Canadian filmmakers gear up for big projects

It’s shaping up to be a busy 2011 for some of Canada’s hottest filmmakers.

It’s shaping up to be a busy 2011 for some of Canada’s hottest filmmakers. From futuristic sci-fi to psychological drama to a magical chronicle of India’s burgeoning independence, homegrown directors are tackling a broad slate of themes and genres.

Here’s a look at some of the upcoming projects from the country’s biggest stars:

David Cronenberg: Canada’s twisted master at psychological tension is reportedly in the midst of post-production on the Sigmund Freud film, “A Dangerous Method.” The Canadian/German co-production re-teams Cronenberg with his Eastern Promises and History of Violence star, Viggo Mortensen, who this time takes on Freud. Michael Fassbender appears as Carl Jung while Keira Knightley is a disturbed patient.

Already, it looks set to become a controversial release — reports suggest it features sado-masochistic sex scenes. The screenplay is based on Christopher Hampton’s play, The Talking Cure, which outlines a lengthy affair that Jung embarks on with a patient, sparking a rift in his friendship with Freud.

Deepa Mehta: Anticipation is high for Mehta’s interpretation of Salman Rushdie’s magical, historical tome, Midnight’s Children. Producer David Hamilton says filming will begin in 2011 but the epic undertaking is not expected to be ready for release until 2012.

Mehta, whose acclaimed oeuvre includes the trilogy Water, Earth and Fire, spent much of the past year collaborating with Rushdie on the screenplay. In the fall, Rushdie said he’s turned his attention to securing financing.

Meanwhile, reports seem to flood in weekly on additions to the sprawling cast, which already includes Shriya Saran, Seema Biswas, Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das and Irrfan Khan.

Jason Reitman: There’s a pattern developing here. Reitman re-teams with Juno scribe Diablo Cody several years after their winning combination on the quirky teen pregnancy hit for the mid-life crisis film, Young Adult.

Charlize Theron stars as a divorced ghostwriter of young adult novels, who heads back to her midwestern hometown in a bid to reconnect with an old flame. Except he’s married and has a family. The film also stars Patrick Wilson and comic Patton Oswalt. Filming has apparently already begun, but reports say this may not hit theatres until as late as 2013.

Neill Blomkamp: OK, so he’s actually South African, but the special effects wizard behind “District 9” is based in Vancouver and has been here since his late teens. After bursting into the spotlight with his Oscar-nominated alien debut, Blomkamp says he’s spending much of the coming year working on another other-worldly followup, Elysium. The feature is said to be set in the far future on another planet but Bomkamp is keeping details tightly under wraps. Matt Damon is apparently in talks to star and District 9 leading man Sharlto Copley, is reportedly already on board.

Sarah Polley: She earned an Oscar-nomination for her first script, Away From Her, and now Polley has turned to another of her own screenplays for her second feature, Take This Waltz.

Last summer, Polley said the romantic drama focuses on a married couple played by Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen. They have a good relationship, but it’s become stagnant. Things get complicated when the restless Margot meets Daniel, played by Luke Kirby, and an “incredible, hilarious, vibrant bond” emerges between them.

“It’s kind of an examination of the honeymoon period of relationships and what we do when that dies,” says Polley. There’s no release date, but we’re thinking this could be a perfect summer film.

Xavier Dolan: The Quebec phenom only just recently released his dreamy, romantic comedy Heartbeats, but attention is already being shifted onto his third project, Laurence Anyways.

Telefilm Canada recently announced that it’s throwing its weight behind the French-language feature, a Canada-France co-production written and directed by Dolan. T

his time the young filmmaker focuses his attention on the romantic Laurence, who tells the object of his desire, Fred, that he wants to become a woman.

It’s billed as a tale of “impossible love,” and with Dolan’s history of lovelorn characters, we’re beginning to think there’s no other kind. It’s expected to be ready for 2012.

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