The Toronto International Film Festival announced its list of Canadian films on July 31, and the lineup is full of gems. Heavy hitters, such Atom Egoyan’s latest feature, Guest of Honour; a stacked slate of documentaries; and bold new films from Indigenous filmmakers, such as Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, are getting a lot of praise. But, looking a bit closer, there are ample contributions from well-known artists as well.
Alanis Obomsawin’s 53rd film, Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, will premiere, rightfully, as part of TIFF’s Masters program. Anderson was a young boy forced to spend all five years of his life in hospital because the federal and provincial governments couldn’t agree on which level was responsible for his care. The celebrated filmmaker is known for her documentaries, but she also has a lengthy artistic practice; there is currently an exhibition of her prints on at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Zacharias Kunuk’s One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk screened as a major part of the Canada Pavilion show at this year’s Venice Biennale and will have its North American premiere at TIFF in September. Set in 1961, the film chronicles a nomadic Inuk hunter and his friends as they face various pressures from the Canadian government.
Theodore Ushev, an Academy Award–winning animator, is releasing The Physics of Sorrow, a short about childhood reverie and imagination animated completely through encaustic painting. Another intriguing animation comes from Thea Hollatz—a comedy about hot flashes done in the popular-on-Instagram illustration style of artists like Polly Nor. Daniel Cockburn’s God’s Nightmares mashes together found film clips, creating a visual collage that imagines the thoughts that plague God at night.
TIFF’s more directly art-adjacent offerings are typically found in the Wavelengths slate, highlighting experimental films that blur the line between art and cinema. For her short Book of Hours, Annie MacDonell rephotographed etchings and clippings from Yvonne Rainer’s Lives of Performers. Throughout her practice, MacDonell expands the possibilities of photography—and with this short, she weaves together captured images to build a world of gestures, patterns and experimentation.
Other gripping Wavelengths features include Blake Williams’s stereoscopic, kaleidoscopic aubade about companionship, 2008; Ryan Ferko’s Hrvoji, Look at You From the Tower, a travelogue stitching together the former nations of Yugoslavia with experimental editing techniques; and Miryam Charles’s Second Generation, a story told through letters and obscured imagery.