Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Canadian Film Festival 2012, March 28-31

After a three-year break, the Canadian Film Fest returns with a splash tonight with the Toronto premiere of Thom Fitzgerald's Cloudburst starring Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker and Ryan Doucette. Fitzgerald is a Nova Scotia-based filmmaker who won the Audience Award at TIFF for his 1997 film The Hanging Garden. Cloudburst is based on his award-winning play about an couple played by Dukakis and Fricker taking a road trip from Maine to Nova Scotia to get married.

Among other features playing during the festival are the world premieres for Hit N’ Strum by Kirk Caouette, Material Success by Jesse Mann, and Waiting for Summer by Senthil Vinu. Highlights from the short film program include AFI alumnus Gavin Heffernan's Devolution: Reckoning, Rosie Takes the Train by Stephen Scott, and Hangnail by NSI alumnus Cavan Campbell.

The festival will also host a couple of panel discussions. The first is on Canadian Genre Movie Scene and will be moderated by writer/director Warren P. Sonoda, and the second is on The State of the Canadian Film Industry with Toronto Star film critic Peter Howell moderating. The panel discussions are free. Simply email to reserve a spot.

The Canadian Film Fest is dedicated to the celebration, promotion and advancement of Canadian filmmaking talent. Begun in 2004, the festival was an unfortunate casualty of the economic crisis of 2009. This marks the return of this important and thoroughly enjoyable festival.

By exclusively featuring Canadian films, its goal is to provide filmmakers with valuable showcasing and networking opportunities and to offer the public homegrown productions to view and enjoy.

Screenings and panels take place at the Royal Theatre, 608 College Street.



Bern Euler, head of the Canadian Film Fest has announced the complete lineup for the newly restored Canadian Film Fest (CFF), including Cloudburst as the Opening Night Film. Boasting nine feature films from emerging and established filmmakers alongside ten short films, the Canadian Film Fest will take place at The Royal from March 28 to March 31, 2012.  Tickets will be available as of March 19 through The Royal Box Office. For more information on the Canadian Film Fest visit

“I am overjoyed to be back on the festival circuit,” said Bern Euler, Executive Director of the Canadian Film Fest. “Torontonians appetite for cinema has grown and become even more sophisticated over the past four years. We are thrilled to satiate that appetite by returning to the scene with a slate of solid films and of course, with Cloudburst as our opening night.”

The Canadian Film Fest previously enjoyed a five-year stint from 2004-2008, but went on hiatus in its last year. The 2012 edition marks the return of the audience-friendly film festival whose sole focus is to bring Torontonians the best in Canadian cinema.

In addition to the film screenings over the course of four days, the CFF will present various panels for industry and public alike, to be announced at a later date.

The feature and short film lineup for the Canadian Film Fest is a mixture of drama, documentary and genre films ensuring something for all tastes.

Feature Film Lineup

Cloudburst – Opening Night
Toronto premiere
Director: Thom Fitzgerald
Cast: Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, Kristin Booth, Ryan Doucette
Thom Fitzgerald's hit play has become a sparkling and starkly relevant big-screen adventure that deftly updates Thelma and Louise to the same-sex marriage debate, making the runaway couple elderly, to boot. With enough star power for several films—acclaimed actresses (and Oscar winners) Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker share the leads—Cloudburst also sports a star-making turn from Ryan Doucette as a young hitchhiker who accompanies the in-flight duo.

Dukakis and Fricker play Stella and Dot, respectively, two women who have lived together for 31 years on the coast of Maine. When Dot's granddaughter places Dot in a nursing home after a fall, away from her mate, Stella must break Dot out and make a dash for Nova Scotia, where gay and lesbian marriage is legal. Filled with earthy humour, touching moments and ravishing landscapes, Cloudburst sees Fitzgerald taking the margins towards the mainstream in a film richly full of compassion, wonder and humanity.

Hit N’ Strum
World premiere
Director: Kirk Caouette
Cast: Kirk Caouette, Michelle Harrison, Paul McGillion
Hit N’ Strum explores an unlikely friendship that flourishes after a beautiful career woman accidentally runs down a homeless street busker in a seedy Vancouver back alley.

Material Success
World premiere
Director: Jesse Mann
Cast: Bruno Lerullo, Susana Benevides, Shawn Cuffine, Rene Holder, Paul Langill, Robert Denburg
Following the misadventures of the eccentric designer Bruno Ierullo as he readies for his first fashion show following a personal tragedy that inspires him to risk his life savings on a mid-life career change into the art. Taking the viewer behind-the-scenes of the processes and people involved in preparing the unusually large 300 plus garment collection for the runway within a mere month’s time, Material Success features fly-on-the-wall observations and confessionals from the squirrely designer and his tireless band of colleagues that reveal his kaleidoscope art to be a reflection of his iconoclasm.

Waiting for Summer
World premiere
Director: Senthil Vinu
Cast: Caleh Verzyder, Virginia Leigh
Waiting for Summer is a story of intertwined destinies of Zach and Chantal who are looking for a new beginning in their life while trying to overcome their difficult childhood. Their lives collide becoming inexplicably connected in ways neither could have imagined. Along the journey, they discover that healing wound comes at a cost.

The Unleashed
Canadian premiere
Director: Manuel H. DaSilva
Cast: Trisha Echeverria, Jessica Salgueiro, Colin Paradine, Caroline Williams, Malcolm McDowell
Madison Kennard, a troubled woman dealing with her dark past, must venture home after an 8-year absence following her mother's death. Almost instantly after her return, Madison must cope with bizarre and unexplainable events that occur within the house after old friends come together and dabble with the infamous Ouija board. With the help of Andrew Porter, a renowned writer and expert on paranormal phenomena, Madison soon discovers that there is more to the board than she realizes and must uncover truths of her family's past to contain what has been unleashed.

