Canada’s Top Ten

TIFF’s picks for the best Canadian shorts and features of 2021

Canada’s Top Ten celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The brainchild of former TIFF director Piers Handling, who was seeking ways to expand awareness of Canadian cinema, the series has gone through numerous metamorphoses since its inception in 2001. The separate Canada’s Top Ten Short Films list was added in 2006. Over the years, Top Ten has mounted cross-country tours and hosted onstage conversations, musical performances, and art installations. But one thing has remained consistent: each year’s lists have showcased the incredible wealth of talent in the Canadian film industry, spanning the entire country, spotlighting work in every genre, and honouring a diverse group of filmmakers.

Canada’s Top Ten 2021 includes its share of veterans, but also looks towards the future. There are eight first appearances among the feature-film selections, and six debuts. (That said, these first-timers are hardly unknown: Igor Drljaca, Thyrone Tommy, and Rich Williamson have all had short films in Top Ten before.) The shorts lineup includes two of Canada’s most revered directors — Zacharias Kunuk and Alanis Obomsawin — as well as returning filmmaker Terril Calder and established talent Albert Shin, but the other six titles are by newcomers to the list.

And while the future of Canadian cinema looks extraordinarily bright, it’s worth noting that many of the films on the very first Top Ten list, from 2001, are still widely celebrated. 

Canada’s Top Ten Features (listed alphabetically):

1) All My Puny Sorrows

director Michael McGowan

2) Charlotte

directors Eric Warin, Tahir Rana

3) Drunken Birds
Les oiseaux ivres

director Ivan Grbovic

4) Learn To Swim

director Thyrone Tommy

5) Maria Chapdelaine

director Sébastien Pilote

6) Night Raiders

director Danis Goulet

7) Scarborough

directors Shasha Nakhai, Rich Williamson

8) Ste. Anne

director Rhayne Vermette

9) Subjects of Desire

director Jennifer Holness

10) The White Fortress

director Igor Drljaca

Canada’s Top Ten Shorts (listed alphabetically):

1) Ain’t No Time for Women

director Sarra El Abed

2) Angakusajaujuq – The Shaman’s Apprentice

director Zacharias Kunuk

3) Boobs

director Marie Valade


directors Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, Araya Mengesha

5) Fanmi

directors Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers, Carmine Pierre-Dufour

6) Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair

director Alanis Obomsawin

7) Les grande claques
Like The Ones I Used To Know

director Annie St-Pierre

8) Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics

director Terril Calder

9) The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night

director Fawzia Mirza

10) Together

director Albert Shin