Each year, TIFF Rising Stars showcases new Canadian and international acting talent during the Toronto International Film Festival, placing the emphasis on the next generation who are poised for international success.
Alexandre Landry spent his adolescence training to be a performer. He studied theatre and singing at the National Theatre School of Canada before landing significant stage roles in Montreal productions of Les Aventures de Lagardère, Chambre(s), and Tom à la ferme, which would be adapted into a feature film by Xavier Dolan in 2013. Soon after, he appeared in the popular Quebec television series Destinées.
His major break came when he was cast in a supporting role in his first feature film: Gabrielle, directed by Louise Archambault (Familia), and an Official Selection of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. For his performance as Martin, Gabrielle’s fellow choir member and romantic interest, he garnered tremendous critical acclaim. International awards soon followed: he picked up the Jean-Claude Jean Award for Most Promising Talent at the Dieppe Canadian Film Festival, the Valois Magelis Award for Best Actor at France’s Festival du film francophone d’Angoulême, Best Actor at Spain’s Festival de Gijón, and the Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor in a Support Role in a Canadian film.
Watch for him this year in a starring role in Rodrigue Jean’s highly anticipated follow-up to Hommes à louer, the Festival selection Love in the Time of Civil War.
Though still a relative newcomer, Sophie Desmarais has already worked with some of the luminaries of Canadian cinema, including Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnique), Denis Coté (Curling), Xavier Dolan (Heartbeats), and Sébastien Pilote (Le Démantèlement). She garnered critical acclaim for her portrayal of Sarah, a young runner determined to succeed on the track team of one of Quebec’s top-tier universities, in the Toronto International Film Festival hit Sarah Prefers to Run. Directed by Chloé Robichaud, the film secured Sophie a Vancouver Film Critics Award for Best Actress in a Canadian Film, a RiverRun Spark Award, and rocketed her to the top of Indiewire’s “10 Actors to Watch” list at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
She made her English-language feature film debut in the 2004 period drama Head in the Clouds, and was cast opposite Charlize Theron and Penélope Cruz.
Sophie can next be seen in Julie Hivon’s Qu’est-ce qu’on fait ici?, Martin Tallbot’s Henri Henri and Rafaël Ouellet’s forthcoming feature, Gurov and Anna.
Shannon Kook, a graduate of the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada, began his career on the stage at Factory Theatre and at the Citadel Theatre, where he starred in the Dora-nominated production of The Forbidden Phoenix.
Entering the world of television proved a natural fit for Shannon. In less than a year, he made guest appearances on the popular CBC series The Border and Being Erica, Disney XD’s Aaron Stone, and the award-winning HBO series Durham County. He also appeared as a new recruit in Global’s hit show Rookie Blue, and starred in the Emmy-nominated series Degrassi: The Next Generation, playing the role of openly gay athlete Zane for three seasons.
His first major film break came when he was cast in a supporting role in James Wan’s 2013 box-office hit, The Conjuring. Shannon was next cast opposite TIFF Rising Stars alumna Cara Gee in Peter Stebbings’ Empire of Dirt, an Official Selection of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Shannon can next be seen in the upcoming adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling 2009 thriller, Dark Places, which also stars Chloë Moretz, Charlize Theron, Christina Hendricks, Nicholas Hoult and Corey Stoll.
At the young age of 16, Julia Sarah Stone is already being recognized for her broad character range and fearless performances. Nylon Magazine praised the Vancouver native for her breakout performance in the 2011 hit Canadian indie The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom. On the heels of Dolly Parton, Julia won the coveted prize for Best Performance in an International Feature at the LA Young Artist Awards.
Since then, she has played the troubled daughter of an abusive pastor in the Lifetime Movie Network’s The Pastor’s Wife, three completely different lead characters on The Hub Network’s R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, and a brilliant nerd battling peer pressure in the Canadian indie feature Vampire Dog.
In 2013, Julia captivated audiences as a series regular on AMC’s critically acclaimed series The Killing, playing an emotionally troubled teen living on the streets. Julia currently stars in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival feature Wet Bum, directed by Lindsay McKay. Her upcoming projects include roles in Wim Wenders’ Every Thing Will Be Fine, Werner Herzog’s Vernon God Little, and Charlie Kaufman’s F/X pilot, How and Why, in which she plays triplet teen boys.