TIFF announces Canadian film lineup

Just like Canada itself, this year's slate of Canadian works at the Toronto International Film Festival is a multicultural mix reflecting this country's diversity.

26 homegrown movies including new Margaret Atwood adaptation, Vince Carter story

NBA all-star Vince Carter and the 'Vinsanity' he inspired when he played for the Toronto Raptors is the subject of Sean Menard's documentary The Carter Effect, one of 26 homegrown films screening at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. (Toronto International Film Festival)

Just like Canada itself, this year's slate of Canadian works at the Toronto International Film Festival is a multicultural mix reflecting this country's diversity. 

Organizers of the September event announced details of the homegrown program Wednesday, unveiling the 26 Canadian-made films screening at the festival this year.

"We are thrilled to have a lineup with such a rich diversity of voices and perspectives," Magali Simard, programmer and theatrical senior manager, said in a news release.

"Not only are different regions of the country represented, but so are multiple age groups, backgrounds, languages and filmmaking styles. This lineup showcases the incredible wealth of talent currently at work in Canada."

26 homegrown movies including new Margaret Atwood adaptation, Vince Carter story coming to this year's fest 2:02

Making their world premieres at the Festival are Mary Harron's Alias Grace, based on the award-winning novel by Margaret Atwood, with a screenplay written by Sarah Polley and starring Sarah Gadon, Anna Paquin and Paul Gross; and Sean Menard's documentary The Carter Effect, on how NBA all-star and former Raptor Vince Carter made an impact on Toronto.

Alias Grace is also set to premiere Sept. 25 on CBC Television as a six-hour miniseries.

Prolific Indigenous filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, whom the the Toronto Film Critics Association called "a significant architect of Canadian cinema and culture," brings her 50th National Film Board documentary, Our People Will Be Healed.

The film takes audiences inside the Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre, a school in the remote Cree community of Norway House, 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg, where the programs are aimed at helping First Nations children learn and thrive.

Alan Zweig, director of VinylWhen Jews Were Funny and the Steve Fonyo story Hurt, debuts his latest documentary, There is a House Here.

Academy Award-nominated Kim Nguyen (Rebelle) returns to TIFF with Eye on Juliet, and so does the winner of last year's Best Canadian Film award Simon Lavoie, with The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes).

And actor-director Kyle Rideout, who was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award as director and co-writer of Eadweard, screens his comedy about eccentricity and high school, called Public Schooled.

Tarique Qayumi brings the Afghanistan-set drama Black Kite, which mixes animation, documentary and live action, to the Contemporary World Cinema category.

Another entry is Meditation Park by Mina Shum, one of the recipients earlier this year of funding from CBC's inaugural Breaking Barriers Film Fund.

There are also a number of first-timers at this year's festival, including: 

  • Sadaf Foroughi's AVA, a drama about an Iranian teenager at a pivotal crossroad;
  • Carlos and Jason Sanchez's A Worthy Companion, a psychological thriller about obsession and trauma;
  • Trailer Park Boys star Cory Bowles' Black Cop, a satirical exploration of police-community relations;
  • Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley's Cardinals, a look at the impact of a convicted murderer's return to her community;
  • Wayne Wapeemukwa's Luk'Luk'I, a look at the denizens of an impoverished Vancouver neighbourhood;
  • Molly McGlynn's Mary Goes Round, about an addiction counsellor struggling with her own issues.

"It is exciting to see a new wave of Canadian first-time feature directors play with genres and take risks," said Steve Gravestock, TIFF senior programmer.

"The depth and detail in which Canadian filmmakers have gone into controversial issues this year is unusual," Gravestock said.

The latest Canadian entries join the previously announced gala Long Time Running, a documentary that tracks the Tragically Hip's Man Machine Poem tour after frontman Gord Downie's brain cancer diagnosis.

There will also be 29 Canadian short films on the schedule.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 7-17.