I used to dismiss Canadian film — now I'm a superfan. Here are 5 reasons you should stan CanCon
Working on The Filmmakers, co-host Amanda Parris got hooked on homegrown stories. Here's why
I didn't grow up watching Canadian films.
When I immigrated here at the age of 10, the only Canadian movie I had ever seen was David Cronenberg's The Fly, but the terrifying experience of seeing Jeff Goldblum transform into an insect made a far greater impression than the city that served as the backdrop.
Over the years, I watched Canadian films like The Hurricane and My Big Fat Greek Wedding without realizing that they were made by Canadian production companies, written and/or directed by Canadians and filmed (at least partially) in Canada.
Living here, it's incredibly easy to dismiss homegrown talent for the more accessible gloss of Hollywood fare. But I decided to make an effort to begin seeking out Canadian content — and the result has been surprising. I'm steadily turning into a superfan.
More than that, I'm on a crusade. I'm out to convert even more CanCon stans, and the movies appearing on this season of The Filmmakers prove just how unique our cinema is.
These movies deserve to be seen, and you should be the one to see them. So using this year's featured titles as examples (plus a few of my other favourites), here's my case for why you should join my CanCon-gregation. (Get it?)
Our doomsday movies are terrifying, even without meteors and aliens
From Don McKellar's Last Night to Patricia Rozema's Into the Forest, plenty of Canadian films have explored the idea of the world as we know it coming to an end. But unlike our American counterparts who take that conceit as a reason to drill holes in space or punch out alien lifeforms, Canadian filmmakers have taken a decidedly more grounded approach.
In Into the Forest, the end of the world arrives when the lights go out. If all the power suddenly turned off and never came back on, what would happen? The concept is brilliant in its simplicity. So thanks, Tom Cruise, but we won't be needing you to hang off a helicopter today.
You'll love these movies about growing up (zits and all)
I love Hollywood coming-of-age films (#TeamDuckyForever!), but Canadian teen movies frequently cast young people whose stories we rarely get to see on the big screen.
In Xavier Dolan's J'ai Tué Ma Mére, we see a teenage boy constantly at odds with his mother as he discovers his own sexuality. And in Louise Archambault's Gabrielle, we meet a charismatic young singer with Williams Syndrome who is falling in love for the first time.
These films are beautifully intimate portrayals that transcend the tired trope of "boy sees girl in hallway by the lockers and makes meaningful eye contact." I'm still waiting for the Canadian coming-of-age film that centres on a young Black woman, though...
Our movies break stereotypes
In the movies, there's a well-worn stereotype about environmental activists. They usually wear un-ironed t-shirts and linen pants and yell passionately about their desire to save the Earth from evil big business. They are David facing off against the mighty Goliath. But in the documentary Angry Inuk, that simplistic breakdown becomes more complicated as filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril shows us that environmentalism has become its own big business, and it's decimating the Inuit way of life. Rumpled clothes and impassioned rallies are replaced with business suits and U.N. meetings, and suddenly we realize that the old underdog has now become Goliath.
Family drama? Check
Paternity tests, unidentified panties, estranged grandfathers dying on the doorstep...no, I'm not describing the latest episode of Maury. This is the juicy stuff of Canadian family dramas.
In Mina Shum's Meditation Park, a 60-something Chinese-Canadian wife and mother must rebuild her world when she discovers her husband's affair. We also have Sarah Polley's beautifully intimate investigation into her own family's history with Stories We Tell. And then there's Stella Meghie's Jean of the Joneses, a wonderfully funny story of a family forced to reckon with their past when an unexpected visitor ends up dying at their door. If you're looking for family drama, you've come to the right place.
These movies will make you cry...even if the heroine's a stick figure
I admit I cry during every single episode of Grey's Anatomy, so perhaps my tear ducts are a little more active than others. But seriously, try watching the final scene of Deepa Mehta's Water without sobbing into your popcorn, or the wedding party scene in Rebecca Addelman's Paper Year without dabbing at your eyes.
And maybe, just maybe, the journey of a stick figure named Rosie in Ann Marie Fleming's beautiful animated film Window Horses will leave you a little misty eyed and realizing that you really do love poetry after all. Even if you don't end up reaching for a Kleenex, I promise these beautiful moments will still move you deeply.
The Filmmakers airs Saturdays at 8:30pm ET/CT/MT, 9:30pm AT, 10PM NT and 11pm PT on CBC TV and cbc.ca/watch. This weekend, we'll be talking with director Patricia Rozema about her film, Into the Forest.