Seven must-see CanCon movies at TIFF 2017
Between all the Clooneys and Jolies and Gyllenhaals that descend on our city each September, it can be easy to forget that TIFF is, in fact, a Canadian film festival, showcasing homegrown work from discoveries and established auteurs alike. Here, seven of our must-see CanCon movies from this year’s selection.
Cast: Sarah Gadon, Paul Gross, Anna Paquin
Director: Mary Harron
Fresh off the success of The Handmaid’s Tale, another Margaret Atwood novel gets the prestige-TV treatment—this time with the dream team of writer Sarah Polley and director Mary Harron (American Psycho). Inspired by historical events, the series follows a poor Irish servant (Sarah Gadon) convicted of murder in Upper Canada in 1843, and considers the limited position of working-class women both then and now. The first two episodes will premiere at TIFF before airing on CBC starting September 25.
Our People Will Be Healed
Director: Alanis Obomsawin
The great Abenaki-Canadian filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin has spent her life documenting the struggles of Indigenous Canadians on film—most famously with Kanehsatake: 270 Year of Resistance (an epic look at the 1990 Oka Crisis), and most recently with 2016’s We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice (about the federal government’s legal maneuvering against funding Indigenous social services). The 85-year-old filmmaker’s newest doc chronicles Norway House, Manitoba, a First Nations community undergoing a radical experiment in social and economic decolonization.
There Is A House Here
Director: Alan Zweig
Documentarian Alan Zweig normally specializes in sometimes-playful, sometimes-heartbreaking documentaries about eccentrics, from the obsessed record-collectors in Vinyl (2000) to the troubled athlete Steve Fonyo in Hurt (2015) and Hope (2017). He tackles his most ambitious subject yet with this study of Nunavut’s Inuit communities—exploring the abuse they have suffered from colonial Canada, and reflecting on his own status as a white filmmaker in Inuit territory.
Eye on Juliet
Cast: Lina El Arabi, Joe Cole
Director: Kim Nguyen
While monitoring a pipeline in Northern Africa, a lowly worker at a Detroit-based surveillance company discovers a lone woman waiting for her lover in the dunes. Academy Award–nominated director Kim Nguyen (War Witch, Two Lovers and a Bear) aims straight for the zeitgeist with this offbeat romance set in the surveillance state and the age of terror.
Cast: Judy Green, Daniel Doherty, Russell Peters
Director: Kyle Rideout
A homeschooled teenager makes a belated entry into public school to pursue his love interest in this romantic comedy from first-time feature director Kyle Rideout. The chief draw for comedy fans: rare showcase for the perpetually under-appreciated Judy Greer as the overprotective mother.
Ta Peau si Lisse (A Skin So Soft)
Cast: Jean François
Director: Denis Côté
Freely moving between observational documentaries and intimate, moving fiction films, Quebec-based filmmaker Denis Côté has emerged as one of Canada’s most interesting and inventive filmmakers. His 2017 Wavelengths entry turns an affectionate eye on six bodybuilders as they put themselves through intense diets and gruelling exercise regimens to prepare for championships.
Long Time Running
Cast: The Tragically Hip
Director: Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier
If you’re one of the 11.7 million Canadians who tuned into the Tragically Hip’s final concert last year, get ready to cry and/or swell up with national pride all over again. This behind-the-scenes look at the Hip’s last hurrah serves as both a showcase for the band’s greatest hits and a tribute to ailing frontman Gord Downie. This rock-doc represents a change of pace for co-director Baichwal, best known for her collaborations with eco-photographer Edward Burtynsky, Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013).