Canada’s Top Ten & Packaged Goods series

December 8, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

Canada’s Top Ten

This past Tuesday, TIFF announced winners of Canada’s Top Ten, the annual tally of best features and short films which essentially give Canuck filmmakers a spotlight prior to the inevitable barrage of For Your Consideration Oscar-touted stuff that’ll dominate theatre screens very soon.

Snipped from the official press sheet, here are the winners, with links to related video releases / sample online clips / announcements (not that you shouldn’t see them on the big screen first, if possible):



Canada’s Top Ten feature film selections for 2011 (in alphabetical order, including release dates where applicable)


Café de flore — Jean-Marc Vallée (Alliance Films) November 2011

A Dangerous Method — David Cronenberg (Entertainment One) January 2012

Edwin Boyd — Nathan Morlando (Entertainment One)

Hobo With a Shotgun — Jason Eisener (Alliance Films) March 2011

Keyhole — Guy Maddin (Entertainment One)

Marécages — Guy Édoin (Mongrel Media) — to be released on DVD February 28, 2012

Monsieur Lazhar — Philippe Falardeau (Entertainment One) January 2012

Starbuck — Ken Scott (Entertainment One) July 2011

Take This Waltz — Sarah Polley (Mongrel Media) May 2012

Le Vendeur — Sébastien Pilote (Entertainment One) February 2012



Canada’s Top Ten short film selections for 2011 (in alphabetical order):


Choke — Michelle Latimer

Doubles With Slight Pepper — Ian Harnarine

The Fuse: Or How I Burned Simon Bolivar — Igor Drljaca

Hope — Pedro Pires (Phi Group)

No Words Came Down — Ryan Flowers and Lisa Pham

Ora — Philippe Baylaucq (National Film Board of Canada)

Rhonda’s Party — Ashley McKenzie

La Ronde — Sophie Goyette (Locomotion Films)

Trotteur — Arnaud Brisebois and Francis Leclerc (Phi Group and Cirrus Communications)

We Ate the Children Last — Andrew Cividino

Further details on each film and screening dates (starting January 5) are available at the official website. Also note there will be a panel discussion Sat. Jan. 7 at 7pm in which directors Guy Maddin (Keyhole), Nathan Morlando (Edwin Boyd), and Jason Eisner (Hobo with a Shotgun) will discuss their efforts to rework the gangster / crime genres.



Yup, that's a head doing something normal in a very abnormal place...


Packaged Goods

Also coming soon – next Wednesday, Dec. 14 – is the latest installment of Packaged Goods, featuring beautiful and wacked-out ads, shorts, and music videos from 2011.

The roughly 70 min. programme features an eclectic mix of material, spanning Nike’s “Write the Future” where soccer star commercialism is oddly satirized in a lengthy corporate spot; Willem Dafoe’s face is layered onto multiple characters (including a Sumo wrestler) in a crafty Jim Beam ad (“Parallels”); and a VW ad, showing a guy driving round and round the block before presenting an engagement ring to his intended, features what may be the most pleasant utterance of VW’s patented “Das Auto” phrase. (Usually the narrator sounds like we interrupted his afternoon beauty sleep.)

The Spanish “Braids” ad involves a dinner where the honored guest notices each family member inexplicably grows a set of lengthy braids; Australia’s Carlton Draught “Slow Mo” beer advert features calamitous beer-spilling set to a popular Three Tenors opera piece with replacement nonsense lyrics (“I want to sing in slo-mo-tion”); the Nokia N8 phone was used for the elaborate animation ad “Gulp” by Aardman; and Japan’s NTT Docomo “Xylophone” ad showcases the inventive building and execution of a giant xylophone snaking down a forest incline, and a wooden ball rapping out a classical piece.

More serious material is found in Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” with flipping stop-motion animated landscapes; MTV Exit’s “Planet Better” uses striking stop-motion and layered CGI animation to bring attention towards sexual slavery; and 3-dimensional animation has ADCC’s “Love / Hate” campaign show’s how hatred for one’s job is ‘all a matter of perspective’ (which for some in today’s wonky economy may find rather naïve).

In the realm of music videos, the most striking are Raphael Saadiq’s “Good Man” (featuring booming bass that’s ably exploited by the TBL’s sound system); Foster the People’s “Helena Beat” which riffs post-apocalyptic films / parables Lord of the Flies, Mad Max, and The Omega Man, with little nods to slasher icons; Bon Iver’s “Holocene” music video features gorgeous, otherworldly Icelandic scenery as a boy grabs a walking stick and goes on a kind of vision quest; Duck Sauce’s “Big Bad Wolf” is brilliant and wrong on so many levels (see above still) with sexual urges and activities played out by heads instead of genitalia; a slow-motion car crash for Manchester Orchestra’s “Simple Math” is a brilliant little exercise in thematic editing and experimental filmmaking; and Battles’ “Ice Cream” stitches together trippy old-school film effects (I’ve always loved solarization) and brilliant editing and dissolves. The last two alone are worth examining for their modernist editing styles.

The final short is a film by Spike Jonze and Simon Chan using felt animation, and borrows heavily from old Warner Bros. cartoons where characters from book covers spring to life once the store lights have dimmed for another work day. In “Mourir Aupres de Toi,” the story has a skeleton enticing Mina from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” an adventure into a whale, and an unusual twist to eternal love.

Packaged Goods is part of the TBL’s The Year’s Best series, and is worth catching in the bass-friendly Cinema 2 next Wednesday Dec. 14. (TIFF’s byzantine website doesn’t offer further screening details, but hopefully the assembled films will get a few repeat screenings before year’s end.)



Mark R. Hasan, Editor ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

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