TIFF ’18: “Anthropocene,” “Sharkwater: Extinction” get world premieres

Documentaries from filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Barry Avrich and the late Rob Stewart are among the Canadian films set for the 43rd annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The additional 19 Canadian ...
July 31, 2018

Documentaries from filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Barry Avrich and the late Rob Stewart are among the Canadian films set for the 43rd annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

The additional 19 Canadian projects includes nine films directed by women, or 40%, and five debut features across both narrative and documentary genres.

Canadian doc-makers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky will debut their latest feature title at this year’s festival with the world premiere of Anthropocene. Four years in the making, the film provides a cinematic meditation on humanity’s reengineering of the planet by following the research of the Anthropocene Working Group, an international body of scientists. Anthropocene is the third in a trilogy that includes Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013), and will screen as part of the Special Presentations category.

Filmmaker and conservationist Rob Stewart’s final work, Sharkwater: Extinction, will enjoy its world premiere as part of TIFF’s Special Event category. The film is a follow up to Stewart’s acclaimed 2006 environmental doc, Sharkwater (2006). The Toronto-based Stewart (pictured) passed away in January of 2017 when he went missing during a dive near Key West, Florida.

Films slated in the TIFF Docs category include Ron Mann’s Carmine Street Guitars (North American premiere), which chronicles a week in the life of Greenwich Village guitar maker Rick Kelly and his apprentice Cindy Hulej; Barry Avrich’s Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz (World Premiere), about the life of Benjamin Ferencz, an investigator of Nazi war crimes after World War II and the Chief Prosecutor for the U.S. Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial during the Nuremberg trials; and Astra Taylor’s What is Democracy? (North American Premiere), which takes a philosophical journey through modern day history to reflect on the meaning of democracy.

American-Canadian director Thom Fitzgerald’s Splinters, meanwhile, will world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema programming track, and festival alumnus Igor Drljača will make his feature-documentary debut with The Stone Speakers (world premiere).

“We’re especially proud to present such a diverse group of films,” said Steve Gravestock, senior programmer at TIFF, in a statement. “Ranging from science fiction to fantasy, myth to documentary, and romance to a dystopic vision of our neighbors to the south, this year’s Canadian films come from every region in the country, stretching from east to west and north to south.”

Elsewhere, the Festival’s Canadian short-film selection revealed 24 Canadian short films that will be featured in the festival. The 2018 lineup includes the work of 15 female directors, 15 TIFF alumni, and two Indigenous filmmakers.

Returning TIFF alumni include Caroline Monnet, with her portrait of a Chippewa female mixed martial artist in Emptying the Tank.

The Festival’s Canadian short-film slate also includes a project from emerging Toronto filmmaker Sofia Bohdanowicz, Veslemøy’s Song; renowned visual artist Celia Perrin’s Sidarous’ Slip; and the latest from Colombian–Canadian filmmaker Lina Rodriguez, ante mis ojos.

All 20 Canadian films in the Short Cuts programme are eligible for the IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film and the IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film.

The 43rd Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 6 to 16. Further documentary announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

(With files from Daniele Alcinii and Selina Chignall)

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.