The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival is the first full edition since the Covid pandemic premiered in 2020. The event features some of the best films from all over the world. In fact, 26 of these movies are Canadian films debuting at the prestigious festival. Many of the Canadian films feature talent both on and off screen that audiences are familiar with such as: Winnipeg Director, Sean Garrity (Lucid), Schitt’s Creek alumni, Emily Hampshire, the fabulous Kathleen Turner, Sarah Gadon (All My Puny Sorrows & True Detective), basketball ball God LeBron James, Toronto’s favourite son Drake, the much celebrated Director Clement Virgo and many other talented artists. Below are a plethora of the films which truly represent the various flavours that TIFF has to serve.
This powerful hockey documentary directed by Hubert Davis, Executive Produced by NBA super star LeBron James and Canadian music icon Drake, feels incredibly relevant as Hockey Canada has officially been included in the “Me Too” movement. Recently, Hockey Canada is under intense fire for how the organization handled allegations of sexual assault by former players and the funds it used to settle related lawsuits. In Black Ice, Davis examines anti-Black racism now and throughout hockey history while also reflecting upon century-old trailblazers in Canada like the Coloured Hockey League. This is a documentary worth watching whether you’re a a die hard hockey lover or simply a fan of justice.
THE END OF SEX
This romcom is directed by Sean Garrity and stars Jonas Chernick who also penned the script. The film’s female lead is played by Schitt’s Creek fan favourite Emily Hampshire. The story isn’t new but with Garrity’s expert direction complemented by Chernick and Hampshire’s exquisite comic timing, they reinvigorate a tired genre. The film’s plot revolves around parents sending their DNA to summer camp, which leads mom and dad to embark on a series of adventures trying to add some extra hot spice to their relationship or face the undoing of their loving family. Hampshire and Chernick have previously acted together in An Awkward Sexual Relationship and it shows. In some ways it’s difficult to believe they aren’t actually married when the camera’s not rolling. This film truly reveals their wonderful comedic attributes. If you want to see a fantastic romantic comedy with world class performances this film is a must.
THE SWEARING JAR
The Swearing Jar focuses on Carey, a high-school music teacher who throws a birthday concert for her husband Simon, making them reminisce about their shared past. Through comedy, music and memory, the film will chart Carey and Simon’s relationship, the birth of their child and the lie that threatens to blow it all up! Director Lindsay MacKay’s follow-up to Wet Bum examines the issues of love, forgiveness, and self-recrimination as a newly married woman realizes love can happen regardless of circumstance and invariably complicating what should be straightforward. The film which stars Adelaide Clemens, Patrick J. Adams, Douglas Smith and Kathleen Turner was written by Kate Hewlett, who adapts her play of the same name.
NORTH OF NORMAL
Based on her memoir, North Of Normal follows author Cea Sunrise Person’s unconventional childhood in the Canadian wilderness, her complex relationship with her perpetually pot-smoking teen mom and her path to a version of normalcy on the runways of Paris.
Starring in the Carly Stone-directed drama are Sarah Gadon (Alias Grace), newcomer Amanda Fix, Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting), newcomer River Price-Maenpaa, James D’Arcy (Avengers: Endgame) and Benedict Samuel (Gotham). This is the second feature film by director Carly Stone. True Detective and Dracula Untold actress Gadon shared with Deadline: “Cea’s memoir was gripping and I knew Carly Stone was the perfect director to bring her story to screen. She pulled together a cast of talented newcomers and it was an honour to work alongside a team of brilliant women.”
Watching Gadon flex her tremendously well-toned acting muscle in North of Normal is enough reason to circle this on your must see TIFF calendar.
Clement Virgo’s latest feature, Brother is based on the award-winning novel by David Chariandy. The film follows two Jamaican-Canadian brothers (played by Lamar Johnson and Aaron Pierre) whose aspirations are destroyed by the violent reality of Scarborough in the 90s. Virgo is one of Canada’s great national treasures. He’s directed hit shows like Billions, The Get Down, Empire, The Wire, The L Word and American Crime. In 2015, he helmed and co-wrote a six-part miniseries adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes which debuted with record-breaking numbers on the CBC in Canada and BET in the U.S. “I feel a deeply personal connection to David Chariandy’s novel, Brother, and the characters who populate that world,” Virgo said in a news release in 2021. For fans of the acclaimed artist, Brother seems to have the same potential as his other works.
SOMETHING YOU SAID LAST NIGHT
This drama from from Canadian-Italian Trans Femme filmmaker Luis De Filippis follows Ren, a trans woman in her mid-twenties who takes a beach vacation with her family to Florida. Over the course of a week we see how their family is tested and unravels, revealing hidden struggles that any person with a family can relate to.
Luis De Filippis is a Canadian film director and screenwriter from Toronto, Ontario. They are most noted for their 2017 short film For Nonna Anna, which was a Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Live Action Short Drama at the 7th Canadian Screen Awards in 2019. De Filippis, who identifies as non-binary and uses gender neutral pronouns, was also the winner of the Emerging Canadian Artist award at the 2018 Inside Out Film and Video Festival. Something You Said Last Night certainly perked my interest and with its unique point of view, seems like a film worth standing in a long line for.
BONES OF CROWS
Marie Clement, is a Canadian Métis playwright, performer, director, producer and screenwriter. This multi-talented artist recently directed the dramatic psychological all encompassing feature film, Bones of Crows. The film is told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch Aline Spears as she survives Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism and sexual abuse. The feature unfolds over one hundred years with a cumulative force that propels us into the future. The film is Executive Produced by Trish Dolman, Christine Haebler and stars Sam Grana, If you’re interested in how First Nations history has become a hot topic this film is deep dive into history worth checking out.
Alberta Writer-director Graham Foy’s feature debut is an atmospheric examination of camaraderie, grief and internalized emotional crises as experienced by two teens in small-town Alberta. The film shifts from realism to almost a dream state at times. Graham’s film is an interesting close-up of adolescence, alienation, grief and wonder. Colton (Marcel T. Jiménez) and Kyle (Jackson Sluiter) are best friends. With all of the time in the world, they happily roam their small town killing time engaged in stupid acts only the adolescent brain can explain: destroying an old TV, spray-painting graffiti under a train bridge, and skateboarding down a bumpy dirt slope. When a tragic accident takes Kyle away, Colton is overwhelmed. He returns to their old haunts, as if he’s hoping to somehow feel his friend’s presence. The community attempts to reach out, but grief seems to have rendered Colton mute. Foy puts forth an excellent effort in his first feature and I can’t wait to see what this visionary directs next. He is certainly a talent on the rise.
TIFF 2022 delivers many important and topical Canadian films. Audiences should look forward to viewing brilliant cinema filled with laughs, psychological tension, horror, curiosity and just some plain old great storytelling with actors and directors at the top of their game. I know I’ll be there.