CanadaOnScreen 01 CanadaOnScreen 01

The Review/ Short Read/

TIFF Selects 150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History

From Feist’s “1, 2, 3, 4” to Wojeck, a part of our heritage

Oct 13, 2016

Next year, Canada turns 150. To take stock of our sesquicentennial birthday, TIFF (alongside our three key partners Library and Archives Canada, the Cinémathèque québécoise and The Cinematheque in Vancouver and our presenting partners RBC and the Government of Canada) got to work examining our cultural legacy. Our list of the 150 essential moving-image productions made in Canada was determined through a national poll of over 200 members of the film, television, advertising and music industry along with journalists, critics, scholars, and filmmakers and includes animation, music videos, commercials, documentaries, TV programs and experimental works, as well as feature films. Representing everything our nation has to offer across coast-to-coast filmmaking communities, this wide breadth of work shows a Canada that is brash, cinematic and ever-changing. In 150 years, we’ve gone from Back to God’s Country to “Hotline Bling.”

To celebrate 150 years of Canadian cinema, TIFF will add 72 screenings to its 2017 programming of several titles from the Canada on Screen list. We will also partner with organizations to hold viewings in Ottawa and cities across Canada. To kick it all off, our annual Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival in January will be expanded with another 10 titles from our list. In addition, TIFF Next Wave and TIFF Kids Jump Cuts competitions will expand their submission eligibility nationwide, as Next Wave screens a title from the essential 150 for free to the public.

On April 19, 2017, better known as National Canadian Film Day 150, TIFF's national screening outreach programme, Film Circuit, will partner with REEL CANADA to present 150 screenings across our country at various Film Circuit locations. And to cap it all off, we’ll contextualize each of our 150 moving image works with an exclusive digital catalogue with original artifacts and curated essays from leading figures in the industry.

When we look back on a list of works so uniquely and diversely Canadian as the essential 150, what does this say about our filmmaking heritage? Consider also that the TIFF Cinematheque programme will feature new restorations of works that include Clement Virgo’s Rude (1995) in 4K, Peter Mettler’s Picture of Light (1994), Patricia Rozema’s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987) and Guy Maddin’s Archangel (1990), as well as five moving-image installations this summer such as Michael Snow’s Two Sides to Every Story (1974), Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s The Paradise Institute (2001) and Stan Douglas’ Overture (1986). (To be presented in the HSBC Gallery, alongside artist talks and panel discussions.)

atanarjuat LEAD

In an essay presenting the 2015 edition of Canada’s “All-Time Top 10,” TIFF programmer Steve Gravestock attempted to contextualize why a jury of filmmakers, critics and programmers had chosen their selection. (All of which are amongst the 40 feature films included in Canada on Screen.) This year for the first time, the all-time greatest Canadian film in this special ranking was Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001) by Zacharias Kunuk. Wrote Gravestock, “This is likely the first time that a film by an indigenous filmmaker has topped a poll of national cinema — a tribute to the film’s unique approach to storytelling, its intense specificity, and its powerful universality.”

That definition — a unique approach to storytelling, with specificity and universality — could be indicative of every single work included in our immersive Canada on Screen list. From the infamous Molson Canadian commercial “The Rant” to Norman McLaren’s playful animations for the NFB, this is our country and this is 150 years of Canadian cinema.

What’s your favourite film on TIFF’s Canada on Screen list? What did we leave out? Tweet us your response @TIFF_NET and tag your post #SeeTheNorth. We’ll curate a post to be published on The Review.

Here’s the Canada on Screen list (in alphabetical order):


  1. Âme noire, Martine Chartrand (2001)
  2. Begone Dull Care, Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart (1949)
  3. The Big Snit, Richard Condie (1985)
  4. Cameras Take Five, Steven Woloshen (2002)
  5. Le chapeau, Michèle Cournoyer (1999)
  6. L’homme qui plantait des arbres, Frédéric Back (1987)
  7. Hunger/La faim, Peter Foldes (1974)
  8. Log Driver’s Waltz, John Weldon (1979)
  9. Neighbours, Norman McLaren (1952)
  10. Le Paysagiste, Jacques Drouin (1976)
  11. Ryan, Chris Landreth (2004)
  12. The Sand Castle/Le Château de sable, Co Hoedeman (1977)
  13. The Street/La Rue, Caroline Leaf (1976)
  14. The Sweater, Sheldon Cohen (1980)
  15. When the Day Breaks, Wendy Tilby, Amanda Forbis (1999)


