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From New Worlds To The Deep Sea, Canadian Films Are All Over This Year’s TIFF Lineup

TIFF (1)

As we get closer and closer to the opening night of TIFF ’18, more of the Festival’s killer lineup is being revealed. This morning, TIFF announced the roster of Canadian feature films that will debut across programs ranging from TIFF Docs to Contemporary World Cinema (and everything in between).

Today’s announcement unveiled another 19 movies, all of them Canadian, that will screen at TIFF beginning September 6. Of those 19, nine films are directed by women and six are first-time features from the country’s up-and-coming directors.

“We’re thrilled with this year’s lineup of compelling and distinctive films,” said TIFF Programmer Danis Goulet. “The films feature characters who push hard against prescribed boundaries, asking vital questions about the state of the world and the status quo. We are especially excited to have a strong slate of bold and dynamic women-centric stories. 40 per cent of the Canadian film slate this year is directed by women.”

Stories of diversity and democracy, hope and resistance, love, heartbreak, heroism — and dogs (see next post for 🐕). Feature film highlights from your #TIFF18 Canadian lineup. 🇨🇦 🎉Jasmin Mozaffari’s FIRECRACKERS, starring Michaela Kurimsky and Karena Evans (director of @Drake’s “God’s Plan” and “I’m Upset”) 🌎Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky’s documentary ANTHROPOCENE ❄️Miranda de Pencier’s true-life, Nunavut-set THE GRIZZLIES 🦈The world premiere of the late Rob Stewart’s final film SHARKWATER EXTINCTION 💋Renée Beaulieu’s LES SALOPES OR THE NATURALLY WANTON PLEASURE OF SKIN 🌿Gwaai Edenshaw & Helen Haig-Brown’s THE EDGE OF THE KNIFE, a landmark first feature made entirely in the two dialects of the Haida language. ✨Akash Sherman’s sci-fi drama CLARA 🗳Astra Taylor’s WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?, a timely investigation into the idea and historical practice of democracy 🕶Québécois fave Sébastien Pilote’s THE FIREFLIES ARE GONE 🎙Darlene Naponse’s FALLS AROUND HER, starring Tantoo Cardinal as a world-famous Anishinaabe musician 📽 For the full lineup, head to — and if you’re ready to watch films, grab Ticket Packages before Aug 13, and Tickets starting Sep 3. . . . . . . #canada #canadianfilm #firstnations #indigenous #seethenorth #karenaevans #drake #jenniferbaichwal #edwardburtynsky #nicholasdepencier #haida #anishnaabe #quebec #quebecfilm #quebecois #tantoocardinal #tiff18

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Along with the fresh blood, we’re also getting new work from some old, familiar faces.

“We’re especially proud to present such a diverse group of films,” said Steve Gravestock, a TIFF Senior Programmer. “Ranging from science fiction to fantasy, myth to documentary, and romance to a dystopic vision of our neighbours to the south, this year’s Canadian films come from every region in the country, stretching from east to west and north to south.” Names you’re likely to recognize include: director Jennifer Baichwal and artist Edward Burtynsky, conservationist and filmmaker Rob Stewart, and directors Denys Arcand, Bruce Sweeney, and Maxime Giroux.

Here’s some of the Can-con you’ll want to be on the lookout for:


The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

Montreal director and young Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan’s latest film has the potential to bring some huge Hollywood stars to this year’s Festival. The film’s cast include Natalie Portman, Game of Thrones‘ Kit Harrington, Westworld‘s Thandie Newton, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, and Room star Jacob Tremblay. Dolan, a Festival regular, has centred his new film around a old scandal that stemmed from a childhood friendship between a young boy and a famous TV actor… the ties between the two end in disaster and leave the boy, now an adult, to look back at the period with a different perspective. The trailer (below) sets a moody and almost sinister tone. Dolan’s film will be a TIFF Special Presentation.



The Festival is promoting Jasmin Mozaffari’s World Premiere film Firecrackers as “An intense drama about two young women desperate to escape their repressive small town, whose friendship is challenged after a night of debauchery threatens to undo their grand plans for freedom.” But here’s what you really need to know: the movie stars Karena Evans, the director behind Drake’s “God’s Plan” and “I’m Upset” music videos.


Edge of the Knife

This World Premiere from Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown is making history as the first feature-length film made in the UNESCO-classified endangered language, Haida. The eerie tagline describes the plot: In 19th-century Haida Gwaii, an accident prompts a tormented man to retreat deep into the forest, where he becomes Gaagiixiid/Gaagiid—‘the Wildman.’


The Grizzlies

Miranda De Pencier travelled to the Nunavut for her true-story film about how the game of lacrosse opened doors for Inuit teens in a community plagued by problems like drug use, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and one of the highest teen suicide rates in the world. The result is an eye-opening film that all Canadians need to see.



Sometimes listening to your parents is actually the right thing to do. Or is it? That’s the question Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein’s debut features asks. Freaks is the pair’s “genre-bending psychological sci-fi thriller” in which “a bold girl discovers a bizarre, threatening, and mysterious new world beyond her front door after she escapes her father’s protective and paranoid control.” Parents: they just don’t understand.



The makers of environmentally themed, worldview-shifting films like Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark, photographer Edward Burtynsky, frequent collaborator and director Jennifer Baichwal, and Nicholas de Pencier will deliver Anthropocene to the Festival this year. The movie takes viewers across the globe to show them how humanity has reshaped the planet with our mines, our walls, our machines, and our scary-huge piles of garbage.


Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz

Documentarian and Montrealer Barry Avrich is back at the Festival to screen a film about the chief US prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, Ben Ferencz. At age 99, Ferencz is the last surviving prosecutor to witness those trials—despite his age, he continues to work and fight.


The Fall of the American Empire

Denys Arcand’s latest film will be screened as a TIFF Special Presentation. In the past, the mega-political Arcand has brought movies like The Decline of the American Empire and the Oscar-winning Barbarian Invasions to Toronto. The Fall of the American Empire centres on a timid truck driver comes into some ill-deserved cash after bumbling his way through someone else’s robbery gone awry.


Sharkwater: Extinction

In January of 2017, the news that documentarian and conservationist Rob Stewart had died while on a dive off the coast of Florida came as a shock to the Canadian film community. Stewart had been at work on a follow-up to Sharkwater, his award-winning 2006 doc. Sharkwater: Extinction will premiere at TIFF as a Special Event screening and the filmmaker’s final project.


The Fireflies Are Gone

Teen angst reigns supreme in this small-town Quebec-set drama about a young woman’s adolescent years in an industrial town and her dream to leave it. The movie is Quebecois director Sébastien Pilote’s latest TIFF offering. His 2013 film, Dismantling, previously screened at the Festival.

As for other big names that have just popped up on our radar, you might see stars like Graham Greene, Silicon Valley’s Amanda Crew, Sarah Gadon, Kyle MacLachlan, and Maria Bello who appears in first-time short director Claire Edmondson’s film, Exit, at the Festival this year. Stay tuned!


If you’re in Toronto this September, make sure to check out the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival, September 6 to 16. For all the important deets, go here.

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