TIFF Unveils CanCon for 2018: Arcand, Sweeney, Giroux headline dramatic front

Bruce Sweeney's Kingsway is among the notable Canadian premieres
The TIFF Canadian line-up is and it’s…a bit underwhelming. There’s some good stuff, to be sure, like the documentaries including the World Premieres of Rob Stewart’s Sharkwater: Extinction and Igor Drljaca’s The Stone Speakers. (Readmore about the docs at POV.) But, beyond those titles, TIFF might have been smart to reserve some of the four Canadian films announced last week, like Patricia Rozema’s Moutpiece and Don McKellar’s Through Black Spruce for today. They’re doing the media line, anyways, and are bound to dominate the coverage.

Let’s start with the good stuff. (Note: I’m only talking about dramas here.) Denys Arcand is back with The Fall of the American Empire, which had critics calling it a return to form for the director when it debuted theatrically in Quebec earlier this summer. The festival makes special exceptions for Quebecois films to have Toronto premieres after opening provincially, so long as the TIFF debut is its “rest of Canada” premiere. The film is a crime thriller starring Alexandre Landry (Gabrielle) as a philosophy student who stumbles upon a big bag of cash.

Arcand might be an early favourite to rep Canada at the Oscars after nabbing our lone win 15 years ago—especially since the American empire has fallen spectacularly—in a year that has yet to produce much of a viable contender.  He’ll have to outshine Maxime Giroux, who previously repped Canada with Felix and Meira and returns to TIFF with The Great Darkened Days. Also coming from Quebec is Sébastien Pilote’s The Fireflies Are Gone, which was well received at Karlovy Vary this summer, and Renée Beaulieu’s Les Salopes or the Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin featuring Les Affamés MVP Brigitte Poupart.

World premiering is The Grizzlies, the feature directorial debut of Beginners producer Miranda de Pencier, which was originally slated to open theatrically the last week of August… Festival veterans Bruce Sweeney and Thom Fitzgerald return with Kingsway and Splinters, respectively, and should provide worthwhile no frills tickets outside the glitzier parts of the festival.

Also of note is Darlene Naponse’s Falls Around Here, which gives a lead performance to recent Academy invitee Tantoo Cardinal, and Faust, an experimental feature from Andrea Bussmann, who continues to do some of the most interesting and challenging work on the scene.

On the shorts front, Oscar winners Alison Snowden and David Fine are back with Animal Behaviour and Patrick Bouchard lands with his Cannes hit The Subject. Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson will unveil Accidence, a not-to-miss event after their Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton was the best Canadian film at TIFF 2015 even if it was only playing on a TV near the bathroom at the Lightbox. New works by Caroline Monnet, Matthew Hannam, Sophy Romvari, Sofia Bohdanowicz, and Lina Rodriguex are other immediate highlights on the shorts front.

Notably absent is Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, which is sure to be the talking point of the Canadian presser for the second year in a row.

Here are the Canadian features coming to TIFF:


Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky | Canada | World Premiere

The Fall of the American Empire
Denys Arcand | Canada | Toronto Premiere

The Grizzlies
Miranda de Pencier | Canada
World Premiere

* Previously announced Canadian features at the Festival include Keith Behrman’s Giant Little Ones (Special Presentation), Kim Nguyen’s The Hummingbird Project (Special Presentation), Patricia Rozema’s MOUTHPIECE (Opening Special Presentation), and Don McKellar’s Through Black Spruce (Special Presentation).


Sharkwater Extinction
ob Stewart | Canada | World Premiere


Carmine Street Guitars
 Ron Mann | Canada | North American Premiere

Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz
Barry Avrich | Canada | World Premiere

What is Democracy?
Astra Taylor | Canada | North American Premiere


Akash Sherman | Canada | World Premiere

Edge of the Knife
Gwaai Edenshaw, Helen Haig-Brown | Canada | World Premiere

Jasmin Mozaffari | Canada | World Premiere

Zach Lipovsky, Adam Stein | Canada | World Premiere


Falls Around Her
Darlene Naponse | Canada | World Premiere

The Fireflies Are Gone
Sébastien Pilote | Canada | North American Premiere

The Great Darkened Days
Maxime Giroux | Canada | World Premiere

Bruce Sweeney | Canada | World Premiere

Les Salopes or the Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin
Renée Beaulieu | Canada | World Premiere

Thom Fitzgerald | Canada | World Premiere


Andrea Bussmann | Canada/Mexico | North American Premiere

The Stone Speakers
Igor Drljača | Canada/Bosnia and Herzegovina | World Premiere

TIFF runs Sept. 6 to 16.
Stay tuned for more coverage!