  1. “Arctic Sun” Tropicana, BBDO (2010)
  2. “Bike Story” Canadian Tire, Doner Schur Peppler (1990)
  3. “Do You Eat the Red Ones Last” Smarties, Ogilvy & Mather (1967)
  4. “Dove Evolution” Dove Self-esteem Fund, Ogilvy & Mather (2006)
  5. “It’s Not a Mistake, Start the Car!” Ikea Canada, Zig (2005)
  6. “Meunier” Pepsi, Blouin Coulombe Dube Thompson (1993)
  7. “Mona Lisa” Cadbury’s Caramilk, DDB Canada (1973)
  8. “On est six millions faut se parler” Labatt 50, BCP (1975)
  9. “Proud Fathers” Tim Hortons, Enterprise (2006)
  10. “The Rant” Molson Canadian, Bensimon Byrne (2000)


  1. La Bête lumineuse, Pierre Perrault (1982)
  2. Les Bûcherons de la Manouane, Arthur Lamothe (1962)
  3. Churchill’s Island, Stuart Legg (1941)
  4. Corral, Colin Low (1954)
  5. Foster Child, Gil Cardinal (1987)
  6. Hommes à louer, Rodrigue Jean (2009)
  7. Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Alanis Obomsawin (1993)
  8. Lonely Boy, Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor (1962)
  9. La Lutte, Michel Brault, Marcel Carrière, Claude Fournier, Claude Jutra (1961)
  10. Manufactured Landscapes, Jennifer Baichwal (2006)
  11. Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, Mark Achbar, Peter Wintonick (1992)
  12. A Married Couple, Allan King (1969)
  13. Memorandum, Donald Brittain, John Spotton (1965)
  14. My Winnipeg, Guy Maddin (2007)
  15. Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography, Bonnie Sherr Klein (1981)
  16. On est au coton, Denys Arcand (1970)
  17. Picture of Light, Peter Mettler (1994)
  18. Pour la suite du monde, Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault (1963)
  19. Les raquetteurs, Gilles Groulx, Michel Brault (1958)
  20. Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley (2012)
  21. The Things I Cannot Change, Tanya Ballantyne Tree (1967)
  22. Warrendale, Allan King (1967)


  1. The Hundred Videos, Steve Reinke (1989-1996)
  2. Birthday Suit – with scars and defects, Lisa Steele (1974)
  3. The Hart of London, Jack Chambers (1970)
  4. Lamentations: A Monument for the Dead World, R. Bruce Elder (1985)
  5. Like a Dream That Vanishes, Barbara Sternberg (1999)
  6. Rat Life and Diet in North America, Joyce Wieland (1968)
  7. Reason Over Passion, Joyce Wieland (1968)
  8. La région centrale, Michael Snow (1971)
  9. Sackville, I’m Yours, Colin Campbell (1972)
  10. trapline, Ellie Epp (1976)
  11. Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis, Daïchi Saïto (2009)
  12. Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper, David Rimmer (1972)
  13. Very Nice, Very Nice, Arthur Lipsett (1961)
  14. Le Voleur vit en enfer, Robert Morin, Lorraine Dufour (1984)
  15. Wavelength, Michael Snow (1967)


