With a flurry of names, titles and film clips, the Toronto International Film Festival announced most of this year's Canadian entries this afternoon.
The traditional early-August rollout of homegrown programming was overseen by festival co-directors Piers Handling and Cameron Bailey, who also took time to anoint actors Sophie Desmarais, Shannon Kook, Alexandre Landry and Julia Sarah Stone as this year's TIFF Rising Stars and highlighted new works from Alanis Obomsawin, Jeffrey St. Jules and Sturla Gunnarsson.
Obomsawin's new documentary Trick Or Treaty?, about the attempts of indigenous Canadians to open a dialogue with their government, will have its world premiere in the Masters section, rather than TIFF Docs. But TIFF Docs isn't being left out; it gets to launch Gunnarsson's Monsoon, a meditation on the chaotic Indian weather phenomenon. (TIFF Docs will also be screening Harold Crooks's The Price We Pay, about corporate tax shelters, and The Wanted 18, an experimental take on the first Palestinian intifada.
St. Jules, a short filmmaker who described himself as a longtime TIFF attendee, makes his feature debut in the Discovery program with Bang Bang Baby, a genre-bending mashup in which a teenage singer (Jane Levy) meets the rocker of her dreams (Justin Chatwin) just as her small Ontario town is contaminated by a mutagenic gas leak.
Amongst the Canadian entries in the Discovery program: Adam MacDonald's Backcountry, starring Missy Peregrym and Jeff Roop as a couple whose Algonquin getaway threatens to become a battle for survival; Jefferson Moneo's Big Muddy, with Nadia Litz as a woman who confronts her own violent past in order to keep her son from repeating her mistakes; Pat Mills's Guidance, starring the filmmaker as a former child star who lies his way into a job as a high-school guidance counsellor.
Also in the Discovery program: Albert Shin's In Her Place, a drama about a rural South Korean family who take in a woman from the big city; Kris Elgstrang's Songs She Wrote About People She Knows, starring Arabella Bushnell and Brad Dryborough; Jordan Canning's We Were Wolves, with Peter Mooney and Steve Cochrane as brothers reconnecting after the death of their father, and Lindsay Mackay's Wet Bum, starring Julia Sarah Stone as a 14-year-old girl whose coming of age is not going quite as smoothly as she'd like.
Xavier Dolan's much-buzzed Cannes entry Mommy will premiere in the Special Presentations program. Dolan will be seen elsewhere in that program, co-starring with Bruce Greenwood and Catherine Keener in Charles Binamé's thriller The Elephant Song. Also set to screen as Special Presentations are Jacob Tierney's Preggoland, an arrested-development comedy starring Sonja Bennett as a "defriended" woman whose high-school pals welcome her back when they mistakenly think she's expecting; Ruba Nadda's October Gale, a psychological thriller starring Patricia Clarkson, Scott Speedman and Tim Roth, and Denys Arcand's An Eye For Beauty, a mid-life drama starring Éric Bruneau, Mélanie Thierry and Marie-Josée Croze.
Andrea Dorfman's Heartbeat will make its world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema alongside Maxime Giroux's Félix And Meira, Blaine Thurier's Teen Lust, Rodrigue Jean's Love In The Time Of Civil War and Stéphane Lafleur's Tu Dors Nicole. TIFF Cinematheque will screen new restorations of John Paizs's Crime Wave and Atom Egoyan's Speaking Parts.
Egoyan's new film, The Captive, was notable by its absence at today's announcements; I assume the festival will include that film in its final wave of announcements, slated for later this month.
The 39th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4 to 14, 2014.