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Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival Preview

The tagline for Canada’s Top Ten Festival is “10 Days, 10 Films, $10 a ticket”. But this description only hints at the delights that are on display during the first significant movie event of 2015. During the party to launch the event, we sat down with Artistic Director of TIFF Cameron Bailey, (as well as with programmers Piers Handling and Steve Gravestock), close to a faux fireplace, where, appropriately, we sipped Baileys-spiked hot chocolate. Of this year’s Canadian movies, Bailey says that “the first film that really popped out for me was Mommy, Xavier Dolan’s film, (showing January 3rd at 8:45 p.m. and January 4th at 9 p.m.) It’s a magnificent experience for anybody who loves movies because it is so cinematic, so emotional. You feel like you’re kind of just intoxicated by this movie.”

“Then, when I saw Monsoon, and especially when you see it in a theatre in 4K projection, it is just…stunning, what (filmmaker Sturla Gunnarson) has done, shooting in India.”

He remarks that, “I love Cronenberg’s film because it is just so…wicked. So nasty. So kind of cutting, and I thought it was hilarious. (Handling and Gravestock mention their appreciation of Mathieu Denis’ Corbo) And then Tu Dors Nicole actually is another one, Stéphane Lafleur’s film. It’s a really smart, just kind of sly film that has great performances, a really lovely vibe to it”.

Tu Dors Nicole screens Monday, January 5th at 8:30 p.m. and Tuesday January 6th at 3 p.m. as part of the Festival. As the release in English Canada was rather brief, this is a chance to see the film with the versatile Stéphane Lafleur, who will offer some fascinating insights into his work. We sat down with writer / director / musician / editor Lafleur after the announcement and we were thrilled to hear his personal taste: “My favourite film of the past year was Under the Skin, (a favourite of ours as well)”. He also noted the many projects that he has on the go, “I am writing a book-to-film adaption right now for a director that I enjoy. I am hoping to release an album in 2015 and to write my own script”.

We were thrilled to interview the stars of Lafleur’s film, Julianne Côté and Catherine St-Laurent during this past year’s TIFF. Of her director, St-Laurent said, in English: “(the audience is) going to embrace Stéphane’s way of telling stories, because he has his own way, (switching to French) In this film, they can let go and enter into Stéphane’s embrace, and we hope that the audience will still understand the director’s worldview. (He doesn’t) give you every single detail, because (he wants) you as an audience to react how you want. (In English) You make your own stories.

camern-bailey-top-10Furthermore, in a year with great films about music, this one stands out”. St-Laurent went on to note that: “The drum almost becomes a character. The drum is always in the back(ground) of the band, not erased, but the beat always goes on. Nicole is a bit like the drums. (In French) Nicole is the rhythm, driving the story (English) She is not the lead singer”.

Also as a part of the festival, on January 11th at 3 p.m. popular Lebanese-Canadian actor Keanu Reeves will be doing an In Conversation with…Cameron Bailey, and as fans of Speed, Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, and his latest, John Wick there should be some insights that will bring a “whoa” from the crowd. Perhaps Keanu will talk about his upcoming collaboration with horrormeister Eli Roth, Knock Knock, which is premiering at Sundance after the conversation.

As a special treat, on January 18th at Vancouver’s Cinematheque Festival, Bailey hosts an In Conversation With… event in Vancouver with former Greys Anatomy star Sandra Oh, who will be joined by filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming to talk about their Window Horses, which turned to Indiegogo Canada for funding, and is sure to be a fascinating discussion.

When attempting to define Canada’s Top Ten, Bailey notes that, “There’s not really one style or approach that you can use to define all of Canadian filmmaking. The great thing about it, the list of ten features, ten student films, ten shorts is that they’re all over the map, figuratively and literally, the aesthetic. We’ve got Canadian films shot entirely in South Korea, (Albert Shin’s In Her Place), Norway, (Andrew Huculiak’s Violent), Hollywood, (Maps to the Stars), Monsoon, shot in India, this is what Canadian filmmaking is.”

Canada’s Top Ten Festival kicks off with Monsoon, on January 2nd and runs until January 11th in Toronto, before hitting the road in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Montreal.

Photography by: Marc Levy