Possible Worlds, Sydney’s Canadian Film Festival, is billed as the first and only annual Canadian film festival outside Canada. Artistic director Matt Ravier shares his picks-of-the-fest with Kylie Boltin.
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6 Jul 2010 - 10:02 AM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 11:30 AM

It was while spending time in Toronto that French-born, Sydneysider Matt Ravier discovered his love of Canadian cinema. On arrival to Australia he says he was “shocked to discover” very little of it on our screens. Now in its fifth year, the festival is Ravier's attempt to create a “snapshot of the country's cinema” for Sydney audiences. For him, this means a “balance” of French and English-language programming, with films from “different regions that reflect different filmmaking traditions.” In the 2010 program, 20 features, documentaries and shorts have made the cut.

More than half of the programmed films are Australian premieres with two world premieres in the mix. One is a feature documentary, In The Wake of the Flood, directed by Ron Mann. The documentary follows Canadian novelist Margaret Attwood as she undertakes an international book tour on the back of her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood. The revered Attwood is a committed environmental activist who oversees a book tour that is entirely carbon-neutral with events staged as fundraisers for local green charities. The documentary, says Ravier, is “a mix of a portrait of the writer and an insight into how we can all behave in a way that is friendly to the environment and responsible to the planet.” The world premiere screening at inner-city Gleebooks is followed by a live video-link Q and A with Attwood in Toronto.

The artistic director cites as a standout, the Australian premiere of Suck (pictured), written and directed by Rob Stefaniuk. Ravier describes the film as a “vampire rock road movie about a struggling Canadian band who suddenly find huge success when their lead singer turns into a vampire.” The film features cameos by musicians Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Alice Cooper, Moby and screen legend Malcolm McDowell. The premiere screening of Suck ties in with what the festival has called a 'vampire ball' with live music, performances and prizes for best costume.

Another screening and party combo is for the Australian premiere of The Trotsky, made by Quebec writer/director Jacob Tierney. Set in a Montreal high school, Ravier describes the film as a “hilarious and very smart high school comedy about a teenager who believes he is the re-incarnation of Leon Trotsky. He goes on a campaign to unionise his high school.” Ravier's description appears to be the consensus at festivals across the world where The Trotsky has won numerous audience awards. A 'Fight the Power Party' follows the film screening where everyone is encouraged to dress up as their favourite revolutionary.

Other films programmed include the documentary Genius Within about the late, legendary Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. A film that Ravier describes as “a look at the myths and the man behind the myths—he's a little bit like the James Dean of the classical music world. A must see for classical music lovers.” Also screening is Invisible City, a documentary by Oscar-nominated Hubert Davis (Hardwood). The film centres on two African American teenage residents of Regent Park, a large housing estate in Toronto, and follows them for three years. Says Ravier, “The film looks at how their environment encourages them to make bad choices and how education and community involvement can help bring kids out of that vicious cycle.” The producer of Invisible Cities is coming to the festival for a live Q and A after the screening.

Possible Worlds runs from August 2–8. The host cinemas of the festival are Dendy Opera Quays and Dendy Newtown with other locations across Sydney hosting site-specific screenings and parties. For the full program, see www.possibleworlds.net.au