Canadian Gems Emerge from the Vault


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Canadian Gems Emerge from the Vault

You’re helping TIFF keep the treasures of Canadian film history alive.

Our ongoing Canadian Open Vault series brings historically relevant and essential Canadian films to the spotlight, allowing cinemagoers, film scholars and new audiences the opportunity to rediscover a Canadian classic. Films made by significant Canadian filmmakers and films notable for their perspective on our heritage are all profiled in this distinctly Canadian—and completely free—programme.

Past Canadian Open Vault films include François Girard’s Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Michel Brault’s Entre la mer et l’eau douce, Paul Lynch’s The Hard Part Begins, Murray Markowitz’s Recommendation for Mercy, Robin Spry’s Drying Up the Streets and Lindalee Tracey’s Abby, I Hardly Knew Ya and The Anatomy of Burlesque.

We often invite special guests to discuss the film and relevant issues surrounding it. In recent years, guests have included urban affairs writer Edward Keenan to discuss civic corruption in connection with Denys Arcand’s Réjeanne Padovani; scholar David Pike speaking about Jean-Claude Lauzon’s Léolo; and screenwriter Elan Mastai examining Andrea Dorfman’s Love that Boy.

 In January, as part of Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival, Canadian Open Vault presented one of the most controversial films of the 1980s, Bonnie Sherr Klein’s landmark second-wave feminist documentary, Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography. TIFF was pleased to welcome Klein at the screening and to take questions along with Rebecca Sullivan, author of a new monograph about the film (co-published by TIFF and University of Toronto Press). 

by Malcolm@TIFF via YouTube

Curated by Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer at TIFF, films in the Canadian Open Vault programme are chosen based on what is available and new, what can be restored, tributes to great Canadian filmmakers, or simply great works of our country’s cinema. You have a hand in upcoming selections as well—demand from film lovers like you determined April’s selection, Amanita Pestilens, a weirdly prescient eco-fable about a man who finds his carefully cultivated lawn overrun by a seemingly invincible strain of poisonous mushrooms.

Produced by legendary independent producer Budge Crawley at a time when Canadian feature filmmaking was virtually non-existent—and notable for being the feature-film debut of Geneviève Bujold—Amanita Pestilens went largely unseen at the time of its release but struck a chord with those who did.

“A community that does not see itself on screen is unaware of its identity,” says Gravestock. “Watching films about your hometown or country increasingly makes you aware of the concerns of your fellow citizens, what your values are and where you come from. It is important to acknowledge and capture the multicultural and cosmopolitan environment in Canada. 

Canadian Open Vault is a key part of TIFF’s commitment to ensuring the treasures of Canada’s film history don’t fade to black, and this free screening series is made possible thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation and donations from film lovers like you.

For more information on this season’s Canadian Open Vault selections, please visit

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