Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr, by Patrick Reed and the Toronto Star’s Michelle Shephard; Patricia Rozema’s Into the Forest, starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, and Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant are among the seven films on the list that focus on young protagonists.
In the case of Alan Zweig’s HURT, about Steve Fonyo’s tumultuous life in the 30 years since his 1985 cancer fundraising run across Canada at age 19, the documentary forms a disturbing story of a tarnished legacy.
“The future is really bright for Canadian cinema,” said TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey. “For anyone who’s looking to see what’s going on right now in Canadian movies, I think I would look to young people.”
The Top 10 features, shorts and student shorts for 2015 were chosen by panels of filmmakers and industry professionals and will screen at TIFF Bell Lightbox from Jan. 8 to 17. Filmmakers and guests provide introductions and do Q&A sessions with filmmakers. A selection of the movies then go on a cross-Canada tour.
For a full list of Top 10 films and screening schedules, go to tiff.net.
Writer-director Stephen Dunn won the award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the TIFF 2015 with his coming-of-age film about Newfoundland teen Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup), an aspiring monster-movie makeup artist who struggles with his sexuality, finding solace in a fantasy world.
The Demons (Les demons)
Édouard Tremblay-Grenier stars as 10-year-old Felix in writer-director Philippe Lesage’s examination of the inner life of an imaginative, sensitive Montreal suburban-dwelling kid. Felix sees catastrophe lurking everywhere, some genuine, much imagined, until they gradually blend into reality.
Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr
Terrorist or manipulated child? Filmmakers Patrick Reed and Michelle Shephard seek the real Omar Khadr in this documentary, allowing him to tell his own story. Since the age of 15, Khadr has spent half his life incarcerated, including a decade at Guantanamo. Now he’s experiencing freedom for the first time as an adult.
At age 19, Steve Fonyo was a national hero, a one-legged runner who carried on Terry Fox’s legacy to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Thirty years later, writer-director Alan Zweig spent a year with Fonyo, examining his shocking and disturbing fall. Winner of TIFF’s 2015 Toronto Platform Prize.
Into the Forest
Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood play young sisters living in the isolated Pacific Northwest, stranded and alone after a continent-wide power-outage. Directed by Patricia Rozema, this gorgeously shot drama based on Jean Hegland’s novel is a study of survival and family ties, as well as a celebration of ingenuity and determination.
B.C. filmmaker Mina Shum revisits an episode in Canadian history when a small group of Caribbean students at Montreal’s Sir George Williams University (now part of Concordia University) voiced concerns that their professor was racist. Peaceful protest escalated into a violent riot in winter 1969. Now, Shum completes the story with the help of those who were there.
Andrew Cividino won the Best Canadian First Feature Film at TIFF 2015 for his exploration of three teens who fall into a difficult friendship one summer on Lake Superior. Pranks and thefts are both products of boredom and escalating challenges to prove toughness. It’s an ongoing contest that is not without implications.