First Time Canadian Filmmakers at TIFF

To have a film in the Toronto International Film Festival is a big deal and major stepping stone for a fulfilling career in film.. This year, TIFF features four feature films by first-time Canadian directors as part of the Discovery Program. 

Picture Day, directed by Kate Melville (pictured)
Directed by Toronto native writer-director Kate Melville, Picture Day centers on a rebellious teenager, Claire Paxton (played by Canadian rising star Tatiana Maslany), who is forced to repeat her final year of high school. The “victory lap” year finds Claire caught between adolescence and adulthood and males who represent both worlds – a life with real problems and minimal responsibility. She quickly realizes that the high school tears and drama are nothing compared to the raw insensitivity of the older man or her self-obsessed mother. Melville studied film production at Concordia University and has worked as a story editor and scriptwriter for popular television series like Degrassi: The Next Generation, Being Erica and Endgame.

Krivina, directed by Igor Drljaca
Krivina tells a powerful story of Miro, a Bosnian immigrant who fled to Toronto after the civil war and returns to his homeland in search of a missing friend who has been implicated in war crimes. He is faced to confront his own memories and traumas of the past as his life starts to unravel throughout the journey through the towns and the countryside of his homeland, determined to find his lost friend. Born in Sarajevo, Toronto-based director Igor Drljaca is a York University alum who has already presented a number of short films at the Festival.

Blackbird, directed by Jason Buxton
In our age of heightened anxiety and zero tolerance over cyber-bullying and school violence, Blackbird offers an alarming and perceptive look at how our media-driven culture of fear that has arisen in the wake of recent school shootings can transform, misconstrue and mistake typical teen angst and alienation into intentions of murder. Typical “goth” Sean Randall (Connor Jessup) makes an off-hand, posturing threat online following an altercation with a popular “jock” that has let him shaken. The threat ignites a firestorm of fear in the town, especially when police discover Sean’s father’s stockpile of hunting rifles, knives, and ammunition. From that moment on, everything changes. England-born director Jason Buxton studied film production at Simon Fraser University and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

Tower, directed by Kazik Radwanski
Thirty-four-year-old Derek lives at home with his parents in Toronto, is single and yet to figure out any life plan. Searching for human interaction (free from his parents and their banter about his married brother who has it all together), he wanders the streets alone and frequents nightclubs. The witty storyline involves an intriguing woman and a pesky neighbourhood raccoon that Derek is determined to catch as we come to realize his fear of commitment to anything that defines him as an adult. Toronto native and Ryerson alum director Kazik Radwanski is already well known at the festival for his signature short films.

Photo courtesy iVillage Canada