1 John Harkness 1954-2007
If not now then when? Harkness was the only essential film critic in this city, essential because he was rigorous, hilarious and willing to change his mind when the facts on screen changed. He could be ruthless with local filmmakers, but that was essential, too. This is a minuscule gesture John would instantly mock. I’m doing it anyway.
Photo By Kathryn Gaitens
Sarah Polley brought Away From Her close to audiences.
2 Sarah Polley
Polley directed Julie Christie in Away Fr0m Her to one of her most affecting performances and found a transgenerational empathy rare in filmmakers under 30.
3 Guy Maddin
Maddin premiered Brand Upon The Brain in Toronto last year, then toured the multimedia spectacle through 2007. Then came My Winnipeg at the end of the year, confirming him as the nation’s most consistently interesting diarist.
4 Doina Popescu
The Goethe Institut thrived for years largely on Popescu’s curatorial acumen and enthusiasm. Its “restructuring” left her out in der cold, a major loss for this city’s cosmopolitan culture.
5 Tamara Podemski
Podemski won a special jury prize at Sundance this year for her work in Four Sheets To The Wind, the first Aboriginal actress and the first Canadian to win. She left Toronto for Los Angeles, but her heartbreaking work earns her a place here.
6 Richie Mehta
Mehta made his feature debut with Amal, shot in India but infused with the East-West values and skills of its suburb-bred director. Similar to Polley, he’s a young man with an old man’s eyes.
7 Scott Berry and the Images Festival
Berry’s turn at the helm at Images has kept it relevant in its 20th year while extending its life beyond 10 days in the spring. Screenings of the Sigur Rós film Heima and the French motion study Zidane kept the Images flag waving all year round.
8 Lesley Loksi Chan
The York University-trained Chan was treated to a spotlight at the Reel Asian Festival this year, revealing a playful and tough new voice. Short films like My Best Rape So Far are deliberately devastating.
9 Amar Wala
Wala just completed York University’s film program, and his graduating film played the recent Dubai Film Festival. Not bad. But Wala’s real achievement is to elevate a common Toronto immigrant experience into high-stakes drama. The Good Son is about an Arab-Canadian boy forced to translate between his parents and CSIS agents on the hunt for terrorists.
10 Deirdre Logue
Logue premiered her award-winning installation Why Always Instead Of Just Sometimes last year, but it was seeing it represent Canada at the Berlin Film Festival this year that hit home. There’s nothing like watching Queen Street supercharged personal work at a Canadian embassy abroad to fill you with pride.