TORONTO – Canadian films featuring international stars including Jake Gyllenhaal and Daniel Radcliffe are among the projects making it onto the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual list of best Canuck features.
The film group’s Top 10 titles include Gyllenhaal’s surreal art film, “Enemy,” directed by Denis Villeneuve, and Radcliffe’s romantic comedy “The F Word,” directed by Michael Dowse. Both were shot and set in Toronto.
“Lots of Americans, international stars in our films this year,” TIFF senior programmer Steve Gravestock said Tuesday after the list was revealed at a downtown bash.
“Jake Gyllenhaal stars in ‘Enemy’ alongside Sarah Gadon and Melanie Laurent, it’s very sinister, disturbing, probably one of the weirdest looks at Toronto but totally recognizable in a lot of ways.”
Gravestock noted the list includes two documentaries: “Watermark,” by Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky and “When Jews Were Funny,” by Alan Zweig. It also includes three first features: Chloe Robichaud’s “Sarah Prefers to Run;” the animated “Asphalt Watches,” by Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver; and Jeff Barnaby’s “Rhymes for Young Ghouls.”
“I really think it’s one of the most diverse and varied lists I’ve seen in quite some time, in terms of themes and formats,” he said.
There’s also a healthy contingent of Quebec features, including “Tom at the Farm” by Xavier Dolan; “Vic + Flo Saw a Bear,” from Denis Cote and Louise Archambault’s “Gabrielle,” which is Canada’s submission to the Academy Awards for consideration in the foreign-language film category.
But many big directors with projects this year did not make the list, among them Don McKellar with “The Grand Seduction,” Bruce McDonald with “The Husband,” and Alanis Obomsawin with “Hi-Ho Mistahey!”
“It’s a snapshot of what’s going on,” Gravestock said of the selections, made by an independent panel of seven filmmakers and industry professionals.
“There’s so much great talent in Canada you can’t include every good film we make.”
Zweig said he was surprised to make the cut, even though his comedian-stacked documentary was named best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
“I didn’t think this would happen, maybe even I was afraid there’d be a little backlash or something,” said Zweig, going on to compare the two achievements.
“I’m proud to win that prize and somehow this seems better because I don’t really believe in best — the best — but 10 best? Yeah, you know, that’s believable. And it feels more real to be one of the best, in no particular order.”
A 10-day film festival featuring the 10 movies kicks off Jan. 3 at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox. It will include a discussion by Villeneuve and Gyllenhaal on their collaborative process on Jan. 5. The two also worked together on the U.S.-backed abduction thriller, “Prisoners.”
TIFF also released a Top 10 short film list that includes the latest from Oscar-winner Chris Landreth.
His 11-minute project “Subconscious Password” imagines what goes on inside the mind when it goes searching for information. It’s been shortlisted for a possible Oscar nomination in the animated shorts category.
The short film selections also include: “A Grand Canal,” by Johnny Ma; “An Extraordinary Person,” by Monia Chokri; “The Chaperone 3D,” by Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone; “The End of Pinky,” from Claire Blanchet; “In guns we trust,” by Nicolas Levesque; “Noah,” by Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg; “Nous avions,” by Stephane Moukarzel; “Paradise Falls,” by Fantavious Fritz and “Yellowhead,” by Kevan Funk.
Select films will tour major cities across the country, including Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal. Tickets and ticket packages for the Toronto events go on sale Dec. 4 for TIFF members and Dec. 11 for the public.
Canada’s top 10 films are chosen from features, shorts, documentaries, animation and experimental films.
Each film must have premiered at a major film festival or obtained a commercial theatrical release in Canada in 2013.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the director of “Sarah Prefers to Run” is Sophie Robichaud. In fact, it is Chloe Robichaud.