Often when English speaking Canadians hear about a “Canadian Film”, they are not even slightly interested in seeing it purely because it’s Canadian. It reminds me of the way the general public often react to hearing about foreign films. It’s because they think it will be dull, artsy and they’ll have to read subtitles.
Why does Canadian film have this reputation? Well, it’s a long, complex history. I encourage those of you reading this to watch my interview with film critic and Author Geoff Pevere. We delve into this topic in length.
So how do we challenge this way of thinking when movies from our own country come up ? Well for one thing, their are many Canadian films that in my opinion are works of art. Films that bring you into the world of what Canadians go through. Well, not only Canadians, but all humans.
In Donald Shebib’s Goin’ Down The Road, the two main characters are people who’s dreams are shattered. How many people can relate to that? In Mon Oncle Antoine, the characters don’t know how to communicate with one another. They struggle to show who they are underneath the masks they wear in life. That is what people on earth struggle with daily.
When I first saw those two movies (only last year, I unfortunately must admit) they reminded me of many films I’ve loved over the years. They reminded me of films made during the French New Wave movement by the likes of Agnes Varda and Francois Truffaut. They also reminded me of the struggles depicted between ordinary men and women, in the films directed and written by John Cassavetes.
I’ve been studying these filmmakers for years. And yet only last year did I first hear of the name Donald Shebib and other great Canadian directors like Donald Owen and Claude Jutra.
Now I don’t expect that people who are not interested in film history to suddenly become film buffs. However, I believe it’s important for all Canadians to know that we have made great films here. And we have for many years.
We are not “behind the Americans” in talent, as I’ve often heard. Sure, there are a lot of mediocre films and TV shows that are Canadian, but there are also several mediocre films and TV shows in America, France, the UK, Italy and around the world.
I believe I’ve made a case for film buffs to watch more Canadian Films, since they often have an emphasis on characters and every day struggles. But are their Canadian films for people who enjoy a more plot driven and commercial type of film? Absolutely. Just look to the likes of David Cronenberg, and even Atom Egoyan and Bruce MacDonald fall into this category to an extent. The Silent Partner and High Point are two crime stories with Christopher Plummer that have a great deal of commercial appeal.
Are you a horror film fan? Canadians have proven they are amazing at making horror movies. Changeling, The Fly, My Bloody Valentine, and Black Christmas are just a few of the many horror films Canadians have produced.
There’s still many Canadian films I want to see from the likes of Mina Shum, and I’ve always loved Sarah Polley’s films.
In short, we make good films here and a number, in my opinion, are masterpieces. They deserve more attention and more eyes on them.
We are so fortunate today that we have these films readily available at the tips of our fingertips. “You can watch many Canadian films, (some of which I’ve mentioned above) for free on the NFB (The National Film Board) website, as well as on Kanopy. The Criterion Channel (which has a monthly paid subscription) also offers many great Canadian Films that I’ve discovered there.
So microwave your popcorn and grab a drink. And get ready to see something incredible that is purely Canadian, but often speak to the human condition.
THE CRITERION CHANNEL:
- Rated: NR, R
- Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
- Directed by: Claude Jutra, David Cronenberg, Donald Shebib
- Starring: Doug McGrath, Jean Duceppe, Jeff Goldblum, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Paul Bradley, Paul Kelman
- Produced by: Donald Shebib, John Dunning, Marc Beaudet, Marc Boyman, Mel Brooks, Stuart Cornfeld
- Written by: Charles Edward Pogue, Clément Perron, George Langelaan, John Beaird, Stephen A. Miller, William Fruet
- Studio: Brooksfilms, Evdon Films, Famous Players, National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Secret Films, SLM Production Group