Canadian women bound for Palm Springs

Movies: Palm Springs International Film Festival

The partnership between Palm Springs and Telefilm continues to push the Canadian film cause in influential U.S. circles, with female directors taking centre stage

By The Ex-Press

(December 22, 2016) — A delegation of strong Canadian women will be heading to Palm Springs in the new year, showcasing work that touches on everything from Kenyan marathon runners to resource extraction and First Nations issues in the North.

Anjali Nayar’s Gun Runners, Nettie Wild’s Koneline, Anne Émond’s Nelly and Chloé Robichaud’s Pays were selected to screen at this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival, joining Zacharias Kunuk’s Maliglutit, Xavier Dolan’s Juste la fin du monde and Juan Andrés Arango’s X Quinientos as part of this year’s seven-film Canadian delegation, one of the strongest in recent years.

“With a diverse mix of Canadian features—including works from emerging talent and an Indigenous pioneer, documentaries, coproductions and Canada’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar shortlisted film—we’re off to a promising year on the international scene,” said Carolle Brabant, Telefilm Canada’s Executive Director in a news release.

“I’m especially pleased to see that female talent is well represented… out of the seven selected films, four are directed and scripted by women and five have women as producers.”

Festival artistic director Michael Lerman echoed Brabant’s comments: “We’re extremely lucky to have another great year in Canadian film to highlight, from the return of master filmmakers like Zacharias Kunuk to the rise of emerging talent like Chloé Robichaud. And having Xavier Dolan on the Oscar shortlist is just more proof that the film industry in Canada is one of the strongest in the world.”

Telefilm Canada and the Palm Springs International Film Festival have “partnered” for five years to bring Canadian film to American audiences at a pivotal point in awards season. The PSIFF takes place in early January (Jan. 2 – 16) and marks the beginning of festival season just as Golden Globe and Oscar balloting begins.

To highlight the festival’s perceived influence on balloting, this year programmers created an “Awards Buzz” section, allowing viewers to watch top contenders for the best foreign-language Oscar. The selected films are also part of a juried FIPRESCI competition to select best foreign film of the year, as well as best actor and actress in a foreign-language film, ensuring maximum exposure for films that are often lost in the festival shuffle.

Because many Hollywood power brokers vacation in Palm Springs, the role of the Awards Buzz program can’t be overlooked. Dolan’s Juste la fin du monde will be one of the 43 titles to screen as part of the inaugural Awards Buzz program, joining other circuit frontrunners such as Pablo Larrain’s Neruda, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann and Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta.

Palm Springs’ festival has enjoyed a close relationship with Telefilm and Canadian filmmakers for years, thanks in part to former directors Darryl Macdonald and Helene Du Toit’s Canadian roots, as well as the presence of Canadian philanthropists Carol and Paul Hill, who host the annual Canada: A World of Talent party to celebrate Canadian filmmakers at the festival.

In 2012, the partnership was formalized with a press release, as well as the disbursement of Telefilm funds worth an approximate $20,000 a year, according to Telefilm’s published expenditures for 2015-2016.

For more information on the Palm Springs festival, visit For more information on each Canadian film in this year’s program, please hit the corresponding links posted below.

Gun Runners: Anjali Nayar – (NFB/ONF) Nayar’s documentary follows the journey of Kenyan marathoners who give up a life of criminal activity for a chance to compete at the highest level of sport.

Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World): Xavier Dolan (Canada/France coproduction). Dolan’s sixth feature is on the official shortlist of nine contenders for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2016 Academy Awards. The film, based on Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play stars Gaspard Ulliel, Vincent Cassel and Marion Cotillard and tells the story of a playwright with a terminal illness who returns home to say goodbye.

KONELĪNE – Our land beautiful: Nettie Wild. Established Canadian filmmaker Nettie Wild focuses her documentary lens on the land of the Tahltan First Nation in Canada’s north, where natural resources, modern industry and traditional ways are in a continuing cycle of conflict.

Maliglutit (Searchers): Zacharias Kunuk. The latest from the director of Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner is essentially a remake of John Ford’s western masterpiece of the same name: A woman is kidnapped and the long search for her begins. Co-directed by Natar Ungalaaq.

Nelly: Anne Émond. A biopic that tells the story of author Nelly Arcan, the enfant terrible of Quebecois literature after penning Putain and Folle in the early 2000s. 

Pays (Boundaries): Chloé Robichaud. Part of the New Voices/New Talent competition, Robichaud burst on the scene with Sarah prefere la course (Sarah prefers to run) in 2013. Pays is a fictional tale that puts politics, morality and family in the same frame.

X Quinientos: Juan Andrés Arango (Canada/Colombia/Mexico coproduction). Arango’s three-part feature follows the story of three migrants as they struggle with loss and displacement.


Main photo: Joey Sarpinak plays Kupak in Maliglutit (Searchers). Cara Di Staulo photo.
THE EX-PRESS, December 22, 2016


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