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. As a programmer I am privileged to view many, many films in the process of curating for our festival (Ottawa Canadian Film Festival) and the level of creativity I see is matched now by the depth of technical capability that has grown steadily since those early days. We haven’t vanished into the American shadow at all rather we produce world class art and entertainment on our own. Take whatever opportunity you have to view and you’ll agree.