Clement Virgo and Sarah Polley are premiering their big, urgent and hopeful movies taking on anti-Black racism and conversations about #MeToo in Brother and Women Talking, respectively. They aren’t the only local storytellers making a splash at this year’s TIFF. Here are 10 more Canadians to keep an eye on.
Giants Of Africa director Davis collects the receipts on anti-Black racism now and throughout hockey history while also looking back at century-old trailblazers in Canada like the Colored Hockey League. The doc, which is produced by Vinay Virmani and executive produced by LeBron James, Drake and Future The Prince, feels especially current as the toxic world of hockey is being aired out, again, with recent revelations about sexual assault and misconduct settlements.
Fail To Appear director Bourges collaborated with co-writer Teyama Alkamli to create a portrait of Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park area, an immigrant hub overlooking the DVP, in yet another film that blends fact and fiction. It stars Hussam Douhna and Amani Ibrahim as a Syrian doctor and his wife who immigrate to Canada and struggle to find their bearings but help people in the community, even as their own fragile marriage needs tending to.
I Like Movies
Think Clerks but from a female perspective. Levack’s hilarious, empathetic and moving period comedy is about an obnoxious teenage film bro in 2002/2003 who is saved from becoming an incel by the people he works with at a video rental store.
North Of Normal
Stone follows up her Frances Ha-like comedy The New Romantic with an adaptation of Cea Sunrise Person’s coming-of-age memoir starring Toronto’s own Sarah Gadon (who’s currently off shooting Michael Mann’s Ferrari opposite Christian Bale and Adam Driver). She plays the flower child matriarch in a dysfunctional hippie family going off grid to live in the Canadian wilderness.
Queens Of The Qing Dynasty
Cape Breton filmmaker McKenzie’s debut feature about addiction, Werewolf, won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s Best Canadian Film prize. A few years later, the buzz around fellow Maritimer Heather Young’s Murmur inspired talk of a Nova Scotian new wave. Werewolf and Murmur were realist dramas. McKenzie’s follow-up starring Sarah Walker and Ziyin Zheng as a young woman surviving a suicide attempt and the hospital volunteer assigned to be her companion is being described as a sensorial “queer friendship romance.”
Something You Said Last Night
(Luis De Filippis)
In De Filippis’s award-winning 2017 short For Nonna Ana, a trans girl takes on rudimentary house duties while caring for her fragile grandmother. The film’s spare narrative quietly and confidently builds its way towards a profoundly tender moment of shared vulnerability. Hoping for more of the same in De Filippis’s feature debut, which is about a family road trip full of tension and crossed boundaries.
Naponse’s environmental love story stars Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Night Raiders) and Braeden Clarke (Run Woman Run) as people who meet near the end of the world. Their connection doesn’t just set off sparks but something more cosmic, spiritual and hopeful.
Co-writer and star Devery Jacobs plays a Mohawk woman searching for her Iranian father. Priya Guns plays a Tamil-Canadian coming to terms with her refugee father’s misfortunes. Their queer love story becomes the site where questions about identity, colonial histories and shared traumas emerge.
When Morning Comes
NOW’s rising screen stars subject Kelly Fyffe-Marshall nabbed cross-border attention for her stirring, award-winning short Black Bodies. She’s following that up with an immigration story. When Morning Comes, Fyffe-Marshall’s feature debut, stars Djamari Roberts as a young, precocious boy in Jamaica processing his widowed mother’s decision to move to Canada.
It’s been eight years since Lafleur was at TIFF with his exceptionally absurd, affecting and playful coming-of-ager Tu Dors Nicole. The characters in his earlier film seemed to have their heads in the clouds. In Viking, Lafleur has them thinking about Mars. The presumably weird film is about a behavioural study on earth anticipating how astronauts will relate with each other when exploring the red planet.