Highlights and Stories from #CanFilmDay
When we started planning National Canadian Film Day 150 (NCFD 150), we could not have imagined how much support this great country would provide. We put out the call, and Canadians answered — loudly. Feedback and stories are still rolling in from across the country (and beyond), and one thing is clear: Canadians care about our stories.
Presented by REEL CANADA, NCFD 150 is a Canada 150 Signature Project supported by the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario. A full list of sponsors can be found on our website.
We couldn’t have done it without the support of literally thousands of individuals and organizations: the sponsors that made the day possible, our broadcasters and online partners, every screening partner, venue and host, and friends and supporters in every realm. From the bottom of our hearts: THANK YOU for uniting our nation through film, and helping to build the world’s largest film festival. Ever.
We’ve listed a few highlights and stories below, but with more than 1,800 events (and endless online and broadcast options) this highlight story is really just the tip of the iceberg! The day was simply too big to tell everyone’s #CanFilmDay story.
By the Numbers:
- 1,844 screening events across Canada and internationally
- 171,831 estimated audience members at the live screening events alone
- 655 communities worldwide joined in NCFD 150
- 175 screenings as part of TIFF Film Circuit outreach programme, in cities across Canada from Prince Rupert, BC, to Corner Brook, NL
- 109 screenings in partnership with Québec Cinéma
- One highly interactive Google map showcasing ALL NCFD 150 events
- Countless spokespeople lent their voice to NCFD 150 garnering 880 media stories resulting in some 220 million impressions
- Trended all day on Twitter with 17,160 #CanFilmDay tweets that reached 40.4 million people
- On Facebook, NCFD 150 content reached 152,000 people
- One lovingly crafted animated tribute to “O Canada” by Mercury Filmworks, which played during the event pre-show
And, of course, NCFD 150 wouldn’t be the same without all the FUN stuff:
- the 150 Canadian Films Book (a starting point for those looking for programming direction) curated by REEL CANADA’s artistic director, Sharon Corder
- 21 recipes by great Canadian chefs inspired by great Canadian films
- Two English-language promo spots produced by Leo Burnett: “The Woman Who Can’t Lie”, directed by Don McKellar and starring Sandra Oh, “The Man Who Was Always Late”, directed by Atom Egoyan and starring Vinay Virmani, and a French-language promo spot featuring actor Sophie Nélisse of MEAN DREAMS and MONSIEUR LAZHAR discussing her favourite Canadian films.
- Three Canadian artists contributed their work for the #CanFilmDay colouring book!
- NOW Magazine, in collaboration with REEL CANADA and Brookfield Place, and in celebration of NCFD 150, presented an exhibit of their magazine covers featuring significant moments in Canadian film, called Canadian Film Now & Then: a 35-Year Retrospective in 29 Covers
- POV Magazine, Canada’s premier publication about documentary culture, compiled a special sesquicentennial issue commissioned by REEL CANADA, detailing the history of the art form in Canada. Their spring 2017 issue called The Stories We Tell boasts 88 pages of coast-to-coast-to-coast coverage celebrating documentary: Canada’s national art form.
- The Walrus featured regional montages of Canadian film created by REEL CANADA prior to each of their Canada 150 series of Walrus Talks across the country.
- Great Canadian films were available on streaming platforms. Free streaming, rental, and purchase options could be accessed via CBC, NFB, iTunes, Google Play, TMN GO, CFC, Canada Screens, MUBI, Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC), TELUS STORYHIVE and National Screen Institute (NSI).
- Canadian films were programmed on major television broadcast outlets including APTN, Bell Media, CHCH, Cinépop, Corus, Family Channel, Hollywood Suite, OUT TV, Sportsnet, Super Écran, Super Channel, The Movie Network and Vision TV.
RCtv and Webdiffusion PAUL À QUÉBEC
High school students from around the country participated in two innovative and interactive livestream events, one in English and one in French. Students competed against other schools in a social media–based game, while exploring Canadian identity, culture and storytelling.
