Karlovy Vary: Canadian filmmaking wave stirs sleepy Bohemian spa town

Talk among Canadian directors and producers attending a Canada Day dinner Monday night turned to a logjam of Canadian titles vying for plum slots at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Finissant(e)s-1

Rafaël Ouellet, who won two prizes at Karlovy Vary last year for Camion, his fourth feature, including the best director trophy, leads a strong Canadian contingent at the 48th Karlovy Vary Film Festival through July 6.

Ouellet’s latest film, Finissant(e)s (pictured), has so far had two sold-out screenings in the Bohemian spa town.

The quasi-documentary feature about school graduates in 2009 in a small Quebec town about to face the reality of adulthood, was shot in the summer of 2009.

Finissant(e)s lead Carla Turcotte is attending Central Europe’s biggest film festival with Ouellet to introduce the title.

Also on hand this week is Shawney Cohen with his competition documentary The Manor, which bowed in Hot Docs.

Denis Côté’s seventh feature, Vic et Flo ont vu un ours, which earlier screened in Berlin, had a sold-out screening Sunday at the Grand Pupp theatre.

Also screening out of competition in Karlovy Vary is Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais Whitewash, produced by Montreal’s micro_scope.

Micro_scope principals Luc Dery and Kim McGraw are on hand this week to back the drama set in a northern Quebec town that stars Sideways‘ Thomas Haden Church and Marc Labreche.

Sébastien Pilote’s Le Démantèlement, Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, Marc Cousins’ The First Movie, a Canadian-U.K. co-production, and Jason Eisener’s V/H/S/2 round out an eclectic Canadian lineup in Karlovy Vary.

Aside from the local screenings, talk among the Canadian filmmakers, attending a Canada Day dinner Monday night, turned to a logjam of Canadian titles vying for plum slots at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Denis Villeneuve has two films currently in post-production, Prisoners, the $50 million Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal-starrer set for a Sept. 20 theatrical release, and Enemy, which is top-lined by Sarah Gadon and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Atom Egoyan also has two films on the go: The Devil’s Knot, starring Reese Witherspoon, and Queen of the Night, starring Ryan Reynolds and Scott Speedman.

Another Reese Witherspoon-starrer, Philippe Falardeau’s The Good Lie, won’t be ready for Toronto.

With so many established Canadian directors, especially from Quebec, considered a lock for TIFF slots, directors and producers are wary that Toronto programmers will go for world premieres and rule out local titles making North American or Canadian premieres to make their cherry-picking task easier.

Toronto last year programmed Kim Nguyen’s War Witch after it took major prizes in Berlin and Tribeca.

But a banner year for Canadian film in Toronto means titles like Côté’s Vic et Flo ont vu un ours may be left out in the cold.

Other possible TIFF contenders with star wattage include Jeff Renfroe’s The Colony, which stars Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Zegers, Cas & Dylan, directed by Jason Priestley and top-lined by Richard Dreyfuss and rising star Tatiana Maslany.