TIFF adds more Canadian titles, including Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On

Other newly announced homegrown features include an NFB doc on Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Marie Clements' feature Bones of Crows.

The Toronto International Film Festival has added a slew of homegrown titles to next month’s lineup, from documentaries on Cree musician-activist Buffy Sainte-Marie and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, to Marie Clements’ feature Bones of Crows and Carly Stone’s North of Normal adaptation.

TIFF unveiled the Canadian lineup at a press conference on Wednesday (Aug. 10), including the world premiere of the documentary feature Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On (pictured) from Eagle Vision, White Pine Pictures and Paquin Entertainment. Madison Thomas directs the 90-minute Ontario-Manitoba coproduction and shares writing credit with Andrea Warner (Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography).

The film is set for a fall theatrical release followed by broadcasts via Bell Media and APTN in Canada, and in November 2022 on PBS/American Masters in the U.S., in collaboration with Vision Maker Media.

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On is executive produced by Eagle Vision’s Lisa Meeches, Kyle Irving and Rebecca Gibson; White Pine Pictures’ Peter Raymont, Steve Ord and Andrew Munger; Buffy’s long-time manager, Gilles Paquin; Ray Halbritter; Randy Lennox; PBS/American Masters’ Michael Kantor; and Vision Maker Media’s Francine Blythe-Lewis. Producers are Eagle Vision’s Meeches and White Pine Pictures’ Stephen Paniccia. Funding for the film was secured through the CMF POV Program, Rogers’ Documentary Fund, Ontario Creates and Telefilm’s Theatrical Documentary Program.

Tagaq is featured in the National Film Board of Canada’s (NFB) 90-minute Ever Deadly, which is described as an immersive music and cinema experience created in collaboration with Toronto filmmaker Chelsea McMullan. Filmed on location in Nunavut, it’s told in English and Inuktitut with English subtitles, and produced by Lea Marin, Anita Lee and Kate Vollum for the Ontario studio in Toronto. It will make its world premiere at TIFF.

The NFB will also world premiere two other feature-length documentaries at TIFF, which runs Sept. 8 to 18: Brian D. Johnson’s The Colour of Ink, which features a Toronto inkmaker and is produced by Brian D. Johnson for Sphinx Productions, and Sherien Barsoum, Lea Marin and Kate Vollum for the NFB. It is a documentary Channel original and will broadcast on the network in 2023; and Nisha Pahuja’s To Kill a Tiger, about a farmer seeking justice for his teenage daughter in Jharkhand, India. It’s produced by Cornelia Principe and Pahuja for Notice Pictures, and David Oppenheim for the NFB.

Clements wrote, directed and produced Bones of Crows, a residential school drama that will make its world premiere at TIFF with stars Grace Dove, Phillip Lewitski, and Rémy Girard. The film also has an accompanying five-part miniseries, which was created by Clements and is slated for a 2023-24 premiere, commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada in association with APTN. Both the series and film are produced by Clements’ B.C.-based Ayasew Ooskana Pictures in association with CBC/Radio-Canada, APTN, Telefilm Canada, the Canada Media Fund, Shaw Rocket Fund, Bell Fund, IPF, the Indigenous Screen Office and Elevation Pictures.

Elevation is also the Canadian distributor on the 90-minute North of Normal (JoBro Productions, Independent Edge Films, Undisputed Pictures), which is directed by Stone and written by Alexandra Weir and will make its world premiere at TIFF. Based on Canadian author Cea Sunrise Person’s memoir about her unconventional childhood in the Canadian wilderness, the drama is produced by Jonathan Bronfman and Kyle Mann. Undisputed Pictures founders Joel Reilly and Patrick Patterson are executive producers on the project, which stars Sarah Gadon, James D’Arcy and Robert Carlyle and received support from the Harold Greenberg Fund. Gadon is also an executive producer, as are: Berry Meyerowitz, Jeff Sackman, Rob Connolly, Michael Risley, Noah Segal, and Adrian Love.

Ontario-shot musical romance The Swearing Jar is directed by Lindsay MacKay and written by Kate Hewlett, based on her play of the same name. It’s produced by Jane Loughman of Toronto-based prodco Monkeys & Parrots, in association with Kyle Bornais of Winnipeg’s Farpoint Films and Tony Wosk of Toronto and Vancouver-based prodco Middle Child Films. Funding came from Telefilm Canada, Ontario Creates, Bell Media’s Crave, the Canadian federal and Ontario & Manitoba provincial tax credits, and Media Capital Group.

Canadian distribution for The Swearing Jar — which stars Adelaide Clemens, Patrick J. Adams, Douglas Smith and Kathleen Turner — is handled by levelFILM, while Gravitas Ventures has U.S. rights.

Another levelFILM title is Stellar, from writer/director/producer Darlene Naponse and producers Paula Devonshire and Jennifer Weiss. Based on the historical research of a meteorite hitting the area of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek territory millions of years ago, it stars Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Braeden Clarke and Rossif Sutherland.

TIFF also unveiled its TV-geared Primetime lineup, which includes the world premiere of CBC Gem original Lido TV (Lido Pimienta TV/Visitor Media), hosted by Colombian-Canadian musician and artist Lido Pimienta (pictured) and executive produced by her along with Sean O’Neill. The 6 x 20-minute variety show was announced as part of CBC’s 2022-23 upfront in June and will premiere this fall.

Primetime will also have the world premiere of Amazon Freevee’s upcoming Calgary-shot original High School, co-created by Canadian indie pop duo Tegan and Sara Quin and produced by Amazon Studios and Plan B Entertainment. The scripted coming-of-age series was adapted for television by executive producer and co-creator Clea DuVall, based on the memoir by the Quin twin sisters, who are also executive producers. Laura Kittrell also serves as executive producer alongside Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner from Plan B Entertainment. Plan B’s Carina Sposato is a co-executive producer. DuVall also wrote and direct multiple episodes.

Other series in Primetime include Ontario-shot Hulu original The Handmaid’s Tale, which is based on Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel and airs on CTV Drama Channel in Canada. It will world premiere its fifth season.

Meanwhile, TIFF’s five-day, in-person Industry Conference will include a Narrative Sovereignty panel with Indigenous Canadian directors Nyla Innuksuk (Slash/Back), the aforementioned Naponse and Tailfeathers (Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy), and Sonya Ballantyne (Crash Site).

Also on Wednesday, the federal government announced a non-repayable investment of $10 million to support the in-person return of TIFF. Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety and Member of Parliament for Eglinton-Lawrence, said the contribution was made through the Major Events and Festivals Support Initiative.

Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF