TIFF’s Canadian lineup unveiled

From a film starring the late Cory Monteith to animal costumes, Barry Hertz checks out the CanCon

A still from The Animal Project. (Punk Films Inc.)

After spending weeks slowly doling out information about the big Hollywood and foreign films coming to the Toronto International Film Festival, organizers on Wednesday revealed which homegrown projects would be unspooling this September. From Quebec’s own enfant terrible Xavier Dolan to the late Cory Monteith, this year’s slate promises something for nearly every demographic—even those who typically shy away from made-in-Canada productions.

Read on for a quick run-down of this year’s CanCon lineup:

All the Wrong Reasons: One of the last films made before his death at age 31, Glee star Cory Monteith stars in this drama about a retail worker who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Halifax-shot film also features fellow Canadians Kevin Zegers and Karine Vanasse, though it will be Monteith’s role that will bring out the crowds.

The Animal Project: Ingrid Veninger, Toronto’s reigning queen of DIY cinema, comes to TIFF with this eccentric-sounding film about a cast of characters who live their days dressed in furry animal suits. Toronto’s Aaron Poole is the acting teacher who attempts to coax the furries out of their comfort zones. If nothing else, the film will inspire plenty of cheap “let the fur fly” headlines.

Enemy: From acclaimed director and Genie winner (if that honour counts for anything in these Canadian Screen Award days) Denis Villeneuve comes this highly anticipated psychological thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The Toronto-shot picture follows one man’s obsession after he spots his supposed double. The film, Villeneuve’s first since Incendies, features current Canadian It-Girl Sarah Gadon, and pairs nicely with director Richard Ayoade’s similarly themed TIFF selection, The Double.

The F Word: Michael Dowse, the writer-director behind last year’s surprise hit Goon, leaves the blood on the ice to focus on a pseudo-romance in this comedy. Starring TIFF 2013 MVP Daniel Radcliffe (who also stars in the fest’s Horns and Kill Your Darlings), the film also features two rising stars of New York City’s young acting circle, Zoe Kazan and Adam Driver.

The Husband: The prolific Bruce McDonald returns to TIFF with this potentially tongue-wagging drama about a wife’s extramarital affair with a 14-year-old boy. Told from the husband’s perspective, the film should ignite a debate or two as Alissa Nutting’s similarly themed novel, Tampa, which is currently burning up the bestseller list.

Sarah Prefers to Run: While it lacks a big-name star, director Chloe Robichaud’s feature-length debut does have an excellent pedigree, having been the only Canadian film to screen at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The drama, about the stark choices a young Quebec athlete must make in order to achieve her running dreams, played to great acclaim on the Croisette.

Tom at the Farm: Xavier Dolan, Quebec’s reigning bad-boy auteur, comes to TIFF with his fourth film in as many years, a drama focusing on a young gay man’s relationship to his lover’s in-the-dark family.

Watermark: The team behind the 2006 documentary Manufactured Landscapes—director Jennifer Baichwal and photographer/subject Edward Burtynsky—team up again for this globe-trotting film about humanity’s relationship with that most precious of substances: water. Filmed in 5K ultra-high definition, the doc is a must-see big-screen experience.

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