Canadian directors hear Hollywood's call, but may not head south

Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:08am EDT
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By Julie Gordon

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ask the new wave of Canadian directors why they're getting calls from Hollywood and the answer is easy: Canada's thriving film industry has allowed them the freedom to tell the stories they want to tell, in the way they want.

In a Hollywood built around commercial success - often at the cost of originality - Canadian directors are now bringing their voices to major feature films. So far, the response has been good.

Awards season buzz is already mounting around two Hollywood-backed efforts, Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners" and Jean-Marc Vallee's "Dallas Buyers Club," which both premiered to strong reviews at the 38th annual Toronto International Film Festival.

"I think we're at the start of something really great," said Michael Dowse, who directed "The F Word" and co-wrote "The Grand Seduction," which both premiered at the festival. "I think it's a sign of our system nurturing directors and letting them tell stories that aren't necessarily hinged on being completely commercial."

So while previous generations of Canadian filmmakers like Norman Jewison and Paul Haggis packed up and moved south to pursue their dreams, the strong local industry has home grown directors now choosing to stay put.

Vallee, who broke out with the 2005 French Canadian feature "C.R.A.Z.Y.," has since made films in the United States, Britain, France and at home in Quebec, a home he has no plans to leave.

Villeneuve, meanwhile, brings his first Hollywood effort to the festival with the intense thriller "Prisoners," while also displaying his distinctly Canadian, art-house voice in the doppelganger drama "Enemy."

That ability to appeal to a variety of audiences is the forte of the current generation of Canadian filmmakers, said Cameron Bailey, the festival's artistic director.   Continued...

Director of the movie Denis Villeneuve poses at the premiere of "Prisoners" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California September 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni