Sure we all love the glitz and glamour of Hollywood but why look south when filmmakers north of the border are offering eclectic, touching, risqué and musical movies at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

By Andrea Miller | Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | Awards & Festivals , TIFF
Fresh from last year’s well-received high school dramedy The Trotsky, director Jacob Tierney brings Good Neighbours to the festival, reuniting castmates Jay Baruchel and Emily Hampshire, while Quebec’s under-20 sensation Xavier Dolan does the love triangle thing with Les amours imaginaires and a few new names get into the mix in our list of TIFF 2010’s Best Bets, Canada style.

Good Neighbours – Jacob Tierney, Special Presentation
Set against the Quebec sovereignty referendum of 1995, Good Neighbours fins a trio of unlikely housemates – the widowed, wheelchair-bound Spencer (Scott Speedman), waitress Louise (Emily Hampshire) and newly arrived needy school teacher Vincent (Jay Baruchel) – who try to figure out their relationships with each other just as a string of murders pop up in their Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood. A thriller with an off-kilter view, Neighbours may only be Tierney’s third feature but he’s already got a definitive eye for the cinematically original, making Good Neighbours one to watch.

Les amours imaginaires – Xavier Dolan, Special Presentation

This kid knows movies and he knows drama. After creating a well-earned furor over his fiery directorial debut J’ai tué ma mère, Quebec’s Dolan returns with Les amours imaginaires, a story that follows friends Marie (Monia Chokri) and Francis (Dolan) who spend most of their time being indulgent, frivolous and blithely cutting until they meet Nico (Niels Schneider) who becomes a point of obsession between the two dramatic and sexually aggressive friends. Part Pedro Almodovar farce, part New Wave homage, Les amours imaginaires is sure to cement Dolan as an auteur-on-the-cusp.

Daydream Nation – Mike Goldbach, Canada First!

Earning the spot as opening night film for the programme that celebrates the debut work of newbie, homegrown talent, Goldbach’s trippy tale of misanthropic 17-year-old Caroline (Dennings), who moves to a small town that has a constantly burning industrial fire as a tourist attraction, earns its cool points right off the bat with a name inspired by Sonic Youth’s 1988 album. The coming-of-age tale also makes room for a killer on the loose tangent and a hot for teacher storyline that involves the dashing Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama, American Psycho). Proving himself an adept storyteller, as the co-writer of Don McKellar’s Childstar, Goldbach seems poised to breathe new life into Canadian cinema with his inaugural TIFF piece.

You Are Here – Daniel Cockburn, Canada First!

Described as a meta-detective movie and already getting heaps of praise from the likes of Atom Egoyan and industry bible Variety, Toronto native Cockburn makes the leap from video artist to fiction filmmaker with the Charlie Kaufman-esque, boundary-pushing story of disparate characters with names like Archivist and Experimenter who receive enigmatic messages and lead bizarre lives, if that term can even be applied here. Operating outside of reality while constantly referencing the human experience, Cockburn’s entry into feature filmmaking is not to be missed by those who like their cinema with a side of lively pontificating.

A scene from Score

Score: A hockey musical – Michael McGowan, Gala (opening night film)

McGowan offered his love letter to Canada with the Pacey (ok, Joshua Jackson) starrer One Week in 2008, so it only seems fitting that he’d give the nation that loves hockey their sports movie – with a twist. When home-schooled Farley (newcomer Noah Reid) gets recruited by a local scout (Stephen McHattie), his anti-mainstream parents (Olivia Newton-John, Marc Jordan) grow wary as their son starts to become a hockey star and grapples with the demands of playing tough on the ice. Of course what takes this underdog story to another level is the musical-comedy aspect, featuring more than a dozen songs penned by McGowan himself. Major points for originality