Olympia Dukakis gives an brilliant, barnstorming performance as a foul-mouthed lesbian, Stella, who isn’t about to let her lover of 31 years, Dot (Brenda Fricker), be carted off to an old folks’ home without a fight. Her plan? A daring rescue, followed by flight to Canada and marriage - an elopement. Ryan Doucette is the hitchhiker who helps them sneak over the border - the Brad Pitt to their septuagenarian Thelma and Louise.
Herman Wallace has spent 40 years imprisoned in solitary confinement in a six-foot-by-nine-foot cell for a crime many believe he never committed. The injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art are explored in Herman’s House, a feature documentary from first-time director Angad Singh Bhalla, that follows the unlikely friendship between Jackie Sumell a New York artist, and Herman Wallace, one of America’s most famous inmates, as they collaborate on an acclaimed art project.
"Conceptually inventive, poetic and original, Herman’s House achieves a great feat in constructing a compelling narrative about a man we never meet and goals that aren’t quite reached… In the end, none can contain this unique and moving story, and we are left with our own imaginations, completely activated by this magnificent film." Ezra Winton, Art Threat
"As powerful as it is heartrending." Serena Whitney, Exclaim
The latest in our irregular series of archival shows throws a well-earned spotlight on the late Phil Keatley, whose long career at the CBC ranged from the 1950s to the 70s. Keatley is probably best known for his work as a producer on The Beachcombers, but here we look back further, to three black and white dramas he produced in BC between 1958 and 1967.
Two women from opposite sides of Hitler’s Third Reich meet in Toronto, years after the Second World War–Mania, orphaned by the regime, and Johanna, possibly the Nazi guard who protected her. Weaving together their stories, this powerful documentary intimately explores their war experiences and witnesses their reunion more than half a century later.
A rebellious teenager (Tatiana Maslany, Grown Up Movie Star) forced to repeat her last year of high school is caught between adolescence and adulthood — and between two very different male admirers — in this charming and vibrant debut feature from writer-director Kate Melville.
“One of the smartest movies on youth I have seen since “Freaks & Geeks.” Jason Whyte, efilmcritic
“Smartly written and directed by Kate Melville, Picture Day is a well-executed coming-of-age drama that distinguishes itself with its strong sense of its characters and their emotional universe.” Adam Cook, Filmmaker Magazine
“Engaging, funny and evokes all the beautiful awkwardness and confidence of being a teenager … Kate Melville has tapped into something very funny, real, and uniquely female … Tatiana Maslany absolutely steals the film as Claire … One of the best teen films this country’s ever produced.” Katarina Gligorijevic, Toronto Film Scene
Summer war games between the neighbourhood kids turn deadly serious when jealousy and betrayal enter the mix, in this alternately hilarious and horrifying black comedy that mixes equal parts Lord of the Flies and Roald Dahl.
"Sharp, funny and edge-of-your-seat chilling, this darkly provocative actioner, starring a startlingly stellar all-kid ensemble cast, turns a neighbourhood woods game of Capture the Flag into a high-stakes round of no-holds-barred jungle warfare – with the rules about to be broken. The fantasy-tinged film nails the ferocious intensity of children’s games (the imaginary world feels real in the moment) while it plays with cinema conventions (coming-of-age stories, war tales, etc). An after-school special you won’t want to miss." 4 stars Globe & Mail
"I Declare War is everthing The Hunger Games attempts to be, but better - it says more with less, goes farther while staying smaller, and finds reality in a more fantastical scenario… A Lord Of The Flies for a new generation, I Declare War deserves to be seen by adults and needs to be seen by kids. We don’t often get action films of any kind that have this much to say, much less films that are this delicately balanced between mainstream appeal and realistic intensity. Smart, touching, and exciting, I Declare War is sure to be one of your favorites of this year or next." Renn Brown, CHUD
Established in 2004, the Student Film Showcase showcases the finest in student films from universities and colleges from across Canada. With the participation of the Film School Consortium this TIFF event presents a range of student films in diverse forms - including animation, documentary, fiction and experimental work - that represent the burgeoning talent of our nation’s next generation of filmmakers.
Genius: The Kevin Aussant Story
Kevin — and his mother — always believed he’d become the greatest screenwriter of all time. Gifted and confident, but discouraged by his father, Kevin finally moves to the big city to pursue his dream in this quirky comedy about the unshakable power of creativity.
Placement of the Grain
Sculpted monochromatic figures mutate into eerie renderings that are simultaneously transfixing and disturbing; if the Quay Brothers and David Cronenberg had an animated cinematic lovechild, it might look like Placement of the Grain.
On a small farm, two young brothers spend their day picking produce, tormenting chickens, throwing eggs at trains, and hunting each other with foam-dart guns. Daily life in the countryside is given a sensitive, subtle and patient treatment by director Dylan Stirewalt.
It’s a beautiful day in the mountains as a young boy, Snorkly, joins a day-camp race and lies to get onto the team of his choice, The Fanny Pack. Team Work is an absurd, hilarious film — a cross between Robot Chicken and South Park, with a touch more heart.
The Toronto blackout of 2003 is the focus of this animated documentary, which stitches personal anecdotes together with handcrafted illustrations to recall a moment when the vibrant Big Smoke was transformed into a magical, mysterious place.
