For up-and-coming Canadian directors, the Palm Springs International Film Festival provides an opportunity to rub shoulders with A-listers like Johnny Depp, Matt Damon and Helen Mirren.
"There's this really amazing cross-over and cross-section between the official competition with first features and these emerging voices and being in that same space and celebrating films along with the other Oscar-contending, larger films of the year," Andrew Cividino, the director of the frenetic coming-of-age film Sleeping Giant, told CBC.
The festival also gives Canadian filmmakers much-needed exposure, as many Academy members hit the festival looking to pick Oscar nominees — and this year Canada has some serious contenders.
"Essentially what we're trying to do is draw attention to people who are looking very likely to be Oscar nominees and winners, and we've had a great success rate with that over the years," the festival's artistic director, Helen du Toit, told CBC.
"All over the world, other film festivals recognize the strength of film in Canada," she said. "For Canada's size, it's punching way above its weight."
Don't just take her word for it. Take a look at some of the top contenders for an Oscar nom this year:
Set in present-day Montreal and from director Maxime Giroux, Felix and Meria tells the heart-wrenching tale of an impossible love between a married Orthodox Jewish woman and a young man she meets by chance.
Written and directed by Canadian Stephen Dunn, this beautifully shot coming-of-age drama tells the story of a young closeted boy discovering his sexuality.
From experimental Montreal filmmaker André Turpin, this tripped-out film takes viewers into a dreamy world where the rules of time and space collapse as characters grapple with their inner demons.
Andrew Cividino's Sleeping Giant features a trio of boys in that awkward adolescent age over the course of a summer as they push one another and themselves to emotional breaking points.
Other featured Canadian films include:
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