An all-Canadian TIFF fest, a cheesy pop-up dinner and six other things to do this week
The best Canadian films of 2016
Every January, the TIFF team selects its favourite Canadian movies of the year and throws them together in Canada’s Top Ten film fest. Among this year’s picks: Xavier Dolan’s morbid drama It’s Only the End of the World, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes; Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk’s Arctic thriller Maliglutit (Searchers); and Kevan Funk’s devastating look at the perils of hockey culture, Hello Destroyer. Plus, on January 19, TIFF bigwig Cameron Bailey sits down with “Hotline Bling” auteur Director X to chat Drake, film and dominating the world of music videos. Friday, January 13 to Thursday, January 26. Prices vary. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net.
A cheese-lover’s bacchanal
This Thursday, Nickel Brook Brewery and Pantry Fine Cheese take over a tiki bar and host a night of beer and cheese. The Pantry’s Jeremy Lago will pair a selection of his finest wheels with five unique brews from the Burlington beer makers. Don’t worry about that healthy-eating resolution you made this New Year’s—these are just samples, and we all know samples don’t count. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation. Thursday, January 12. $50. The Shore Leave, 1775B Danforth Ave.
An jaw-dropping journey into the blue
Whenever diver and experimental anthropologist Kenny Broad explores an underwater cave, he’s always one wrong move away from death. But the payoff is worth the risk: he encounters extraordinary places and astonishing sights. In this National Geographic Live event, Broad shares stories and photos of his adventures in Jamaica, Mexico, Micronesia, Cuba and other exotic locales, and advocates for the study and preservation of the underwater “blue holes” he explores. Sunday, January 15 to Tuesday, January 17. $19.50–$79.50. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., roythomson.com.
A sampler of the city’s best dance
The Theatre Centre’s season-long Dance Card program showcases works from the country’s most iconoclastic dance companies. This month: Kittly-Bender, about a woman who yearns for authentic kinship in a digitally saturated world, and Infinite Storms, a five-woman contemporary piece inspired by the way mind and body often seem to work against each other. Wednesday, January 11 to Saturday, January 14, and Thursday, January 26 to Sunday, January 29. $30. The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen St. W., theatrecentre.org.
Precocious pianist Sean Chen’s takes on the greats
The American pianist is 28 years old, so it’s not surprising that he’s all over YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and lists the music he’s composed for video games as among his proudest accomplishments. He’s also a charismatic classical performer known for his improvisational skills and transcriptions of orchestral works for piano. This concert puts the spotlight on that somewhat arcane talent—the second half of the program is devoted to his own renderings of symphonic works by Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven. Tuesday, January 10. $50–$55. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St. E., music-toronto.com.
A supernatural story of a poet’s return from the grave
Linda Griffiths’ haunting play Alien Creature revives the late Canadian poet Gwendolyn MacEwen, who died suddenly in 1987. Colombian-born actor Beatriz Pizano stars as MacEwen, returned from the afterlife to warn audiences of the death of poetry and the curdling of imagination. Part biography, part tribute, the show features the same mystery and mysticism that defined MacEwen’s writing. Thursday, January 12 to Wednesday, February 15. $33. Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., passemuraille.ca.
A zesty take on the trouble with male-dominated religion
Diane Flacks’s new show, Unholy, tackles a heady topic: what’s a modern woman to do in the dude-centric major faiths? It’s equal parts theatre, debate and comedy routine, and features unexpected pizzazz and a sassy, diverse cast: a feminist Muslim, an excommunicated nun, an Orthodox Jewish leader and a lesbian atheist. Sunday, January 15 to Sunday, February 5. $30–$35. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St., buddiesinbadtimes.com.
Reel Big Fish’s raunchy reunion
Twenty years after releasing Turn the Radio Off, the ska-punk band is performing the album from front to back—including the brassy, upbeat single “Sell Out.” Don’t call it a reunion tour, though: frontman Aaron Barrett is the only remaining member from that era, and the group still has the same sort of anti-establishment attitude that would scoff at such a sentimental idea. Onstage, they pair political lyrics with jokey, jovial chemistry. Friday, January 13. $27.50–$40. Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne St., ticketmaster.ca.