TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten lncludes ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘What Walaa Wants’

What Walaa Wants
Courtesy of the NFB

By Pat Mullen

Two of the year’s most acclaimed documentaries got another boost this morning. The Toronto International Film Festival unveiled the annual Canada’s Top Ten list for short films and feature films with Christy Garland’s What Walaa Wants and Jennifer Baichwal, Nick de Pencier, and Edward Burtynsky’s Anthropocene repping documentaries in the feature category. On the shorts front, Charlie Tyrell’s festival hit My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes and Sofia Bohdanowicz’s playful hybrid Veslemøy’s Song spotlight non-fiction.

Both Anthropocene and Walaa have had strong runs on the circuit, playing most major festivals in Canada and several key international festivals. Anthropocene was just announced last week as only one of three Canadian features or Canadian feature co-productions to play Sundance, while Walaa world premiered at the Berlinale, won a special jury prize at Hot Docs, and opened RIDM, making it present at festivals for the majority of the year. Anthropocene also expanded upon the Baichwal/de Pencier/Burtynsky oeuvre with companion photography exhibits opening to great acclaim at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada. My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes won several grand jury prizes at festivals including SXSW, while Veslemøy’s Song debuted at Locarno and played a slew of festivals including Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

This year’s Canada’s Top Ten, selected by TIFF programmers with consultations from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle and the Association québécoise des critiques de cinéma, brings the shorts and features to TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto for theatrical runs as replacements for the annual festival. Of the selected feature films, only Anthropocene has been released theatrically in Toronto. Dramatic selection The Fireflies are Gone (winner for Best Canadian Feature at TIFF earlier this year) opened theatrically in Quebec this fall, while Edge of the Knife, Giant Little Ones and Firecrackers are set for 2019 releases.

This year’s list of feature selections includes gender parity with four titles each directed by a man or woman and two titles co-directed by at least one man and woman each. The shorts list offers an even 50/50 split.

“TIFF is thrilled to present its uniquely Canadian list that offers a richness of voices, perspectives, and insights into adolescent identity,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head of TIFF in a statement from the festival. “These films expertly examine heritage, family, the fragility of friendships, and the importance of challenging the current state of our world, and are testament to the fact that our Canadian filmmakers are among the most daring and innovative.”

The TIFF Top Ten Canadian Films of 2018 are:


ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch – dir. Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky | Ontario
Sgaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife) – dir. Gwaai Edenshaw, Helen Haig-Brown | British Columbia
Firecrackers – dir. Jasmin Mozaffari | Ontario
The Fireflies Are Gone (La disparition des lucioles) – dir. Sébastien Pilote | Quebec
Freaks – dir. Zach Lipovsky, Adam Stein | British Columbia
Genèse (Genesis) – dir. Philippe Lesage | Quebec
Giant Little Ones – dir. Keith Behrman | Ontario
_MOUTHPIECE _- dir. Patricia Rozema | Ontario
Roads in February (Les routes en février) – dir. Katherine Jerkovic | Quebec
What Walaa Wants – dir. Christy Garland | Ontario


Paseo – dir. Matthew Hannam | Ontario
Veslemøy’s Song – dir. Sofia Bohdanowicz | Ontario
My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes – dir. Charlie Tyrell | Ontario
The Subject (Le sujet) – dir. Patrick Bouchard | Quebec
Brotherhood (Ikhwène) – dir. Meryam Joobeur | Quebec
Fauve – dir. Jérémy Comte | Quebec
ALTIPLANO – dir. Malena Szlam | Quebec
Accidence – dir. Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson | Manitoba
Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) – dir. Amanda Strong | British Columbia
Little Waves (Les petites vagues) – dir. Ariane Louis-Seize | Quebec

Screening dates for films will be announced soon.