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2016's Canada's Top Ten Film Festival Celebrates Homegrown Talent

See the north

Dec 7, 2016

It’s about to be red, white, and plaid all over.

The leading filmmakers for TIFF’s 16th annual Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival have been announced. This January 13 through 26 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, TIFF will open its doors for 14 days of public screenings of the top 10 Canadian features, shorts, and student shorts of 2016, as chosen by a national panel of filmmakers and industry professionals. These films will be accompanied by introductions and Q&As with the film’s directors. All filmgoers will have the chance to vote for the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival’s People's Choice Award winner.

And, to mark Canada’s Sesquicentennial, the festival will also offer free public screenings and events tied to TIFF’s Canada on Screen series.

Industry programming at Canada’s Top Ten will include a panel on feature films and short films, two “In Conversation With” events, a session created by TIFF Higher Learning, and an all-day Industry Forum highlighting directors to watch, as well as cinematographers and production designers.

To kick off this morning’s announcement, TIFF Digital held the first-ever Facebook Live Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival announcement. Click below to watch the video, directed and written by Jono Hunter, and starring Sarah Gadon, Rick Mercer, and local Canadian filmmakers Kevan Funk and Nathan Morlando.

“Canada continues to deliver superb film talent to the word,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Artistic Director. “This year's Canada's Top Ten lineup ranges from British Columbia to Nunavut to Nova Scotia, telling stories that show Canadians who we are. Smart, emotional and provocative, these films showcase both world-renowned names such as Xavier Dolan and impressive newcomers like Ashley McKenzie and Johnny Ma. To open this year's Canada's Top Ten, we are honoured to present a remarkable new film by one of our most important and most influential directors working today, Zacharias Kunuk's Maliglutit (Searchers).”

“This year’s lineup boasts a daring selection of edgy independent works from an exceptional group of directors taking serious and significant risks in their approach to filmmaking,” said Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF. “We are truly proud to celebrate our industry’s achievements with a coast-to-coast showcase of these films, bringing them to savvy audiences in 10 cities across the country.”

Not in Toronto? The Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival makes stops in cities across the country, with screenings at Vancouver’s The Cinematheque (January 13–22), Calgary’s Globe Cinema (January 13–22), Montreal’s PHI Centre (January 14–31), Regina’s RPL Film Theatre (January 19–22), Edmonton’s Metro Cinema (January 20–29), Saskatoon’s Paved Arts in collaboration with the Roxy Theatre (January 26), Winnipeg Film Group’s Cinematheque (March 2017), Halifax’s Atlantic Film Festival & Art Gallery of Nova Scotia at the Windsor Foundation Lecture Theatre (May 1–8), and Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada (dates TBA).

Without further ado, here’s the list of Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival features, short films and student shorts for 2016, in alphabetical order:


Angry Inuk Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (National Film Board of Canada)

Hello Destroyer Kevan Funk (Northern Banner)

It’s Only the End of the World (Juste la fin du monde) Xavier Dolan (Les Films Séville/Entertainment One)

Maliglutit (Searchers) Zacharias Kunuk Opening Night Film (Isuma Distribution International/Vtape Distribution)

Mean Dreams Nathan Morlando (Elevation Pictures)

Nelly Anne Émond (Les Films Séville/Entertainment One)

Old Stone (Lao shi) Johnny Ma (FilmsWeLike)

Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves(Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n'ont fait que se creuser un tombeau) Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie (K-Films Amérique)

Werewolf Ashley McKenzie (La Distributrice de Films)

Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) Ann Marie Fleming (Mongrel Media)


Canada's Top Ten Shorts Programme 1

Blind Vaysha (Vaysha, l'aveugle) Theodore Ushev (NFB)

Emma Martin Edralin

Frame 394 Rich Williamson (CBC)

Fluffy (Flafi) Lee Filipovski

Her Friend Adam Ben Petrie

Canada's Top Ten Shorts Programme 2

Fish Heather Young

A Funeral for Lightning Emily Kai Bock

Mariner Thyrone Tommy

Mutants Alexandre Dostie (Travelling, les films qui voyagent)

SNIP Terril Calder

Canada's Top Ten Student Shorts Programme

Les Beiges Étienne Lacelle (Concordia University)

Boys Will Be Teryl Brouillette (Ryerson University)

Bumby the Barely-Witch Jessica Tai (Emily Carr University of Art + Design)

Drifter Olivia Lindgren (Langara College)

Feathers Sarah Kieley (Sheridan College)

Island (SAARI) Ella Mikkola (University of Regina)

The Land of Nod Ivan Ramin Radnik (Humber College)

My Invisible Mother Pascal Huynh (Concordia University)

Nothing Grows Here Lauren Belanger (Ryerson University)

This is Not an Animation (Ceci n’est pas une animation) Federico Kempke (Sheridan College)

Breakfast at TIFF -CB

Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival 2016 features panel

A national panel of seven filmmakers and industry professionals selected the best in Canadian features:

