2015 Toronto International Film Festival Announces Canadian Lineup

The countdown to the 40th Toronto International Film Festival is on, with Opening Night just five weeks from tomorrow. You can count on my coverage, of course -- this will be my 10th year attending TIFF. I saw over 255 films there from 2006-2014, and many of my year-end Top Picks across all festivals over the past few years (out of over 1500 in total) came from the Toronto lineup.

This year's event runs from September 10-20. Almost every major Oscar-winning film of the past few years debuted in Toronto. I've been to over 75 film festivals since the start of 2006, but none as prestigious or breathtaking in scope as TIFF, which most consider to be the top film festival in the Western Hemisphere, second in the world only to Cannes. The number of features is expected to total over 250 with most being World, International, or North American Premieres.

Previously announced titles include 49 Galas and Special Presentations. Today's announcement focused on host country Canada. Looking back I've found that many of the films I've selected as Top Picks over the years came from the lineup of Canadian entries. Our neighbor to the north hasn't always been known as a hotbed for filmmaking talent -- even the locals deride the native industry -- but I've been very impressed with many of the titles and look forward to them every year. There have been over 2,000 Canadian films at TIFF since 1976.

"The Festival is excited to showcase these distinctively Canadian voices,” said TIFF Senior Programmer Steve Gravestock. "From compelling documentaries on pressing social issues and complex, affecting dramas to
political satires, we are proud to share the impressive range and talent of Canada’s directors." Added Magali Simard, TIFF Film Programmes Manager, "This year’s filmmakers represent the depth and diversity of Canadian storytelling. By presenting the strong perspectives of the best and brightest in the film industry from across the country, we share with audiences the unique ways Canadians view the world."

One filmmaker will win the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film. In addition, the City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film will be presented to the Canadian filmmaker with the most impressive debut feature. The Canadian awards jury includes filmmaker Don McKellar (The Grand Seduction), Jacqueline Lyanga (Director of AFI Fest), and Ilda Santiago (Programming and Executive Director of Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival).

TIFF revealed 24 Canadian narrative and documentary features, including three Special Presentations, five TIFF Docs, five films in this year's Discovery section, four in Contemporary World Cinema, three vanguard titles, and four Wavelengths features. Also announced were four free Wavelengths installations, the list of four Rising Stars for 2015, and the Short Cuts Canada section, where 44 films were chosen.

You can purchase Festival ticket packages online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone from 10 AM to 7 PM Eastern Time at 416-599-TIFF or 1-888-599-8433, or by visiting the Gupta Box Office in person from 10 AM to 10 PM Eastern Time daily at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West, until August 26 while quantities last.

This year's TIFF Rising Stars are Deragh Campbell, Stephan James, Aliocha Schneider, and Karelle Tremblay. See the press release HERE (PDF). You can find all 44 films in the Short Cuts Canada section HERE (PDF).

Here are the 24 features announced today (descriptions provided by the festival):

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Born to be Blue - Robert Budreau, Canada/United Kingdom World Premiere
Born to be Blue is a reimagining of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker's life in the 1960s. When Chet is cast to star in a film about himself, a romance heats up with his female co-star, the enigmatic Jane. But his comeback bid is derailed when his past returns to haunt him and it appears he may never play music again. Starring Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo.

Into the Forest - Patricia Rozema, Canada World Premiere
In a not-too-distant future, sisters Nell and Eva find themselves shuttered in their home. Surrounded by nothing but miles of dense forest, the sisters must fend for themselves using the supplies and food reserves they have before turning to the forest to discover what it will provide. They are faced with a world where rumour is the only guide, trust is a scarce commodity, gas is king and loneliness is excruciating. And yet somehow miraculously, love still grows. Starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood.

Ville-Marie - Guy Édoin, Canada World Premiere
An actress shooting a movie hopes to reconcile with her son. A paramedic haunted by his past tries to stay the course, while a caring nurse keeps an eye on him from afar as she tries, at the same time, to keep an emergency room running. It is at the Ville-Marie Hospital that these four lives will take an unexpected turn. Starring Monica Bellucci, Patrick Hivon, Pascale Bussières and 2015 TIFF Rising Star Aliocha Schneider.


TIFF DOCS

Al Purdy Was Here - Brian D. Johnson, Canada World Premiere
Al Purdy was Canada’s unofficial poet laureate, though he admits he didn't write a good poem until he was 40. He found his voice in an A-Frame cabin he built in Ontario's Prince Edward County. Canada’s leading musicians and artists from Bruce Cockburn and Sarah Harmer to Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje come together to tell his story and celebrate his poetry.

Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr - Patrick Reed and Michelle Shephard, Canada World Premiere
Omar Khadr: child soldier or unrepentant terrorist? The 28-year-old Canadian has been a polarizing figure since he was 15. In 2002, Khadr was captured by American forces in Afghanistan and charged with war crimes, including murder. After spending half his life behind bars, including a decade at Guantanamo, Khadr is released. This is his story, in his own words.

