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Every month, Toronto Film Scene’s writers watch a film and discuss it. Their ultimate goal, of course, is to determine whether or not the film in question will join TFS’ list of Essential Canadian Cinema.

In 2013, six films joined that list, while two were unanimously decided not to be ‘essential’, and a further three were split decisions.

Here is a look back at the films we talked about in 2013.

Made the List

A Married Couple

This seminal Canadian documentary about a marriage on the rocks was reality television before such a thing was invented. See why we feel it’s ‘essential’ viewing for every Canadian.

Better than Chocolate

Starring Christina Cox, Karyn Dwyer and Peter Outerbridge, it seems like this film was a shoo-in to be ‘essential’, but writers Will Brownridge and Liam Volke talked about a lot more than that. Check out the whole conversation right here.


Bruce McDonald is no stranger to fusing music and movies. Trigger was an intimate evening with two former band mates who come together for one last show, and try to bury the hatchet. Kristal Cooper and Danita Steinberg discuss and found it to be ‘essential.’ See the discussion here.

New Waterford Girl

It’s a coming-of-age story (sort of) which takes place in a tiny town on the East Coast. It stars Liane Balaban, Tara Spencer-Narin, Mary Walsh and Nicholas Campbell—what’s not Canadian about that?!? Editor-in-Chief Trista DeVries and contributor Liam Walsh discuss why. Find out why we think it’s ‘essential’ here.

Café de Flore

A France-Canada co-production, this film by Jean-Marc Vallee is a touching story about love that goes a little off the rails at the end. That didn’t keep us from determining it was ‘essential,’ however. See what we had to say about the film.

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

For Books on Film month we looked at one of the most beloved adaptations of one of the most beloved Canadian novels. Writers Katarina Gligorjevic and Liam Volke found it was ‘essential.’ See what they said here.


Didn’t Make the List

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing

Even though this film was one of Canada’s first entries to the Cannes Film Festival, and was directed by a member of the Toronto New Wave, we didn’t find it to be ‘essential.’ See why it didn’t make the list in this conversation between writers Nick Watson and Danita Steinberg.

Son of the Sunshine

This film was a breakout for writer/director Ryan Ward, having been nominated for a Genie for Best Original Screenplay for the film. Writers Sean Kelly and Mike Girardino watched and discussed it, but didn’t feel it was ‘essential.’ Find out why in their conversation.


On the Fence

These films were split 50/50 between our writers. With two of them being generally considered to be Canadian classics, we’re relying on you to tell us what you think in the comments of these articles.

The Peanut Butter Solution

Writer Harry Cepka felt the film captured a moment in time for Canada, while Will Brownridge felt it was over-the-top and difficult to take seriously. What do you think? Should it be added to the list?

Bon Cop, Bad Cop

In a very lively debate about this film, writers Daniel Janvier and Brandy Dean fall out over the Canadian-ness of the subject matter. Brandy feels it is everything Canada won’t accept about itself, and that is the primary reason it is so Canadian, while Daniel feels the film lampoons Canadian differences. They definitely didn’t come to consensus. Laugh along with the debate right here.


Writers Sean Kelly and Will Brownridge discussed this film at length. Will felt the film wasn’t trying to be Canadian, but kind of existed in its own space, while Sean felt the film was ‘essential’ for exactly the opposite reason (why should snow and hockey be the only criteria for being Essential Canadian Cinema?) See their feelings on this film right here.

TFS continues its Best of TFS 2013 series throughout December.