My Winnipeg

Director Guy Maddin
Year 2007
Run Time 80min
Genre Comedy, Documentary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
The geographical centre of North America and the birthplace of director Guy Maddin, Winnipeg is the frosty and mysterious star of this (self-described) “docu-fantasia.” A hypnotic love letter to his hometown, My Winnipeg is equal parts historical chronicle and personal portrait, seamlessly weaving real facts with wild fiction.

What is real and what is fantasy is left up to the viewer to sort out, but don’t be fooled by Maddin’s fantastical approach — some of the most shocking stories in My Winnipeg are the true ones! Shot in Maddin’s signature black-and-white style and narrated by the director, the film is funny, touching and mesmerizing.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching a Guy Maddin film, this delightfully strange ode to a surprisingly fascinating Canadian city is a great place to start.

My Winnipeg won the Toronto International Film Festival’s award for Best Canadian Feature and the Toronto Film Critics’ Association Award for Best Canadian Film.

Director

Guy Maddin

Writers

Guy Maddin, George Toles

Cast

Darcy Fehr, Ann Savage, Louis Negin

Producers

Michael Burns, Phyllis Laing, Guy Maddin, Jody Shapiro

Genres

Comedy, Documentary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Interests

Arts and Culture, Biography, Cult & Offbeat Cinema

Original Language

English

Le confessionnal (The Confessional)

Director Robert Lepage
Year 1995
Run Time 100min
Genre Drama, Thriller
This award-winning feature-film debut by Robert Lepage is a Hitchcockian mystery set in Quebec City, both in the present (circa 1989) and in 1952, when Alfred Hitcock’s I Confess was filming on location.

Unfolding in flashbacks between the past and the present, the film follows the story of an adopted man on a search for his true identity, as recounted by his mother to a priest in a private confessional. Family secrets are on the line, blurred by the filming of I Confess. Further, lies and intrigue are clouding the air with mystery — and the foreshadowed sparks of the Quiet Revolution are growing louder.

Winner of the Genie for Best Film, Best Director and several others.

Director

Robert Lepage

Writer

Robert Lepage

Cast

Lothaire Bluteau, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patrick Goyette

Producers

Philippe Carcassonne, David Puttnam, Denise Robert

Genres

Drama, Thriller

Interests

Arts and Culture, Family Relationships

Original Language

French

Language Version

EN Subtitles

Jésus de Montréal (Jesus of Montreal)

Director Denys Arcand
Year 1989
Run Time 120min
Genre Drama
The Passion Play has been a success for more than 40 years at a Montreal church, but the old-fashioned staging has made modern audiences restless. When the priest in charge hires a young troupe of actors to stage a revised and more inventive version, things don’t go exactly as planned.

Combining religion and some unconventional theories about Jesus, the troupe’s work begins to ruffle some feathers in the Catholic church, even as the life of main actor Daniel (Bluteau) starts to mirror the Messiah’s journey in unexpected and poignant ways.

Told with sharp humour and heart, the film received critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including the Genie for Best Picture and the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Director

Denys Arcand

Writer

Denys Arcand

Cast

Lothaire Bluteau, Catherine Wilkening, Johanne-Marie Tremblay, Rémy Girard, Gilles Pelletier

Producers

Roger Frappier, Pierre Gendron

Genre

Drama

Interests

Arts and Culture, Classics

Original Language

French

Language Versions

EN Subtitles, FR CC

waydowntown

Director Gary Burns
Year 2000
Run Time 87min
Genre Comedy
In the maze-like downtown core of Calgary, four young office workers inhabit a world full of interconnected skywalks between offices, apartment buildings, food courts and malls – making it possible, or perhaps even easy, to never go outside.

But when the pals decide to make a bet about who can stay indoors the longest, they each start reaching their breaking points in increasingly funny and unexpected ways.

As the bet unravels, the desire for a breath of fresh air brings loyalties, values and relationships under highly comic scrutiny.

Waydowntown won Best Canadian Film at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for four Canadian Comedy Awards.

