Canadian programming at TIFF promises great variety

(Canscene) — In September, watch for an eagerly awaited second production from the team that brought us Atanarjuat — the Fast Runner, an opportunity to see the first feature directed by multitalented actress Sarah Polley, a new documentary from Alan King marking his 50th year as a film maker. and another offbeat original from the ever-surprising Guy Maddin.

These are among the Canadian productions awaiting audiences at the 31st Toronto International Film Festival. A total of 81 of them scheduled to date were announced at a media conference on July 18 with more Canadian films and films from other sources to be announced at later dates.

As previously announced, expectations for the Kunuk-Cohn The Journals of Knud Rasmussen are high considering the standard these two collaborators set with Atanarjuat — the Fast Runner. The production which will be shown at TIFF’s opening night gala has also been snapped up for showing at Toronto’s imagiNATIVE Aboriginal festival of the arts in October.

Sarah Polley, now an international star, has come a long way from her early successes as a Canadian child performer, and her appearances in features filmed in both Canada and the USA and directing of number of short films is now complimented with her first feature as a director. Away From Her starring Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie is described as a moving study of separation between two elderly married people as the wife subsides into total memory loss.

Sarah Polley
Sarah Polley breaks new ground with her first full-length feature

A King half century
Canada’s Alan King who in recent years has brought two outstanding documentaries to the festival — Dying at Grace and Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company changes pace from terminal illness and senility to the rough and tumble of four black teenage Canadians trying to come to grips with the educational system in a Toronto suburb. EMPz 4 LIFE celebrates King’s 50 years as one of the world’s leading film makers.

Festival audiences expect nothing less that the surprising from Guy Maddin and it would appear he’ll live up to his reputation when Brand Upon the Brain premieres. A silent film with live music composed by Jason Staczek, the accompaniment will include musicians, a castrato, two foley artisrs and a narrator! Described as an expressionist horror movie, teen detective serial and Grand Guignol,” the film is said to be based on Maddin’s childhood reminiscences.

Since my main reason for visiting TIFF is concern for the future of the Canadian film industry I’ll also be watching documentaries like Remembering Arthur, Radiant City and L’Esprit des Lieux.

And then, of course, there’s the tribute to the genius of Norman McLaren who as far back as the 1940s, produced animated shorts with worldwide impact.

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