Antoine L’Écuyer will knock you out in It’s Not Me, I Swear!
My colleague Norman Wilner's review of the recent Canadian anthology Toronto Stories has sparked a lot of debate on the NOW website (see http://www.nowtoronto.com/movies/story.cfm?content=166344). Most of the anonymous posters claim that NOW hates Canadian films and filmmakers.
That's interesting, because I just finished screening dozens of Canadian features as part of this year's Toronto International Film Festival Group's Canada top 10 panel. And let me say this: Canadian films, I stand on guard for thee.
Over the years, I've favourably reviewed films like Eastern Promises, Six Figures, Radiant City, Away From Her, Water and the charming and underrated Whole New Thing. I've admired parts of My Winnipeg and The Journals Of Knud Rasmussen, among others.
But I have a whole new critic crush on my country's filmmakers. I just hope people get to see their movies.
When the top 10 list was announced last week, many people said, "Who? What?" Only Deepa Mehta's Heaven On Earth had been released commercially in Toronto. Most of the others screened at film festivals. A handful have secured distribution for the first half of 2009. Let's hope this recognition gives the others a bit of a push.
The fact that only three of the 10 are in English (Toronto Stories isn't among them) is significant. Maybe French and Inuit filmmakers don't feel the need to compete with the giant to our south.
And here's another thing. Just because a movie's set in contemporary Toronto - like Finn's Girl and This Beautiful City, which both got limited runs locally - doesn't mean it's any good.
Kari Skogland's top-10-included Fifty Dead Men Walking is set during the IRA crisis in Ireland; Léa Pool and Philippe Falardeau's contrasting Mommy Is At The Hairdresser's and It's Not Me, I Swear! are both set in socially changing Quebec towns in the 1960s and 70s; Benoît Pilon's The Necessities Of Life and Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujug Ivalu's Before Tomorrow are both partially set in Inuit communities.
I barely recall a single scene from Toronto Stories. But I'll remember these others for a long time. Go see them and you'll understand why when they're screened at Cinematheque from January 30.