“A smart, sardonic satire.” – Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Director

Gary Burns

Calgary-born writer and director Burns’ film credits include Kitchen Party, featuring Scott Speedman in his first starring role, The Suburbanators and Radiant City, which won the Genie Award for Best Documentary. Burns co-directed The Future is Now!, and most recently wrote and directed Man Running, and produced Circle of Steel.

Writers

Gary Burns, James Martin

Cast

Fab Filippo, Don McKellar, Mayra Delver, Gordon Currie

Producers

Gary Burns, Shirley Vercruysse

Genre

Comedy

Interest

Cult & Offbeat Cinema

Original Language

English

Language Version

EN CC

Defendor

Director Peter Stebbings
Year 2009
Run Time 101min
Genre Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama
By day, Arthur Poppington (Harrelson) works at a construction site; by night, he is the mighty Defendor, a costumed vigilante who keeps Hamilton safe from his arch nemesis, Captain Industry.

Outfitted in a homemade costume, Defendor may not have special powers, but he is nonetheless dedicated to protecting the streets and fighting crime. He battles a corrupt cop (Koteas), befriends the tough and streetwise Kat (Dennings) and schemes to bring down a local mob boss, all while a court-appointed psychiatrist (Oh) tries to get to the bottom of his conviction that he is, in fact, a superhero.

Turning the superhero genre on its head, Defendor is a bittersweet and emotionally affecting take on our comic book–obsessed culture.

Director

Peter Stebbings

Stebbings’ directorial debut was Defendor, and his second film, Empire of Dirt, was nominated for five CSAs. As an actor, his numerous credits include Citizen Duane, The Borgias, Bates Motel, Counting for Thunder and his newest film Percy Vs Goliath. He recently directed The Disappearance, which garnered four CSAs, and episodes of Frankie Drake Mysteries, The Sounds, and Killjoys. He is currently writing and directing the feature Running with Monsters.

Writer

Peter Stebbings

Cast

Woody Harrelson, Kat Dennings, Sandra Oh, Elias Koteas

Producer

Nicholas Tabarrok

Genres

Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Interests

Arts and Culture, Cult & Offbeat Cinema

Original Language

English

Language Versions

EN CC, FR Dub

Last Night

Director Don McKellar
Year 1998
Run Time 95min
Genre Comedy, Drama
As the year 2000 drew near, paranoia around “Y2K” was rampant. Don McKellar responded to the anxiety around potential computer meltdowns by coming up with this witty and dystopic film. As the film begins, the last day of 1999 has truly become the “last night.” The apocalypse is here: Humanity will die at midnight. As rioting and looting begin to take place in Toronto, disparate groups of people prepare to meet their fate. A young architect (McKellar) plans to go out solo, while his best friend (Rennie) attempts to have as many sexual conquests as possible. When the architect meets a stranded young woman (Oh) who can’t f ind her husband (Cronenberg), a strange and intense relationship quickly develops.

Last Night received 13 Genie nominations, winning Best Actress (Oh), Best Supporting Actor (Rennie) and the Claude Jutra Award for the direction of a first feature film (McKellar). The film also won the Prix de la jeunesse at the Cannes film festival.

Director

Don McKellar

McKellar is a prolific filmmaker and actor whose work has garnered numerous awards. He wrote Highway 61, The Red Violin and Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, and wrote, directed and starred in Last Night (which won the Prix de la jeunesse at the Cannes film festival), and Childstar, and has directed several other films. He recently starred in Meditation Park, Crimes of the Future, and directed Sensitive Skin. Currently, he is writing episodes for Park Chan-wook’s The Sympathizer, which he is also executive producing.

Writer

Don McKellar

Cast

Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, David Cronenberg, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley

Producers

Caroline Benjo, Carole Scotta, Niv Fichman, Daniel Iron

Genres

Comedy, Drama

Interests

Classics, Cult & Offbeat Cinema, Strong Female Leads

Original Language

English

Language Versions

EN CC, FR Dub

  • Own Voice

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Directors Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot/Sámi), Kathleen Hepburn
Year 2019
Run Time 105min
Genre Drama

Two Indigenous women from vastly different backgrounds find their worlds colliding on an East Vancouver sidewalk when domestic violence forces one of them, a pregnant teen named Rosie (Violet Nelson), to flee her home.

