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TIFF reveals Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival line-up

A snapshot from The Forbidden Room, a film directed by Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson.

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Films by CanCon mainstays Guy Maddin, Patricia Rozema and Philippe Falardeau are among the selections tapped by the Toronto International Film Festival for its 14th annual celebration of the country's best cinema, the organization revealed Tuesday evening.

Canada's Top Ten Film Festival, which runs at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto from Jan. 8 to 17, is designed to highlight the best films the country has produced in the past year, and raise general "awareness of Canadian achievements in film," according to TIFF. In that sense, the mini-festival's selections are perfectly on-point, as only two of the films (Maddin's surreal drama The Forbidden Room and Falardeau's political comedy My Internship in Canada) have actually played Canadian cinemas. (Anne Emond's Les etres chers and Philippe Lesage's Les demons both opened in Quebec only, while a shorter version of the documentary Guantanamo's Child: Omar Khadr aired on CBC this past Thursday.)

As for the rest of the films, they have only been viewed by those lucky enough to catch screenings at this past September's TIFF. Stephen Dunn's psycho-sexual drama Closet Monster, Alan Zweig's documentary Hurt, Rozema's dystopian Into the Forest, Mina Shum's doc Ninth Floor and Andrew Cividino's coming-of-age indie Sleeping Giant all played the fest – most to great acclaim – but have yet to receive any theatrical distribution. This naturally makes the Top Ten a hot ticket, as it could be untold months before the movies are available to view again.

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This year's Top Ten is also offering a geographic twist, with simultaneous screenings in Vancouver's The Cinematheque and Montreal's PHI Centre, including simulcast introductions and interactive Q&A sessions with filmmakers. (Select screenings will also take place in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Halifax and Ottawa.)

"One of our most geographically representative programs to date, the strength of this year's lineup is a testament to the diversity and curiosity of our nation's filmmakers," said Steve Gravestock, a senior programmer for TIFF, in a statement. "The collaborations from across the country demonstrate the versatility of our filmmaking community, delivering deeply engaging cinema in their exploration of Canadian values."

As at TIFF, audience members at the Toronto screenings will be able to vote for their favourite film in the People's Choice Award.

Also announced Tuesday was an on-stage discussion with Canadian actor and 24 star Kiefer Sutherland. The "In Conversation With..." event will help wind down the Top Ten festival on Jan. 16, with Sutherland joining TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey for a CV-spanning discussion at the Lightbox.

For more information and tickets, visit tiff.net.

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About the Author

Barry Hertz is the deputy arts editor and film editor for The Globe and Mail. He previously served as the Executive Producer of Features for the National Post, and was a manager and writer at Maclean’s before that. His arts and culture writing has also been featured in several publications, including Reader’s Digest and NOW Magazine. More

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