Underfed, neglected, and trapped: Canadian films are like inmates in a prison where the guards, institution and funding agency, don’t care about their well-being. Overshadowed by our southern neighbors, and unprotected by box-office levies or content regulations, there is rarely demand for Canadian films or opportunities for them to be exposed. Quebec cinema has always fared better because of their separate culture, language, and nationalistic tendencies, but in the English-speaking parts of the Great White North, you’d be hard-pressed to find an average moviegoer who has seen a Canadian film on any given year. Telefilm’s tendency to fund uninspired and formulaic films hasn’t helped. In an attempt to draw larger audiences, the funding organization has mostly done away with anything edgy, inventive or distinctive, creating Hollywood films without Hollywood budgets or Hollywood returns.
To raise awareness of Canadian cinema and provide another avenue for us to see some of our great films, TIFF (since 2000) has created a festival that screens what they believe are the ten best Canadian films of the year. Last year, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy and Stéphane Lafleur’s Tu Dors Nicole made the cut – both of which managed to break out of their solitary confinement through critical acclaim, leading to limited distribution in America and overseas.
On December 8th, TIFF announced the lineup for the 2015 Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival, running January 8-17 at the Pacific Cinémathèque in Vancouver and TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. These are the ten films in the festival, which you’ve probably never heard of and probably will never see.
Les Démons (The Demons)
Les Êtres Chers (Our Loved Ones)
The Forbidden Room
Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr
Into the Forest
My Internship in Canada
I’ve already seen six out of these ten films, and Into The Forest, My Internship In Canada, and The Forbidden Room aren’t worth your time. Sleeping Giant is a delightful coming-of-age story about a boy who doesn’t fit a traditionally “Masculine” mold, and Hurt is a heart-wrenching documentary about Steve Fonyo – a cancer survivor that ran across the country to raise money for cancer research. Closet Monster – the most acclaimed of the bunch – premiered at TIFF to rave reviews and awards. Apparently, the film, which is about a teenager coming out of the closet, also features Isabella Rossellini as a talking hamster. How about Christopher Plummer as a grumpy beaver in a domestic drama, or Ellen Page as a quirky dolphin in a kid’s movie? If we need more talking animals for Canadian cinema to be noticed and appreciated, then so be it.