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TIFF Canada Day Collection: A Part of Our Heritage

Canada comes of age through cinema

by
Jun 29, 2017

TIFF may have only been around for 42 years of Canada's 150 years of history, but it has intersected with plenty of Canadian film luminaries. To celebrate our country's birthday, we remember the famous faces who have graced the screen, stage, and digital imprint of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Par example, the time Atom Egoyan curated The Review newsletter, acting as an advocate of film preservation and restoration. In his passionate defense of celluloid, Egoyan said that shooting on film makes it so that "you can actually feel the movie in a deeper way." You can read five other editions of The Review newsletter, penned by Canadian filmmakers, personalities, and writers below:

1. Raised on MuchMusic Rapper and broadcaster Shad recounts the hours he spent watching Canada's music video channel and how he identified with Canadian hip-hop.

2. Filmmaker Johnny Ma Wants You to Fall in Love With '90s Chinese Cinema Chinese-Canadian director Johnny Ma, whose debut feature Old Stone screened as part of the Canada's Top Ten Film Festival this year, describes how the films from '90s mainland China helped him find his cinematic voice in the "in-between" his two identities.

3. Can-Lit Heats Up 12 Canadian writers tell you what to read this summer, while sharing memories of summers spent at the movies or by the dock, always with a good book in hand.

4. When Toronto Plays Itself Onscreen Toronto filmmaker Kazik Radwanski pays homage to his hometown by curating his own list of films that best express his experience of living in “The Six.”

5. What Can Straight White Guys Do to Help Women in Film? Top female filmmakers nominated at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards suggest ways that their straight white male contemporaries can be better allies.

What do we talk about when we talk about Canadian film? This year, TIFF helped start a new conversation when Artistic Director, Cameron Bailey, penned a passionate open letter for the Globe and Mail. In a piece titled “Dear Canadian filmmakers: it’s not about you, it’s about us,” Bailey urged local filmmakers to find personal stories within the political issues currently facing our not-so-polite country, including Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women, voter manipulation in the 2011 election, and human trafficking across Ontario Highway 401.

Writer-director Kevan Funk, whose debut feature Hello Destroyer played TIFF ‘16 and the Canada's Top Ten Film Festival, responded with his own piece, saying that "there is an incentivized path to mediocrity" in Canadian film. Pointing out systemic issues of distribution, marketing, and development as part of the problems facing young emerging filmmakers, Funk praised those who were making great work in spite of a failed system.

One such example is the new class of emerging Canadian auteurs who are rising up the ranks of the industry by directing music videos, including Emily Kai Bock, Fantavious Fritz, Director X, and Funk himself. TIFF Short Cuts programmer Jason Anderson profiles a curiously brave group of filmmakers who aren't afraid to burn down a house (or mix video formats) in order to achieve grand cinematic visions.

On Canada Day, we recognize local film heroes, who despite the odds, achieved remarkable careers by sticking to their visions. In a piece titled "How 10 Legendary Canadian Filmmakers Reached Their Someday," The Review tells the stories behind 10 filmmakers who went from humble beginnings to international acclaim (and a few Oscar nominations).

Read more interviews and profiles of Canadian filmmakers here:

A Conversation Between Anne Émond And Chloé Robichaud The two Quebecois directors go head-to-head.

The Werewolves and The Destroyers First-time feature directors Ashley McKenzie and Kevan Funk interview each other.

The Next Generation of Canadian Cinematographers 10 Canadian cinematographers, stuck in a tiny room during TIFF '16, makes for a fascinating discussion.

TIFF's Rising Stars A group of emerging actors ask how we can create a star system in Canada.

A Canadian Movement: Toronto's DIY Filmmakers TIFF profiles a group of young movie-makers in Toronto.

The Stairs is the Most Empathetic Toronto Film Ever Made Documentarian Hugh Gibson explains how he applied the philosophies of harm reduction to the subjects of his documentary on Regent Park's harm reduction program.

To commemorate National Aboriginal Day on June 21, TIFF published a collection of stories celebrating the Indigeneous filmmakers and original keepers of our land. Hear filmmakers like Alanis Obomsawin and the participants of the VR 2167 project express why storytelling is their key to radicalizing change in their communities.

To quote documentarian Obomsawin: "Everywhere I go, I meet young people who are making films. In the reserves, in the city, they all want to be filmmakers. It’s very encouraging because a lot of them are doing wonderful things with different ways of expressing themselves. In Canada, we are very lucky to have an institution like the National Film Board. Throughout all these years, all these documentaries and animations, it's been the voice of the country.

While we must deal with the ravage that's been done to our country by the people in charge, there are people in politics who want to make a change. So you start right there. You fight, and you know that it's possible. If you believe in change strongly enough, you'll do it. Just don't let anybody stop you, that's all."

It wouldn't be Canada Day without honouring the patron saint of cottage rock, Gord Downie. Actor-director Nadia Litz remembers the time the Tragically Hip made her feel less alone during high school in her personal essay "Saved by Gord." TIFF also remembers the late Bill Marshall, our Festival founder and Chief Emeritus, who passed away this year at the age of 77. A pioneering force of Canadian film, Marshall followed the instincts of his own unique vision to achieve something completely novel.

Hear from many more of your favourite Canadians, including Jay Baruchel, Lily Singh, Kiefer Sutherland, Clement Virgo, and Anne Shirley herself with the following collection of video and podcast materials below. And remember: you can catch a free Canada on Screen marathon of films, running all day July 1, at TIFF Bell Lightbox.