TIFF12: Increased international interest seen in Canadian films

Steve Gravestock_large-1

During the Toronto International Film Festival, Playback has featured a series of Q&As with festival programmers and insiders on trends in the films they program and the buzz they’re hearing from distributors.

In the final installment in our series, associate director of Canadian programming Steve Gravestock breaks down the themes in this year’s Canadian line-up, and talks about buyer interest in Canadian films.

What are some of the major trends and themes in the Canadian films at this year’s festival?

Obviously, there are a pretty high number of documentaries this year as well as a very substantial percentage of films by women.

There’s a very large number of films which deal with international themes or have an international scope, including Inch’Allah, the new film from the team responsible for Incendies and Monsieur Lazhar; Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle; Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children; Ruba Nada’s Inescapable; Igor Draljca’s Krivina; Sudz Sutherland’s Home Again; Rob Stewart’s Revolution; and Peter Mettler’s The End of Time.

One film, Simon Ennis’s Lunarcy!, even looks beyond the planet. It’s about people who are completely obsessed with the moon.

Part of this may come from an interest in heritage and family background and reflects the increasingly multicultural nature of Canadian society, but it may also reflect an engagement with other cultures (or at least cultural centres) evident in a lot of Canadian art stretching back to Morley Callaghan.

What are the opportunities for Canadian filmmakers either at this year’s festival or more generally?

A large festival like Toronto offers a lot of opportunities for filmmakers from sales, press, engaging with audiences, a platform for possible selection at other festivals, and a wide range of industry programming from panels to the TIFF Docs Conference to name a few.

What new buyers have you seen who are interested specifically in Canadian films? Are there any countries and markets that are looking at Canadian films more than before, and/or for the first time?

The international success of films like Water; Crazy; Away From Her; Manufactured Landscapes; Incendies; Lazhar; even Goon and Hobo With A Shotgun have certainly sparked increased interest in Canadian film abroad. In terms of companies, obviously IFC and Sony Pictures Classics have been at the forefront in the States, but there’s also healthy international interest across the board. Lazhar sold to many territories during the Festival last year.

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WIFT-T Crystal Awards 2014

WIFT-T Crystal Awards 2014 - Deluxe Toronto’s Diane Cuthbert, Katie Docherty, Amanda Champion, Rhonda Lockwood of Kodak and Deluxe Toronto’s Nick Iannelli at the reception before the 2014 WIFT-T Crystal Awards. Credit: Yani Macute