These are the Best Canadian Films of 2017
#SeeTheNorth at the Canada’s Top 10 Film Festival, January 12–21
This year’s lineup spans genres, forms, and even other nations, celebrating our country’s diversity and complexity. It’s a selection of films that, in the words of TIFF Senior Programmer Steve Gravestock, “champions talent from across Canada, with a strong contingent of women filmmakers and very healthy representation from the west, especially BC; it perfectly showcases the range of genres that Canadian filmmakers are exploring, from intimate dramas to documentaries, a documentary hybrid, and even a fresh take on the zombie film.”
Whether you’re searching for a feminist Iranian coming-of-age film shot in Tehran (Sadaf Fouraghi’s Ava, recipient of the FIPRESCI Discovery prize at TIFF ’17), a winning mother-son comedy starring beloved character actor Judy Greer (Kyle Rideout’s Adventures in Public School), or a poetic exploration of artistic identity from the vantage point of an adolescent girl living in a Toronto Community Housing project (Charles Officer’s NFB documentary Unarmed Verses, the Top Ten lineup showcases formidable debuts from new voices.
Five out of the 10 features at this year’s festival are from first- or second-time filmmakers with a strong presence from female and Indigenous artists. Kathleen Hepburn’s feature debut, Never Steady, Never Still, boasts a standout performance from acclaimed Scottish actor Shirley Henderson, as well as luminous turns from 2017 TIFF Rising Stars Théodore Pellerin and Mary Galloway. Wayne Wapeemukwa’s Luk’Luk’l won the Best Canadian First Feature Film Award at TIFF ’17 for its humane portrait of 24 hours in the lives of five disenfranchised Vancouverites living on the city’s Downtown Eastside.
There is plenty more to discover: Simon Lavoie’s arresting black-and-white gothic drama The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches; Robin Aubert’s Québécois zombie thriller Les Affamés (winner of the Best Canadian Feature Film award at TIFF ’17); the female-driven psychological thriller Allure — which premiered at the Festival as A Worthy Companion — directed by Montreal duo Carlos and Jason Sanchez and starring Evan Rachel Wood and TIFF Rising Stars alumna Julia Sarah Stone; and Catherine Bainbridge’s crowd-pleasing doc RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World), which chronicles historic contributions to rock, blues, and folk music from North American Indigenous artists, among them legends Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, and Link Wray.
TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey says that this captivating lineup proves that Canada’s future in film burns bright. “Our filmmakers have proven that they are among the best in the world… Wrapping up Canada’s year in the global spotlight, we are thrilled to present this uniquely Canadian list, rich not only in talent but also in its diversity of perspectives, stories, and voices that reflect our nation’s multiculturalism.”
You can catch it all at the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival, running at TIFF Bell Lightbox from January 12 through 21, followed by a nationwide tour with stops at Vancouver’s The Cinematheque (January 12–21), Montreal’s PHI Centre (January 12–21), the Winnipeg Film Group’s Cinematheque (January 12–February 24), Edmonton’s Metro Cinema (January 26–February 4), Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada (March 15–17), Regina’s RPL Film Theatre (April 12–15), and Saskatoon’s PAVED Arts in collaboration with the Roxy Theatre (dates TBA).
The festival also offers a special screening of Phillip Borsos’ 1990 political saga Bethune: The Making of a Hero — starring Donald Sutherland as internationally beloved Canadian hero Dr. Norman Bethune — and a Canadian Open Vault free screening of Daniel Cockburn’s 2010 TFCA Jay Scott Prize winner, You Are Here. (Cockburn’s cerebral The Argument (with annotations) was also selected as one of this year’s Top Ten Shorts.)
The Top Ten Shorts selections include Matthew Rankin’s The Tesla World Light, a synesthesia-inducing blend of avant-garde and animated film techniques; Threads, the latest film from Academy Award–winning animator Torill Kove; Heather Young’s understated docudrama Milk; and Marc-Antoine Lemire’s honest, empowering Pre-Drink, winner of the Best Canadian Short Film award at TIFF ‘17. Highlights in the Student Shorts programme include Lina Roessler’s arresting Mustard Seed and Alexandre Lefebvre’s intimate documentary Hold My Hand.
Whether you’re an emerging filmmaker or a seasoned professional, Canada’s Top Ten offers a full day of industry programming on January 12. The Industry Forum will explore subjects such as programming ethics in the wake of #MeToo, how to support breakout directors after their first features, and strategies for documenting a community.
The Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival also presents two In Conversation With... events with two very different prolific female artists. Actor Evan Rachel Wood will discuss her role in the festival’s selection Allure, her trajectory in Hollywood (starting as a child actor), as well as her drive to create lasting change in the film industry. And TIFF is honoured to facilitate a career-spanning conversation with legendary documentarian, musician, and revolutionary artist Alanis Obomsawin. A tireless advocate for Indigenous resistance and identity, Obomsawin’s new film, the Top Ten title Our People Will Be Healed, is an optimistic examination of the education school system, and also happens to be the filmmaker’s 50th film.
Scroll down for the official list of the Top Ten Canadian features, shorts, and student short films of 2017. Tickets can be purchased starting December 13 with an exclusive member pre-sale on December 6.
Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival features, in alphabetical order:
Adventures in Public School Kyle Rideout Opening Night Film
Allure Carlos Sanchez, Jason Sanchez
Ava Sadaf Foroughi
Les Affamés Robin Aubert
The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches Simon Lavoie
Luk'Luk'l Wayne Wapeemukwa
Never Steady, Never Still Kathleen Hepburn
Our People Will Be Healed Alanis Obomsawin
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World Catherine Bainbridge
Unarmed Verses Charles Officer
Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival shorts, in alphabetical order:
The Argument (with annotations) Daniel Cockburn
The Botanist Maude Plante-Husaruk, Maxime Lacoste-Lebuis
The Crying Conch Vincent Toi
The Drop In Naledi Jackson
Flood Amanda Strong
Milk Heather Young
Pre-Drink Marc-Antoine Lemire
Rupture Yassmina Karajah
The Tesla World Light Matthew Rankin
Threads Torill Kove
Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival student shorts, in alphabetical order:
Away Home Jana Stackhouse
Blindsided Flytrap Productions
Hold My Hand Alexandre Lefebvre
If You Fall Tisha Deb Pillai
Leila Aziz Zoromba
Meddy Ted Sakowsky
Mustard Seed Lina Roessler
Nana Ali Kellner
Quarters FIG House
Waiting for Lou Katerine Martineau