Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 marks the fifth annual National Canadian Film Day, an annual celebration of Canadian cinema in our own very, very, very big backyard. Through my annual film festival pilgrimage to Toronto, Vancouver and Whistler Film Festivals I see a large amount of Canadian productions from all corners of the country. To celebrate today, free screenings and promotions are taking place all through the country and many organizations are creating ways to give you low-cost, or even FREE, access to Canadian made movies on this special day.
GRM writer Ben Scanga and I have seen many Canadian movies over the years, but here are three in particular from each of us that you should seek out today on NFCD!
Jason’s Three Canadian Selections:
#1. STRANGE BREW
An annual tradition on both NCFD along with Canada Day itself, I get some chocolate milk, a jelly donut and take out some hosers with a screening of the wacky adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie. This delirious movie was released in 1983 at the height of Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas at SCTV, who somehow convinced the powers that be at MGM to let them make a feature movie that wore Canada’s culture on its sleeve. A love letter to the city of Toronto with its opening taking place at the long-gone
#2. HARD CORE LOGO
Bruce McDonald’s classic 1996 mockumentary, which is a road trip of sorts as the struggling punk group of the film’s title gets the band back together for a Western Canadian tour, is a summary of not just McDonald’s incredible, decades long career as a filmmaker who has taken many chances, but also probably my favorite “Canadian road trip” movie ever made, followed closely by Michael McGowan’s ONE WEEK. This is not an easy film to watch at times for its dark subject matter, yet its humour along with outstanding performances (this was my first exposure to the great Callum Keith Rennie, here playing fame-obsessed Billy Tallent) make for a truly unforgettable experience of our culture. It still holds up incredibly well 22 years later.
#3. THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS
Denys Arcand’s stunning, literal celebration of life about a dying man being reunited with his intelligent, thoughtful family, friends and estranged son won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004, and was his follow up to his THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE (1987) which would make for a great double bill. THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS came along at a good time in my life; film festivals were just starting to happen for this aspiring writer and THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS came along in the first year that I covered the Vancouver International Film Festival. Sitting in a completely sold out 664 seat auditorium with a completely involved and enthusiastic audience made for a cinematic experience I remember to this very day.
How am I celebrating NFCD today?
I am celebrating NFCD with a repeat viewing of Mina Shum’s wonderful TIFF-debuted MEDITATION PARK, a critically acclaimed comedy staring the legendary Cheng Pei Pei about a woman on a personal discovery through the streets of Vancouver after she finds her husband cheating on her. Funny, inspiring and lovely through-and-through, MEDITATION PARK is a gentle, warm hug of a story. This screening is taking place at Sidney’s Star Cinema near my home in Victoria, BC. Star Cinema is a theatre that regularly celebrates Canadian movies looking for a home in our city and they have always been a support of all movies big and small.
Ben Scanga’s Three Canadian Selections:
My first exposure to VIDEODROME and the wonderfully deranged mind of David Cronenberg as a whole was at the tender age of thirteen. One very late school night and a Netflix account unknowingly put me onto this masterpiece of experimental horror. Watching Cronenberg push the boundaries of anything remotely tasteful is just as horrifying as it sounds, the unique and polarizing undertones of social commentary will always leave most sleepless as well. At the end of the day, it’s kind of like a car crash, you feel like you should be looking away but you just can’t… except the car crash is a genre-defining piece of cinema.
MOMMY will most likely remain Xavier Dolan’s Magnum Opus in my eyes. He has been experimenting with themes of stigmas related to sexual orientation and tension between family members but it really seems like he has mastered his craft here. The relationship between Diane and Steve seems hyperbolic beyond any point of reliability but its truly heart-wrenching how often you end up relating to the both of them. Speaking of heart-wrenching, I will never forget how much of a tough but fulfilling watch this is. It just makes me want to tell everyone in my family how much I love them.
This was the one for Denis Villeneuve. It is almost surreal to know that the same man had the vision for BLADE RUNNER 2049. The raw portrayal of animalistic violence and unwarranted hatred is complemented by the black and white colors. Even though the film can become very hard to watch, Villeneuve remains respectful to the real lives lost in this tragedy. I believe that this film is truly a love letter to the ability some people have that lets them survive horrible, life-threatening situations and come out of the other side with a new objective in life. It is truly beautiful in that right.
How am I celebrating today?
For NFCD, I will be celebrating this wonderful day by, obviously, watching a few Canadian films. On top of that, I’ll also be attending a local screening of PORCUPINE LAKE with a post-screening Q&A featuring writer/director Ingrid Veninger. This will be my first time truly celebrating this day in a public place surrounded by others who admire Canadian cinema, I don’t think I need to say this but I am pretty excited!
For more information on NFCD and to see where an event is happening in your neck of the woods, point your browser to www.canadianfilmday.ca!