Thursday, July 14, 2011

Canadian Cinema (Summer 2011)

It's time to get patriotic over here at Toronto Film Review as I attempt to provide an overview of Canadian cinema – an idea sparked by reading Tom McSorley’s contribution in the International Film Guide 2011 – by grouping together the various elements that constitute it. The four different categories that will be explored are: the first-tier directors, which are the ones that have the most international recognition; the second-tier directors, which are accomplished filmmakers who have yet to cross the border; the directors of short-films; and Québécois cinema.

In Toronto, in anticipation for TIFF 2011 one cannot help but think of the projects that our directors are working on for possible nominees for the Opening Gala and Canada First! so from this ‘first-tier’ category those who have completed films or have ones in production include David Cronenberg, Deepa Mehta, Guy Maddin, Bruce McDonald and Don Shebib. Peter Mettler is editing a new film. Atom Egoyan is now preparing an opera. For the ‘second-tier’ directors, my point of reference is Adam Nayman’s piece in Montage where he discusses with some filmmakers their possible dream projects. The directors on this list include Carl Bessai, Kari Skoglang, Lynne Stopkewich, Ingrid Verninger, David Weaver, David Christensen and Jerry Cioccritti. I would also include here Sarah Polley, Ron Mann, Michael Dowse, Simon Ennis, Jason Eisener, John Greyson, Patricia Rozema, Philip Hoffman, Vincenzo Natali, Sook-Yin Lee, Charles Officer, and Lee Demarbre. Other note-worthy talents that have been highlighted in Cinema Scope include Bruce LaBruce, Daniel Cockburn and Isabelle Lavigne. Pertaining to short films (and some of the directors have gone on to features) there is the First Generation school, with directors from both Ryerson and York, which includes Kazik Radwanski, Nicolás Pereda (who currently has a retrospective at the Anthology Film Archives), Chris Chong Chan Fui, Igor Drljaca, Shervin Kermani, and the Vancouver-based Antoine Bourges (who is completing his much-anticipated first full-length feature). These projects in waiting and the short-film directors getting ready for their first full-length feature just goes to show the bustling energy under the radar that should be ready to surface soon.

I don’t think people can talk about Québécois cinema without first acknowledging the important role Cinéma Beaubien plays in projecting their films as well that of the Cinémathèque québécoise; and there is also the Québécois film magazine 24 Images that continuously writes about and supports these filmmakers. In the new issue of 24 Images the feature is Renouveau du Cinema Québécois where they discuss the multifaceted subject of where their cinema is today and, though my attempt is not to convey its complexities here, I want to highlight Jean-Pierre Sirois-Trahan contribution (he did the feature on Québécois cinema in Cahiers) who writes about the different types of filmmakers. There is the “Québec’s New Wave” of the 1990s: Denis Villeneuve, André Turpin, Arto Paragamian and François Girard. The new auteurs of the 2000s: Denis Côté (who in the issue comments about his Director of Photography and Editor), Maxime Giroux (whose Jo pour Jonathan everyone’s talking about), Rafaël Ouellet, Stéphane Lafleur, Myriam Verreault and Henry Bernadet. While there are outsiders like Sophie Deraspe and Xavier Dolan who make “a cinema more artist.” While others still include Yves-Christian Fournier, Simon Galiero, Simon Lavoie, Simon Sauvé, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette and Jacob Tierney. There are also the COOP Video de Montréal filmmakers like Bernard Émond, Catherine Martin and Robert Morin. There were some Québec short films that were brought to Toronto this summer that were part of the program Québéc Gold. It is worth restating that Donigan Cumming’s Too Many Things and Theodore Ushev’s Lipsett Diaries are both masterpieces. And after all of that if there is one Québécois director that I have missed and that I think is making some of the most fantastic films (C.R.A.Z.Y., The Young Victoria) in the entire country it is Jean-Marc Vallée whose new film Café de flore I am especially looking forward to see. - David Davidson

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