah Stone, Kenneth Welsh, Leah Pinsent and Craig Arnold.
CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA
Félix and Meira Maxime Giroux, Canada World Premiere
Félix is an eccentric and penniless French Canadian whose wealthy father is dying. Meira is a married Hasidic woman with a family, searching for something new. They were not meant to meet, let alone fall in love. Félix and Meira tells the miraculous love story between two strangers from two distinct communities, who attempt to love each other despite what separates them. Starring Hadas Yaron and Martin Dubreuil.
Heartbeat Andrea Dorfman, Canada World Premiere
Justine hasn’t played her guitar since a spell of stage fright caused her to faint and fall on her head. Now, forced to give up her lifelong dream of becoming a musician and to avoid the big risks that would give her fulfillment, Justine is stuck. She lives in the unchanged house of her dead grandmother, works at an unfulfilling office job, and continues to sleep with her ex-boyfriend, Ben. When Ben suddenly puts an end to their late night trysts, Justine is inspired to play and write music again. Starring Tanya Davis, Stewart Legere, Stephanie Clattenburg and Jackie Torrens.
Love in the Time of Civil War (L’amour au temps de la guerre civile) Rodrigue Jean, Canada World Premiere
Alex is a young addict who sells his body in Montréal’s Centre-Sud district. He’s flanked by Bruno, Simon, Jeanne, Éric and Velma, all of them caught in the same spiral of compulsion. Hostage to society’s market logic, they are the fallen angels of a dark and violent time. Yet their beauty somehow survives, rebellious amid the ruins. From one fix to the next, desire becomes a life raft, as their bodies, exultant, seek to avenge the humiliation to which they are condemned. Orphans of a wild tribe, they live and love like restless vagrants in the shadows of society’s comfort and indifference. Starring 2014 TIFF Rising Star Alexandre Landry, Jean-Simon Leduc and Simon Lefebvre.
Teen Lust Blaine Thurier, Canada World Premiere
An awkward high school student strives to lose his virginity before his parents and their satanic cult can sacrifice him to the devil. Starring Jesse Carere, Daryl Sabara, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Cary Elwes and Jon Dore.
Tu dors Nicole Stéphane Lafleur, Canada Toronto Premiere
Making the most of the family home while her parents are away, 22-year-old Nicole is enjoying a peaceful summer with her best friend, Véronique. When Nicole’s older brother shows up with his band to record an album, their vacation takes an unexpected turn and the girls’ friendship is put to the test. Amidst a rising heat wave, Nicole’s insomnia — and romantic misadventures — mount each day. Tu dors Nicole takes a humorous look at the beginning of adulthood and all its possibilities. Starring Julianne Côté, Juliette Gosselin, and Marc-Andre Grondin.
The Editor Matthew Kennedy and Adam Brooks, Canada World Premiere
From members of Winnipeg’s infamous Astron-6 collective comes a loving homage and absurdist send-up of the Italian giallo genre. Rey Ciso was once the greatest editor the world had ever seen — but since a horrific accident left him with four wooden fingers on his right hand, he’s had to resort to cutting pulp films and trash pictures. When the lead actors from the film he’s been editing turn up murdered at the studio, Rey is fingered as the number one suspect. The bodies continue to pile up as Rey struggles to prove his innocence and uncover the sinister truth lurking behind the scenes. Starring Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Udo Kier and Paz de le Huerta.
Trick or Treaty? Alanis Obomsawin, Canada World Premiere
The new documentary from Alanis Obomsawin follows the journey of Indigenous people in their quest for justice as they seek to establish dialogue with the Canadian government. By tracing the history of their ancestors since the signing of Treaty No. 9, they are raising people’s awareness about the issues that concern them and finally putting an end to inertia.
Speaking Parts Atom Egoyan, Canada
Lance is a film extra looking for his first speaking role. When Clara, an idealistic television writer, checks into the hotel where Lance works, he seduces her into casting him in her current film. Meanwhile, Lance’s co-worker Lisa prowls video stores, obsessively viewing and re-viewing the movies in which Lance appears as an extra. Haunting images and obsessive sexualities merge, as these three people become fatally entangled in a web of psycho-sexual desire. This digital restoration was supervised by Atom Egoyan at Deluxe Toronto.
Crime Wave John Paizs, Canada
Winnipeg director John Paizs’ 1985 classic brilliantly apes the look of ’50s educational films and trashy crime movies in its story of a teenage girl who develops an odd obsession with a frustrated would-be screenwriter. Courtesy of eOne and Library and Archives Canada.
The following short films will screen as part of the Wavelengths programme.
brouillard – passage #14 Alexandre Larose, Canada World Premiere
A path that extends from a family’s backyard into Lac Saint-Charles in Québec City, condensed into multiple layers.
The Innocents Jean-Paul Kelly, Canada World Premiere
The Innocents features an image stream, an interview with Truman Capote’s desire, and shapes that correspond to the former through the instructions of the latter.
Red Capriccio Blake Williams, Canada World Premiere
An anaglyph found-footage film thematically inspired by the capriccio paintings of Giovanni Paolo Panini, Thomas Cole, and Charles Robert Cockerell — which depicted fantastical and dilapidated architectural landscapes — and structured in the style of Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky’s capriccio compositions — brimming with playful staccatos and glissandos, and prone to sudden tonal shifts.
Lunar Almanac Malena Szlam, Canada/Chile Toronto Premiere
Moving through landscapes and inhabiting landscapes, the moon is on a journey through magnetic spheres, influencing the subtle energies on Earth. The moon becomes “moons” as it oscillates within its own margins of size and shape. Through single-frame and long-exposure superimpositions, the film assembles in series of short sequences shot in 16mm Ektachrome and hand-processed. The unaltered, in-camera edit segments shot on various nights gather over 4000 stills of multi-layered field views of the moon.
Free and open to the public for the duration of the Festival, the Future Projections programme will showcase installations at various venues throughout downtown Toronto, including TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Anna and the Tower Lynne Marsh, Canada World Premiere Internationally renowned Canadian artist Lynne Marsh presents Anna and the Tower, a 3-channel video installation with sound co-commissioned by TIFF and the Goethe-Institut Toronto that conflates documentary and performance. Filmed in an under-utilized airport outside of Berlin that was once a Soviet airbase, the work conveys both a sense of latency and expectation, and a desire to will events into being. Presented at, and in collaboration with, Scrap Metal Gallery, 11 Dublin Street, Unit E. Runs daily September 4 to 14.
David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars was previously announced in the Gala programme.
Purchase Festival ticket packages online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433, or visit the Gupta Box Office in person from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET daily at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West, until August 20 while quantities last.
The 39th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4 to 14, 2014.