The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival unveiled today the 26 titles that make up the Festival’s Canadian feature slate. Featuring a crop of provocative first features, this year’s diverse and varied Canadian lineup boasts one of the highest numbers of feature directorial debuts ever, as well as one of the highest numbers of films from Western Canada in recent years. Over 30% of the titles have a first-time feature director, while seven out of nine are TIFF alumni.
This year’s Canadian slate is bolstered by a number of titles from Canadian Festival veterans. Among these titles are: Alanis Obomsawin’s Our People Will Be Healed; Alan Zweig’s There is a House Here; Simon Lavoie’s The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes); Mina Shum’s Meditation Park; Robin Aubert’s vérité zombie flick Les Affamés; Ingrid Veninger’s Porcupine Lake; Pat Mills’ high school misfit comedy Don’t Talk to Irene; Oscar nominee Kim Nguyen’s Eye on Juliet; Adam MacDonald’s Pyewacket; celebrated director Denis Côté’s Ta peau si lisse (A Skin So Soft); and Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier’s previously announced Long Time Running.
Among the Canadian first features at the 2017 Festival are: Sadaf Foroughi’s AVA, a superbly crafted drama about an Iranian teenager at a pivotal crossroad; Ian Lagarde’s All You Can Eat Buddha, which follows a man’s surreal impact on vacationers at a Cuban resort; Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s A Worthy Companion, a psychological thriller about obsession and trauma; Trailer Park Boys star Cory Bowles’ Black Cop, an arresting satirical exploration of police-community relations; Kathleen Hepburn’s powerful family drama Never Steady, Never Still; Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley’s Cardinals, a disturbing look at the impact of a convicted murderer’s return to her community; Wayne Wapeemukwa’s Luk’Luk’I, a look at the denizens of an impoverished Vancouver neighbouhood; and Molly McGlynn’s Mary Goes Round, about an addiction counsellor struggling with her own issues.
Two exciting titles making their World Premieres at the Festival are Mary Harron’s Alias Grace, based on the award-winning novel by Margaret Atwood, written by Sarah Polley and starring Sarah Gadon, Anna Paquin and Paul Gross; and Sean Menard’s The Carter Effect, on how NBA All-Star Vince Carter made an impact on Toronto.
Rounding out the program are Kyle Rideout’s winning comedy about eccentricity and high school Public Schooled; Tarique Qayumi’s powerful Afghanistan-set drama BLACK KITE; and Matt Embry’s shocking and poignant MS doc Living Proof.
The slate also features performances by multiple Canadian and international stars, including Sandra Oh; Sheila McCarthy; Don McKellar; Russell Peters; Evan Rachel Wood; Geena Davis; Sarah Gadon; Sarah Julia Stone; Scott Thompson; Judy Greer; Afghanistan’s most prominent rising star Haji Gul; and beloved Chinese actress Cheng Pei-Pei.
“It is exciting to see a new wave of Canadian first-time feature directors play with genres and take risks,” said Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF. “This year’s lineup has a truly international feel to it, too, with a number of features shot all over the globe — something that also speaks to the boldness of many of the filmmakers included in the slate.”
“We are thrilled to have a lineup with such a rich diversity of voices and perspectives,” said Magali Simard, Programmer and Theatrical Senior Manager, TIFF. “Not only are different regions of the country represented, but so are multiple age groups, backgrounds, languages and filmmaking styles. This lineup showcases the incredible wealth of talent currently at work in Canada.”
All 25 Canadian feature films at the Festival are eligible for the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film. All nine Canadian feature directorial debuts are eligible for the City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film. This year’s Canadian awards jury is composed of Mark Adams, Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival; Canadian documentarian and Hillman Prize winner Min Sook Lee (Migrant Dreams); and artist and filmmaker Ella Cooper, who is also the founder of Black Women Film! Canada.
The 42nd Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 7 to 17, 2017.
Eye on Juliet
Kim Nguyen, Canada
North American Premiere
Our People Will Be Healed
Alanis Obomsawin, Canada
The Carter Effect
Sean Menard, Canada/USA
Matt Embry, Canada
There is a House Here
Alan Zweig, Canada
A Worthy Companion
Carlos Sanchez, Jason Sanchez, Canada
All You Can Eat Buddha
Ian Lagarde, Canada
Sadaf Foroughi, Iran/Canada/Qatar
Cory Bowles, Canada
Grayson Moore, Aidan Shipley, Canada
Wayne Wapeemukwa, Canada
Mary Goes Round
Molly McGlynn, Canada
Never Steady, Never Still
Kathleen Hepburn, Canada
CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA
Tarique Qayumi, Canada/Afghanistan
Don’t Talk to Irene
Pat Mills, Canada
Robin Aubert, France/Canada
Park Mina Shum, Canada
Ingrid Veninger, Canada
Kyle Rideout, Canada
Adam MacDonald, Canada
The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes)
Simon Lavoie, Canada
Mary Harron, Canada/USA
Blake Williams, Canada
North American Premiere
A Skin so Soft (Ta peau si lisse)
Denis Côté, Canada/Switzerland
North American Premiere
Previously announced Canadian features at the Festival include Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier’s Long Time Running (Gala) and Seth A. Smith’s The Crescent (Midnight Madness).