Canada's Top Ten Film Festival, organized by the Toronto International Film Festival, has unveiled their selections for 2015, and quite a number have B.C. connections as well as coming-of-age themes.
Vancouver filmmaker Mina Shum's first documentary Ninth Floor examines the 14-day student occupation at a Montreal university in response to institutional racism.
Patricia Rozema's apocalyptic thriller Into the Forest follows two sisters (Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood) struggling to survive in their home in the B.C. wilderness during a continent-wide blackout.
Elsewhere in the program, Andrew Cividino's Sleeping Giant is a dramatic study of three teenage boys who flirt with risk and danger in an isolated Ontario cottage community.
Guy Maddin's latest surreal opus, The Forbidden Room, was codirected with Evan Johnson and boasts the likes of talent such as Quebec's Karine Vanasse (Polytechnique), Germany's Udo Kier, and France's Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
Incidentally, Hurt, Ninth Floor, The Forbidden Room, Into the Forest, and Sleeping Giant all screened at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.
Another film that has a VIFF connection is Anne Émond's latest effort. Émond, who won the best Canadian feature film award at VIFF 2011 for her directorial debut, followed up Nuit #1 with Les Êtres chers, a drama about how a family patriarch's suicide impacts various generations over three decades.
Also from Quebec, Philippe Lesage's thriller The Demons tells the tale of an anxious boy in 1980s Montreal whose fears aren't quite as unfounded as they seem to be. The Georgia Straight's Adrian Mack, who reviewed it for the 2015 Whistler Film Festival, called the atmospheric feature one of the best Canadian films of the year.
Another film that focuses on youth is Stephen Dunn's directorial debut Closet Monster, which follows an East Coast teenager, an aspiring makeup artist, who is struggling with his sexuality under the parenting of his macho father.
Rounding out the top 10 features list is the documentary Guantanamo's Child: Omar Khadr, in which the Toronto-born Khadr tells his own story of being captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan as a 15 year old who spent 10 years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.
Among the short films selected, Wayne Wapeemukwa's short documentary "Balmoral Hotel" profiles a First Nations sex worker on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Vancouver-born filmmaker Kathleen Hepburn's short drama "Never Steady, Never Still" follows a troubled young man back to his hometown.
In Ann Shin's short film "My Enemy, My Brother", two enemies from the Iran-Iraq war meet each other again, but in Vancouver.
The festival, which will tour across the country, will screen in Vancouver at the Cinematheque from January 8 to 17.