The new year is upon us, but down at TIFF Bell Lightbox it's 2012 for one more week. Canada's Top Ten gets rolling tomorrow (Friday, January 4) with screenings of the features and short films acclaimed as the nation's finest.
Virtually every major Canadian filmmaker who released a feature in 2012 is represented. David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, Xavier Dolan's Laurence Anyways, Deepa Mehta's Midnight's Children, Peter Mettler's The End Of Time and Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell are all there. Michael Dowse's Goon, which premiered at TIFF 2011, made this year's cut; TIFF 2012 premieres include Michael McGowan's Still, Sean Garrity's My Awkward Sexual Adventure and Kim Nguyen's Rebelle, with Nisha Pahuja's Hot Docs award-winner The World Before Her rounding out the package.
The winning films are showing throughout the week, with the shorts collected into two programs screening back to back Sunday at 7 pm and 9 pm. And Polley - whose deeply personal project ended up at the top of my own Top 10 for 2012, Canadian or otherwise - drops by the Lightbox for a Mavericks session with Cameron Bailey Saturday (January 5) at 3:30 pm, and introduces a screening of Stories We Tell at 5:30 pm.
Most of the other filmmakers will introduce their films. Dolan isn't coming, and though Mehta isn't scheduled for the Midnight's Children screenings, co-stars Anita Majumdar and Zaib Shaikh are representing the film.
Naturally, I can't talk about what was honoured without talking about what wasn't - most obviously Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral, Jason Buxton's Blackbird, Jennifer Baichwal's Payback and Kate Miles Melville's Picture Day, all of which were embraced in certain quarters of the Canadian cinemascape. (Okay, maybe not Antiviral, but TIFF was really high on it after Cannes.)
And I was genuinely shocked to see Denis Côté's Bestiaire and Bernard Émond's All That You Possess left off the list. Top Ten juries have embraced both directors in the past, and I think All That You Possess is Émond's best work in years.
In an odd little twist of timing, Bestiaire, along with Top Ten honourees Goon and Stories We Tell, did make the short list for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award that'll be handed out Tuesday (January 8) by the Toronto Film Critics Association. That could make for an interesting postscript.