As an avid cinephile, one of the best things that has made settling in Canada more fun is the film festivals in Toronto.The eclectic mix of commercial, art house cinema, short films and documentaries are a glorious tribute to the country’s diversity.Toronto alone has over 50 film festivals.
Here are a few of the favourites:
- TIFF: The Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) brings September alive with over 300 groundbreaking selections from 72 countries. The hot picks go on to stir up the Oscar buzz. For the star-struck, this is your time to click selfies with the Hollywood demi-gods.
- Toronto after Dark: If squealing in fright thrills you, the world’s leading genre film fest is a good way to work out your lungs. Gasp over a chilling showcase of Cult, Horror and Sci-fi films. For discounts, get on the Zombie gear on the annual Zombie Appreciation Day.
- Hot Doc: This is North America’s biggest documentary film festival where the world’s best picks are presented. Students and senior citizens enjoy free daytime screenings.
- Open Roof Festival: Chill out before open roof screens with food trucks and music for company. Open Roof is a summer favourite you wouldn’t want to miss.
There are a host of ethnic film festivals lined up year-round. The Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (MISAFF) showcased groundbreaking South Asian selections that I had the luxury to catch up on, close to my neighbourhood. Critically acclaimed screenings like Aligarh and Waiting, enhanced with the starry presence of the filmmaker and actors, made it a blog-worthy experience!
Canadian Films: fusion or confusion?
In sharp contrast to the nation’s rich film festival history, Canadian films remain a mystery.
While American film culture redefined world cinema, Canadian film culture remains groping about a unifying identity. Not surprisingly, many Canadian film folks end up hugging Hollywood.
At best, Canada stands in as a cost-effective extension of America’s domestic market with scores of Hollywood scenes filmed here. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver often double up as American cities.
That’s no New York you see in Quantico! The popular TV Series on squabbling FBI recruits is largely shot in Montreal.
Even if a film is made by Canadians, it may not represent Canadian culture which remains amorphous and ever evolving.
Call it the law of karma for culling the distinctive First Nations culture that could have given Canada the edge!
There are steps being taken to make amends though. ImagineNATIVE is a registered charity that celebrates the best of indigenous screen content by indigenous filmmakers and media artists for a greater understanding of Canadian Aboriginal culture. Some of them have made waves on a bigger stage.
Director Elle-Maija Tailfeather’s short film, Rebel Bihttos was applauded by TIFF as one of Canada’s 2016 Top 10 short films. The story, based on her fascinating First Nations family history, went on to win the Matrix Award at the Women in Film festival. Check out excerpts of her interview here.
Click here for other popular film festivals in Toronto lined-up for this fall and winter.
If you are a cinephile like me, the 2016 TIFF festival trailer below promises a very rivetting September.