Here in Canada, we don’t often turn to our own country when we think of groundbreaking cinema. Canadian film is, for most, a lesser cousin to its American or European counterparts, where many Hollywood films are shot in, but never take place. But Canada’s film scene is full of underground treasures, with a system that allows for filmmakers as diverse as our great nation itself to tell their own stories.
Spotlighting Canadian stories is the primary drive behind National Canadian Film Day, now in its third year. Spearheaded by Reel Canada, NCFD was created to provoke discussion on, and celebrate, the myriad of amazing Canadian films that often go unrecognized. On April 20th, 213 communities across Canada will host over 400 screenings of Canadian films (up from 170 films in 2015). In addition to screenings, events, panel discussions, and social media engagement will take place across the country.
Highlighting diverse films from a wide range of filmmakers is an important part of NCFD, says Coordinator and Programmer Melissa O’Neil–who points out that Reel Canada is itself a female-dominated organization. “As most Canadian cinema is independently produced, there’s so much room for marginalized voices, which includes women.”
This year’s NCFD is no exception, as many films being screened across the country focus on telling female stories, and are presented in co-operation with feminist publications, charities, and associations. Here’s a brief roundup of the female-focused films you can check out today, screening from coast to coast:
Ginger Snaps: 7 PM at the Globe Cinema in Calgary, 7 PM at the Fox Theatre in Toronto
This classic tale of menstruation gone wrong is a Canadian horror classic, a funny, terrifying werewolf story with a strong sexual exploration theme that stars two badass goth sisters (including Katherine Isabel, another mainstay of Canadian horror cinema). The Toronto screening is presented in association with cléo, a feminist film publication, and is introduced by its editor, programmer and critic, Kiva Reardon.
How She Move: 1 PM at South Shore Libraries – Margaret Hennigar Public Branch in Bridgewater, 12 PM at the Snow Dome Cafe in Jasper, TBA at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, 4 PM at the Downsview Public Library in Toronto, 5 PM at the Dreams Site in Winnipeg, and 1 PM at Rossbrook House Junior High in Winnipeg
Raya (True Blood and Hannibal‘s Rutina Wesley), a talented dancer who dreams of becoming a doctor, abandons her life at private school and returns to her crime-filled neighbourhood after the tragic death of her sister. A powerful and moving drama about a courageous young woman, with an inspiring performance by Rutina Wesley, this film is being screened at libraries, schools, and the Vanier Centre for Women, a women’s penitentiary in Milton.
Bollywood/Hollywood: 6 PM at Garden Square in Brampton, 10:30 AM at the Confederation Public Library in Charlottetown, 4 PM at the Bruce Country Public Library in Elgin, 3:30 PM at Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office Youth Centre in Toronto
A hilarious parody of traditional Indian and Bollywood stereotypes, Bollywood/Hollywood is a lighthearted and sweet romantic comedy of errors that also explores what it means to be an Indian living in Canada. Written and directed by prolific Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, the Brampton screening will also feature a Skype Q&A with Mehta.
For more information and a complete list of screenings, events, and panels being held for National Canadian Film Day, visit their website at www.canadianfilmday.ca and follow along on social media with the hashtag #CanFilmDay