CDN Docs at TIFF ’23
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(September 7, 2023 – Toronto, ON) The 48th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) launches today, and being a huge fan of documentaries, today our focus narrows to the handful of Canadian docs screening this year at TIFF. Within the wide scope of the entire festival, there are 22 feature length docs on the schedule and two of them are Canadian.
Summer Qamp, (pictured above) which Thom Ernst has already written about, will have three public screenings (and one for the media) during the festival’s run, the first is this Friday, September 8. Directed by Jen Marowitz, as Thom wrote, it is his “must see” documentary at the festival, and “It’s a summer camp for queer, non-binary, and trans kids. That might be enough to get you into the screening but the added oomph that has me lining up at the box-office is that the camp is in rural Alberta. I don’t know all there is to know about rural Alberta, but a non-binary, queer, trans summer camp sounds a bit off brand.”
Summer Qamp screens at the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto on:
Friday September 8 at 12:05pm
Saturday September 9 at 12:15pm
Sunday September 10 at 4:30pm
You may need to be of a certain age to appreciate the doc titled Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe. Mr. Dressup was Ernie Coombs, an American artist who ended up in Canada and ended up spending almost 30 years of his life playing this character in 4000 episodes of his show that ran on CBC from 1967 to 1996. Coombs died in September 2001. An Amazon Canada original production, the 90-minute documentary combines never-before-seen archival footage, interviews with series puppeteers including original puppeteer Judith Lawrence, the Coombs family, other notable Canadians, who share the impact the series had on them. The project also includes fascinating insights into Coombs and how he worked with other key creators and partners, including his friendship with Fred Rogers.
In addition to two press screenings, Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe screens on:
Saturday September 9 at 9:00pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday September 10 at 8:45pm at Scotiabank 3
Friday September 15 at 11:40am at Scotiabank 14
The National Film Board (NFB) returns to TIFF with two short documentaries. The first is titled, Modern Goose. Described as an “exquisitely observed film essay,” Modern Goose is embedded in the daily life of these iconic animals. Able to navigate by reading the Earth’s magnetic field, fiercely loyal to flock and family, at home on land, air and water, geese straddle the territory between ancient instincts and the contemporary world. In flipping the usual nature-film perspective to centre another form of consciousness, something radical begins to happen. The concrete sprawl of parking lots, drive-thru restaurants and busy highways transforms from normalized to something extremely unsettling. It isn’t the geese who are the interlopers here, but people who have forced the birds into the margins, disrupting age-old patterns. Combining beauty, humour and profound empathy, Modern Goose reveals how the mysteries of the natural world persist in the face of continual urbanization. In a statement provided by NFB, director Karsten Wall said, in part, “The idea for Modern Goose came about as a way to rethink the standard nature documentary format. As an editor who often works in this genre, I have always had the desire to create a more contemplative and authentic documentary about a wild animal’s struggle for survival. With Modern Goose, I tried my best to remove my human perspective from the story and see the world through the eyes of an urban Canada goose.”
In addition to a press screening, Modern Goose screens on:
Tuesday, September 12 at 6:45pm at Scotiabank 14
Saturday, September 16 at 6:15pm at Scotiabank 13
Premiering in the TIFF Short Cuts program, Marielle Dalp makes her professional debut with the animated short Aphasia. Described as “both striking and unsettling,” the 3 minute and 45 second short is “a deeply moving foray into the heart of a devastating neurocognitive condition, one that progressively destroys the ability to speak and understand words, afflicting many people who have Alzheimer’s disease.” A graduate of Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Marielle Dalpé has dedicated herself to multiple forms of expression, ranging from illustration to animation, multimedia installation to theatrical stage design. A finalist in the 2017 edition of the NFB’s Cinéaste recherché(e) contest, she received a special mention at the pitch competition held at the Cinémathèque québécoise’s Sommets du cinéma d’animation in 2020.
Screening as part of a program of shorts, Aphasia can be seen on:
Monday, September 11 at 3:45pm at the Scotiabank Theatre
Friday, September 15 at 9:15pm at the Scotiabank Theatre
Ralph Lucas is a former broadcast executive and award-winning director in high-end corporate video production. The founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca, online since 1998, he began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.