- 165 schools and 15,000 students participated in RCtv, with at least one participating school in each province and territory. The live event was broadcast from YouTube Creative Space Toronto (and developed in partnership with REDspace and with the support of Google). Hosted by REEL CANADA’s Anthony Swan, the event featured an interactive Q&A with actors Colm Feore, Emily Hampshire and Vinay Virmani. 2,400 tweets were made during the one-hour event, and thousands of students used the REDspace mobile app to engage in our Canadian Film Trivia Challenge.
- 47 high schools and 4,500 students participated in the French-language webcast. The event was hosted by Mehdi Cayenne and featured a Q&A with actors Myriam Leblanc and Shanti Corbeil-Gauvreau from the film PAUL À QUÉBEC, and Michel Rabagliati, author of the comic book series on which the film is based.
Here are just a few of the stories from coast to coast to coast:
Newfoundland & Labrador
- There were two 30th-anniversary screenings of JOHN AND THE MISSUS, held in partnership with the Nickel Film Festival at the Arts and Culture Centre in Corner Brook and the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts in Grand Falls-Windsor. The latter screening was attended by local MP Scott Simms, and both screenings featured a special video introduction from the film’s writer/director/star, Gordon Pinsent, who hails from Grand Falls-Windsor. A third showing of the film was held at the in-house cinema in the luxe Fogo Island Inn.
- St. John’s International Women’s Festival and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) hosted a packed screening of ANGRY INUK at LSPU Hall in St. John’s. The feature screening was preceded by the short film BREATHS, and sealskin artist Claire Fowler displayed her work at the event.
- At the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax, the opening night of the Emerging Lens Film Festival honoured NCFD 150 with a screening of feature film JEAN OF THE JONESES and short film HUSTLE & HEART. Guests were treated to a live post-film Q&A with HUSTLE & HEART director, Koumbie, and a Skype appearance from JEAN OF THE JONESES producer Amos Adetuyi.
- The McConnell Library in Sydney screened a whole day of films that ended with HITMAN HART: WRESTLING WITH SHADOWS, a behind-the-scenes look at professional wrestling exploring the blurred lines between fact and fiction, the legacy of Canada’s Hart family, and one of the most controversial and defining moments in wrestling history: the infamous “Montreal screwjob.” The screening was hosted by library staff member and long-time wrestling fan Shelley Brown.
Prince Edward Island
- Through the TIFF Film Circuit programme, THE BITTER ASH was screened at City Cinema in Charlottetown. Local MP Sean Casey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage, was in attendance.
- The Murray River Leona Giddings Memorial Library in Murray River presented a screening of the feel-good romantic sports comedy, BREAKAWAY.
- The Fredericton microbrewery Picaroons Roundhouse was one of six breweries across Canada to screen STRANGE BREW. The classic Canadian comedy is itself set in a brewery, making it a perfect choice to delight hosers all over the country.
- Presented in partnership with New Brunswick Filmmakers Cooperative, Tilley Hall at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton screened GUIBORD S’EN VA-T-EN GUERRE (MY INTERNSHIP IN CANADA). The film is written and directed by Oscar nominee Philippe Falardeau, and was nominated for three Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture. The film also earned the Special Jury Citation for Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival.
- The Ashukan Cultural Space in Montreal presented a screening of TRICK OR TREATY? The film digs into the controversial and complex history of Treaty 9, and poses the question of whether the First Nations communities involved were deliberately misled by the government to relinquish sovereignty over their traditional lands. Guests were treated to the great privilege of having Alanis Obomsawin, the film’s director and one of the global pioneers of Indigenous cinema, attend the event.
- Despite pouring rain, Fantasia Film Festival packed a full house for the cult horror classic GINGER SNAPS at the Phi Centre in Montreal. A 45-minute Q&A with screenwriter Karen Walton followed the screening. This event was co-hosted by CBC’s Sonali Karnick, and Mehdi Cayenne.
