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Scarborough, the 2022 Best Picture at the Canadian Screen Awards.Courtesy of levelFILM

This Canada Day long weekend, you could spend your evenings watching faux-Canadian content such as Netflix’s execrable The Man from Toronto. Or you could take the suggestions of those who are the absolute best positioned to recommend stellar Canadian cinema: Canadian filmmakers themselves.

To mark this year’s holiday, The Globe and Mail played a special Canada Day version of Pay It Forward: Movie Edition, in which we asked Shasha Nakhai, co-director of Scarborough, the 2022 Best Picture at the Canadian Screen Awards, to name their favourite recent Canadian film … then asked the director of that film to do the same. And on and on until we ran out of time.

Sheila Lotuaco as Marisol in Islands.Circus Zero Films

Shasha Nakhai, co-director of Scarborough (2021), recommends Islands (2022), directed by Martin Edralin.

“I’ve been waiting so long to see Filipinx representation like this in the Canadian film landscape. It’s the little things – the details in the set design, playful editing, and quiet confidence. It doesn’t hurt that the filmmakers are such lovely people, too – it makes me root for this film even more.” (Islands is available to rent/purchase on Apple TV; Scarborough is now streaming on Crave and available on-demand, including the digital TIFF Lightbox.)

Murmur, directed by Heather Young.Krista Comeau/Handout

Martin Edralin recommends Murmur (2019), directed by Heather Young.

Murmur is an inventive meditation on loneliness explored through the mutual dependence between pets and their owners. It’s touching, artful, funny, and masterfully directed.” (Murmur is streaming on CBC Gem and Mubi and available for rent/purchase on Apple TV.)

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, directed by Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.Experimental Forest Films

Heather Young recommends The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (2019), directed by Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers

“I was deeply moved by the heartbreaking story and mesmerized by the authentic and restrained performances from the two leads. This is one of those rare films that makes a bold and brave technical choice that clearly elevates the film, creating an immediacy and immersive quality to the viewing experience. I greatly admire this sensitive and empathetic film and can’t recommend it enough!” (The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is streaming on Crave and CBC Gem.)

Mallik (Jacky Qrunnut) and Japati (Gouchrard Uttak) see Boss's dogteam coming in One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk.Levi Uttak/© Isuma Distribution International

Kathleen Hepburn recommends One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (2019), directed by Zacharias Kunuk

“What impresses me so much about this film is how it uses such a simple framework to create such incredible depth of story, offering us the space we need to fully absorb the weight of this exchange as it plays out, and using dialogue in the most beautiful and engaging way. And Apayata Kotierk is just magnetic to watch.” (One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk is streaming on Crave and CBC Gem)

SGaawaay K’uuna/Edge of the Knife, directed by Helen Haig-Brown and Gwaai Edenshaw.1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All rights reserved/TIFF

Zacharias Kunuk recommends SGaawaay K’uuna/Edge of the Knife (2018), directed by Helen Haig-Brown and Gwaai Edenshaw

“It’s hard for me to be up to date of what is happening in the film world. But I want to share SGaawaay K’uuna because it’s great to see more films created in Indigenous languages.” (SGaawaay K’uuna/Edge of the Knife is streaming on CBC Gem.)

Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) and Headmistress (Suzanne Cyr) in Night Raiders, directed by Danis Goulet.Christos Kalohoridis/Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

Helen Haig-Brown and Gwaai Edenshaw recommend Night Raiders (2021), directed by Danis Goulet

“Danis has created an incredible world, along with a powerful re-envisioning of our colonial history of residential schools and control. Our spirit and heart shifted seeing us fight, win and be loved in this movie. And this folks, is the power of story.” (Night Raiders is streaming on Crave)

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