Àila (Tailfeathers) swiftly offers her shelter, and as their intimate yet challenging encounter develops, the women weave a fragile bond, and must face their own unique struggles with the complexities of motherhood, class, race, and the ongoing legacy of colonialism.

Directors

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot/Sámi), Kathleen Hepburn

Writers

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot/Sámi), Kathleen Hepburn

Cast

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot/Sámi), Violet Nelson (Kwakwakaʼwakw)

Producers

Alan Milligan, Tyler Hagan, Lori Lozinski

Genre

Drama

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Female Filmmaker, Indigenous Filmmaker

Original Language

English

Language Version

EN CC

  • Own Voice

Meditation Park

Director Mina Shum
Year 2017
Run Time 94min
Genre Drama

Meditation Park opens with Maria (Cheng Pei Pei), the matriarch of a Chinese-Canadian family, hosting a birthday celebration for her workaholic husband, Bing, (Tzi Ma), along with her similarly overworked daughter (Sandra Oh in a brilliant performance) and her own family.

Maria clearly reveres Bing and the sacrifices he has made for their family – so when she discovers another woman’s panties in his pocket, she's forced to confront the harsh reality that her world may not be what it seemed.

As Maria wrestles with what to do about her discovery, she befriends a group of local eccentrics and a grumpy neighbour (Don McKellar). Maria’s journey of self-discovery soon teaches her everyone’s lives are more complicated than she has been led to believe.

“Shum mines her favourite theme – immigrant experience in Canada – in what seems at first to be a gentle slice of life but eventually develops a powerful emotional force.” – Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine
 
 

Director

Mina Shum

Vancouver-based Shum is best-known for her feature films Double Happiness and Meditation Park, both starring Sandra Oh. Her documentary Ninth Floor was on TIFF’s 2015 list of Canada’s top ten films. Other features include Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity; and Drive, She Said. Most recently, she has directed episodes of Frankie Drake Mysteries, Murdoch Mysteries and October Faction. She is currently directing the feature One (Nine).

Writer

Mina Shum

Cast

Tzi Ma, Pei-Pei Cheng, Sandra Oh

Producers

Raymond Massey II, Mina Shum, Stephen Hegyes

Genre

Drama

Interests

BIPOC Stories, ESL, Female Filmmaker, Newcomer Stories, Strong Female Leads

Original Language

English

  • Own Voice

Black Cop

Director Cory Bowles
Year 2017
Run Time 91min
Genre Drama

In a powerhouse lead performance, Ronnie Rowe Jr. plays the titular Halifax police officer in Black Cop. Frustrated with the community and the system he serves, this cop lashes out, using the badge to harass the privileged white citizens on his patrol. 

Flipping the script in ways both humorous and disturbing, Cory Bowles’ feature debut is a stylistically brazen and morally ambiguous exploration of race, power and policing.

The film won 10 awards at film festivals around the world, and the John Dunning Discovery Award at the CSAs.

Director

Cory Bowles

Writer

Cory Bowles

Cast

Sebastien Labelle, Ronnie Rowe, Sophia Walker

Producer

Aaron Horton

Genre

Drama

Interests

BIPOC Stories, Discrimination, Social Justice & Politics

Original Language

English

Stay the Night

Director Renuka Jeyapalan
Year 2022
Run Time 94min
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Grace (Bang) and Carter (Scarpellino) are both having a rough night. Carter, a centre for the Tampa Bay Lightning, has just been told by his coach that he’s being demoted to the minor leagues, and he’s desperately hoping to get traded. Meanwhile, after being passed over for a promotion then ditched by her roommate and exiled from her apartment, Grace is forced into a night out against her will. When the two cross paths, they seem to be exactly what the other needs, and they set out on an all-night journey through downtown Toronto.

Driven by amazing chemistry between the two leads, Stay the Night is a quiet and touching adventure that showcases both the beauty and the loneliness of Canada’s biggest city.

“A modern-day Before Sunrise” – Chris Knight, The National Post

Director

Renuka Jeyapalan

Writer

Renuka Jeyapalan

Cast

Joe Scarpellino, Andrea Bang

Producers

Glenn Cockburn, Brian Robertson

Genres

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Interest

Female Filmmaker

Original Language

English