Stories of youth, queer culture, romance dominate Canada’s TIFF lineup

TORONTO — Stories about youth and queer culture are taking pride of place in Canada’s lineup at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, with some filmmakers saying the uplifting themes come at a much-needed time.

Gail Maurice, director of “Rosie,” the story of a native orphan raised by her French-speaking aunt and two friends who refuse to be limited by gender, said she believes a vibrant generation comes from a “dark and uncertain” period.

“We need hope, we need to show our strength and resilience to survive,” she said after a press event at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox.

“We had a quiet time to reflect and be with ourselves. We finally say, “I’m telling the story I want to tell.”

Maurice’s comedy-drama was one of several films in the full Canadian TIFF program revealed on Wednesday that explored queerness of Indigenity. Hers took on both subjects, with a cast and crew of mostly female and LGBTQ people.

Luis De Filippis, writer and director of the transgender coming-of-age film “Something You Said Last Night,” said Canadian filmmaking is in the midst of a pivotal movement for queer filmmakers.

It is also a personal moment for De Filippis, who worked as a messenger at TIFF art house 10 years ago.

“I think we’re muscling our way forward,” De Filippis said.

“The girls say, ‘We’re here and we’re tired of other people telling our stories wrong.’ It feels right. It feels like this is a moment. A new wave is underway.”

Kelly Boutsalis, associate programmer of Canadian feature films at TIFF, said she saw a wave of coming-of-age stories submitted for consideration at the festival this year, including “I Like Movies,” which takes place in a video rental store circa 2003. .

“It got to the point where we can’t make this ‘all teens, all the time’ at TIFF,” she said.

“The interesting thing coming out of COVID is that a lot of people are focusing on that time.”

She added: “People tell their own stories and they tell (them) authentically. It would be remiss if we didn’t have those stories at the festival, because they’re everywhere, they’re recognizable and we have to have them.”

“Brother” director Clement Virgo said returning to TIFF with his first feature in more than a decade, a story set in Toronto’s hip-hop scene, offered a new perspective.

“My first movie ‘Rude’ played at TIFF in 1995 and it feels like it’s come full circle,” he said.

“As a younger filmmaker, you take that for granted. But as a filmmaker who has been making film for over 20 years… I feel a lot of gratitude, I feel honored.”

Some Canadian artists offer snippets of their own lives through documentary films – Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq tells her story in Chelsea McMullan’s co-directed ‘Ever Deadly’, while ‘Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On’ is about the life of the legendary Cree artist and activist.

Other documentaries on deck include Babak Payami’s “752 Is Not A Number” about the shooting down of a Ukrainian plane in Tehran in 2020 that killed 176 passengers, many of whom were Canadian, and “Black Ice”, which investigates anti-black racism in hockey. and is executive produced by LeBron James and Drake.

Producer Vinay Virmani said that five years ago when he was first approached about “Black Ice,” it “raised so many questions about why we don’t know this history of Black Ice.”

The documentary will ask “a lot of questions about this game that we’re proud of, but we know there are so many things wrong culturally,” he added.

TIFF’s closing night selection, “Daliland,” comes from Ontario-raised director Mary Harron. In the film, Ben Kingsley plays Salvador Dali, with controversial actor Ezra Miller playing the surrealist artist in his younger days. Miller was not named in TIFF’s announcement, which coincided with the star charged with breaking and entering in Vermont earlier this week.

As personal events return, many of the films seem poised for the theatrical experience, including “The Swearing Jar,” a Lindsay McKay musical that appeared at the festival in 2014 with her feature film debut “Wet Bum.”

“We did our final mix of the film in a theater, and because it has a musical element, it’s so important to hear it in that space,” she said.

“It’s an experience you want to hear loudly … to have it in a big room with a big audience is much more exciting.”

TIFF also plans to give several small screen projects the big screen treatment.

Episodes from the final season of Ontario-shot “The Handmaid’s Tale” will mark their debut, while Tegan and Sara’s autobiography is reinterpreted in the “High School” series, co-directed by Clea DuVall and filmed in the hometown of the twin sisters in Calgary.

“Lido TV,” a CBC variety show by Colombian-Canadian musician and artist Lido Pimienta, also premieres as part of TIFF’s primetime program.

Other Canadian films announced include “Stellar” by Darlene Naponse, an Anishinaabe filmmaker who won TIFF’s 2018 Air Canada Audience Choice Award for “Falls Around Her.” In the film, Elle-MaÌ ijaÌ play Tailfeathers and Braeden Clarke as star-crossed lovers who share a cosmic encounter at a bar in northern Ontario.

Edmonton-born filmmaker Graham Foy’s “The Maiden” is about a trio of teenagers whose summer fun takes a surreal turn, and Toronto-raised director Nisha Pahuja’s documentary, “To Kill a Tiger,” is about a farmer in India who fights for justice. in the gang rape of his 13-year-old daughter.

Katherine Jerkovic, who won the Best Canadian First Feature Award at TIFF in 2018 for ‘Roads in February’, is back with ‘Coyote’, about a chef who went clean in Montreal whose hopes of returning to the kitchen are thwarted when he is asked to take care of his grandson.

Also on Wednesday, the federal government announced it is investing $10 million to support TIFF’s comeback as a personal movie attraction.

The funding will help TIFF regain some of its pre-pandemic brilliance and lost revenue after COVID-19 forced the festival to go digital, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 10, 2022.

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