Talented veterans, emerging directors make TIFF's Canadian lineup

Denis Villeneuve, Jennifer Baichwal, Robert Lepage and Xavier Dolan are among the celebrated Canadian filmmakers who will introduce new work at September's Toronto International Film Festival.
Strong list of veterans, newcomers unveiled for 2013 festival 5:20

Denis Villeneuve, Jennifer Baichwal, Michael Dowse, Robert Lepage and Xavier Dolan are among the celebrated Canadian filmmakers who will introduce new work at September's Toronto International Film Festival.

Organizers cheered homegrown productions in Toronto Wednesday afternoon, as TIFF chief executive Piers Handling and artistic director Cameron Bailey revealed a lineup of Canadian feature and short films filled with noted veterans as well as some promising emerging moviemakers.

Along with his previously announced, star-studded Hollywood film Prisoners, Oscar-nominated director Villeneuve will also debut the Canadian-Spanish drama Enemy. Jake Gyllenhaal, who also appears in Prisoners, stars in the drama based on Nobel Laureate José Saramago's tale The Double.

Celebrated documentarian Baichwal reteams with her Manufactured Landscapes collaborator Edward Burtynsky and shares directing credit with the influential photographer on Watermark. The feature documentary, shot in 5K ultra-high definition video, weaves together stories from around the globe about our relationship with water.

Spotlight on short film

TIFF announced 39 Canadian shorts joining its lineup, including the latest from Chris Landreth, Oscar-winner for Ryan, the powerful animated doc about a groundbreaking former animator who becomes homeless due to drug and alcohol abuse.

"Subconcious Password is a little bit of a departure from Ryan... This is a way more absurd piece of film," Landreth told CBC News, adding that unlike some of his previous work, he wanted to employ "cheaply done," Monty Python-eque cut-out animations for his comical tale about a man struggling to recall someone's name at a flashy party.

Overall, TIFF will showcase shorts in six programs. Most of its Short Cuts Canada lineup will also screen on a dedicated YouTube channel (Youtube.com/TIFF) 24 hours after each film's premiere. They will remain until Sept. 19.

At some festivals, shorts are almost an afterthought, Landreth noted. In Toronto, however, "it's a central thing... [They give] shorts a great venue, give it a culture. People come out," he said.

"TIFF, from my recollection, had one of the loudest, rowdiest receptions [for one of my films]."

Dowse, who recently shared in Telefilm's Golden Box Office prize for his hockey comedy hit Goon, takes a completely different turn with his romantic comedy The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan.

Meanwhile, Dolan is bringing his Tom at the Farm to TIFF after its Venice debut, while Lepage has teamed with Pedro Pires for the urban saga Triptych.

"It's always tough [to choose the Canadian lineup] — it's just a wealth of stuff. It's better to have an embarrassment of riches," TIFF Canadian programmer Steve Gravestock told CBC News.

"We have a very strong group of directors. It's a tribute to the system, too — to Telefilm, to the councils, to the National Film Board, and really to the dedication of Canadian filmmakers. We have very committed film artists and they make personal stories. They make stories that mean a lot to them. That's why they get people like Daniel Radcliffe in their movies."

Other directing stalwarts debuting films at the festival include: Louise Archambault (Gabrielle), Bruce McDonald (The Husband), Bruce Sweeney (The Dick Knost Show), Bruce LaBruce (Gerontophilia) and Catherine Martin (A Journey).

Emerging directors comprise a new wave

Gia Milani, whose drama All the Wrong Reasons was one of Glee star Cory Monteith's final films, will see the movie (her feature directorial debut) screen at TIFF.

TIFF's Canadian filmmakers and stars gather for a group portrait with the festival's programmers and directors. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

She's just one of a new wave of emerging directors championed by TIFF's programmers by inclusion in this year's lineup, joining Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls), Chloé Robichaud (Sarah Prefers to Run), Sébastien Pilote (Le Démantèlement), Richie Mehta (Siddharth), Ingrid Veninger (The Animal Project), Terry Miles (Cinemanovels), Wiebke von Carolsfeld (Stay), Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman (Asphalt Watches).

Some of Canada's top filmmakers were also part of previous announcements and will be bringing their latest to TIFF, including Don McKellar (The Grand Seduction), Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), Atom Egoyan (Devil's Knot), and Paul Haggis (Third Person), Alanis Obomsawin (Hi-Ho Mistahey!) and Barry Avrich (Filthy Gorgeous).

So far, anticipated titles already announced include star-studded projects such as family drama August: Osage County, biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, space thriller Gravity, period tale Kill Your Darlings and romantic comedy Enough Said, the final film by James Gandolfini.

The festival, which runs Sept. 5-15, opens with Hollywood-made WikiLeaks tale The Fifth Estate and closes with Life of Crime, based on ailing crime writer Elmore Leonard's story The Switch.

Photographer Edward Burtynsky will make his directorial debut at TIFF 2013 with Watermark, sharing directing credits on the documentary with celebrated filmmaker and collaborator Jennifer Baichwal.