- La Musée de la Civilisation in Québec City screened Ricardo Troggi’s film, 1987. Cast members Simon Pigeon, Laurent-Christophe De Ruelle, Pier-Luc Funk and Jean-Carl Boucher led a discussion after the film.
- Canada China International Film Festival (CCIFF) presented a screening of IRON ROAD at Concordia University in Montreal. The film revisits an important and controversial time in Canadian history as it tells a tale of forbidden love set against the building of the Canadian railway in the 1880s. IRON ROAD producer and casting director Anne Tait joined the audience for a Q&A via Skype.
- For the entire day on April 19, the Beaverton Town Hall in Beaverton was transformed into a cinema where a total of six films about real-life stories and events were shown. From a family-friendly screening of A BEAR NAMED WINNIE in the morning to the appearance of Christopher Chapman’s actual Oscar statue (for 1967’s Best Live Action Short winner A PLACE TO STAND), Beaverton residents celebrated Canadian film all day long. The main event screening of EDWIN BOYD: CITIZEN GANGSTER featured stories from some of the townspeople who lived through the period covered by the film, who shared their memories of the infamous gangster’s string of post-WWII bank heists.
- A sold-out screening of BREAKAWAY delighted a crowd of new Canadians at the CBC Atrium in Toronto, where director Robert Lieberman and star Vinay Virmani appeared for a Q&A. Hon. Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, engaged the audience in a discussion about what it means to be a Canadian living in Ontario.
- In what will go down as one of the most memorable NCFD 150 events in Toronto, Regent Park Film Festival screened the documentary THE SKIN WE’RE IN, by Charles Officer. This film exploring experiences of racism in the city was in such high demand that a second screening room had to be opened to avoid turning people away at the door. Audience members packed in on the floor and in the aisles for a passionate Q&A with Officer and the film’s subject, journalist and activist Desmond Cole. The Q&A was hosted by Toronto filmmaker and storyteller Lu Asfaha, and received a standing ovation.
- The Royal Cinema in Toronto held a 20th-anniversary screening of the mind-bending cult classic CUBE, co-presented by NOW Magazine. The packed event hosted by NOW Magazine’s film critic Norm Wilner featured a video introduction from director Vincenzo Natali and in-person appearances by several of the film’s cast and crew.
- Producer and NCFD 150 Advisory Co-Chair Robert Lantos was kept busy with appearances at two Toronto screenings. One was of his 2015 drama, REMEMBER, presented by the Ontario Media Development Corporation at the Varsity Cinema in celebration of his longtime collaboration with director Atom Egoyan. The second was of BARNEY’S VERSION, from 2010, presented to a warmly appreciative audience at the Alliance Française by the Toronto Jewish Film Festival.
- The Revue Cinema in Toronto was at capacity for a showing of LAST NIGHT, the Genie-winning 1998 apocalypse film from director/actor Don McKellar. The event opened with remarks by DGC Ontario CEO Bill Skolnik and was hosted by film critic Richard Crouse. The film was preceded by 40 000 000 MILES A YEAR, a 1948 short sponsored by the Toronto Transit Commission about the need for a subway system in the city. Following the film was a Q&A with Don McKellar.
- The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto screened MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN in partnership with the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival and Women in Film & Television Toronto. The event featured a Q&A after the film with producer David Hamilton and cast member Zaib Shaikh (who is also the City of Toronto’s Film Commissioner and Director of Entertainment Industries), and even a surprise guest appearance from director Deepa Mehta.
- The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) screened THIRTY TWO SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. This sold-out screening featured a Q&A with writer/actor Don McKellar and actor Colm Feore, as well as director François Girard and producer Niv Fichman.
- The small town of Hearst kept up a tradition they’ve had since NCFD started in 2014: they stretched the festivities over several days. For NCFD 150 they programmed a whopping nine Canadian film screenings over four days. They even had actor Clémence Dufresne-Deslières Skype in to participate in a lively Q&A after her film GUIBORD S’EN VA-T-EN GUERRE (MY INTERNSHIP IN CANADA)!
