One of three Canadian films screening their world premiere in Special Presentations (alongside Canadian features Born to be Blue by director Robert Budreau and Guy Edoin’s Ville-Marie), Into the Forest—adapted from the novel by Jean Hegland—imagines a dystopic America in its final days, with stars Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood hanging on at the centre of its collapse.
The story of two sisters separated from society and having come of age in the remote woods, Into the Forest follows Nell (Page) and Eva (Wood) through their evolving relationship with the land they live off of and the people they depend on—each other.
For audiences familiar with Hegland’s futuristic drama, expect the film, like its predecessor, to deliver nerve clenching drama delivered by way of a cautionary tale—more poignant now, even, than when the book was first published in 1996.
Picture it: a world where society is crumbling, not because of war, but simply because resources such as electricity and gas having run dry. Not quite so difficult a tomorrow to envision given that water scarcity already affects every continent—roughly 1.2 billion people—according to The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, with that number projected to increase by 500 million people in the near future.
No stranger to book adaptations, Canadian director Patricia Rozema—known for films including Mansfield Park, adapted from Jane Austen’s classic novel, and the Emmy-nominated miniseries Grey Gardens—employs her signature visual luminosity, and ability to weave myth, to create a film that promises to be a highlight of the festival.
Sleep softly spirit of earth
as the days and nights join hands
when everything becomes one thing
– The Dead Poet, Al Purdy
Like so many Canadians, we remember studying the works of Al Purdy in school. With emotional insight and intelligence, director Brian D. Johnson gathers those memories—the sum of our country’s collective connection to Purdy—and pays celebratory tribute to Canada’s unofficial poet laureate.
Purdy was born in 1918, in Wooler, Ontario. He began writing by the age of thirteen, and would see his first collection of poems published by his mid-twenties. His oeuvre, spanning across 55 years, includes over thirty books of poetry, a novel, two volumes of memoirs, and four book of correspondence with Canadian literary greats the likes of Margaret Lawrence.
Al Purdy was Here takes the audience through this long career, tracking Purdy’s journey back to his humble beginnings, through poverty and failure, on towards national fame and critical acclaim, while examining the poets legacy—both as an artist and a man.
For you proud Canadians out there, the list of artists featured in the film is something to raise a pint of beer to; ranging from Leonard Cohen to Gord Downie and Margaret Atwood to Michael Ondaatje, the documentary is chock-a-block with Canadian cultural icons.
It’s been 15 years since Purdy passed, and as Johnson’s engaging documentary demonstrates, the late great poet’s words resonate as deeply now as when they did when first penned. As his tombstone reads, Purdy is Canada’s “Voice of the Land.”
Over the last few years, the growing popular interest in documentary films has led the way to everything from widely adopted conspiracy theories (Fahrenheit 9/11) to the arrest of suspected criminals (The Jinx) to paradigm shifts in social consciousness (An Inconvenient Truth). This year, the official hot-button pusher at TIFF comes in the form of This Changes Everything.
The product of a collaboration between Canada’s leftist power couple, journalist and filmmaker Avi Lewis and author Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything marks the third project Lewis has worked on with Klein, including The Take (2004) and The Shock Doctrine (2007), and the second film with Lewis behind the camera as director.
Inspired by Klein controversial non-fiction best seller, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate—ranked amongst The New York Times “100 Notable Books of the Year” in 2014–Lewis uses the camera lens to turn attention onto the free-market in order to expose the connection between capitalism and climate change.
By the end of this film—shot over four years, across 211 days, in nine countries and five continents around the world—audiences will gauge the weight and expanse of the myths stalling change in the climate debate, not only through Klein’s own passionate and informed narration, but through portraits of the communities at the front lines of the debate.
The stellar second feature by Quebec filmmaker Anne Émond, Our Loved Ones (Les êtres chers) is a drama seeped in legacy and family tragedy.
At the centre of the narrative are actors Maxim Gaudette, in the role of David, and this year’s TIFF Rising Star Karelle Tremblay playing his daughter, Laurence. A man internally displaced since the tragic and mysterious death of his father, David wears the pain of his past, unknowingly passing on the weight of his emotional history onto an observant Laurence.
As seen in her award-winning debut, Nuit #1, which saw the director take home the Best Canadian Feature Film award at TIFF in 2011, Émond is a filmmaker with a passion for evocative storytelling and a sensitivity behind the camera that nurtures delicate and melancholic moments on screen.
Shot in the Bas-du-Fleuve region of Quebec (the director’s hometown), Montreal and Barcelona, the film is as visually beautiful and melancholy as its story. Throw in some Eliot Smith and it’s no wonder we recommend watching this film on a full stomach with a box of tissues.
Any film by Bruce MacDonald is a must-see for us. As a director with the rare ability to wield various genres with originality and enthusiasm—simply look at the leap in plot between the mockumentary Hard Core Logo and the psychological zombie thriller Ponty Pool for proof—how can we not pledge allegiance to a Canadian filmmaker of McDonald’s ilk?
This time around, McDonald flexes his talent for making good old-fashion horror pictures, and returns to the chilling styles that made Ponty Pool a cult classic among zombie-addicted cinephiles.
The film is Hellions, and it stars Degrassi: The Next Generation’s Chloe Rose, all grown up and looking just the right balance of eye-lined rebel and girl-next-door for modern horror. The catalyst for action, or more, blood shed, Rose’s character Dora knocks upon hell’s door when she accidently becomes pregnant. The scares—and in Dora’s case, the torment—come in the form of creepily costumed trick-or-treaters that have their eyes on her belly, and more in their bags than bonbons.
With October around the corner, Hellions is the perfect segue from summer’s action blockbusters to bone chilling Halloween horror. Tick or treat TIFF goers?