This year's Toronto International Film Festival is less than a month away, and TIFF has announced four features by first-time Canadian directors as part of the Discovery program. The four films are by Kate Melville, Jason Buxton, Igor Drljaca, and Kazik Radwanski, three of which will have their world premiere at TIFF (Radwanski's film is playing for the first time in North America).
After the blood, sweat and tears that went into making their first features, these directors will get the chance to show them to the world at TIFF. And who knows? One of these directors might be the next great Canadian film artist - a new Atom Egoyan or David Cronenberg (of course, Cronenberg's son Brandon, whose feature 'Antiviral' is also playing the Festival, might have something to say about that). Check out an overview of each film below:
Picture Day, directed by Kate Melville
The protagonist of 'Picture Day', Kate Melville's debut feature, is Claire (Tatiana Maslany), a high school student taking her second run at Grade 12 after getting into all sorts of trouble (and earning the nickname "twist-off", which you'll have to watch the film to understand). She's got an acid tongue and a bad reputation, both of which she uses to great comedic effect as she takes Henry (Spencer Van Wyck), a freshman she used to babysit, under her wing and transforms him into a mysterious rebel (as seen in the clip above).
Meanwhile, Claire's fallen into a relationship of sorts with a 33-year-old would be rock star named Jim (Steven McCarthy), and over the course of the film, she learns some hard lessons about the difference between sex, intimacy, and friendship. It's an assured debut from writer-director Melville, whose screenwriting credits include 'Being Erica', 'Heartland' and 'Endgame'.
Krivina, directed by Igor Drljaca
Krivina focuses on Miro, an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia who now lives in Toronto. He has trouble relating to others and never stays in one place for long. When he discovers that his pre-war friend Dado, who has been missing for almost twenty years, is now wanted for war-era crimes, his life starts to unravel.
When he hears that Dado still visits Zljebovi, a village on the outskirts of Sarajevo, Miro embarks on a trip to Bosnia to find his friend. If the clip above is any indication (or this other teaser), the film looks to be atmospheric and intense, with beautiful cinematography.
Blackbird, directed by Jason Buxton
It's a timely (and touchy) subject for a film: 'Blackbird' tells the story of Sean Randall, an angry and alienated sixteen-year-old who moves to the small town of Bridgewater to live with his estranged father. When an offhand death threat against a bully is taken seriously by the authorities, he is accused of planning a Columbine-like massacre at his school.
The film examines the ways the media and a small community respond to the threat of violence, while telling a very personal story about a confused young man trying to learn how to speak in his own voice.
Tower, directed by Kazik Radwanski
In 'Tower' Derek is a 34-year-old man who lives at home with his parents in Toronto. His brother is married with a baby on the way, but Derek has neither a partner nor a career, working part-time for his uncle's construction company. He wanders the streets at night and goes to nightclubs in the hopes of meeting someone.
The film centres on an intimate relationship between Derek and a women he meets, Nicole, as well as his quest to find the raccoon who has been tearing up his family's garbage. The film is currently playing Switzerland's Festival del Film Locarno, and the Globe and Mail has called it "impressive even beyond its ingenious low-budget engineering," saying it "sustains a strong and at times frightening sense of intensity."
Related stories on Strombo.com: