This House (Cette maison), Black Ice, and To Kill a Tiger represent feature documentaries in Canada’s Top Ten. The list released today by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) fares a bit better on the doc front this year. In 2021, only one documentary, Subjects of Desire, made the list.
Directed by Miryam Charles, This House is a haunting hybrid film that takes an innovative exploration into true crime. Hubert Davis’s Black Ice, meanwhile, examines racism in hockey and asks what it will take for “Canada’s game” to truly represent Canada. To Kill a Tiger, directed by Nisha Pahuja, is a potent observation of a family’s strength in the face of backlash when their daughter decides to hold to account the men who raped her. Black Ice and To Kill a Tiger were among the major winners at TIFF this year. Black Ice won the People’s Choice Award for documentary, while To Kill a Tiger scored the Amplify Voices Award for Canadian Film. This House premiered at the Berlinale Forum and screened at Hot Docs.
“Bold and unapologetic, this year’s Canada’s Top Ten reflects one of the most diverse editions to date and heralds an exciting new wave of Canadian storytelling,” stated Anita Lee, TIFF’s Chief Programming Officer, in a statement from the festival.
This year’s feature film list includes a wide spectrum of Canadian talent, including veterans David Cronenberg and Clement Virgo with their dramas Crimes of the Future and Brother, respectively. The list also taps several filmmakers in their feature or sophomore debuts including Toronto film critic Chandler Levack’s I Like Movies, Cree/Métis actor-filmmaker Gail Maurice’s ROSIE, Luis De Filippis’s ground-breaking character study Something You Said Last Night, and Anthony Shim’s heartfelt family drama Riceboy Sleeps. The latter won the Platform Prize at TIFF and the award for Best Canadian Feature at Vancouver, Sudbury, and Windsor International Film Festivals. Rounding out the list is Stéphane Lafleur’s grounded space comedy Viking.
On the shorts front, Canada’s Top Ten regular Alanis Obomsawin represents documentary with her latest work, Bill Reid Remembers. In Belle River, directors Guillaume Fournier, Samuel Matteau, and Yannick Nolin take their cameras down to Louisiana to document the impact of climate change on local residents. Montreal-based filmmaker Claire Sanford makes the list with her doc portrait of artist Deborah Dumka, Violet Gave Willingly. The shorts list also includes Canada’s Top Ten regulars Carol Nguyen, Matthew Rankin, and Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, whose animated lark The Flying Sailor is one of their best.
Although the features list has three docs, there are a few surprising omissions, notably Canada’s Oscar submission Eternal Spring. Jacquelyn Mills’ Geographies of Solitude also dominated the documentary side of the festival circuit, while the Buffy Sainte-Marie doc Carry It On was among TIFF’s most high-profile non-fiction offerings this year. The drama side has its own share of features that could have made the cut, including Joseph Amenta’s invigorating portrait of queer Toronto youths in Soft, Graham Foy’s haunting The Maiden, Ashley McKenzie’s daring Queens of the Qing Dynasty, Lindsay MacKay’s heartfelt The Swearing Jar, and Charlotte LeBon’s genre-bender Falcon Lake. If anything the omissions reflect that 2022 was a comparatively stronger year for Canadian films.
2022’s Canada’s Top Ten list will screen January 26-29 with industry talks on the 26.
Canada’s Top Ten for 2022 is as follows:
Black Ice | dir. Hubert Davis
Brother | dir. Clement Virgo
Cette Maison | dir. Miryam Charles
Crimes of the Future | dir. David Cronenberg
I Like Movies | dir. Chandler Levack
Riceboy Sleeps | dir. Anthony Shim
ROSIE | dir. Gail Maurice
Something You Said Last Night | dir. Luis De Filippis
To Kill a Tiger | dir. Nisha Pahuja
Viking | dir. Stéphane Lafleur
Belle River | dir. Guillaume Fournier, Samuel Matteau, Yannick Nolin
Bill Reid Remembers | dir. Alanis Obomsawin
The Flying Sailor | dir. Wendy Tilby, Amanda Forbis
Lay Me by the Shore | dir. David Findlay
Municipal Relaxation Module | dir. Matthew Rankin
Nanitic | dir. Carol Nguyen
No Ghost in the Morgue | dir. Marilyn Cooke
Same Old | dir. Lloyd Lee Choi
Simo | dir. Aziz Zoromba
Violet Gave Willingly | dir. Claire Sanford