Adventures in Public School. Image courtesy of TIFF

TIFF unveils top 10 Canadian films of 2017

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) illuminates the nation with a showcase of the best films of 2017 through the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival with public screenings, free events, and special guests Alanis Obomsawin, Evan Rachel Wood and Jeremy Podeswa.

TIFF is toasting the end of Canada’s sesquicentennial with its compelling list of 2017’s best Canadian films for the 17th annual Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival. Established in 2001, the festival is one of the largest and longest-running showcases of Canadian film. From January 12 to 21, 2018 at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, the 10-day event boasts a rich offering of public screenings, Q&A sessions and a special Industry Forum, and a nationwide tour stopping in Vancouver, Montreal, Regina, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Saskatoon.

Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of TIFF, says the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival is a vibrant celebration of diversity and excellence in contemporary Canadian cinema. “Our filmmakers have proven that they are among the best in the world and all Canadians should feel incredibly proud to get behind them and celebrate their achievements. Wrapping up Canada’s year in the global spotlight, we are thrilled to present this uniquely Canadian list, rich not only in talent but also in its diversity of perspectives, stories, and voices that reflect our nation’s multiculturalism,” said Bailey.

Steve Gravestock, TIFF Senior Programmer, says the number of exciting new voices alongside seasoned masters in this year’s lineup is a testament to the health of the Canadian film industry. “With a top 10 that includes five first- or second-time feature directors, there is much to celebrate in Canadian cinema this year,” said Gravestock. “We are thrilled to have a lineup that champions talent from across Canada with a strong contingent of women filmmakers and very healthy representation from the west, especially British Columbia; it perfectly showcases the range of genres that Canadian filmmakers are exploring, from intimate dramas to documentaries, a documentary hybrid, and even a fresh take on the zombie film.”

The stellar lineup champions emerging directors, including Sadaf Foroughi for her award-winning, Tehran-set drama Ava; Wayne Wapeemukwa’s City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at TIFF,  Luk’Luk’I; Kathleen Hepburn’s heartbreaking Never Steady, Never Still; Simon Lavoie’s striking The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond Of Matches; Kyle Rideout’s charming comedy Adventures in Public School; and, in another example Canada’s genre chops, Les Affamés, Robin Aubert’s unique take on the zombie allegory, which won the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF. Social issues are also dealt with directly in Charles Officer’s lyrical documentary Unarmed Verses, winner of Hot Docs’ Best Canadian Feature Documentary prize, and Catherine Bainbridge’s electrifying crowd-pleaser RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World.

The festival’s popular In Conversation With… series will feature intimate onstage discussions with remarkable talent, including master filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, who is also part of this year’s lineup with her latest feature, Our People Will Be Healed, a luminous, hopeful ode to the power of action-driven decolonization. The revered filmmaker, musician, and revolutionary artist has been a tireless advocate for Indigenous resistance and she continues to reinvigorate Canada’s Indigenous identities while advocating for truth and reconciliation in her latest feature. In Conversation With… Alanis Obomsawin is co-presented by The Directors Guild of Canada.

In addition, award-winning actor Evan Rachel Wood will discuss her career and role in the psychological thriller Allure, the highly anticipated feature debut from Montreal-based photographers Carlos and Jason Sanchez. Wood began her career as a child in the 1990s and went on to give acclaimed performances in Thirteen (2003) and The Wrestler (2008), before reaching new heights with HBO’s hit series Westworld (2016– ). She is a leading voice in the drive to create lasting change in the film industry, and her brilliant work in such Canadian independent features as Patricia Rozema’s Into the Forest (Canada’s Top Ten 2015) and this year’s Canada’s Top Ten selection Allure has cemented her status as one of the most versatile and adventurous actors working today.

The festival also offers audiences two special screenings: Phillip Borsos’ 1990 political saga Bethune: The Making of a Hero — starring Donald Sutherland as beloved Canadian hero Dr. Norman Bethune — as well as a Canadian Open Vault free screening of Daniel Cockburn’s TFCA Jay Scott Prize winner You Are Here (2010).

