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TIFF Presents Canada’s Top 10



TIFF did good this year. I say that but they usually do well every year when it comes time for them to choose the 10 best Canadian films of the year. And when you see this list of films, you will see what a fantastic year it was for Canadian film. In fact, you may find yourself clamouring to see them all, which TIFF makes possible by screening all ten feature films and all ten short films in ten consecutive days in January, starting today. If you’re not out drinking a double-double in between periods of a hockey game, then there will be nothing more Canadian to do in January than to barrel through these films in grand marathon style. Before I get to the screening details and special guests, let’s get to the films themselves. This is Canada’s Top 10 according to TIFF (synopsis provided by the TIFF press office):

Asphalt Watches Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver
A feature-length animation based on a real-life hitchhiking trip taken by the two filmmakers, Asphalt Watches details the hilarious and harrowing journey of Bucktooth Cloud and Skeleton Hat as they travel eastward across Canada in 2000. Winner of the Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Enemy Denis Villeneuve
Adapted from the novel The Double by Nobel Laureate José Saramago, Enemy stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam, a man consumed by an overwhelming desire to confront his doppelgänger. The film is a provocative psychosexual thriller about duality and identity where, in the end, only one man can survive. From the Academy Award-nominated director of Incendies, the film also stars Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon and Isabella Rossellini.The F Word Michael DowseWhen Wallace meets Chantry, it could be love at first sight… except she lives with her long-term boyfriend. And so Wallace, acting with best intentions — and maybe a little denial — discovers the dirtiest word in romance: friends. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver and TIFF Rising Star Megan Park. Written by Elan Mastai, one of Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch in 2013.Gabrielle Louise Archambault

Gabrielle is a young woman with Williams syndrome who has a contagious joie de vivre and an exceptional musical gift. Since she met her boyfriend Martin they have been inseparable. However, because they are “different,” their loved ones are fearful of their relationship. Gabrielle does everything she can to gain her independence. As determined as she is, Gabrielle must still confront other people’s prejudices as well as her own limitations in the hope of experiencing a love far from the ordinary.


Xavier Dolan makes TIFF’s Canadian Top 10 list yet again with TOM AT THE FARM.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls Jeff Barnaby

Kids on the Red Crow reservation are doomed. If you can’t pay your “truancy tax”, that’s you up at the residential school, beat up and abused. At 15, Aila is the weed princess of Red Crow. After being robbed and thrown into the school’s dungeon, she decides to fight back.

Sarah préfère la course (Sarah Prefers to Run) Chloé Robichaud

Sarah is a gifted runner. Her life changes when she’s offered admission into the best university athletics program in the province. Sarah doesn’t have her mother’s financial support for the move to Montreal, but she leaves anyway with her friend Antoine. Though barely out of their teens, they get married because they want the best scholarships and loans. Sarah doesn’t want to hurt anyone with the choices she makes — it’s just that she loves running more than anything else.

Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm) Xavier Dolan

Tom, a young advertising copywriter, travels to the country for a funeral. There, he’s shocked to find out no one knows who he is, or his relationship to the deceased, whose brother soon sets the rules of a twisted game. In order to protect the family’s name and grieving mother, Tom now has to play the peacekeeper in a household whose obscure past bodes even greater darkness for his trip to the farm.

Vic et Flo ont vu un ours (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear) Denis Côté

Victoria, an ex-convict in her 60s, wants to start a new life in a remote sugar shack. Under the supervision of Guillaume, a young, sympathetic parole officer (Marc-André Grondin), she tries to get her life back on track along with Florence, her former cellmate with whom she shared years of intimacy in prison. Stalked by ghosts of the past, their new life together is unexpectedly jeopardized.Winner of the Alfred Bauer Silver Bear award at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

Watermark Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky

From the filmmaking team behind Manufactured Landscapes, Watermark is a feature documentary film that brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it, and the consequences of that use. Watermark is shot in stunning 5K ultra high-definition video and full of soaring aerial perspectives.

When Jews Were Funny Alan Zweig

Insightful and often hilarious, the latest from documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig offers up a history of Jewish comedy, from the early days of Borsht belt to the present, ultimately exploring not just ethnicity in the entertainment industry, but also the entire unruly question of what it means to be Jewish. Winner of the City of Toronto + Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.


ENEMY director, Denis Villeneuve, sits with star, Jake Gyllenhaal. Both will attend a special In Conversation screening of the film in January.

From January 3, 2013, through January 12, TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto will screen each of these films for some very fortunate film enthusiasts. Some of these films return to the screen after runs earlier this year while some, most notably ENEMY and TOM AT THE FARM, do not open in theatres until well into next year. This means tickets to these screenings could go quickly. You won’t want to miss out, especially when you see who TIFF is bringing in for the occasion. Many of the filmmakers themselves will attend for Q+A’s but TIFF also has some special events planned (descriptions provided once again by the good people at the TIFF press office).

In Conversation With… Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal — Sunday, January 5 at 3:30 p.m.
With the Hollywood studio film PRISONERS and the independent Canadian film ENEMY, Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal have struck up a potent director-actor relationship. In this conversation with Cameron Bailey, they will discuss inspiration, working methods and the distance between Hollywood and Toronto.

In Conversation With… John Greyson — Sunday, January 12 at 3:30 p.m.

Held for 50 days in a Cairo prison, John Greyson saw his innovative work as a filmmaker suddenly interrupted. In conversation with Cameron Bailey for the first time since they stood on opposite sides of the Toronto International Film Festival’s City to City: Tel Aviv spotlight in 2009, Greyson and Bailey will discuss what it means to make films politically.

Canada Cocktail Party — Wednesday, January 8 beginning at 7 p.m.

TIFF toasts Canadian film with a fun-filled night in the Bell Blue Room at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Guests can enjoy music, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres, and get the opportunity to mingle with some Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival filmmakers. The event also includes access to the major TIFF exhibition David Cronenberg: Evolution, and a special installation by the creators of Asphalt Watches, Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman.

Higher Learning presents The C Word: What makes a film Canadian? — Friday, January 10 at 11 a.m.

This free Higher Learning panel features different perspectives from Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival participants, including directors Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls), Alan Zweig (When Jews Were Funny) and producer Luc Déry (Gabrielle). The panel will be moderated by University of Alberta film scholar and Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival panelist Liz Czach. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the TIFF Bell Lightbox box office on the morning of the event.

Tickets to these events and all of Canada’s Top 10 films are on sale now, with many screenings going for just $10. For more information and for tickets, visit

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