TIFF 2014: 10 must-see Canadian films people are sure to be talking about

With more than 300 options from over 60 countries, the task of choosing which films to see at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) can seem overwhelming.

Masterful Canadian directors are getting a lot of attention at this year’s festival, from 25-year-old Xavier Dolan, whose Mommy took home the Jury Prize at Cannes, to seasoned visionaryDavid Cronenberg and his highly anticipated Maps to the Stars.

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Being a Canadian at TIFF has its share of perks. Not only do these directors have the pleasure of showcasing their films on their home turf, but they are also eligible for a host of Canadian-specific prizes: a $30,000 award for best feature, a $15,000 prize for best first feature and a solid $10,000 for best short.

Read More: Director Spotlight on Xavier Dolan

The festival’s Short Cuts Canada program received a record-breaking 841 entries from Canadian directors, which was then narrowed down to a final 42.

“The healthy number of Canadian short film submissions signifies a steady growth in film talent in Canada,” Short Cuts Canada programmer Alex Rogalski tells Indiewire. With Canadians set to make a big push at this year’s film festival (Sept. 4 to Sept. 14), we’ve put together a list of 10 must-see films by emerging and celebrated directors from our home and native land.

1. Mommy

Xavier Dolan’s Mommy was a contender for the 2014 Palme d’Or in the main competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Instead, Xavier took home the Jury Prize for his film about a widow who struggles to raise her sometimes-violent teenager.

2.Maps to the Stars

Superstar Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg presents Maps to the Stars, which tracks the trials and tribulations of stardom in Hollywood, from an aging actress (Julianne Moore) fighting for big parts to the menacing pyromania of the film’s mysterious antagonist, played by Mia Wasikowska.

3.Tu dors Nicole

Stéphane LaFleur tells the story of Nicole, 22, who is enjoying a summer with her best friend Véronique until her brother shows up with his band. The plot plays out with a wedge in the girls' friendship accented by a heatwave, Nicole’s growing insomnia and the courtship of a 10-year-old boy - all in stunning black and white.

4. Monsoon


Sturla Gunnarsson’s Monsoon is a breathtaking exploration of weather. It was filmed in India during the annual monsoon season and is described as “part road movie, part spectacle, part drama.”

5.The Wanted 18

The Wanted 18 is an illustrated documentary by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan that explores how 18 cows in Beit Sahour became a symbol of resistance in the midst of the first Palestinian Intifada.

6. Red Alert

Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich follows a young, auburn-haired girl (his daughter Sloan) as she discovers that redheads may become extinct in only a century.

7. Wet Bum

This is the debut feature film for Canadian director Lindsay MacKay, starring TIFF Rising Star Julia Sarah Stone. The story follows a young girl who is uncomfortable with wearing a bathing suit in front of her peers and is later punished by being sent to work at a retirement home. While there, she makes unlikely friends with some of the inhabitants.

8. Trick or Treaty?

This feature documentary is from Alanis Obomsawin and traces the history of Native ancestry since the signing of Treaty 9, an agreement established in July 1905 between the Government of Canada and various First Nations groups in northern Ontario.

9. In Her Place

Director Albert Shin tells the story of a wealthy couple seeking to secretly adopt the unborn child of an impoverished and troubled rural teenager.

10. Corbo

A Quebecois teenager in the 1960s transforms from pro-independence activist to radical terrorist in Mathieu Denis’ exploration of the origins of the FLQ in the years preceding the 1970 October Crisis.

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