Yesterday, the Toronto International Film Festival Group announced their “Top 10 Canadian Films of 2008″ list. Embarrassingly, I can only say that I’ve heard of one or two of these movies, and haven’t seen any (partially because many have only played at festivals, and have yet to be distributed… that’s my excuse).
With the release of this list yesterday, I began to ponder my own commitment to our country’s film industry. Upsettingly, I could only think of one Canadian movie I saw this year: Passchendaele. Passchendaele was the most expensive Canadian movie ever made ($20 million). It was also probably the worst movie I saw all year, and I would happily duke it out with anyone who thought otherwise. I know you’re out there. (I heard CBC Charlottetown’s Matt Rannie – who I’m sure is a great guy and who’s movie reviews are often on par with my own – gave it an 8/10… Matt, if you’re reading this, we need to talk).
Canadians (minus the Québécois, who love their own movies) seem to have a deep rooted hatred for Canadian movies. I think it stems from when we were forced to watch NFB docs in school, and when the CBC used to run Canadian dramas in prime time. Those docs were boring, and those dramas didn’t have any Hollywood stars in them. So they sucked. And ever since, we’ve thought about “Canadian movies” as being boring, dull, and full of suck.
But think about this, my fellow Canucks : would you say that the Canadian Olympic team sucks because they didn’t take home as many medals as the Chinese or Americans? Would you diss our athletes and cheer for the Americans because they were winning more? Didn’t think so. Those Canadian athletes are ours, and while they all aren’t as good as the Americans, there’s lots that kick serious ass.
I think we need to take more responsibility for our own films. The CRTC regulates the amount of foreign content on our own radio and television stations. Should someone regulate the amount of foreign content in our own movie theatres? Sure, it’s going to be difficult for Canadian distributors to get enough 35mm prints to cover coast to coast, but digital projection now allows us to replace these expensive reels with inexpensive hard drives, or even downloads. A film could be streamed to every single theatre in the country for far less than a single 35mm print would cost. No more excuses.
I heard a bit about some of the films on this list since it was released, and to be honest, I’m really excited to see some of these movies. Maybe they won’t be full of big-time stars or Michael Bay-esque explosions, but I trust that they’re going to be good films none the less.
My challenge, Canadians, is to seek out at least one of these movies in the not too distant future. It may be hard, because a lot of them are still making the festival round, but keep watching for them on DVD, and make an effort to check them out. There’s a good chance your tax dollars financed these pictures to a certain degree, so you’re basically a producer… May as well watch one of the movies you helped make.