Everything you've ever wanted to know about Canadian film but were too polite to ask

In honour of the film-centric season premiere of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists, we're bringing back our primer.

In honour of the film-centric season premiere of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists, we're bringing back our primer

Meditation Park, I Killed My Mother, Stories We Tell. (Courtesy)

The new — and final! — season of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists premieres tonight, and we're doing things a little differently this time. Each episode will centre around a specific artistic discipline, with interviews, panel discussions and short documentaries together creating a dialogue about issues facing that discipline's present and future.

Tonight kicks things off with a film-centric episode, which is why we're directing you to the cornucopia of content that has come out of two seasons of another CBC Arts series, the Canadian Screen Award-winning The Filmmakers. To get you primed for tonight, you can watch each and every episode here. And if you'd like to take that a step further, we've laid out all the essays, interviews, panels and fun film lessons (no, seriously, they're actually fun!) we put together over the course of the two seasons in one big shiny link guide. 

The Filmmakers host Johanna Schneller with Sarah Polley. (Nayani Thiyagarajah)

Expert panels

On every episode, hosts Johanna Schneller and Amanda Parris were joined by some folks with lots to say about the films and filmmakers in question, offering up conversations that ranged from controversial to comical — and everything in between:

The Sweet Hereafter, featuring film programmer and critic Adam Cook, film critic and author Geoff Pevere and filmmaker and actress Stephanie Morgenstern.

Stories We Tell, featuring film critic Eli Glasner, journalist and documentary filmmaker Francine Pelletier and filmmaker and the National Film Board of Canada executive producer Anita Lee.

Last Night, featuring film critic Norm Wilner, artist and CBC radio host Sook-Yin Lee and writer and actor Bob Martin.

Incendies, featuring Radio-Canada writer and producer Helen Faradji, Toronto International Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey and film producer Niv Fichman.

Double Happiness, featuring actor Samantha Wan, VICE culture writer Amil Niazi and TIFF programmer and film critic Kiva Reardon.

From left: Writer and CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt, host Johanna Schneller, actor and filmmaker Connor Jessup and TIFF progammer Magali Simard. (CBC Arts)

Rebelle (War Witch), featuring writer and actor Rachel Mutombo film critic Marc-André Lussier and musician, activist and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal.

J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother), featuring filmmaker Connor Jessup, Toronto International Film Festival programmer Magali Simard and CBC Arts' own Peter Knegt.

Water, featuring filmmaker Rakhi Mutta and film critics Radheyan Simonpillai and Brian D. Johnson.

Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), featuring imagineNATIVE Film & Media Festival executive director Jason Ryle, filmmaker Nyla Innuksuk and filmmaker and songwriter Elisapie Isaac.

Manufactured Landscapes, featuring Art Gallery of Ontario curator Sophie Hackett, author and professor Darrell Varga and scientist, environmentalist and The Nature of Things host David Suzuki

Johanna Schneller (left) sits with Nyla Innuksuk (center) and Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory (right) in 'The Filmmakers' panel discussion. (John Murphy/CBC)

Across The Line, featuring producer and screenwriter Floyd Kane, Prism Prize founder Louis Calabro and filmmaker Cazhhmere.

Angry Inuk, featuring artist Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory and filmmaker Nyla Innuksuk 

Gabrielle, featuring Les Muses founder Cindy Schwartz and actress Gabrielle Marion-Rivard 

Window Horses, featuring animators Nasim Asgari, Lillian Chan and Kevin Langdale

Meditation Park, featuring Lillian Lim, Peter Wunstorf and Joyce Wong 

Sandra Oh in "Last Night." (Alliance )

Personal essays

To complement the series, CBC Arts decided to ask the panellists from the first season to expand on what they said on the show with a personal essay. From the varied perspectives of journalists, actors and filmmakers themselves, here's what they had to say:

The Sweet Hereafter, written by Adam Cook

Stories We Tell, written by Eli Glasner

Last Night, written by Norm Wilner

Incendies, written by Helen Faradji

Double Happiness, written by Samantha Wan

Rebelle (War Witch), written by Rachel Mutombo

J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother), written by Peter Knegt

Water, written by Radheyan Simonpillai

Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), written by Nyla Innuksuk

Manufactured Landscapes, written by Darrell Varga

Atom Egoyan on The Filmmakers. (CBC Arts)

Exclusive Interviews

With all due respect to the panellists, the centrepiece of The Filmmakers had to be the interviews with, well, the filmmakers. From Sarah Polley on steering clear of Hollywood to Xavier Dolan addressing his critics, these are conversations with Canadian filmmakers like you've never seen before:

Atom Egoyan on The Sweet Hereafter

Sarah Polley on Stories We Tell

Don McKellar on Last Night

Mina Shum on Double Happiness

Kim Nguyen on Rebelle (War Witch)

Deepa Mehta on The Filmmakers. (CBC Arts)

Xavier Dolan on J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother)

Deepa Metha on Water

Zacharias Kunuk and Natar Ungalaaq on Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)

Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky on Manufactured Landscapes

Director X on Across The Line

Patricia Rozema on Into The Forest

Director X on The Filmmakers. (CBC Arts)

Stelle Meghie on Jean of the Joneses

Rebecca Addelman on Paper Year

Aletha Arnquq-Barli on Angry Inuk

Louise Archambault on Gabrielle

Ann Marie Fleming on Window Horses

Let Amanda Parris offer you up some film set literacy. (CBC Arts)

Film 101

Led by Exhibitionists host and CBC Arts columnist Amanda Parris, "Film 101" was our weekly segment on The Filmmakers introducing you to key players behind the scenes via some quick and easy lessons. From the key grip to the best boy, take your film set knowledge to the next level.

Film 101: The key grip

Film 101: The executive producer

Film 101: The assistant director

Film 101: The second unit director

Film 101: The art director

Film 101: The steadicam operator

Film 101: The foley artist

Film 101: The props master

Film 101: The best boy

Film 101: The gaffer

Film 101: The boom mic operator


Peter Knegt (he/him) has worked for CBC Arts since 2016, writing the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the 2019 Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada and nominated again this year) and spearheading the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag, variety special Queer Pride Inside, and interactive projects Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Knegt four Canadian Screen Awards. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films, the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights and the host of the monthly film series Queer Cinema Club at Toronto's Paradise Theatre. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.

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