It’s not easy being a Canadian film. Before people even know a single thing about the actual movie, people are already judging it for being Canadian. Even though it’s been years since the best thing the industry was producing were those Canadian Heritage Moments, the stigma of being a “Canadian movie” is almost insurmountable.
So what do we do? We make Canadian movies about Canada and we’re damn proud about it. At tonight’s Opening Gala for the Calgary International Film Festival (great festival, horrible acronym), Don McKellar’s new film, The Grand Seduction played to a packed house at the popcorn-free Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Because the film is, well, Canadian, there’s no huge marketing push around the film. There are no billboards, nor are there YouTube ads or Facebook campaigns. Instead, movies like The Grand Seduction rely on things like world of mouth to hopefully bring in crowds, praise and with any luck, at least some money.
Well, if all the Grand Seduction has to do to make money is to rely on word of mouth, it could very well be the most successful movie of all time. I can say without a doubt that I loved every frame of the movie; every line, every character and every white lie that the tiny Newfoundland town told to convince a doctor (a Hollywood-humbled Taylor Kitsch) to stay longer than his probationary month. I loved film legend Gordon Pinsent’s shaggy and perfect comedic timing. I loved the postcard perfect scenery of the small Newfoundland town, sorry, harbour. But most of all, I loved the reminder that although I left New Brunswick eight years ago looking for work, there are many that stayed to fight for their jobs, their families and their homes.
It’s always hard to tell how well a Canadian film will do. A lot of people, with a lot of deep pockets have to believe in it and even then, rarely will it make it to the mainstream movie theatres. So many people, unless you catch it at an upcoming film festival, will likely have to wait until it’s available to rent, download, or whatever the kids are doing nowadays. I, for one, hope that this perfect film has legs are as strong as a fisherman’s and that people are still talking about it on Oscar night. It’s a lofty wish, but it’s one that I think the whole country could get behind. Because, while the story many take place on the chilly shores of Newfoundland, it’s a story that all of us, from coast to coast, are all too familiar with.