In all the “excitement” of the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and now even the BAFTAs… we sometimes forget that Canadians make movies, too. This week saw the announcement of the Genie nominations, for the Great White North’s highest film honors (their version of the Oscars). Note the differences between the U.K.’s BAFTAs (which also announced nods this week) and the Genies:
BAFTAs – Outstanding British Film of the Year: Casino Royale, The Last King of Scotland, Notes on a Scandal, The Queen, United 93
Genies – Best (Canadian) Motion Picture: Bon Cop, Bad Cop, Guide De La Petite Vengeance, Maurice Richard/The Rocket, Trailer Park Boys: The Movie, Un Dimanche A Kigali
Which nation sounds like it has a bigger impact on American media and audiences? It ain’t the one we’re physically attached to, that’s for sure. Granted, there’s a language barrier (read: Francophobia) with a lot of the Quebecois productions, yet it’s nevertheless part of the bigger issue that it’s just plain hard for Canadian films to break out in the United States. This is a true shame, for sure, given the amazing quality of work that comes from Canada year after year. Yet, only rare exceptions (The Sweet Hereafter, The Barbarian Invasions, etc.) manage to garner both solid box office and U.S. awards notice. (One of my favorite films in 2003 was Robert Lepage’s severely underrated Quebecois stunner, Far Side of the Moon, which unjustly received zero attention in America.)
What does 2007 have in store? Several high-profile Canadian films, that debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, will find themselves in American arthouses this Spring. They include Sarah Polley’s Away From Her and Andrew Currie’s Fido, both picked up by Lionsgate for U.S. theatrical release. In addition, there is Paul Fox’s Everything’s Gone Green, which was acquired for a U.S. release by First Independent Pictures. This film, a crowd-pleaser at TIFF 2006, will have its American premiere at SXSW in March. It will be just one of many Canadian films at SXSW 2007 (the previously-announced documentary premiere, Manufacturing Dissent, is another), and there will be a good deal of Canuck flicks at Sundance next week. This is all just proof that film festivals may be one of the best ways for Canadian films to make a splash on skeptical, American crowds.