TIFF announces Canada's top ten films of 2013

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      The Toronto International Film Festival has unveiled the top 10 Canadian features and short films for the 13th annual Canada's Top Ten Film Festival.

      This year's Vancouver International Film Festival screened several of the selections, including Gabrielle, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm), Vic et Flo ont vu un ours (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear), and Sarah préfère la course (Sarah Prefers to Run), for which director Chloé Robichaud won the 18th annual Women in Film and Television Artistic Merit Award at VIFF.

      The Vancouver Jewish Film Festival screened Alan Zweig's documentary When Jews Were Funny while Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky's documentary Watermark had a regular theatrical run in Vancouver after being screened at VIFF.

      Hollywood stars headline some of the films, including Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy by Incendies and Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve and Daniel Radcliffe in The F Word by Michael Dowse (Goon, Fubar).

      Three of the films, all from Quebec, feature LGBT characters: Sarah préfère la course (Sarah Prefers to Run), Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm), and Vic et Flo on vu un ours (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear)

      The list of short films includes one by Vancouver filmmaker Kevan Funk.

      Here's the list of chosen features (with synopses), followed by the list of selected short films. The festival will screen in Vancouver at the Cinematheque in January (dates still to be announced).

      Asphalt Watches Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver

      A feature-length animation based on a real-life hitchhiking trip taken by the two filmmakers, Asphalt Watches details the hilarious and harrowing journey of Bucktooth Cloud and Skeleton Hat as they travel eastward across Canada in 2000. Winner of the Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

      Enemy Denis Villeneuve
      Adapted from the novel The Double by Nobel Laureate José Saramago, Enemy stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam, a man consumed by an overwhelming desire to confront his doppelgänger. The film is a provocative psychosexual thriller about duality and identity where, in the end, only one man can survive. From the Academy Award-nominated director of Incendies, the film also stars Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon and Isabella Rossellini.

      The F Word Michael Dowse

      When Wallace meets Chantry, it could be love at first sight… except she lives with her long-term boyfriend. And so Wallace, acting with best intentions — and maybe a little denial — discovers the dirtiest word in romance: friends. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver and TIFF Rising Star Megan Park. Written by Elan Mastai, one of Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch in 2013.

      Gabrielle Louise Archambault

      Gabrielle is a young woman with Williams syndrome who has a contagious joie de vivre and an exceptional musical gift. Since she met her boyfriend Martin they have been inseparable. However, because they are “different,” their loved ones are fearful of their relationship. Gabrielle does everything she can to gain her independence. As determined as she is, Gabrielle must still confront other people’s prejudices as well as her own limitations in the hope of experiencing a love far from the ordinary.

      Rhymes for Young Ghouls Jeff Barnaby

      Kids on the Red Crow reservation are doomed. If you can't pay your "truancy tax", that's you up at the residential school, beat up and abused. At 15, Aila is the weed princess of Red Crow. After being robbed and thrown into the school’s dungeon, she decides to fight back.

      Sarah préfère la course (Sarah Prefers to Run) Chloé Robichaud

      Sarah is a gifted runner. Her life changes when she’s offered admission into the best university athletics program in the province. Sarah doesn’t have her mother’s financial support for the move to Montreal, but she leaves anyway with her friend Antoine. Though barely out of their teens, they get married because they want the best scholarships and loans. Sarah doesn’t want to hurt anyone with the choices she makes — it’s just that she loves running more than anything else.

      Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm) Xavier Dolan

      Tom, a young advertising copywriter, travels to the country for a funeral. There, he's shocked to find out no one knows who he is, or his relationship to the deceased, whose brother soon sets the rules of a twisted game. In order to protect the family's name and grieving mother, Tom now has to play the peacekeeper in a household whose obscure past bodes even greater darkness for his trip to the farm.

      Vic et Flo ont vu un ours (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear) Denis Côté

      Victoria, an ex-convict in her 60s, wants to start a new life in a remote sugar shack. Under the supervision of Guillaume, a young, sympathetic parole officer (Marc-André Grondin), she tries to get her life back on track along with Florence, her former cellmate with whom she shared years of intimacy in prison. Stalked by ghosts of the past, their new life together is unexpectedly jeopardized. Winner of the Alfred Bauer Silver Bear award at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. 

      Watermark Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky

      From the filmmaking team behind Manufactured Landscapes, Watermark is a feature documentary film that brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it, and the consequences of that use. Watermark is shot in stunning 5K ultra high-definition video and full of soaring aerial perspectives.

      When Jews Were Funny Alan Zweig

      Insightful and often hilarious, the latest from documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig offers up a history of Jewish comedy, from the early days of Borsht belt to the present, ultimately exploring not just ethnicity in the entertainment industry, but also the entire unruly question of what it means to be Jewish. Winner of the City of Toronto + Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.


      Short film selections

      "A Grand Canal" by Johnny Ma

      A Greek tragedy told in a Chinese pop song. Tragic events of a boat captain trying to collect a debt to save his fleet of boats, as remembered by his 10-year-old son.

      "An Extraordinary Person" by Monia Chokri

      A 30-year-old scholar, intelligent and beautiful yet socially crippled, is forced to attend a bachelorette party where her quest for authenticity leads to an unavoidable confrontation with old acquaintances.

      "The Chaperone 3D" by Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone

      The Chaperone 3D tells the true story of a lone teacher who fought off an entire motorcycle gang while chaperoning a middle school dance in 1970s Montreal. This film recreates the scene using hand-drawn animation, miniature sets, puppets, live-action kung fu and explosions all done in stereoscopic 3D.

      "The End of Pinky" by Claire Blanchet

      The End of Pinky revolves around three fallen angels seeking companionship and humanity in the shadows of the red-light district, in a mythic, magically realized Montreal. The film’s hand-drawn pencil and pastel animation, rendered in stereoscopic 3D, conjures a seedy world whose sepia-toned palette evokes cheap whiskey and nicotine stains.

      "In guns we trust" by Nicolas Lévesque

      In Kennesaw, a small American town in the state of Georgia, a good citizen is an armed citizen. By law, since 1982, each head of household must own at least one working firearm with ammunition.

      "Noah" by Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg

      In a story that plays out entirely on a teenager's computer screen, Noah follows its eponymous protagonist as his relationship takes a rapid turn for the worse. Winner of the YouTube Award for Best Canadian Short Film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

      "Nous avions" by Stéphane Moukarzel

      Montreal, 1999. Every Sunday, a modest Pakistani immigrant family picnics in a dead end next to the airport, and watches the planes land. On this special day when the Legendary Concord is expected, 17-year-old Akram, the eldest of three kids, creates a family commotion when he decides to take off to live his own life.

      "Paradise Falls" by Fantavious Fritz

      Deep in the heart of suburban hell, two adventurous youths explore a haunted mansion and fall in love with its ghost.

      "Subconscious Password" by Chris Landreth

      Subconscious Password uses a common social gaffe — forgetting somebody’s name — as the starting point for a mind-bending romp through the unconscious. Inspired by the classic American TV game show Password, the film features a wealth of animated celebrity guests who try to prompt Charles to remember the name.

      "Yellowhead" by Kevan Funk

      A middle-aged worksite safety inspector defiantly maintains a tireless occupational routine, traversing across Canada's lonely northern landscape from one expansive industrial operation to the next. As the cracks in his crumbling personal life become more and more apparent, he slips deeper into willful ignorance and denial, providing a striking parallel to the altered physical landscape and exploitative industry that surrounds him.