By Peter Knegt | Indiewire August 10, 2010 at 6:52AM
The Toronto International Film Festival had its annual Canadian-themed press conference this afternoon, announcing 23 Canadian features and 40 Canadian shorts. At the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto, filmmakers, festival employees and wide array of TIFF-supporters gathered to celebrate the occasion.
"We're so fortunate to have the opportunity to showcase the best in Canadian cinema on the world stage," TIFF's Piers Handling said at the press conference. "We believe it is a critical element of our mandate. And it doesn't hurt to have such high-quality films to showcase."
In addition to previously announced Canadian fare like Richard J. Lewis's "Barney's Version," George Hickenlooper's "Casino Jack" and fest opener "Score: A Hockey Musical," Toronto seriously upped the Canuck ante today with 23 features and 40 shorts from a range of homegrown filmmakers. The list includes new works from Denis Villeneuve, Bruce McDonald, Xavier Dolan, Jacob Tierney, Louis Bélanger and William D. MacGillivray, Sturla Gunnarsson, Ingrid Veninger, and Carl Bessai.
McDonald's film, "Trigger," a "My Dinner With Andre"-type film that stars Molly Parker and the late Tracy Wright, will be the first ever screening at the new Bell Lightbox, the festival's new headquarters. The film will debut on Sunday, September 12th the first day of the Lightbox's official existence.
"We didn't have to look very far, to be honest," Piers Handling said in regard to the decision to choose "Trigger." "We wanted this first film to reflect who we are as an organization. This selection reflects the relationship we have with the filmmaking community in this country."
The Bell Lightbox's debut will also consist of a "free and festive" block party from noon to 4pm on September 12th.
The festival noted that eventually 72 Canadian films will screen in the 2010 lineup, with 19 as world premieres. The titles come from 858 submissions, up from 804 last year. Since the festival's inception in 1976, 2,201 Canadian films have screened.
“It’s a testament to the creative minds and incredible talent in this country that we have such a diverse and exciting offering of Canadian films across all programs in this year’s festival,” said Toronto programmer Steve Gravestock. “It’s an exciting time for Canadian cinema and we’re proud to bring audiences this line-up of films which includes documentaries profiling some of our beloved national figures, powerful and unsettling dramas, thrillers, comedies, romances and a record number of dysfunctional families.”
The festival also announced its jury, which will choose three award winners for Canadian filmmaking: the City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian Feature Film, the SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film, and the Best Canadian Short Film Award.
The feature film jury consists of writer/director Ruba Nadda (whose "Cairo Time," just release in U.S. theaters, won the best feature award last year); broadcast veteran Andy Barrie (former host of CBC’s Metro Morning); journalist and TFO veteran Lucie Amyot; and director Bruce Sweeney ("Last Wedding," "Excited")
The short film jury members are Canadian documentary filmmaker and author Shelley Saywell ("In the Name of the Family", "Women in War"); documentary producer, journalist and author Noah Richler ("This Is My Country," "What’s Yours"); and writer and director Sudz Sutherland ("Love, Sex & Eating the Bones," "Doomstown").
“I don’t envy the esteemed jury members who have the difficult task of selecting the winners from among this impressive offering of Canadian films,” said TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey. “We’re thrilled that three jurors, Ruba Nadda, Bruce Sweeney and Sudz Sutherland are themselves past winners of festival awards.”
Additionally, the participants of its three industry programmes - Telefilm Canada PITCH THIS!, Talent Lab, and in a new initiative, Producers Lab Toronto - were unveiled.
Now in its seventh year, Talent Lab is a four-day artistic development program that, "provides emerging talent with unparalleled opportunity to learn from internationally acclaimed filmmakers and artists" - including this year's Governors Deepa Mehta, Lee Daniels and Stephen Woolley.
Telefilm Canada PITCH THIS! returns for its eleventh year with a competition that offers six teams six minutes each to pitch their dramatic or documentary feature film idea to a live audience of over 200 industry professionals.
New this year, 12 European and 12 Canadian producers will come together for Producers Lab Toronto - created in partnership with European Film Promotion (EFP), in collaboration with the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) - an initiative aimed to facilitate and increase international co-productions between European and Canadian producers.
"Producers Lab Toronto will provide an invaluable and exciting opportunity to open doors and facilitate collaboration for talented producers," said Karen Bruce, Director, Canadian, Initiatives, TIFF. "This year's Talent Lab and Telefilm Canada PITCH THIS! programs present the industry with a diverse group of impressive and exciting filmmakers. As an extension and a result of the festival's outstanding relationship with the film community, we're thrilled to be able to offer this invaluable learning opportunity, creative environment and exposure to emerging artists."
The participants in this year's labs, as well as the announced short films, can be found on the following page. A complete list of all the feature films announced, including the 77 films previously set for the fest, can be found here.
