The Canada First program at the 2018 Toronto International Film Fest is surprising in that it tells stories outside Canadian borders as much as inside them.
“I think it’s a very healthy sign,” said Festival Director Piers Handling in a recent interview with the Canadian Press, “that they’re moving up, attracting international talent, playing within that pool of people, and I still think making films that are extremely Canadian in terms of their subject matter. At the end of the day, it’s a Canadian sensibility that always comes into play here.”
Here are some of the Canadian films making waves at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
Toronto director Rob Stefaniuk’s silly satire about a loser rock band, The Winners, on the edge of making it big. Only problem is, their greatest charm is the fact that they are one by one turning into vampires. The film features plenty of rocker cameos (e.g., Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop) and though it doesn’t quite pack the punch it might, it’s picked up healthy distribution deals at TIFF and built in street cred, because, well, who doesn’t want to see a rock n’ roll comedy about vampires?
Director Atom Egoyan’s latest stars Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson as a middle-aged couple in mid-life crisis. The affluent couple fall apart as Julianne Moore suspects her husband of infidelity and hires a prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him.
Cooking with Stella
Directed by Dilip Mehta (with screenplay co-written with Oscar nominated Water director Deepa Mehta), Cooking with Stella follows a young Canadian couple (Don McKellar and Lisa Ray) as they take up a diplomatic posting in New Delhi and navigate the topsy turvy waters of their new culture with good-natured but conniving servants, and a class system that confounds them. McKellar plays an off-duty chef who hires his new cook to be his Indian cooking guru — the scene stealing Seema Biswas as Stella. Hilarity and glorious cooking ensues.
Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel
Little surprise that there would be buzz surrounding this film. The documentary, directed by Brigitte Berman keeps it clean and tells of the many remarkable accomplishments of the octogenarian porn king, besides dating twins that are one quarter his age. Turns out he is also lauded as a civil rights activist, publisher of ground-breaking fiction, and legislative wunderkind.
The Young Victoria
Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) stars as the young monarch with Rupert Friend as the endearingly awkward Albert in a character drama about the years leading up to her coronation and the turbulent early years of her reign. The period drama has few surprises, but is solidly directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.) who hopefully will have a lot more fun with his next offering.