Below Zero
Toronto premiere
Director: Signe Olynyk
Cast: Edward Furlong, Michael Berryman, Kristin Booth, Sadie Madu
Facing writer’s block and a crucial deadline, screenwriter Jack (Furlong) decides to remove himself from all distractions by locking himself in the freezer of an abandoned slaughterhouse. Inspired by true events, Below Zero takes viewers in and out of Jack’s screenplay and his psyche, where fiction and reality blur.

If I should Fall
Toronto premiere
Director: Brendan Culliton
Featuring music by award-winning Loreena McKennitt
In March 2009, 22 year-old Trooper Marc Diab of The Royal Canadian Dragoons was killed in Afghanistan when his vehicle struck an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). In the wake of his death, countless lives were changed forever. If I Should Fall tells the story of Marc’s life through the accounts of those who loved him: his family, his comrades of D Squadron and his beloved girlfriend.

A Little Bit Zombie
Toronto premiere
Director: Casey Walker
Cast: Kris Turner, Crystal Lowe, Shawn Roberts, Kristen Hager, Emilie Ullerup, Stephen McHattie
Infected by a virus, a mild mannered HR manager must attempt to overcome his desire for brains and avoid the wrath of his Bridezilla-to-be.

Toronto premiere
Director: Charles Wahl
Cast: Anthony Cortese, Christine Tizzard, Kevin Kincaid
Fred and Deb’s marriage isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be. Searching for that missing passion that they see in their friends’ lives, they both begin to secretly cheat on each other visiting adulterous websites. As they share their stories with anonymous strangers, encouraged to take that next step, they are both shocked when they meet with who they think is their perfect match.

Short Film Lineup

Devolution: Reckoning
Director: Gavin Heffernan
Fed up with the failures of mankind, a cruel race of UFOs sets out to destroy Earth and all that inhabit it. Can civilization survive the incredible onslaught of the attackers?

Everybody Wing Chun Tonight
Director: Karen Suzuki
Woman does not equal victim.

Director: Ivan Rubio
Phase defines a visceral transformation triggered by the conflict between our wild and civilized natures. Set in a manufactured environment of physical refrain, the body seethes to evolve beyond its confines.

The Perfect Vacuum
Director: Alana Cymerman
Mona is visited by her lonely neighbours who seek an intimate connection in regular "vacuum dances.”

Long Branch
Directors: Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart
On a cold winter's night, Lynn's quest for a one-night stand is complicated when the guy she goes home with lives two hours away via public transit.

Sonata For Christian
Director: Stéphane Oystryk
Christian is a young suburban boy who learns more about himself than he expects when a risky relationship between him and his piano teacher begins to bloom.

Onion Skin
Director: Joseph Procopio
Shot by 16 year old Procopio: A high school student turns heads when he decides to avoid texting a girl in this comedy-turned-romance about the power of letter writing.

Rosie Takes the Train
Director: Stephen Scott
In 1930, a young girl named Rosie boards a train and befriends a kind yet mysterious conductor. What unfolds is the journey of a lifetime as Rosie speeds toward an unknown destination experiencing love, loss, fear and ultimate courage along the way.

My Loss, Your Gain
Director: Elli Raynai
A scientist’s obsession with experimentation leads him to the edge of madness as one of his aborted failures pushes him past the limits of his own imagination.

Director: Cavan Campbell
Photographed entirely in a single shot, Hangnail pulls at the skin of parched love. Kenny returns home to find Roz locked in the shower. She's evasive, but he teases out the first of her secrets. Their argument exposes their insecurities and their betrayals. But it's her last secret that will either save or break them.


CFF’s panel discussions feature industry insiders and special guests who will provide incisive points of view and share compelling and relevant perspectives on the Canadian film industry. Panels are open to the public free of charge.

Canadian Genre Movie Scene – Thursday, March 29 at 6 pm  
A frank and candid discussion on the new wave of horror film directors in Canada, this panel will explore the beginnings and the future of genre-filmmaking in Canada, why many emerging filmmakers are turning to genre films and why audiences are responding so well.

Moderated by filmmaker Warren P. Sonoda (Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil, Servitude, Unrivaled), panel members include: George Mihalka (My Bloody Valentine), Wilson DaSilva producer of The UnleashedCasey Walker director of A Little Bit ZombieSusan Curran, Director of Marketing and Acquisitions for Anchor Bay, Rob Herholz, Executive Director of Sales/General manager for Anchor Bay and filmmaker Justin McConnell (The Collapsed).

The State of the Canadian Film Industry – Friday, March 30 at 6 pm
Focusing on development, financing and distribution this panel will assess the current state of the Canadian film industry and where it is headed, offering helpful, and informative facts to filmmakers and other industry professionals.

Moderated by The Toronto Star Film Critic Peter Howell, panel members include John Galway, President, English-Language Program, Astral Media’s Harold Greenberg Fund; Chris Bell, Production Executive, Original Programming: Scripted, Corus Entertainment; Kathleen Meek, Manager of Original Programming for Astral Television Networks’ Movie Services; Mark Slone, SVP at Alliance Films; and Dan Page, Director of Content for Telus.

The Canadian Film Fest (CFF) is dedicated to promoting and raising awareness of our country’s film, talent and directors. Through showcasing fresh and innovative films by established and emerging filmmakers, the CFF is bringing the nation’s cinema to the next generation of film lovers.

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