Ninth Floor - Mina Shum, Canada World Premiere
It started quietly when six Caribbean students, strangers in a cold new land, began to suspect their professor of racism. It ended in the most explosive student uprising Canada had even known. Over four decades later, Ninth Floor reopens the file on the infamous Sir George Williams Riot: a watershed moment in Canadian race relations and one of the most contested episodes in the nation’s history. Director Mina Shum (Double Happiness) locates the protagonists in clandestine locations throughout Trinidad and Montreal — the wintry city where it all went down. In a cinematic gesture of reckoning and redemption, she listens as they set the record straight.

This Changes Everything - Avi Lewis, Canada/USA World Premiere
Seven powerful portraits of community resistance around the world lead to one big question: what if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world? Inspired by Naomi Klein’s international bestseller and directed by her partner Avi Lewis, This Changes Everything is an affecting and hopeful call to action.

Welcome to F.L. - Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, Canada World Premiere
Welcome to F.L. portrays a community of teenagers navigating their environment, identity and other questions of youth within their high-school world in a small town in Quebec. Learning to define themselves inside and outside school boundaries as they transition into the challenges of adulthood, they expose refreshing points of view filled with humour, philosophy and courage.


DISCOVERY

Closet Monster - Stephen Dunn, Canada World Premiere
Oscar Madly hovers on the brink of adulthood — destabilized by his dysfunctional parents, unsure of his sexuality, and haunted by horrific images of a tragic gay bashing he witnessed as a child. A talking hamster, imagination and the prospect of love help him confront his surreal demons and discover himself. Starring 2015 TIFF Rising Star Aliocha Schneider and 2014 Rising Star Connor Jessup.

Fire Song - Adam Garnet Jones, Canada World Premiere
When a teenage girl commits suicide in a remote Northern Ontario Aboriginal community, it's up to her brother Shane to take care of their family. Shane was supposed to move to the city for university in the fall, and has been trying to convince his secret boyfriend to come with him, but now everything is uncertain. Torn between his responsibilities at home and the promise of freedom calling him to the city, circumstances take a turn for the worse and Shane has to choose between his family and his future.

The Rainbow Kid - Kire Paputts, Canada World Premiere
Part gritty coming-of-age story, part episodic road film filled with magic realism, The Rainbow Kid follows Eugene, a young man with Down syndrome as he embarks on a life-changing adventure to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

River - Jamie M. Dagg, Canada/Laos World Premiere
In the south of Laos, an American volunteer doctor becomes a fugitive after he intervenes in the sexual assault of a young woman. When the assailant’s body is pulled from the Mekong River, things quickly spiral out of control. Starring Rossif Sutherland.

Sleeping Giant - Andrew Cividino, Canada North American Premiere
Spending his summer vacation on rugged Lake Superior, teenager Adam befriends Riley and Nate, smart aleck cousins who pass their ample free time with pranks, vandalism and reckless cliff jumping. The revelation of a hurtful secret sets in motion a series of irreversible events that test the bonds of friendship and change the boys forever.


CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA

How Heavy This Hammer - Kazik Radwanski, Canada World Premiere
Erwin, a 47-year-old father of two, spends his time idly procrastinating between work and family, and is seemingly more engaged by playing a crude Viking computer game. His listless energy is contrasted on weekends by throwing himself into 'old boys' rugby matches. As Erwin's marriage with his wife becomes increasingly compromised, something stirs inside him… or maybe something has stopped stirring.

My Internship in Canada - Philippe Falardeau, Canada North American Premiere
Guibord is an independent Member of Parliament representing a vast county in Northern Quebec who unwillingly finds himself in the awkward position of determining whether Canada will go to war. Accompanied by his wife, daughter and Souverain (Sovereign) Pascal, an idealistic intern from Haiti, Guibord travels across his district in order to consult his constituents and face his own conscience. This film is a sharp political satire in which politicians, citizens and lobbyists go head-to-head tearing democracy to shreds.

Our Loved Ones (Les êtres chers) - Anne Émond, Canada North American Premiere
The story begins in 1978 in a small town on the Lower St. Lawrence, where the Leblanc family is rocked by the tragic death of Guy, found dead in the basement of the family home. For many years, the real cause of his death is hidden from certain members of the family, his son David among them. David starts his own family with his wife Marie and lovingly raises his children, Laurence and Frédéric, but deep down he still carries with him a kind of unhappiness. Our Loved Ones is a film of filial love, family secrets, redemption and inherited fate. Featuring 2015 TIFF Rising Star Karelle Tremblay.

The Waiting Room - Igor Drljaca, Canada North American Premiere
Jasmin, once a successful actor in former Yugoslavia, now lives in Toronto with his second wife and young son. While juggling a construction job and a busy audition schedule, he dreams of re-launching an old televised stage show that made him famous in his homeland. When he is cast in a role that triggers recollections of the civil war, he is forced to reconcile his current reality with memories of his past success. From the team behind Krivina and In Her Place.


VANGUARD

Endorphine - André Turpin, Canada World Premiere
Thirteen-year-old Simone is trying to feel emotion again as a trauma survivor. Twenty-five-year-old Simone is a solitary woman trying to control panic attacks. Sixty-year-old Simone is an accomplished physician who gives a conference on the nature of time. The new film from celebrated director and cinematographer André Turpin intertwines the lives of three women in an intoxicating cinematic puzzle.