Olena Decock — outreach coordinator, REEL Canada; and programming associate, Toronto International Film Festival

Luc Déry — producer (Incendies, Monsieur Lazhar, My Internship in Canada)

Judy Gladstone — executive producer and film curator for SVOD and festivals

Peter Harris — film programmer, Edmonton’s Metro Cinema

Anne Mackenzie — producer, creative consultant, script and book editor

Babak Payami — filmmaker (One More Day, Secret Ballot, Manhattan Undying)

Sudz Sutherland — writer and director (Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, Doomstown, Shoot the Messenger)

Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival 2016 shorts panel

A national panel of five filmmakers and industry professionals selected the best in Canadian shorts:

Stacey Donen — producer and film programmer

Danis Goulet — TIFF Short Cuts programmer and filmmaker (Barefoot)

Ashley McKenzie — writer-director (Werewolf)

Blaine Thurier — filmmaker and musician (Low Self-Esteeem Girl; The New Pornographers)

Ben Williams — production centre director, Winnipeg Film Group

The Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival 2016 student shorts were selected by Lisa Haller (Senior Programming Associate, TIFF).

The Top Ten shorts panel will select the student shorts winners for Best Film (Live Action) and Best Film (Animation). The filmmakers will be awarded with prize packages following the screening in January, courtesy of William F. White International Inc., Technicolor, and the Directors Guild of Canada.

Zacharias Kunuk and Jesse Wente in a Live Commentary on John Ford's The Searchers — Sunday, January 15 at 6:30pm

The award-winning filmmaker sits down with Jesse Wente, TIFF’s Director of Film Programmes, for a lively onstage discussion during a screening of John Ford's The Searchers — the film that inspired Kunuk’s Maliglutit (Searchers).

In Conversation With... Director X — Thursday, January 19 at 6 pm

The mastermind behind hit music videos like Drake's Hotline Bling and Rihanna's Work joins Cameron Bailey on stage for a career-spanning look at his work and an in-depth discussion on his creative process.

Higher Learning: Breaking Free - Stories of Isolation and Struggle — Friday, January 13 at 11 am | FREE

Moderated by TIFF Short Cuts programmer Danis Goulet, this panel explores four films Canada’s Top Ten selections with strong character journeys and themes of isolation and struggle: director Terril Calder (SNIP), director Johnny Ma (Old Stone), director Ashley McKenzie (Werewolf) and director Thyrone Tommy (Mariner).

Industry Forum — Friday, January 13

New this year, TIFF introduces Industry Forum, a full-day of programming tailored exclusively for film professionals. The day kicks off with a special edition of Breakfast at TIFF, anchored by a keynote address from Artistic Director Cameron Bailey that will examine the state of diversity in the Canadian screen industry. The Forum also features five sessions celebrating the standout Canadian creators, craftspeople and performers working in film and television, covering a range of topics that will include the new generation of television comedy, an exploration of activist filmmaking, a conversation with documentary visionaries, and a spotlight on cinematographers and production designers. Guest highlights include director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Angry Inuk), director Matt Johnson(Operation Avalanche; creator, nirvanna the band the show), director Jennifer Baichwal(Watermark), director Nick de Pencier (Black Code), director Hugh Gibson (The Stairs), and production designer Zosia Mackenzie (Mean Dreams). Ticket packages include Breakfast at TIFF, five industry sessions and access to the festival’s Opening Night Party. For more information, visit

Canada on Screen: Film screenings and events | FREE

This year’s festival presents a number of classic Canadian titles as part of TIFF’s year-long programme celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. The country’s rich cinematic heritage includes some of the world’s most important moving-image works — from features, shorts, documentaries, animation, television, experimental works, music videos, commercials and moving-image installations. This free showcase includes two short film compilations comprised of some of the most significant avant-garde, live-action, and animated work ever produced, as well as screenings of Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell (2012), Atom Egoyan’s Calendar (1993) followed by his work-in-progress film Notes For A Possible Sequel, David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (1988), Michel Brault’s Les Ordres (1974), Jennifer Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes (2006), Xavier Dolan’s Mommy (2014) and Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967). Additional information about the series is available at

Tickets and ticket packages for Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival events at TIFF Bell Lightbox go on sale today for TIFF Members and December 14 for the public. Purchase tickets online at, by phone from 10am–7pm ET at 416.599.TIFF and 1.888.599.8433, or in person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox box office from 10am–10pm ET. Pricing as follows: regular screening ticket is $14 (feature film or shorts programmes); purchase the 6ix Pack for $70 and get six tickets for the price of five; ticket to the Opening Night party and film is $50; tickets for In Conversation With... events are $23.75 each; Industry Forum full-day package is $60, individual panel ticket is $12, and Breakfast at TIFF is $18. All Canada on Screen and Higher Learning events are free. For more information, 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, Canada must be an official country of production on the film, and the film must have been released commercially or played a major film festival in Canada in 2016.