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Five unique films from this year's TIFF that flew under the radar

Amy J. Berg director of 'Janis: Little girl blue' poses for portraits at the 72nd edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, on September 7, 2015. Berg, who unearthed Catholic Church coverups in 2006's "Deliver Us From Evil," turns her lens to Janis Joplin in this tragic but inspiring glimpse of a promising music career cut short.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Domenico Stinellis
September 21, 2015 - 7:00 AM

TORONTO - Each year, dozens of great films are lost in the flurry of activity at the Toronto International Film Festival, as attention shines on big-budget Hollywood premieres and the independent films punctuated by celebrity casts.

Here are five standout titles from this year's TIFF which didn't grab widespread attention, but are still worth a look.

"Janis: Little Girl Blue" - Documentarian Amy Berg, who unearthed Catholic Church coverups in 2006's "Deliver Us From Evil," turns her lens to Janis Joplin in this tragic but inspiring glimpse of a promising music career cut short. Using letters written by Joplin to her friends and family, the doc paints a moving portrait of a young woman who escaped harassment in high school to become one of the icons of a generation.

"As I Open My Eyes" - A young Tunisian woman grapples with chasing her passion as the lead singer of a political rock band, against the wishes of her mother, who wants her to pursue a promising career as a doctor. Set in the months leading up to the Arab Spring, the drama simmers with tension as the teen's ambitions constantly clash with her culture.

"Der Nachtmahr" - When a Berlin clubgoer finds a grotesque little creature raiding her refrigerator the teen's family begins to wonder if she's lost her mind. At times twisted and disorienting — and frankly, just weird in every way — the dark comedy was best described by one of the film's actors as "E.T. on acid."

"Sleeping Giant" - The debut feature from Andrew Cividino, who was raised in Dundas, Ont., captures the fleeting tumult of teenage life as it unravels near the shores of Lake Superior. While the story could've easily meandered into typical coming-of-age territory, a solid script and authentic performances from the three young leads keeps persistent tension as summertime conflicts come to a boil.

"Spear" - Stephen Page, the artistic director of Australia's Indigenous Bangarra Dance Theatre, brings to life an abstract narrative which tracks a young aboriginal man as he learns about the history of his ancestors. Told through a series of visually striking dance sequences, and almost no dialogue, the film will be a revelation to fans of contemporary dance films like "Pina," but will prove challenging to audiences who aren't ready to see an entire story told through dance.

— Follow @dj_friend on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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