TIFF12: Canadian filmmakers encouraged to tell global stories

Home Again (pictured) director Sudz Sutherland and War Witch director Kim Nguyen say audiences are increasingly interested in stories from beyond Canadian borders.
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The world in which Canadian filmmakers today make films is getting bigger, and the world they bring back to Canadians is resonating.

So a panel on Canadians films in the world market held Wednesday at the Toronto International Film Festival was told.

“Being Canadian, we have cousins everywhere,” Sudz Sutherland, director of Home Again, which is debuting Wednesday night at TIFF, told the panel produced by Telefilm Canada as part of its talent push in Toronto.

“Our ears are attuned to everything and we see things that others don’t. That vantage point allows us to make films that are global, but very specific, and very Canadian,” he added.

Canadian senator Romeo Dallaire, who is in Toronto this week as part of a work-in-progress screening for Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children, a documentary about child soldiers by director Patrick Reed, said Canadian filmmakers needed to look beyond their borders, or risk oblivion.

“Our (Canadian) public is younger, and getting younger, and they’re without borders,” he told the panel.

“If we wanted to start getting provincial, we’d be ignoring the future trends, and they’d forget us,” Dallaire added.

The Telefilm Canada panel came as Canadian film are increasingly be made overseas, as with titles like Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children and Ruba Nadda’s Inescapable, both of which received red carpet treatment in Toronto this week.

Shot in the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, Reed’s Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children from White Pine Pictures is based in part on the Romeo Dallaire book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children.

Another Canadian film shot in the Congo is Kim Nguyen’s War Witch, which bowed in Berlin and earned the main actor, Rachel Mwanza, the Silver Bear for best actress performance.

Nguyen echoed a prevailing theme from the TIFF panel, that Canadian film needed to leave behind the constraints of “Canadian content” and tell good stories that world audiences wanted to see on the big and small screen.

“If the authors of the film are Canadian, it’s a Canadian film,” Nguyen said, referring to all creative on a project, from the director and screenwriter to actors and the editor.