2020 in review

16 • 12

As we wrap up 2020, here’s your recap of some of the year’s most successful Canadian films and coproductions, at the box office and festival circuit!



Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor

From New York Times critic’s pick to distribution deals in the U.S. (Neon), U.K. (Signature Entertainment), and Canada (Elevation Pictures), this Canada-U.K. coproduction about mind control assassins keeps terrifying international audiences — in the best possible way! Now available on platforms (in Canada, the U.S.,U.K., and elsewhere), the sci-fi thriller premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Awards include Best Feature Film and Best Director at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia. Revisit our spotlight!


Sean Durkin’s The Nest

With a Canadian release this past September through Elevation Pictures; a star-studded cast featuring Jude Law and Carrie Coon; and stellar reviews from prestigious international press such as Vanity Fair (which proclaimed this drama to be “one of the best films of the year”) this U.K.-Canada coproduction premiered at Sundance. Set in the 1980s, this tale of an ambitious man who moves his family from the U.S. to England has a U.S. distribution deal with IFC Films, while FilmNation Entertainment has international rights. Named to TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2020, it’s now available on platforms!

Philippe Falardeau’s My Salinger Year 

After making its world premiere as the opening film of the Berlin International Film Festival, this Canada-Ireland coproduction will hit silver screens (theatrically and online!) in 2021 when it will be released (through IFC Films)! Directed by Oscar-nominated Canadian Philippe Falardeau and starring Sigourney Weaver and Margaret Qualley, the story takes one back to 1990s New York, as a young writer gets a job at the literary agency of famed real-life author J.D. Salinger.

My Salinger Year

Philippe Lacôte’s Night of the Kings (La nuit des rois)

The term “sweeping the festival circuit” could have been invented for the worldwide fest success of this Ivory Coast-France-Canada-Senegal coproduction (also Ivory Coast’s Academy Awards submission for Best International Feature Film)! It premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, went to the Toronto International Film Festival (taking home an Amplify Voices Award), Greece’s Thessaloniki Film Festival (winning Best Artistic Achievement Award), the New York Film Festival, and the Chicago International Film Festival (scoring two Silver Hugos for Best Cinematography and Best Sound), among others!

Night of the Kings


Michèle Stephenson’s Stateless (Apatrides)

Following its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, this Canadian film snagged a Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary at the Hot Docs Festival.

Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s No Ordinary Man

With U.S. and international rights picked up by Radiant Films, this tribute to trans legend Billy Tipton, the late musician, takes us into his life story and legacy. Co-written by Aisling Chin-Yee and trans writer Amos Mac, this doc premiered at TIFF and was named to the TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2020! Prizes include Best Canadian Feature at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival and the New Visions Award at the Montreal International Documentary Festival.

Emerging talent

Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s Violation

Their new horror feature earned this Canadian filmmaking duo the Emerging Canadian Director Award at VIFF and Emerging Canadian Artist at the Calgary International Film Festival! Their Talent Fund-supported feature premiered at TIFF, where Sims-Fewer (who also stars in the film) was named a TIFF Rising Star!


Lulu Wei’s There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace

What happens to a Toronto urban community when one of its neighbourhood landmarks, Honest Ed’s, is sold? This Talent-Fund supported documentary premiered at Hot Docs!

Films Made by Women

Tracey Deer’s Beans

Set in the 1990 Oka Crisis, this first feature from Mohawk filmmaker Tracey Deer is drawn from her own experiences during the event. Known for the hit series Mohawk Girls, Tracey Deer received a DGC Discovery Prize from the Directors Guild of Canada and an emerging talent prize at this year’s TIFF Tribute Awards Ceremony. Beans was named to TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2020 and awards include second runner-up in the TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Award category, and Best Canadian Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival, as well as an audience award for Most Popular Canadian Narrative!


Anaïs Barbeau Lavalette’s Goddess of the Fireflies (La déesse des mouches à feu) 

Set in the 1990s and based on a novel by Canadian Geneviève Pettersen, this tale of a teenager whose parents are in the midst of divorcing premiered at the Berlinale and hit the festival circuit, from the São Paulo International Film Festival to the Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur.

