If you need to celebrate Canadian cinema, you call Guy Maddin. Just last year he was tapped by the NFB -- National Film Board of Canada -- to create a short film for their 70th anniversary. Digging through the archives, Maddin concocted The Night Mayor, the story of a man, Nihad Ademi, as he tries to harness the power of the aurora borealis to offer Canadians visions of their social identity. And now, this year, the riding Winnipeg filmmaker is leading a list of commissioned films for TIFF's new Bell Lightbox headquarters, with the likes of one Atom Egoyan.
After years of teasing and building, the Toronto International Film Festival is ready to open the doors on its new, fancy Bell Lightbox complex. Unsatisfied with the idea of using the festival to kick off the building's opening, CBC News reports that TIFF has not only come up with an "Essential Cinema" list of 100 films, but also commissioned new work from two of Canada's leading filmmakers -- Guy Maddin and Atom Egoyan, each of which is perfectly suited to their cinematic sensibility.

Maddin is whipping up Hauntings 1 and II: "a series of shorts that recreates fragments of lost or unrealized film masterpieces." This is, essentially, what Maddin's cinematic career consists of -- he's a filmmaker wildly inspired by the fare most of us have forgotten, or never got the chance to see. Egoyan, meanwhile, is digging into a little Fellini with 8 1/2 Screens: "a work centered around a key scene in Federico Fellini's masterpiece 8 1/2." (Any guesses which one?) There are two more commissioned works, E-100, a sound installation with clips from the Essential 100, and Essential Tiles, a looped collection of opening credits from the list.

Now, for the Essential 100 list itself. You might be surprised to know that while Citizen Kane is in the Top 2, the top honor goes to The Passion of Joan of Arc. After that, there's a wildly diverse list of classics that include The Godfather, Seven Samurai, The 400 Blows, Amelie, Star Wars, Metropolis, Scorpio Rising, Annie Hall, and Oldboy. I have to say, it's a pretty killer collection of films and definitely offers up a decent range of cinema's many essential films. If you ever want to broaden your cinematic horizons, print it out and start watching.

The Essential exhibit opens on September 12.