Just like its famously heterogenous neighbor south of the border, Canada is a giant mix of cultures and histories. Legacies both bloody and beautiful. Peoples peacefully co-existing or full of strife and oppression. Few countries contain such cultural multitudes in the same way.
Think of the First Nations peoples, the French-speaking Quebecois, Irish immigrants, Settlers, working-class Canadians still carrying with them traditions from their family's countries of origin. Canadian cinema too reflects this broadness. In trying to assemble a tribute to Canadian cinema, we knew we had to acknowledge not only this plurality of perspectives, but also the view Canadians of all stripes have of their own internal affairs and also of the world at large.
So while every film here is by a Canadian artist, not every film is about Canada. For every film about working class neighborhoods in Montréal, there is another about migrant workers toiling on train stations in Xiongan New Area, a Chinese megacity south of Beijing. Connor McNally's ôtênaw is a film documenting the oral storytelling of Dwayne Donald, an educator from Treaty 6, Edmonton Canada. Drawing from nêhiyawak philosophies, he speaks about the multilayered histories of Indigenous peoples' presence both within and around amiskwacîwâskahikan, or what has come to be known as the city of Edmonton.
Meanwhile in Balifilm, Peter Mettler brings us into the world of the mystical and the unconscious through his exploration of the extraordinary culture of the island of Bali. Originally commissioned as a stage performance, it was ultimately assembled from diary images and sounds collected in 1990 and 1992 by Mettler from his time among the people of Bali. And on the complete opposite end of the spectrum to this foreign odyssey are Fail to Appear and Never Eat Alone, two essential docufictions in the burgeoning Canadian hybrid filmmaking movement both perhaps not so coincidentally starring rising star Deragh Campbell.
The films in this focus run the gamut of approaches: from sensitive docu-fiction, to free-flowing experimentation, to an atomically precise digital hyper-realism. A perfect introduction to a new kind of Canadian filmmaking.
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