Unexplored keys to culture

By Justin Enns

All reputable video stores have a foreign film section. And because I’m sick of blockbuster Hollywood movies, I find myself going towards that section more and more.

What do I find? Well, I find movies from Italy, France, Canada, China, and so on. Wait, did I say Canada? Yes, I did. Films from Quebec are actually considered "foreign." Apparently our view of our movies is so low, that we refuse to admit that they’re even ours to
begin with.

Admittedly, there is something missing in Canadian movies to make us proud. They aren’t entertaining. And why not? One word: Hollywood.

American culture pervades this country to the point where most people cannot state in 50 words our less what it means to be Canadian. Molson tells us that to be Canadian is to be un-Americain.

But what does this have to do with the film industry? Everything. We have adopted American culture through their television and films. We have a romantic view of cities like New York and Chicago, but nothing from our own country. Then there is the quixotic view of American history. This is a direct result of the mythologizing of the Old West and every other part of their past. Who did this? Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven and Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall. And what’s worse, these movies were filmed in Alberta! If we really want to have our own culture, that everyone can say is our own, we need to strengthen our own film industry.

The way to get people to watch Canadian films is not only to start making good ones, but to regulate the movie theatres and force them to follow improved Canadian content laws. This is what we did with the radio, and did it work? Yes. Canada was forced to promote her untapped wealth and as a result, it forced this country to excel–which it has. Many of the artists we all know and love are here today because CanCon gave Canadian musicians a chance to show their stuff. When they sucked, the laws remained, and since then, they’ve improved.

That is what I want to see with our film industry. And how Canadian music makes us proud, gives us identity and promotes culture, film can do 10 times more.

But fine, if you want this identity crisis to persist, and for Molson Canadian to continue feeding you an identity of anti-Americanism that is actually super-Americanism, then do nothing. Let fear and laziness beat you. But if you want a more defined culture, Canadian actors staying in Canada and something to be proud of, then tell the Canadian Television-Radio Commission to add film to their agenda.

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