Your First Look at Canada’s upcoming cinematic hits

10 • 03

From a love story between two young women who meet in a laundromat, to a diasporic tale of two sisters in the Syrian refugee crisis; an animated feature about a beluga whale to a dystopian Arctic adventure flick, this year’s First Look films are setting the stage to become big hits.

We’ve got your scoop on these nine Canadian features and coproductions, currently in post-production, specially selected to be presented to an industry-only audience of U.S. sales agents, distributors, agents, and festival programmers. The purpose? To support and encourage the export and sales of some of Canada’s finest cinematic projects. This annual initiative is organized by Telefilm Canada and the Trade Commissioner Service of the Consulates General of Canada in New York and Los Angeles.

Geared to the acquisition community in New York and Los Angeles, this year’s First Look main event takes place online on March 29, at 1:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM PST. On the virtual menu is a very real opportunity to catch an exclusive sneak peek at our selection of nine upcoming films, and to get up close and personal with the teams and talent behind them. Guests will enjoy film clips and pitches from the directors and producers of these projects, and, during a live talk with the creative teams, moderated by The Gotham Film & Media Institute (formerly IFP), gain even more insight on their inspirations and journeys. From March 28 to April 8 2022, participants can attend virtual one-on-one meetings with prospective partners.

Don’t take our word for it, the international success of previous First Look films says it all! Former selections from previous years include:
  • Beans by Tracey Deer – Aside from making it onto numerous ‘top film’ lists, Beans won the 2021 Berlinale Crystal Bear for Best Film, and was awarded two Canadian Screen Awards. The film is now available on numerous VOD platforms.

  • Donkeyhead by Agam Darshi – This directorial debut was acquired by Ava Duvernay’s ARRAY and is now available on Netflix US. It is is scheduled to be released in Canada by Level Films.

  • Night of the Kings (La nuit des rois) by Philippe Lacôte – Night of the King premiered at the 2020 Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Amplify Voices Award. After being acquired by Neon, the film was featured in the exclusive Spotlight section of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Night of the Kings has gone on to win numerous awards, including the NAACP Image Awards 2021 for Outstanding International Motion Picture.

  • Peace by Chocolate by Jonathan Keijser – After making its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, Peace by Chocolate was acquired by Myriad Pictures. The film is currently in talks with EFM buyers.

  • Wildhood  by Bretten Hannam – Wildhood is making waves both internationally and in Canada. The film received a special mention for the New Visions Award at the 2022 Palm Springs International Film Festival, and is nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards.
Without further ado, here are your 9 First Look projects of 2022! Trust us, they’re about to make big waves….
  • Patrice Laliberté’s A Very Nice Day (Très belle journée)
    Known for his hit web series GAME(R), this filmmaker’s new noir-inspired drama about an obsessed bicycle courier is hot on the heels of his award-winning feature debut, 2020’s The Decline (Jusqu’au déclin), which happens to be the very first Quebec feature funded by Netflix.

  • Christine Dallaire-Dupont & Nicola Lemay’s Beluga Blues (Katak le Brave Béluga)
    This 3D animated feature marks the directorial debut of this seasoned animator and illustrator, and tells the tale of a beluga whale searching for his grandma while being chased by a killer whale.

  • Cody Lightning’s Hey, Viktor!
    A member of Samson Cree First Nation in Maskwacis, Cody Lightning is an Alberta-born actor turned filmmaker, he also performs in this directorial debut. HEY VIKTOR follows Cody, playing himself as a former child star, as he seeks to relive his wonder years by writing, directing and starring in a sequel to the film that made him famous. As he fumbles his way into production, comedic chaos ensues.

  • Chandler Levack’s I Like Movies
    Following her 2017 short We Forgot to Break Up, which scored Best Canadian Shortwork Award at the Whistler Film Festival and Audience Award at the Chicago Critics Film Festival Film, this Telefilm Talent to Watch-supported project is this journalist and filmmaker’s feature debut!

  • Marianne Farley’s North of Albany (Au Nord D’Albany)
    This feature directorial debut (about a family fleeing Montreal who get stuck in the Adirondacks when their car breaks down) follows the filmmaker’s Oscar-nominated Marguerite (2017), and 2021’s short Frimas, which earned a place on this year’s Oscars shortlist! (Both shorts dazzled the international festival circuit and scooped up loads of awards.) Marianne Farley’s career began as an actor and singer, and her 2014 short Ransack (Saccage) marked her start as a director.

  • Kirsten Carthew’s Polaris
    Presented at the 2021 Cannes Marché du Film, this dystopian Arctic adventure was filmed in Yukon, where harsh winter reflects a new reality. This fantasy follows this Canadian filmmaker’s first feature, 2016’s The Sun at Midnight, which won the Jury Award at the Bentonville Film Festival.

  • Ryan Ward’s The Sun and His Daughter
    A director, producer, screenwriter, and actor, Ryan Ward performed in his 2009 directorial feature debut Son of the Sunshine, nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards. This Telefilm-supported project is about a father with Tourette’s Syndrome on the road with his young daughter.

  • V.T. Nayani’s This Place
    A Toronto laundromat might seem an unlikely setting for love, yet it’s where two women begin their complex love story. An alumni of the Canadian Film Centre’s Directors’ Lab, V.T. Nayani is participating in this year’s Canadian Academy Directors Program for Women and sits on the board of Canada’s Breakthrough Film Festival. This Telefilm Talent to Watch-supported project is the filmmaker’s first narrative feature, and follows her 2015 documentary Shadeism: Digging Deeper.

  • Anna Fahr’s Valley of Exile
    From her 2006 doc Khaneh Ma: These Places We Call Home to this directorial feature debut about two Syrian sisters in a Lebanese refugee camp, social impact films examining the diaspora and Middle East (according to her bio) are a focus of this Iranian-Canadian artist and filmmaker’s work. She’s participated in the CFC’s Writer’s Lab, the Toronto International Film Festival’s Talent Lab, and more.

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