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The Canadian Cooperation Project seeks to protect Canadian film

The Story

Politicians and businessmen called it a gentleman's agreement. But Canadian feature filmmakers saw it as nothing short of a raw deal -- a complete sellout to the Americans. The issue at stake: the Canadian Cooperation Project, explained in this CBC Television documentary. In 1947, MPs floated the idea of creating a tax on the distribution of American films in Canada. But the Americans vigorously sought to protect the free market. Both sides scrambled to find a compromise. The Americans proposed that in exchange for the right to distribute their films in Canada with no tariffs, American filmmakers would inject mentions of Canadiana into their scripts. They suggested that tourism to Canada would accordingly boom. From 1948 to 1958, American cinema featured brave Mounties, visiting relatives from Winnipeg, and French-Canadian lumberjacks. But during this ten-year span, Canadian film producers struggled to compete with American films flooding Canadian movie houses. 

Medium: Radio
Program: Prime Time
Broadcast Date: Feb. 4, 1975
Guests: Taylor Mills, Blake Owensmith, Lew Perry
Host: Don McNeill
Duration: 12:13
Film credit: Warner Brothers, Republic Pictures Corporation

Did You know?

• The Canadian Cooperation Project also stipulated that the Motion Picture Export Association of America would distribute NFB films and Canadian travelogues in American theatres.

• In 1958, the Canadian Cooperation Project ended its ten year run. The project was deemed a success by both American and Canadian partners. They cited a 15 per cent increase in American tourists north of the border over the 10-year span. But critics argued that the tourism mini-boom was not necessarily a direct result of the Canadian Cooperation Project.

• In 1927, Great Britain instituted the 1927 Cinematograph Films Act, a film quota system to curb the massive tide of American films and promote homegrown talent. The Act sought to raise the exhibition of British films from 5 to 20 per cent. A mass of low-budget "quota quickies" flooded the theatres to the dismay of serious moviegoers. But, in the end, producers established a string of movie companies and re-invested the revenues from the quota films, thereby rejuvenating the British film industry.

Film Credits: "Bend of the River," Universal International Pictures, Warner Brothers, "Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders," Republic Pictures Corporation



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