ABOVE: Watch Atom Egoyan and Patricia Rozema on Global’s The Morning Show.
TORONTO – Canadian film is an endangered species, says director Atom Egoyan.
Because of that belief, he and fellow filmmakers are throwing their weight behind National Canadian Film Day on Wednesday, a day set aside to promote and make available homegrown features in communities across the country.
More than 150 public and private screening events are set to take place in a wide range of venues including theatres, libraries, retailers, and schools, with films also available on television and online.
“We have this amazing tradition but there’s obviously real challenges, especially in English Canada, to make the films available to people,” Egoyan says of the initiative.
“The feature film itself is somewhat endangered as a species. I think that we are living in this amazing time of television, but feature films are their own art form.”
While the Sweet Hereafter director has been able to build his brand thanks to Oscar nominations for writing and directing and appearances at high-profile festivals including Cannes, he wants to see a brand built for the whole tradition of Canadian filmmaking.
He points to Albert Shin’s acclaimed Korea-shot feature In Her Place as an “exquisite” Canadian feature that very few people saw.
“It sort of came and went, even though it got all this attention,” he laments.
“I’ve not spoken to one person who wasn’t really affected by seeing the movie. The question is: How do you get people to commit themselves to that work based on its qualities? And the only way is if people understand that it’s worthwhile to invest their time and they’re going to do that because someone else tells them about it or because they’re really interested in film culture in this country.”
Fellow director Patricia Rozema agrees.
“More days like this will help us not to need days like this,” says Rozema, partly placing the blame on the “U.S. movie machine” for dominating the multiplexes.
“Larger industry forces control what gets up onto the movie screen and even a TV screen…. It’s a boost we need. I really believe that Canadians are ready to take a great interest in their own cultural product.”
Egoyan will be in Toronto to unveil a new HD version of his 1993 film Calendar while Eric Peterson and Tara Spencer-Nairn are set to attend a screening of Corner Gas: The Movie.
Near Montreal, director Michael Dowse will present The F-Word to high school students in Chambly, Que., while Gary Burns’s classic satire of office life Waydowntown marks its 15th anniversary at the Calgary Underground Film Festival.
Out east, the Atlantic Film Festival will screen The Grand Seduction at Halifax’s new Central Library.
More can be found on the small screen — Shaw Media, Shomi and others broadcasters will dedicate a portion of their programming to Canadian content Wednesday.