Miryam Bouchard’s My Very Own Circus (Mon cirque à moi)

This debut feature from filmmaker Miryam Bouchard was released at home in Canada last summer! The comedy is about a young girl whose dad is a circus clown, and whose goals and talents are very different from her family’s.

Natalie Krinsky’s The Broken Hearts Gallery

This Canadian production from filmmaker Natalie Krinsky was theatrically released and distributed here in Canada by Elevation Pictures, while the rom-com’s worldwide rights were picked up by Stage 6 Films (part of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions). Fun fact: did you know Selena Gomez was attached to the flick as executive producer?

Deepa Mehta’s Funny Boy

Set in Sri Lanka in the 1970s and ’80s, this feature is based on a novel of the same name by Canadian author Shyam Selvadurai (with whom the filmmaker co-wrote the screenplay). Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing has the rights to this feature, about a gay man coming of age during the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict, and the drama is available in Canada on CBC Gem, and on Netflix in other markets! (P.S,: Funny Boy was also named to TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2020!)

Other successful titles

Pascal Plante’s Nadia, Butterfly

Named on TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2020, this story of a young competitive swimmer approaching retirement (played by real-life Olympic swimmer Katerine Savard) enjoyed a theatrical release in Canada      and success on the festival circuit, from Slamdance to the Berlinale, Busan, Warsaw Film Festival, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, and Cannes Film Festival!

Nadia, Butterfly

Evan Morgan’s The Kid Detective

Even kid detectives have to grow up, and Adam Brody plays a 32-year old sleuth finally tackling an adult case; of murder, no less, in this dark comedy that premiered at TIFF and was named to TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2020! The feature was also released in Canada and the U.S., and is available on platforms.

The Kid Detective

Daniel Roby’s Target Number One (Suspect numéro un)

Starring Josh Hartnett as a reporter investigating why a young man was wrongly stuck in a Thailand prison for drug-related reasons, this 1980s drama (inspired by real events) consists of three intertwined tales. Now available on platforms, it was released in Canada and the U.S. this past summer. (P.S.: In the U.S., its title is Most Wanted).

Benoît Pilon’s The Vinland Club (Le club Vinland)

With its world premiere at the Beijing International Film Festival and North American premiere at the Festival du cinéma international en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, this drama tells the story of a passionate schoolteacher determined to prove Vikings once lived on the coast of Quebec’s St-Lawrence river. Its release is planned for 2021.

And... something to look forward to! A sneak peek at Canadian films and coproductions coming your way in 2021:

  • Danis Goulet’’s Night Raiders (Canada-New Zealand, Sci-Fi)
  • Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers (Canada-U.K., Comedy)
  • Christopher MacBride’s The Education of Frederick Fitzell (Thriller)
  • Nyla Innuksuk’s Slash/Back (Sci-Fi)
  • Azazel Jacobs’s French Exit (Canada-Ireland, Comedy)
  • Sophie Dupuis’s Underground (Souterrain) (Thriller)
  • Ivan Grbovic’s Les oiseaux ivres (Drama)
  • Nadège Loiseau’s Trois fois rien (Canada-France, Comedy)
  • Marianne Farley’s North of Albany (Au nord d’Albany) (Drama)
  • Monia Chokri’s Babysitter (Canada-France, Comedy)

In the same category

Visions, Dreams, Reflections: Not Short on Talent at Cannes 2021

Canadian Docs-in-Progress at Cannes Marché du Film

‘The Gig Is Up’: Film Review | Hot Docs 2021

Syrian Refugee Drama ‘Peace by Chocolate,’ Starring Hatem Ali, to Bow at Tribeca, UTA Selling (EXCLUSIVE)

FIRST LOOK 2021: 10 Canadian films about to shine!

Canadian documentary love at Hot Docs

Spotlight: Canadian Oscar nominee Ben Proudfoot

Two Canadian victories at JETS 2021

Your Meet the Docs 2021 cohort, right here!

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