Lou pumps gas at the local truck ’n’ go, but dreams of one day escaping with her BFF Chantal to "blow up" in the big city. Funny and brutally honest, Firecrackers paints a picture of small-town life filled with truck-stop diners, deadbeat adults, and the teenagers who hope to escape from both.
Sun of a Beach
Shunned for shining a little too brightly, the poor sun feels alone in its search to connect and be wanted. Good intentions fire up the screen in this fun and cheerful animated vignette. SPF 30 recommended.
Walter Woodman, Patrick Cederberg
In a story that plays out entirely on a teenager’s computer screen, Noah follows its eponymous protagonist as his relationship takes a rapid turn for the worse in this fascinating study of behaviour (and romance) in the digital age.
Eui Yong Zong
A sensitive documentary on the preservation of memories, Elizabeth follows Donald as he prepares to put to rest his companion of 18 years. This film is a raw, touching, and at times surprising portrait of grief and the difficulty of imagining life without a loyal partner.
Repurposing an old home movie clip of a family posing on a boat near port, Byron Chan loops the footage and reconfigures history in this captivating formal study of analogue archival material reshaped in the modern age.
Eileen H. Peng
A Brothers Grimm-inspired fairy tale given a striking animation treatment, Godfather Death tells the story of a young doctor whose godfather was — fittingly — Death. Empowered by his godfather’s gift of a potion that cures all disease, the doctor soon learns that the balance of life cannot be cheated.
Toronto artisan Ross Stuart has been hand-crafting banjos and ukuleles for years, but has found it hard to turn his work into a sole source of income. Rosbilt is as much a polished portrait of an honest, outspoken and hard-working man as it is an examination of artistic output as livelihood.
Basilisk, a greedy land-based creature with eyes only for a pot of gold, is on the run trying to track down his prize. A colourful, vivid animation reminiscent of the great Hayao Miyazaki, Basilisk and its animator Mami Thompson are names to watch out for
A meditative, free-associative but entirely engrossing contemplation of the nature of time by the innovative non-fiction filmmaker Peter Mettler. Detroit, Big Island, India and CERN are just some of his philosophical pit-stops. Go with the (lava) floe.
"Recalling the work of Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog and the late Chris Marker… The End of Time becomes immersive and hypnotic… a ravishingly beautiful experience." Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter.
"Peter Mettler’s poetic lens has inquired into everything from personal fulfillment (Gambling, Gods and LSD) to the Northern Lights (Picture of Light). Now he’s after his most elusive prey yet: the very human concept of time… [The End of Time] is of a piece with Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light, a film that similarly finds miraculous unity in seemingly random things." Peter Howell, Toronto Star.
This wildly funny and original Vancouver satire focusses on a corrupt local politician with a strange neural complaint: he believes he’s the subject of a reality TV show (even though no one else can see the cameraman who dogs his every move).
“"Movies about movies" are tricky ground, but there are very few missteps here. The humor is pitch black, and had me laughing constantly.” —Zack Mosely, Quiet Earth
When livestock begin dying and people become mysteriously ill after gas leaks in Peace River Country in northwestern BC, a series of bombs are set off on the pipelines in reaction. "Trouble in the Peace" follows Karl Mattson, an enigmatic and reclusive cowboy, as he struggles to make sense of what’s happening to his town and the people in it. Feeling scared and alone, he embarks on a unique course of action in an attempt to save his family and unite the community.
In 2008, Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn set out on tour to make a live solo album, “Slice ‘o’ Life”. Cameras followed the man whose legacy includes songs like Wondering Where the Lions Are, If I Had a Rocket Launcher, and If A Tree Falls, as he performed to sold-out crowds in benefit concerts across North America. The filmmakers also followed Bruce to his home for candid conversations about his views on topics from religion to new parenthood. Featuring Romeo Dallaire, Sarah Harmer, and Michael Ondaatje.
If you think Amour was too sentimental, then this extraordinary documentary from Brian Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky (Frances) is just what you crave: the filmmakers spent years visiting a nursing home, charting the progress of senility, dementia, and of course death among the residents. All this narrated with bleak, wrily philosophical humor by one of their number. The film is not journalistic, but poetic, a "dirge", in the words of the filmmakers - and one you will not forget in a hurry.
"The Patron Saints was the single best film I saw during the festival run of Putty Hill." - Matt Porterfield
"Mainly, this observational realism serves the filmmakers exceedingly well, creating a humane, almost elegiac atmosphere, with occasional flashes of black humour, all of it heightened by a soundtrack of choral music that culminates in Arvo Part’s ethereal version of My Heart’s in the Highlands." Kate Taylor, Globe & Mail
"Bleak, moving, expressionistic." NOW magazine
Composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) contributes a lovely score to this visually dazzling Tang dynasty court intrigue starring Zhang Ziyi and Ge You (Farewell My Concubine). Mixing extraordinary pageantry with passionate, balletic martial arts sequences choreographed by the great Yuen Wo-ping, The Banquet is a sexed up Hamlet, a thrilling aesthetic experience in the tradition of Hero and House of the Flying Daggers.
"Highly entertaining costume melodrama on a magnificent canvas." Sean Axmaker, MSN
"Stunningly beautiful." Philip French, The Observer
"As eye-opening as it is thought-provoking… Brings new life to a classic… A true work of art." Bill Gibron, Pop Matters