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Canadian films shine on their home turff at TIFF

With over 350 films being screened and over 2000 industry professionals in attendance, the Toronto International Film Festival is a crowded but important launching pad for the best new films from Canada’s prolific film industry.

In the past, all Canadian films were relegated to the Perspective Canada section, which provided a strong promotional platform but also was criticized by many in the Canadian film industry as a kind of “film ghetto”. This year, the Festival has decided to “desegregate” the participating Canadian films and include them in all Festival sections, while devising a new wholly Canadian section to sample the latest cinematic wares from the key production centers of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

The Festival is showcasing 20 new feature films, most making their world or international premieres at the Festival, along with a healthy number of short films and international co-productions with Canada as a major partner.

Among the Canadian feature highlights are: Childstar, a scathing comedy of the local film industry written and directed by one of Canada’s most popular directors Don McKellar; Blood, a filmed adaptation of a popular stage play about the sexual interplay between a prostitute and her client, directed by Toronto-based Jerry Ciccoritti; Acapulco Gold, a hilarious satire on celebrity worship whose premise is that Elvis Presley is alive and well and living in Mexico, directed by Quebec director Andre Fourcier; Le Gout Des Jeunes Filles (On The Verge Of A Fever), a filmed adaptation of a popular novel based in Haiti in the 1970s, directed by John L’Ecuyer; the surrealistic drama The Limb Salesman, which introduces first time director Anais Granofsky; and the outrageous comedy Phil The Alien, an inventive comedy about an alien invasion of a small Ontario town, written and directed by Rob Stefaniuk.

Prominent co-production that feature major Canadian participation include Festival opener Being Julia (directed by Istvan Szabo); Clean, the Cannes award winning film by French director Olivier Assayas; CQ2, the directorial debut of actress Carole Laure; UK director John Duigan’s historical epic Head In The Clouds starring Charlize Theron and Penelope Cruz; Plastic Flowers, a Chinese-Canadian co-production written and directed by Lu Wingjian; artist provocateur Bruce La Bruce’s outrageous take on international terrorism (by angry German drag queens) The Raspberry Reich; and the Festival closer Jiminy Glick in Lalawood, starring Martin Short as the obese television interviewer whose outlandish behavior makes John Waters look tame.

The Festival is also presenting the first retrospective of the Quebec documentarian Pierre Perrault, whose poetic documentaries of the 1960s and 1970s have influenced a whole generation of documentarty filmmakers who have experimented with a mix of objective truth and subjective emotion.

Sandy Mandelberger, Industry Editor

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