Some of our most beloved comedians and actors are Canadian—John Candy, Dan Akroyd, Leslie Nielson, Anna Paquin, Ryan Gosling, Seth Rogen, Michael J. Fox—the list goes on and on! Canadians behind the camera are lesser known, and we’d like to change that. In celebration of Canada Day (Sunday, July 1st), we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite Canadian directors. You may be familiar with their work, but you may not have known that they called “The True North strong and free” home! Take a spin through our list, and enjoy some of these movies and television shows on the 1st:
Patricia Rozema (born in Ontario):
Rozema first made waves in the 1980s, as part of a collective of filmmakers from Toronto known as the Toronto New Wave. Her 1987 film, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, has been included on many lists as one of Canadian cinemas most iconic films, including lists like the Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time. More recently, she directed the 2009 HBO film Grey Gardens starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, HBO’s critically-acclaimed series In Treatment, and the 2015 haunting film Into the Forest, starring Westworld‘s Evan Rachel Wood and Juno‘s Ellen Page.
Dennis Villeneuve (French-Canadian, born in Québec):
Villeneuve has been making films since the late 90s, but his 2010 film Incendies, was his first film to garner critical acclaim outside of Canada. It was nominated for the 83rd Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and although it didn’t win it paved the way for more exciting projects for the director. In 2013, he released his first English-language film, Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Paul Dano. His film Sicario was released in 2015, and a sequel Sicario: Day of the Soldado just hit theaters today! His most well known films to date are 2016’s Arrival, and 2017’s Blade Runner 2049.
Jean-Marc Vallée (French-Canadian, born in Montréal):
Vallée loves tackling intense subject matter, and that’s evident in the films and television projects he’s directed. From his fourth feature film C.R.A.Z.Y., that explores the story of a gay young man dealing with the homophobia of 1960s/70s Québec, to his 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club, Vallée never shies away from powerful, complicated narratives. Most recently he directed HBO’s Big Little Lies, and his latest HBO project Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams is set to debut on July 8th.
Atom Egoyan (born in Egypt, raised in British Columbia):
Though Egoyan began making films in the 1980s, his first real hit outside of Canada, was 1997’s The Sweet Hereafter, which earned him Cannes Film Festival awards, in addition to Academy Award nominations for both Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The critically-acclaimed Ararat (2002) and Chloe (2009) soon followed, and most recently he directed Devil’s Knot, a film about the West Memphis Three starring Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, and Mireille Enos.
David Cronenberg (born in Ontario):
Cronenberg may be the most recognizable name of the bunch, for his early cult classics like Scanners, Videodrome and The Fly. He’s a national treasure, and was one of the first directors to embrace horror and Sci Fi in a way that mainstream directors hadn’t done before. His films usually stir up a good amount of controversy—case in point, his 1996 film Crash starring James Spader, Elias Koteas, and Holly Hunter. American audiences will most likely be familiar with his 2007 film, Eastern Promises, starring Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Nikolai Luzhin.