How can we use the upheaval of 2020 to redefine the way Canada makes movies?
Filmmakers Tracey Deer, Kathleen Hepburn and Joyce Wong discuss how we can reset the industry
This Is The Reset is a series of panel conversations that look to the future of Canadian art disciplines as we move past everything that has been 2020. Short versions of the panels aired as part of the final season of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists.
Among the countless things that have drastically changed in the past year, two major ones pertain to movies: how we watch them, and how they're made. The industry is in considerable upheaval as a result — and paired with the increasing pressure to address the field's white male dominance, to say that film is experiencing a reset is quite the understatement. And that is essentially the core topic of this edition of This Is The Reset, a series of panel conversations looking forward at how various artistic disciplines move past the rupture of this year.
Hosted by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt, the panel virtually welcomed filmmakers Tracey Deer (Beans), Kathleen Hepburn (The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open) and Joyce Wong (Wexford Plaza) to discuss their thoughts on the current state of film and where we can go from here. One of the biggest questions facing us right now is specifically how the Canadian film industry can evolve out of 2020, and how we can redefine what "Canadian cinema" even means.
"I do think that some of the best work that I've seen come out of this country in the last few years has been so deeply authentic," Deer says. "And I would like our industry to lean into that, to define our stories."
"I think this notion of looking outside the country and the big dream of making the global impact causes us to compete globally, to try to shape the story, to break through, as opposed to just telling an authentic, true story and then trusting that that will do the work to break through. So I'd like to reverse the process. We're not trying to figure out a story that will break through — we're telling a story that will then do the work to break through."
Hepburn emphatically agreed with Deer.
"I think this moment has caused us to really look at our own communities and focus on the cities that we live in because we were sort of forced to," she says. "We have to work with our collaborators that we can access. And that could lead to really exciting, very specific stories, which is is wonderful."
"I'm still a little scared, I guess, of how long things will take for it to happen. In terms of production, that really scares me, having to do it in in these new ways and not be able to be close to your actors. And I'm a very shy person. So the idea of working with an actor through a mask and a face shield is intimidating. But I think we're sort of all recognizing a new sense of social responsibility, which I think leads to stories that address real world issues and issues that are really important for our time."
Wong argues that stories that have a specific voice and perspective are simply better.
"I think homogenous stories that appeal to any and everyone ... I find them boring," she says. "So I think it's going to create more interesting stories the more specific we are with the voices that we champion."
"Also, I think that to the point of not wanting to move to Los Angeles and creating and fostering a community here, I think we need to foster an environment where storytellers want to stay. And I feel like one could do that through incentives where we have more creative control over our work and more ownership over our [intellectual property] and also having gatekeepers that share our sensibilities and taste. I think that those things are really important. And those things will keep people here and will bring people back."
Watch the full panel above, and watch the entire final season of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists on CBC Gem.