In what has become a yearly tradition, TIFF hosted their Canadian film press conference at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. As in past years, the afternoon features a poutine station, some Canadian talent, and the announcement of all the Canadian films playing throughout all programmes at this year’s festival. Following the announcement,I spoke with some of the programmers and those involved in a few of this year’s films.
In an announcement that featured films from seasoned professionals like Patricia Rozema and Bruce McDonald, it is great to see that TIFF is continuing to support emerging filmmakers and show many feature film debuts. We spoke with Festival Director Cameron Bailey about the diversity of directors this year, who said, “What we’re seeing now, in addition to people like Atom Egoyan, Patricia Rozema, Mina Shum, and Paul Gross coming back with new films, we’re seeing people like Stephen Dunn making his feature debut with CLOSET MONSTER. He is going to be, I think, one of the biggest names in Canadian cinema in years to come. Maybe in world cinema. It’s a terrific film that he’s made.” CLOSET MONSTER (below) is making its world premiere at the festival in the Discovery programme. The coming-of-age film follows a young makeup artist struggling with both his sexuality and his “macho” father. It is definitely on my list to watch!
Another highlight this year is Andrew Cividino’s SLEEPING GIANT. I adored the film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a low-key, yet highly thrilling character study. We spoke with Cividino, who is very excited to bring the film back home after its bow in Cannes. “The response has been a huge relief. You pour yourself into something for years and you try to make something that is really authentic. You hope that people will connect with it, but you never really know until you put it out there in the world. To be able to have our world premiere at Cannes and then to premiere here at TIFF is great. To read reviews and hear that people are really connecting with what you were trying to say – not just the text, but also what’s underneath – that has been incredibly rewarding and encouraging.” Without giving too much away, SLEEPING GIANT (below) is about the friendship between three teenage boys over the course of a summer in Ontario cottage country. My log line may not sound too compelling, but trust me, this is a film you need to see.
Perhaps one of the most exciting announcements was the big screen return of Canadian icon Patricia Rozema whose film INTO THE FOREST is premiering in the Special Presentations programme. The film will be the first that Rozema has directed since 2008’s MANSFIELD PARK. In the meantime, Rozema wrote HBO’s incredible Grey Gardens biopic and directed the HBO series In Treatment. “I’ve been developing some different things, raising kids, and writing a lot. A Patricia Rozema film only comes when she believes it’s bigger than life. I also get invited to make a lot of really trashy movies.” It’s important to note that Rozema doesn’t usually speak in the third person. I kind of set her up for this one by using her name in my question. While it has been seven years since Rozema’s last film, INTO THE FOREST (below) was not a film she helmed on her own; she credits producer and star Ellen Page with getting the film off the ground. “She found the book, she asked me to write, I wrote, she loved the script, we found the money, I directed. During the shoot she was pretty much the actor, she was very focused. She also found Evan Rachel Wood. There was a song we wanted by Cat Power, we couldn’t get it, it was too expensive. Ellen gets on the phone, we got it.” Rozema’s post-apocalyptic thriller follows two sisters (Page and Wood) who must struggle to survive through a continent-wide power outage. Rezone’s return definitely sounds promising.
Other anticipated Canadian films include André Turpin’s ENDORPHINE, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, Bruce McDonald’s HELLIONS, Philippe Falardeau’s MY INTERNSHIP IN CANADA, and Mark Sawers’ NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT.
For the complete lineup of Canadian films, please visit tiff.net.