Sure, it’s nice to have all the movie stars and film-biz riff-raff enjoying the best of the city in September, but we should remember who really puts the Toronto in the Toronto International Film Festival, dammit. That’s the dedicated cadre of local filmmakers eager to showcase their new features, docs and shorts alongside the latest and greatest from the rest of Canada and the world.
Efforts by Toronto directors dominated the announcements for TIFF’s Canadian component at a press conference at the Royal York this afternoon. Returning filmmakers with full-length works in the mix included Sarah Polley (who presents her first documentary, Stories We Tell, which debuts at Venice later this month), Sudz Sutherland (with Home Again, his first dramatic feature since 2003’s very fine Love, Sex and Eating the Bones), Michael McGowan (with Still, a based-on-true-life tale starring James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold, neither of whom will be singing any songs leftover from the director’s 2010 TIFF opener Score: A Hockey Musical) and Rob Stewart (with Revolution, a follow-up to his doc hit Sharkwater).
Meanwhile, the fest’s requisite Cronenberg slot was occupied by Antiviral, the first feature by David’s son Brandon, which received a mixed reception at Cannes but is still plenty intriguing to those of us who like the creepy stuff (and Sarah Gadon, too). We’re also super-stoked to see that Tower—the first feature by director Kazik Radwanski and producer Dan Montgomery, the young team behind some of the most striking short films ever made in these parts—will make its North American premiere after its imminent debut at the Locarno festival. The equally industrious Anita Doron made the cut with her latest feature, The Lesser Blessed, as did the directorial team of Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson with I Declare War, a thoroughly crazy-looking, kid-centric action flick (see the trailer here). Bosnian-born York grad Igor Drljaca is also in the Discovery section with Krivina, a drama about a young man who returns from Toronto to the village he fled years before. Another Discovery entry, Kate Mellville’s high-school comedy Picture Day was shot at over 25 locations in Toronto last November.
These additions bolster the Toronto content in a program that already includes Gala slots for Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children and Ruba Nadda’s Inescapable as well as new docs by Simon Ennis (Lunarcy!), Peter Mettler (The End of Time), Jamie Kastner (The Secret Disco Revolution) and Barry Avrich (Show Stopper). And let’s not forget Short Cuts Canada, which includes fresh entries by locals like Dylan Reibling, Dusty Mancinelli and Aaron Phelan.
Canadian fare at TIFF also includes local premieres for Kim Nguyen’s Tribeca prizewinner Rebelle, Quebec whiz kid Xavier Dolan’s third feature, Laurence Anyways, Montreal filmmaker Rafael Ouellet’s fourth feature, Camion, and Liverpool, the first in far too long by 2 Secondes director Manon Briand. World premieres of new films by Vancouver maverick Bruce Sweeney (The Crimes of Mike Recket), Winnipeg auteur Sean Garrity (My Awkward Sexual Adventure) and Quebecois master Bernard Emond (Tout ce que tu possedes) will hopefully provoke the same feelings of patriotism in Canadian moviegoers that viewers of the Olympics have been basking in. If TIFF starts giving out bronze medals, we’d surely win a bunch of those, too.