tiff 2014

15 must see films at TIFF according to its programmers

I like to imagine myself pretty well informed at this point when it comes to TIFF's line-up this year but the simple truth is no one is more of a TIFF guru than the programmers themselves. They've spent hours upon hours watching movies, thinking about movies, and writing about movies. If there's anyone who truly knows the films offered at TIFF 2014 inside and out, it's these guys.

Which is why I thought it'd be a good idea to go directly to the source to guide your film selection process. Five TIFF programmers generously took the time to give us their own personal top 3 hidden gem recommendations for movies you should check out and be sure not to overlook.


The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer (Short Cuts Canada Programme 3)
It's one of the most visually arresting films we're showing in the entire Festival. A profound piece on memories and two brothers' lives. Randall Okita is the real deal.

A Ceremony for a Friend (Shorts Cuts International Programme 2)
This is an Iranian short film that is as absurdly funny as it is political. It's hard to achieve this tonal fine line in a film about the death penalty and moral policing.

Tatuape Mahal Tower (Short Cuts International Programme 1)
A animated short film featuring little scale model people living in a scale model sized environment. It packs in commentaries on city developments, societal hierarchy, revenge, and even sex (scale model sex that is...)


It's one of the most gripping, emotionally complex, and politically intelligent films to come out of Canada in recent years. It examines the FLQ through the eyes of idealistic 16-year-old Jean Corbo, who joined the radical group in 1966, and his involvement in sparking a revolution, ultimately, through terrorism.

The Price We Pay
It's an incredibly smart and eye-opening documentary. It tackles the issue of multinational corporations using tax havens and how this practice deprives rightful cities and countries of corporate tax revenues, and deepens income disparity. Director Harold Crooks powerfully demonstrates how big companies sheltering profits affects us all.

Fun and sharply written, Guidance is the story of a boozing, down-and-out former childhood star who is so desperate for employment, that he fakes his resume and gets a job as a high school guidance counselor. The advice he dispenses is awful and wrong, but he becomes a hit with students and the result is a hilarious comedy.


The Editor
The newest film from members of the ragtag Winnipeg collective Astron-6 (Father's Day, Manborg) is a delightful tribute and parody of the Italian slasher genre known as "giallo" full of kinky sex, blood and guts, all done on a DIY budget.

Comic book visionary Dave McKean (Sandman, Arkham Asylum) intertwines beautiful magic realism hallucinations and dreams around this emotional drama about the reunion of friends from art school. McKean has been working on this project for over six years for which he directed, wrote, scored and did the animation and effects for.

It Follows
A fresh twist for the horror genre about a sexually transmitted haunting. Yup. Just think about that. Director David Robert Mitchell's second film doesn't fall prey to the tired sexual threat that is found in many horror films and it is as refreshing as it is shocking.

A note: This year for TIFF Docs, we received around 500 submissions that were narrowed down to 22 selections. I would recommend them all, but I've been asked to pick only three. So here goes:

Sunshine Superman
This film has love, adventure and astonishing footage of people jumping off buildings (with parachutes). Director Marah Strauch looks at the pioneers of BASE jumping and draws upon an extraordinary archive of 16 mm footage.

The Yes Men Are Revolting
The Yes Men are prankster activists who impersonate government and corporate officials. If you like a good laugh, this doc is for you.

This is My Land
This very timely film looks at the education system in Israeli and Palestinian schools. It's told with great sensitivity and intelligence.


The Dead Lands
Because when have you ever had a chance to see an authentic Maori martial arts movie? NEVER. Except NOW.

Meet Me in Montenegro
From the creator of In Search Of A Midnight Kiss, a transcontinental modern love story about artists who grapple with choosing between a relationship and their careers.

The Little Death
Six story strands about unusual sexual fetishes, but grounded in sweet, funny, emotional stories, yet bound to be controversial. A first film from well-known actor Josh Lawson.

the equalizer movieThanks to the Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington, for sponsoring our coverage of TIFF 2014.

Top image from The Yes Men are Revolting.

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