Hellions - Bruce McDonald, Canada Canadian Premiere
Strange trick-or-treaters plague conflicted teenager Dora Vogel at her isolated home on Halloween. Under siege by forces she can’t understand, Dora must defend both body and soul from relentless hellions, dead set on possessing something Dora will not give them. Set in a visually haunting landscape, Hellions redefines the boundaries of horror with its potent brew of Halloween iconography, teenage angst and desperate survival. Starring Chloe Rose.

No Men Beyond This Point - Mark Sawers, Canada North American Premiere
Sixty years ago, women began reproducing asexually, and now are no longer able to give birth to male babies. This deadpan mockumentary follows 37-year -old Andrew Myers — the youngest man alive —who is at the centre of a battle to save men from extinction. No Men Beyond This Point asks what would happen if only women ran the world.


WAVELENGTHS

88:88 - Isiah Medina, Canada North American Premiere
A digital cinema incendiary, Isiah Medina’s anticipated feature debut explodes with ideas about time, love, knowledge, poverty, and poetry, all erupting within a densely layered montage that is formally rigorous and emotionally raw. 88:88 (or --:--) is what appears when bills are paid after the electricity has been abruptly cut off, demonstrating that people who live in poverty live in suspended time.
88:88 will be preceded by Denis Côté’s short film May We Sleep Soundly.

The Forbidden Room - Evan Johnson and Guy Maddin, Canada Canadian Premiere
Honouring classic cinema while electrocuting it with energy, Evan Johnson and Guy Maddin’s grand ode to lost cinema begins (after a prologue on how to take a bath) with the crew of a doomed submarine chewing flapjacks in a desperate attempt to breathe the oxygen within. Suddenly, a lost woodsman wanders into their company to tell his tale of escape from a fearsome clan of cave dwellers, and we are taken high into the air, around the world, and into dreamscapes, spinning tales of amnesia, captivity, deception and murder, skeleton women and vampire bananas. Like a glorious meeting between Italo Calvino, Sergei Eisenstein and a perverted six-year-old child, created with the help of master poet John Ashberry, Mathieu Amalric, Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, Roy Dupuis, Clara Furey, Louis Negin, Maria de Medeiros, Jacques Nolot, Adèle Haenel, Amira Casar and Elina Löwensohn make up a cavalcade of misfits, thieves and lovers.

Invention - Mark Lewis, United Kingdom/Canada World Premiere
Shot in Paris, São Paulo and Toronto, Mark Lewis’ anthology of films captures the ever-changing textures of these cities through moving images of glass, light, shadows and reflections, offering homage to the City Symphony films of the 1920s, while also juxtaposing modernist architecture with the compositional structures of old master paintings.

Minotaur - Nicolás Pereda, Mexico/Canada World Premiere
Acclaimed Mexican-Canadian auteur Nicolás Pereda (Greatest Hits) returns to the Festival with this lovely, wraithlike fantasy that observes three thirty-somethings as they sleep, dream, read and receive visitors in a Mexico City apartment.

 

Free and open to the public during the Festival, the following Wavelengths Installations will be showcased at various venues throughout downtown Toronto:

Bring Me The Head of Tim Horton - Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson World Premiere
Guided by the spirit of Maddin’s “Cuadecec Manifesto” (which calls for makings-of en masse), Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton is a strange and stirring behind-the-scenes look at Paul Gross’s new feature, Hyena Road. Shot on location at CFB Shilo near Brandon, Manitoba and in Aqaba, Jordan, the film summons psychedelic energy from the main event. Presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West.

The Forbidden Room - A Living Poster - Galen Johnson World Premiere
Initially designed to promote Evan Johnson and Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room, A Living Poster employs the same digital techniques used to create the text-based intertitles and treat the footage within the film. A looping collection of living, moving, morphing posters, it blurs the boundaries between poster and trailer and suggests an anachronistic collision between digitally corrupted video files and a damaged film print from the silent era forming a beguiling hybrid aesthetic of digital data loss and decaying analogue emulsion. Presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West.

La Giubba - Tony Romano and Corin Sworn, Canada/United Kingdom World Premiere
The first major collaboration between Canadian artist Tony Romano and English-born, Toronto-raised Corin Sworn, La Giubba follows the intersections of five drifters over the course of two summer days in southern Italy. This installation is presented in partnership with Clint Roenisch Gallery (190 St Helens Ave, Toronto).

Stories are Meaning-Making Machines - Annie MacDonnell and Maïder Fortuné, France/Canada International Premiere
A live in-cinema reading at TIFF Bell Lightbox performed by Canadian artist Annie MacDonnell and French artist Maïder Fortuné which explores a new form of cinematic memory. Originally commissioned by Le Centre Pompidou's Hors Pistes Festival, Paris.


Deepa Mehta’s Beeba Boys, Jon Cassar’s Forsaken, Paul Gross’ Hyena Road (Hyena Road: Le Chemin du Combat), and Atom Egoyan’s Remember are Canadian features previously announced in the Galas Programme.



Author

Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at Larry411.com

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