A slew of Canadian filmmakers are slated to make big Hollywood splashes in 2013, with hyped releases including Vancouver-based Neill Blomkamp’s hotly anticipated followup to District 9, Denis Villeneuve’s English-language debut and a DreamWorks remake of a francophone smash.
“There’s lots of stuff from this year that will be released next year that I’m looking forward to seeing.”
In An Enemy, the Jarhead actor plays a man obsessed with finding his doppelganger after spotting him in a movie. The Canada-Spanish production shot in Toronto earlier this year and is expected to hit screens in 2013. It also stars Mélanie Laurent, Isabella Rossellini and Toronto’s Sarah Gadon.
But Gyllenhaal in particular must have hit it off with Villeneuve because he also jumped aboard the Quebec director’s English-language thriller, Prisoners, a Warner Bros. release that could also land next year.
That film centres on a father who takes hostage the man he believes is responsible for kidnapping his daughter and her friend. It boasts a top-tier cast including Hugh Jackman, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard and Viola Davis.
“He really is an incredible director and he really taught me and reminded me how important it is to love the people that you’re working with when you’re making a movie,” says Gadon, who also appears in Amma Asante’s upcoming Belle, with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson and Miranda Richardson.
Gadon says much of the performances involved improvisations, leaving her uncertain as to how it will all come together.
Villeneuve’s not the only Quebec phenom leaping to Hollywood — Starbuck writer-director Ken Scott is transforming his 2011 homegrown smash into a New York version for DreamWorks called The Delivery Man, which he will also write and direct.
Here, Vince Vaughn plays a middle-aged New Yorker who finds out he fathered 533 children through sperm donation. His life is turned upside down when hundreds of the donor babies decide they want to meet him.
The film also stars Cobie Smulders, Britt Robertson and Chris Pratt. It’s expected to hit screens in October.
And the translations don’t end there.
Scott’s other francophone hit, the 2003 film Le grand seduction, is being transformed into an English-language version with help from director Don McKellar and actors Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch, Liane Balaban and Gordon Pinsent.
Grand Seduction chronicles the efforts of a small Newfoundland town to lure a doctor so they’ll qualify for a new factory.
While the original was set in a tiny Quebec fishing village, the new version wades into themes not unfamiliar to Newfoundland.
“It really did fit well and I think every Newfoundlander that was involved — and there were a lot — really connected with it easily,” says McKellar, adding that the remake nevertheless boasts a very different tone from the Quebecois original.
“It’s a very different feel, the actors are different, the location’s very different.”
One of the most anticipated releases comes from Blomkamp, the South African-born District 9 visionary who earned an Oscar-nomination for co-writing the 2009 futuristic sci-fi adventure.
He reunites with District 9 star Sharlto Copley for Baja Dunes, which also pulls in A-listers Matt Damon and Jodie Foster for the sci-fi thriller, apparently about a space station where the rich can escape a diseased earth.
So far, details on this release are scant — Blomkamp, Damon and company were notably careful in a summer appearance at Comic-Con back when the film was known as Elysium.
Also getting plenty of early attention is Vallee’s AIDS drama The Dallas Buyer’s Club, based on the real-life saga of a Texan trailblazer who smuggled alternative drugs into the United States in a bid to treat his HIV. Photos from the New Orleans set reveal shockingly slim physiques of stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.
Danna jokes that he’s looking forward to the premiere where he may actually get to hobnob with a stellar cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth and Stephen Moyer.
He says Egoyan tries something a bit different with his dramatization of the West Memphis Three case.
“He’s known for kind of fracturing timelines. In this film that’s not a technique that he’s used,” Danna says of The Sweet Hereafter director.
Also expected next year is the big screen leap by Corner Gas star Brent Butt, who writes and stars in the comic whodunit No Clue, about a bumbling regular joe who gets pulled into a mystery. Carl Bessai directs while Amy Smart and David Cubitt co-star.
Meanwhile, Laurent Cantet puts his spin on a Joyce Carol Oates novel with Foxfire, Kevin Zegers and Laurence Fishburne appear in the sci-fi thriller The Colony, and documentary filmmaker Paul Saltzman heads to Mississippi for The Last White Knight, where he reconnects with a young Klansman he met decades ago.
“We sold to Samuel Goldwyn Films in the States which is huge, we sold to Australia, we sold to a bunch of other territories so it seems to be picking up momentum,” says McGowan.
Based on a true story, Cromwell plays 89-year-old New Brunswicker Craig Morrison, who runs afoul of a government inspector when he decides to build a more suitable house for his ailing wife, played by Bujold.
“I’m hoping it’ll find an audience. It’s a tough environment and we’re really happy with what’s happened so far and hopefully just continue to roll on nicely,” says McGowan.