My Internship in Canada

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

“Guibord is an independent Member of Parliament who represents Prescott-Makadewà-Rapides-aux Outardes, a vast county in Northern Quebec. As the entire country watches, Guibord unwillingly finds himself in the awkward position of holding the decisive vote to determine whether Canada will go to war. Accompanied by his wife, his daughter and an idealistic intern from Haiti named Souverain (Sovereign) Pascal, Guibord travels across his district in order to consult his constituents. While groups of lobbyists get involved in a debate that spins out of control, the MP will have to face his own conscience.

My Internship in Canada (Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre) is a biting political satire in which politicians, citizens and lobbyists go head-to-head tearing democracy to shreds.” – First Weekend Club

Director Philippe Falardeau hails from Hull, Quebec and is best known for his 2011 film Monsieur Lazhar which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards.  My Internship in Canada stars Patrick Huard, Suzanne Clément, Irdens Exantus, Clémence Dufresne-Deslières, Sonia Cordeau, Paul Doucet, Jules Philip, Robin Aubert and Micheline Lanctôt.

The film is available to rent via NFB / CanadaScreens.ca.

What is a ‘Canadian’ Film?

 

While I  was  growing up it was pretty easy to recognize a ‘Canadian’ Film.  It was on CBC, it had ‘NFB’ on the credits and it was usually a little depressing.  Going Down The Road,  Wedding in White and Mon Oncle Antoine stick in memory along with a lot of others.

Then came the era of insanely generous tax credits and the modern Canadian Film industry was born albeit with (usually cheesy) horror and teen exploitation flicks.  From that base great artist grew  though (David Cronenberg in particular) and Canadian films started to be known for something other that world class animation.   I Heard the Mermaids Singing et al showed the world what we can do without losing that feeling they were part of us.

The next big wave came from the desire of American TV and Film producers to do more with less, namely less cost to feed an increasingly voracious demand for content across a variety of delivery modalities.  So more and more shows and films started to be shot here using Canadian crews being paid in Canadian dollars for much the same rational that the original auto pact (pre NAFTA) worked – same cars, 30% less labor cost.  The net benefits to develop our skills, experience has been enormous and as a result we are  second to none in our abilities in 2017.

So the question remains, are we still producing ‘Canadian’ Films and the answer is simple, yes.  Continue reading “What is a ‘Canadian’ Film?”

Diving with Selvi

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

“Selvi, like so many girls living within India’s patriarchal culture, is forced to marry at a young age, only to find herself in a violent and abusive marriage. One day in deep despair, she chooses to escape, going to a highway with the intention of throwing herself under the wheels of a bus. Instead she gets on the bus, choosing to live.  She goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver.

Elisa Paloschi is a documentary director, producer, cinematographer and photographer who is drawn to stories with a human voice. She runs Eyesfull, a Toronto- based independent production company dedicated to making non-fiction documentaries with social relevance that reflect the diversity of the human condition.” — Official website for the film

Paloschi grew up in Kingston and encountered 18-year old Selvi while on travel during her volunteer work at an NGO called Odanadi, which runs a shelter for girls and women who have suffered gender based violence in South India. Continue reading “Diving with Selvi”

Closet Monster

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

Newfoundland director Stephen Dunn‘s feature film debut Closet Monster, starring Connor Jessup, tells the story of a teenage boy desperate to escape his dysfunctional family and get a job developing special effects for movies. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival  in 2015 where it won the award for Best Canadian Feature Film.

Dunn is an award-winning filmmaker and graduate of Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre and Ryerson University’s Film Program.  I had a chance to meet him in Halifax when our films were competing in CBC’s Short Film Face-off in 2013.  His film Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, starring Gordon Pinsent, won the competition.

Dunn was the youngest filmmaker ever selected for the TIFF Talent Lab where he won two TIFF RBC International Emerging Filmmaker awards for his film, Swallowed.  He attended the Cannes Film Festival – Short Film Corner in 2009 with his film, The Hall, where film critic Roger Ebert highlighted Dunn as an upcoming filmmaker to watch.

Closet Monster is now available to stream on YouTube.

Why Independent Films?

For me the appeal of Independent Film is the same appeal of Triple-A baseball or the OHL – you get to see potential million dollar players on their way up or on their way down.  Either way its a privilege to see the talent, creativity and ability to do more with less that characterize independent artists.

Its fashionable to knock Hollywood as being a non-creative money machine and certainly that’s true in many cases.  What’s interesting to me about big studio films is when filmmakers manage slip some art through to us anyways despite the bottom-line obsession.  Conversely independent films have the reputation as the sanctuary of the artist, unconcerned about revenue as much as recognition and respect.  Well that’s not true either.  Every artist knows they have to sell their current projects if they ever want to make another or step up to a studio some day.  Consequently there is repetition, familiar themes etc. that are drive by realities of the market. Continue reading “Why Independent Films?”