Short Cuts Canada Lineup
(with descriptions provided by the festival)
Above The Knee [Greg Atkins, ON, 12'] Jack's suit-and-tie career never quite fit. As he summons the courage to dress for the job he wants, he risks changing the way his co-workers and his wife see and treat him.
The Adder's Bite [Firas Momani,ON, 9'] Designed as a quasi sci-fi choreography, The Adder's Bite is a haunting rendering of the micro world of parasites.
Animal Control [Kire Paputts, ON, 16'] Larry is an amateur taxidermist who, as the pick-up man for the local Animal Services, gets all his specimens through work.
The Camera and Christopher Merk [Brandon Cronenberg, ON, 15'] Quiet Christopher Merk just found a new apartment. Getting to know his neighbours doesn't require borrowing a cup of sugar; it means picking up the remote.
Champagne [Hans Olson, ON, 19'] Clara's birthday is just another night shift of window-dressing beds at the local furniture store, until she learns her secret crush James is working his final shift.
The Closer You Get to Canada [John Bolton, BC, 11'] Adapted from Thomas King's darkly comic story, two old friends trapped in a futuristic American seniors' residence try to escape to Canada.
Eggcellent [Martin Sokol, ON, 2'] An underperforming chicken is under enormous pressure to produce at work.
File Under Miscellaneous [Jeff Barnaby, QC, 7'] Resigned to assimilate and shed his identity, a spiritually exhausted Mi'kmaq man visits a dystopian clinic.
A Fine Young Man [Kevan Funk, BC, 13'] Pete - with his perfect job, perfect home and perfect wife - seems to epitomize the American Dream. But is his life really so spotless?
Les fleurs de l'age [Vincent Biron, QC, 18'] Selling ice cream, smoking pot, falling in love, dealing with family: it's just another summer day for a regular group of school kids.
Green Crayons [Kazik Radwanski, ON, 10'] Director Kazik Radwanski narrows his lens on Xavier and Liam, two second-grade boys who are moulded by their actions and moralistic educators.
The High Level Bridge [Trevor Anderson, AB, 5'] Edmonton's High Level Bridge has a morbid notoriety; it's a frequent spot for suicides. Anderson pays homage to the people and events surrounding an odd landmark.
Home: Life Advice [Aaron Phelan, ON, 2'] A young woman works at a retirement home where an elderly man makes scathing comments about her appearance.
How To Rid Your Lover Of A Negative Emotion Caused By You! [Nadia Litz, ON, 15'] Like any other couple, Sadie and Dennis have problems. Will Sadie's trust issues remain insurmountable, or will she finally decide to open up?
Interregnum [Nick Fox-Gieg, ON, 7'] As a Nazi-occupied France has a population under threat, one man's attempt to thwart a corrupted system shapes a dramatic sequence of events.
The Legend Of Beaver Dam [Jerome Sable, QC, 12'] This musical horror comedy follows an unlikely hero - nerdy Danny Zigwitz - at a summer camp listening to fireside stories.
Lipsett Diaries [Theodore Ushev, QC, 14'] Deconstructing a visionary in experimental film, this animated documentary presents the incredible creativity and emotional tumult that defined filmmaker Arthur Lipsett's life.
Living History [Isaac Cravit, ON, 7'] Living History follows a father and his teenaged son as they make their way to the annual reenactment of the Upper Canada Rebellion.
Love. Marriage. Miscarriage. [Darragh McDonald, ON, 10'] In the wake of a miscarriage, Magda finds herself at a family gathering, caught between denial and acceptance.
Maneges [Sophie Goyette, QC, 5'] Trying to avoid some big decisions, Nadege spends a restless night at an arcade and go-kart track.
Marius Borodine [Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais, QC, 15'] A mockumentary about inventor Marius Borodine who is on the brink of completing his master creation when something goes terribly awry.
La Metropolitaine [Dan Popa, QC, 25'] At once an essay and an epic story where we never get to really meet the protagonist, La Metropolitaine conveys with grandeur that love can be everywhere and nowhere.
Mokhtar [Halima Ouardiri, QC, 15'] Based on the eponymous folktale, Mokhtar recounts the tale of a young boy in a remote Moroccan village as he adopts a fallen owl.
Negativipeg [Matthew Rankin, MB, 16'] In part three of the Burton Cycle, Rory Lepine gives a personal account of his fateful 1985 encounter with The Guess Whos legendary lead singer, Burton Cummings, at a 7-Eleven in Winnipeg.
The Old Ways [Michael Vass, ON, 13'] When a judge sentences a child to the death penalty, the court mitigates a public relations crisis with an elaborate and dubious scheme.
On The Way To The Sea [Tao Gu, QC, 19'] On May 12, 2008, the largest earthquake in China's history devastated the Wenchuan region. Director Tao Gu visits his parents' home to capture the physical and emotional aftermath.
Open Window [Cam Woykin, ON, 9'] A backyard birthday party is consumed with tension when an abusive relationship between the birthday boy's parents is revealed.
