It is time for me to kick off the 2017 edition of the Blindspot Series, where I will watch films from Canada's top filmmakers in celebration of the country's 150th anniversary. First up is Atom Egoyan's award winning 1997 drama The Sweet Hereafter. A small town is reeling after a tragic school bus accident that kills most of the town's children. Lawyer Mitchell Stevens (Ian Holm) has arrived into town to organize a class action lawsuit on behalf of the victims. While many in the town are on board with the lawsuit, others like Billy Ansel (Bruce Greenwood) don't want to revisit that day. The case soon comes to rely on the testimony of wheelchair-bound survivor Nicole Burnell (Sarah Polley).
An Inuk hunter seeks out the men who kidnapped his wife and daughter in Maliglutit (Searchers). After returning from a caribou hunt, Kuanana (Benjamin Kunuk) and his son Siku (Joseph Uttak) arrives home to find Kuanana's wife Ailla (Jocelyne Immaroitok) and daughter Tagaq (Karen Ivalu) have been kidnapped and his youngest son Anguti murdered. Kuanana and Siku ask for the assistance of the loon spirit Kallulik to locate the men responsible and rescue the women.
Two young lovers go on the run from their abusive lives in Mean Dreams. One day, young ranch hand Jonas (Josh Wiggins) meets Casey (Sophie Nélisse), who has just moved into the area. The two quickly strike up a friendship, which seems to be blossoming into romance. However, Jonas discovers that Casey's police deputy father Wayne (Bill Paxton) is an abusive alcoholic, who regularly beats on Casey. After witnessing Wayne steal nearly a million dollars during a drug deal, Jonas takes the money and goes on the run with Casey, wity Wayne and the police chief (Colm Feore) on their trail.
Three girls are kidnapped by a man with dissociative identity disorder in Split. As they are being driven home from a party, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are kidnapped by Kevin (James McAvoy) and locked in a basement in an unknown location. The girls quickly realize that Kevin has multiple personalities, ranging from the OCD pedophile "Dennis," psychotic British woman "Patricia," and 9-year old "Hedwig." The girls are told that they will be sacrifices to Kevin's new persona, known only as "The Beast."
The life and work of escort turned writer Nelly Arcan is brought to the screen in Nelly. Nelly Arcan, aka Isabelle Fortier (Mylène MacKay), becomes a literary sensation in both Quebec and France after the release of her semi-autobiographical novel "Whore" in 2001. As Nelly struggles with writing a follow-up, the line between fiction and reality is blurred as the lives of Nelly's multiple personas are revisited.
A terminally ill man returns home to tell his family he's dying in It's Only the End of the World. Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) is a successful writer, who has returned home after a 12 year absence, with his ultimate goal being to tell them have he has a terminal illness. He is welcomed by his mother (Nathalie Baye), younger sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux), and shy sister-in-law Catherine (Marion Cotillard). However, Louis' temperamental brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) is less than welcoming, with Louis' visit only serving to reopen old wounds within this dysfunctional family.
A young hockey player's life is left in limbo following a suspension for violence in Hello Destroyer. Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson) is a rookie enforcer for the Prince George Warriors minor league hockey team. Spurred on by a heated locker room pep talk by Coach Dale Milbury (Kurt Max Runte), Tyson ends up inadvertently injuring a player on the opposing team. After he's indefinitely suspended and all but abandoned by his hockey family, Tyson moves back home with his parents and tries to salvage what is left of his seemingly meaningless existence.