  1. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Ted Kotcheff (1974)
  2. Archangel, Guy Maddin (1990)
  3. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Zacharias Kunuk (2001)
  4. Back to God’s Country, David Hartford (1919)
  5. Bar salon, André Forcier (1974)
  6. The Bitter Ash, Larry Kent (1963)
  7. Black Christmas, Bob Clark (1974)
  8. Les Bons Débarras, Francis Mankiewicz (1979)
  9. Le Chat dans le sac, Gilles Groulx (1964)
  10. C.R.A.Z.Y., Jean-Marc Vallée (2005)
  11. Calendar, Atom Egoyan (1993)
  12. Dead Ringers, David Cronenberg (1988)
  13. Le Déclin de l'empire américain, Denys Arcand (1986)
  14. La Femme de l'hôtel, Léa Pool (1984)
  15. Goin’ Down the Road, Donald Shebib (1970)
  16. La Guerre des tuques, André Melançon (1984)
  17. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Patricia Rozema (1987)
  18. J. A. Martin, photographe, Jean Beaudin (1977)
  19. Jésus de Montréal, Denys Arcand (1989)
  20. Léolo, Jean-Claude Lauzon (1992)
  21. Life Classes, William D. MacGillivray (1987)
  22. Loyalties, Anne Wheeler (1986)
  23. Mommy, Xavier Dolan (2014)
  24. Mon oncle Antoine, Claude Jutra (1971)
  25. Mourir à tue-tête, Anne Claire Poirier (1979)
  26. My American Cousin, Sandy Wilson (1985)
  27. Nobody Waved Good-bye, Don Owen (1964)
  28. Les Ordres, Michel Brault (1974)
  29. La petite Aurore, l’enfant martyre, Jean-Yves Bigras (1952)
  30. Rude, Clement Virgo (1995)
  31. Sonatine, Micheline Lanctôt (1984)
  32. The Sweet Hereafter, Atom Egoyan (1997)
  33. À tout prendre, Claude Jutra (1964)
  34. Tit-Coq, Gratien Gélinas, René Delacroix (1953)
  35. Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, François Girard (1993)
  36. Videodrome, David Cronenberg (1983)
  37. La Vie rêvée, Mireille Dansereau (1972)
  38. Le Vieux Pays où Rimbaud est mort, Jean Pierre Lefebvre (1977)
  39. La Vraie Nature de Bernadette, Gilles Carle (1972)
  40. Water, Deepa Mehta (2005)


  1. …from the Transit Bar, Vera Frenkel (1992)
  2. In the Labyrinth, Roman Kroitor, Colin Low, Hugh O’Connor (1967)
  3. Overture, Stan Douglas (1986)
  4. The Paradise Institute, Janet Cardiff, George Bures Miller (2001)
  5. Two Generators, Rodney Graham (1984)
  6. Two Sides to Every Story, Michael Snow (1974)


  1. “1234” by Feist, dir. Patrick Daughters (2007)
  2. “60 rue de lombards” by Uzeb, dir. François Girard (1986)
  3. “Bye Bye Mon Cowboy” by Mitsou (1988)
  4. “Drop the Needle” by Maestro Fresh Wes, dir. Joel Goldberg (1990)
  5. “Hotline Bling” by Drake, dir. Director X (2015)
  6. “In My Secret Life” by Leonard Cohen, dir. Floria Sigismondi (2001)
  7. “Neon Bible” by Arcade Fire, dir. Vincent Morisset (2007)
  8. “Oblivion” by Grimes, dir. Emily Kai Bock, Grimes (2012)
  9. “Queen of Hearts” by Fucked Up, dir. Scott Cudmore (2012)
  10. “La rue principale” by Les Colocs, dir. André Fortin (1993)


  1. Elvis Gratton, Pierre Falardeau (1981)
  2. Frank’s Cock, Mike Hoolboom (1993)
  3. The Heart of the World, Guy Maddin (2000)
  4. The Making of Monsters, John Greyson (1991)
  5. Noah, Walter Woodman, Patrick Cederberg (2013)
  6. North of Superior, Graeme Ferguson (1971)
  7. Rhapsody in Two Languages, Gordon Sparling (1934)
  8. Save My Lost Nigga Soul, Clement Virgo (1993)
  9. Springtime in Greenland, John Paizs (1981)
  10. You Take Care Now, Ann Marie Fleming (1989)


  1. Anne of Green Gables (1985)
  2. The Beachcombers (1972-1990)
  3. The Boys of St. Vincent (1992)
  4. Bye Bye (1968-present)
  5. Canada: A People’s History (2000-2001)
  6. Codco (1986-1992)
  7. Le Défi mondial (1986)
  8. Degrassi Junior High (1987-1991)
  9. La famille Plouffe (1953)
  10. For the Record (1976-1985)
  11. The Friendly Giant (1958-1985)
  12. Hockey Night in Canada/La Soirée du hockey (1952-present)
  13. Minuit, le soir (2005-2007)
  14. Nunavut (Our Land) (1995)
  15. La Petite Vie (1993-1997)
  16. Point de mire (1956-1959)
  17. Rock et Belles Oreilles (1986-1988)
  18. SCTV (1976-1981)
  19. À la seconde (1967-1972)
  20. The Wayne and Shuster Hour (1952)
  21. This Hour Has Seven Days (1964-1966)
  22. Wojeck (1966-1968)