Poudre [Ky Nam Le Duc, QC, 21'] Two young men, who have recently returned from military missions, struggle to reintegrate with civilian life while coping with the impact of their respective experiences.
Le Projet Sapporo [Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre, QC, 5'] This homage to acclaimed calligrapher Gazanbou Higuchi utilizes rotoscope animation to illustrate the craft of Japanese shodo.
Sad Bear [Liz Van Allen Cairns, Joe LoBianco, BC, 10'] Sad Bear collects people's saddest objects to help them process past regrets. People are generally amenable to this, except for Steve, who can't let go of his prized possession.
Les Softies [Emmanuel Shirinian, Russell Bennett, ON, 10'] Chooch and Ponch are hit men. While waiting to knock off a mark, they ponder what life might have in store if they quit their day jobs and pursued their unrealized potential.
Sophie Lavoie [Anne Emond, QC, 9'] Anne Emond delivers a stripped-down study of a young woman participating in a patient interview during her doctor's appointment.
La tranchee [Claude Cloutier, QC, 7'] Trench warfare is brought to harrowing life as Claude Cloutier creates a high-stakes world of physical and psychological dangers, by animating archival images with India ink.
Tsunami, Horses and Civilization [Carla Susanto, ON, 4'] A tsunami approaches a city where the human residents are incapable of saving themselves from imminent disaster.
Turkey [Sara St. Onge, ON, 6'] Ally is doing her best to accommodate her husband, two stepdaughters and her husband's ex-wife for a Thanksgiving dinner, but even she has her limit.
Vapor [Kaveh Nabatian, QC, 11'] In this stunning portrait of a shattered psyche, a Mexican man begins to understand his life when he confronts his own deep-seated phobias.
Wapawekka [Danis Goulet, ON, 16'] Josh and his father visit their family cottage for the last time. They are leaving their traditional Cree territory, but Josh has already adopted an urban lifestyle and finds it hard to relate to his heritage.
Warchild [Caroline Monnet, MB, 6'] On a solitary portage between the barren wilderness and a desolate city, a young man reflects on his troubled past and hopeful future.
Woman Waiting [Antoine Bourges, BC, 15'] A middle-aged woman searches for a place to live in Vancouver. The system should be there to assist her, but amidst all the red tape of applications and waiting periods, she longs for human help.
Yesno [Brian D. Johnson, ON, 7'] Adapting esteemed poet Dennis Lee's recent collection of poetry, film-critic-cum-filmmaker Brian Johnson creates a vivid visual language to lift Lee's words off the page.
Industry Progamme Participants
The 2010 Talent Lab participants are:
Jeff Chiba Stearns
The 2010 Telefilm Canada PITCH THIS! finalists are:
50 Proof - David Manning Two washed-up, alcoholic actors, stuck performing dinner theater in a small town, attempt to tow away a liquor store housed in a trailer, only to discover armed robbers inside.
Bitter Pills - Cher Hawrysh and Garfield Lindsay Miller A recently widowed doctor re-awakens his small town by convincing his unhappy patients they only have one month to live all the while avoiding his own grief and the scrutiny of his psychiatrist daughter.
The Fringe - Dane Clark, Jordan Gross and Mike MacMillan An artsy high-school senior attempts a coup d'etat over the jock-run student council in order to win back his creative space, his pride and the girl he loves.
The Millennials Networking Change - Maryam Mehrtash The Millennials, a generation of youth, utilize the power of online networking to collectively lead the biggest social movement in history. They care about changing their world for the better....and they will.
Kill Shakespeare - Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col In a world where Shakespeare's characters fight for freedom, Hamlet struggles to rally a group of the Bard's greatest heroes to battle Shakespeare's most frightening villains.
Brobots - Mark Purdy and Stuart Reid In the near future, reclusive twin brothers Alistair and Reuben Thornhill impersonate robots to save their friend's career; they never expected to become better human beings along the way.
Producers Lab Toronto participants are:
Paul Barkin, Alcina Pictures
Andrew Boutilier, Submission Films
Robert Budreau, Lumanity Productions
Damon D'Oliveira, Conquering Lion Pictures
Trish Dolman, Screen Sirens Pictures Liz Jarvis, Buffalo Gal Pictures
Jennifer Jonas, New Real Films
Jennifer Kawaja, Sienna Films
Corey Marr, Corey Marr Productions
Brandi-Ann Milbradt, Philms Pictures
Martin Paul-Hus, Amerique Film
Paul Scherzer, Six Island Productions
Ivan Angelusz, Katapult Film (Hungary) - associated with Magyar Filmunio
Silje Hopland Eik, Cinenord Spillefilm AS (Norway) - associated with Norwegian Film Institute
Matti Halonen, Fisher King Production Oy (Finland) - associated with Finnish Film Foundation
Janine Jackowski, Komplizen Film GmbH (Germany) - associated with German Films
Andrzej Jakimowski, Zjednoczenie Artystow i Rzemie