Film Festival Season – 2022
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher & Managing Editor
(August 18, 2022 – Toronto, ON) There are almost 50 Canadian film festivals from August to December listed on this website and those are only the ones we know about. September really kicks off the annual festival “season” in part because of the biggie, TIFF, but also because other major cities hold their annual festivals in the closing months of the year.
In September there will be festivals in Halifax, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Smaller centres offer great festivals too and a prime example is Sudbury, Ontario’s Cinéfest, which opens on September 17. Their full 2022 lineup will be announced Aug 25, but books of admission tickets or Passports are available for purchase now. Staying in Ontario, North America’s oldest and largest animation festival, OIAF (Ottawa International Animation Festival) launches on September 21. This year they received a total of 2457 entries from 96 different countries. Of those, 62 short films, including Animated Series, and seven feature films were chosen for competition. There are five projects in the running for Best Virtual Reality (VR).
October sees major festivals in Montréal, St. John’s and Winnipeg as well as lots of other places. November sees film festivals in Banff, Fredericton, Vancouver and of course Toronto. Because of the huge population base in and around Toronto, many smaller festivals have a particular focus. One example in October is the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, the largest indigenous film festival in the world. In Montreal this October look for Le Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.
The 47th Toronto International Film Festival® (TIFF) opens with The Swimmers on Thursday, September 8. Based on a true story, it follows the journey from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics for two young sisters on what turns out to be a harrowing journey. While the festival stays true to its international lineup, there are plenty of Canadian films, which is our main focus. TIFF will release its full schedule on August 23.
We reported last month on Clement Virgo’s new film, Brother, having its World Premiere at TIFF. Look for the young (he’s 10) Sebastian Singh making his feature film debut as the younger version of the Lamar Johnson’s lead character Michael.
Writer-director Lina Rodriguez brings So Much Tenderness, a story about a Colombian environmental lawyer who flees her native country after her husband is murdered. She will be at TIFF along with actors Noëlle Schönwald, Natalia Aranguren (pictured above), Brad Deane and Deragh Campbell.
Earlier this month we reported on TIFF’s Discovery & Midnight Madness programs. Two Canadian films are in the Discovery section. Sophie Jarvis brings her new feature, Until Branches Bend to TIFF for its World Premiere. Grace Glowicki plays a cannery worker who struggles to get an abortion. When she finds an invasive bug in a peach at work, she turns her focus towards proving to her community that the danger it poses is real. As her obsession alienates her from friends and family, she sinks deeper into her task. Until Branches Bend is a psychological drama about how trouble beneath the surface will always come to light.
Gail Maurice’s feature Rosie (pictured above) is about family, love and misfits. Rosie is a young, orphaned, Indigenous girl forced to live with her reluctant, street-smart Aunty Fred (Frédérique). Thrust into the fringes of 1980’s Montréal, Rosie learns that Fred has just lost her job, is on the verge of eviction, and who looks and sounds nothing like her. Fred, an artist who creates art from found and discarded objects or other peoples’ trash, introduces Rosie to her two best friends Flo and Mo, glamorous, gender-bending street workers. In the end, Rosie transforms the lives of these colourful characters and finds love, acceptance, and a true home with her new chosen family of glittering outsiders. Rosie also enjoys a World Premiere at TIFF.
Toronto writer/director Chandler Levack makes her feature film debut with I Like Movies, a dramedy based on her experience working at a Blockbuster Video in the early 2000s. Socially inept, Lawrence (Isaiah Lehtinen) is a 17-year-old cinephile who gets a job at the Sequels video store in Burlington, Ontario. Anxious about his future (and desire to attend NYU’s Tisch School of Arts), Lawrence begins alienating the most important people in his life – his best friend (Percy Hynes White) and his single mother (Krista Bridges) – all the while developing a complicated friendship with his older female manager (Romina D’Ugo). Look for props from a real Blockbuster. Produced by Lindsay Blair Goeldner and co-produced by Levack and Evan Dubinsky. Levack, Goeldner and editor Simone Smith are Canadian Film Centre alumni. I Like Movies is also part of TIFF’s Discovery program.
The NFB has four films at TIFF 2022, three are feature documentaries including Brian D. Johnson’s The Colour of Ink, which uncovers the medium’s mystery and power through the eyes of Jason Logan, a visionary Toronto inkmaker who works with ingredients foraged in the wild—weeds, berries, bark, flowers, rocks, rust.
Ever Deadly is an immersive, visceral music and cinema experience featuring avant-garde Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, created in collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Chelsea McMullan. Nisha Pahuja’s Notice Pictures/NFB co-production To Kill a Tiger, in which a farmer in Jharkhand, India, takes on the fight of his life when he demands justice for his 13-year-old daughter, the victim of a brutal gang rape. In TIFF’s Short Cuts program, look for the NFB animated short The Flying Sailor. It runs less than 8-minutes and was co-directed by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis. It is making its North American premiere at TIFF following its world premiere at the 2022 Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. It is one of 17 Canadian shorts in a program of international short films/
One of many documentaries to look for is titled Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry it On. It screens at TIFF and at the Calgary International Film Festival among others. Her career spans more than sixty years, taking off when her anti-war anthem “Universal Soldier” made her one of the biggest rising stars of the ‘60s folk scene. However, when she used her newfound platform to speak out about issues affecting Native Americans, she was blacklisted from American radio, almost ending her career overnight. Carrying on, almost as if nothing had happened, Sainte-Marie went on to record one of the very first electronic music albums and was the first Indigenous person to win an Academy Award and made history on Sesame Street. This documentary sheds light on an artist who, at 81, is still thriving, creating, and evolving in every area of her life, helping the world to ripen a little more every day. The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) runs September 22 to October 2. The film is a co-production of Eagle Vision, White Pine Pictures and Paquin Entertainment and is directed by Madison Thomas.
As we move further into 2022’s film festival season we will cover even more Canadian films, because that’s why we do. Meanwhile, we’re busy adding these films, and their cast and crew members to our database as fast as we can. You can find links to all of the festivals mentioned in this article starting here.
BTW, if you want your film festival listed, send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ralph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.