Filmgoers in Toronto will once again vote to crown the People’s Choice Award winner.

The Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival is complemented by the 2018 TIFF Industry Forum, a full day of programming on Friday, January 12 tailored exclusively for film professionals. The Forum opens with a special edition of Breakfast at TIFF that explores programming ethics. In light of recent harassment allegations against prominent industry creatives, panelists will debate whether the art can ever truly be separated from the artist. Another session will celebrate the outstanding work of break-out feature directors and examine how the industry can best support them as they develop their second and third features. The Forum closes with a live onstage recording of the award-winning podcast TIFF Long Take, featuring Canadian film and television director Jeremy Podeswa. He is best known for directing the films The Five Senses (1999) and Fugitive Pieces (2007), and for his Emmy-nominated work on the HBO series Game of Thrones.

The festival will tour select films to major cities across the country including stops at Vancouver’s The Cinematheque (January 12 to 21), Montreal’s PHI Centre (January 12 to 21), Winnipeg Film Group’s Cinematheque (January 12 to February 24), Edmonton’s Metro Cinema (January 26 to February 4), Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada (March 15 to 17), Regina’s RPL Film Theatre (April 12 to 15) and Saskatoon’s PAVED Arts in collaboration with the Roxy Theatre (dates TBC).

Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival features (in alphabetical order)

Adventures in Public School – Kyle Rideout – Opening Night Film
– Carlos Sanchez, Jason Sanchez
Ava – Sadaf Foroughi
Les Affamés
– Robin Aubert
The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches
– Simon Lavoie
– Wayne Wapeemukwa
Never Steady, Never Still
– Kathleen Hepburn
Our People Will Be Healed
– Alanis Obomsawin
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World
– Catherine Bainbridge
Unarmed Verses
– Charles Officer

Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival shorts (in alphabetical order)

The Argument – (with annotations) Daniel Cockburn
The Botanist
– Maude Plante-Husaruk, Maxime Lacoste-Lebuis
The Crying Conch
– Vincent Toi
The Drop In
– Naledi Jackson
– Amanda Strong
– Heather Young
Pre-Drink –
Marc-Antoine Lemire

Rupture Yassmina Karajah
The Tesla World Light
Matthew Rankin
– Torill Kove

Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival student shorts (in alphabetical order)

Away Home – Jana Stackhouse (Ryerson)
– Flytrap Productions (Sheridan College)
Hold My Hand
– Alexandre Lefebvre (Cinéma à l’Université du Québec à Montréal)
If You Fall
– Tisha Deb Pillai (Emily Carr University of Art + Design: Animation)
– Aziz Zoromba (Concordia University)
– Ted Sakowsky (York University)
Mustard Seed
– Lina Roessler (York University)
– Ali Kellner (Sheridan College)
– FIG House (Sheridan College)
Waiting for Lou
– Katerine Martineau (Concordia University)

Tickets and ticket packages for the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival go on sale today for TIFF Members and December 13 for the public. Purchase tickets online at, by phone from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET at 416.599.TIFF and 1.888.599.8433, or in person at the Steve & Rashmi Gupta Box Office at TIFF Bell Lightbox from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. Pricing as follows: regular screening ticket is $14 (feature film, shorts programmes, or special screenings); purchase The 6ix Pack for $70 and get six tickets for the price of five, or new this year, purchase The 6ix Pack + Cocktail ticket for $105; tickets to the Opening Night Cocktail + Filmare $50; tickets for In Conversation With… events are $23.75. For more information, visit

A full-day, all-inclusive Industry Forum package is $75, individual panel ticket is $12, and individual Breakfast at TIFF ticket is $23.75.For more information about the Industry Forum, visit TIFF prefers Visa.

In order to be eligible for the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival, the film (short or feature) must be directed by a Canadian citizen or resident, have Canada listed as a country of production, and have been released commercially or played a major film festival in Canada in 2017.

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