- The Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa hosted a retro drive-in event, where film fans could roll up in their cars for an outdoor screening of MAURICE RICHARD (THE ROCKET). This special event — part of Ottawa’s Ignite 150 series — featured food trucks, a pre-screening talk with director Charles Binamé and CBC host Giacomo Panico, a meet-and-greet with Canadiens hockey legends Serge Savard and Jean-Guy Talbot, and a special Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit.
- The Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre screened a special Chinese-subtitled version of IRON ROAD. This event was followed by a discussion led by University of Manitoba’s Dr. Tina Mai Chen, an expert in intellectual and cultural history.
- The Flin Flon Library screened GUANTANAMO’S CHILD: OMAR KHADR, and hosted a “chili cook-off.” Attendees were treated to free dinner, coffee and treats.
- The Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg offered museum tours throughout the day. The evening ended with a screening of the documentary film MÉMÉRE MÉTISSE and a discussion about local and national Indigenous rights and history.
- Movie Nights Across Canada presented a hometown screening of the Winnipeg film LOVESICK at the Centennial Concert Hall for an audience of some 1,900 guests. The star-studded event was attended by many of the film’s cast and crew including actors Jacob Tierney and Ali Tataryn, in addition to federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr and provincial Minister of Sport, Culture & Heritage Rochelle Squires.
- The tenth-anniversary screening of the lyrical drama RIVER was held at the Regina Public Library Film Theatre. The evening’s festivities included a Q&A with director Mark Wihak and a master class in micro-budget filmmaking with members of the Saskatchewan film community.
- Regina’s Friends of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum presented BUGS ON THE MENU, a unique documentary film that follows the Goldin brothers in their entrepreneurial efforts to raise cricket protein for human consumption. The screening included a Q&A with director Ian Toews.
- In Saskatoon, Paved Arts and Saskatoon Public Library screened REEL INJUN. The film is an enlightening account of historical (mis)representation of Indigenous people in film and an unpacking of the myth of the “Hollywood Indian.” The feature was preceded by the local short film A POETIC CALL TO ACTION.
- Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) screened the horror comedy PONTYPOOL at the Globe Cinema in Calgary. Special guests attending the event included director Bruce McDonald and star Stephen McHattie.
- The town of Hanna watched WHY SHOOT THE TEACHER? at the Hanna Community Centre. This prairie classic was the highest-grossing Canadian film in 1977, and was filmed in Hanna.
- Glenbow Museum in Calgary participated in NCFD for the first time by screening the Hot Docs Audience Award–winner, ANGRY INUK. Filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril joined attendees via Skype for a Q&A after the film.
- NCFD 150 kicked off in March with a special celebration of Indigenous filmmaking called Beyond 150 Years: An Acknowledgement of Cinematic Territory. This three-day event in Vancouver, in partnership with the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), National Film Board (NFB) and TD Bank showcased the work of Indigenous artists and filmmakers from within the REEL CANADA catalogue, many of whom attended in person to talk to audiences about their work. We were thrilled to have acclaimed Indigenous filmmakers Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Lisa Jackson and Amanda Strong as well as master documentarian Alanis Obamsawin leading thought-provoking, and highly engaged conversations after their films.
Beyond 150 Years was an occasion to recognize the importance of the First Peoples of this land by celebrating their cinematic stories. It is one small way that we as an organization can reflect on the complicated nature of celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial in light of a history of colonialism, the occupation of Indigenous territories, and the impacts since.
- On April 19th, in Vancouver, VIFF hosted the 20th anniversary of director Atom Egoyan’s THE SWEET HEREAFTER at Vancity Theatre. After the film, Egoyan was joined by actor Bruce Greenwood for an audience Q&A session. That screening played in the middle of a triple-feature bill that began with SKIP TRACER — a film Egoyan chose as one that had influenced him — followed by a Q&A with director Zale Dalen. The night ended with Egoyan’s breakout film, EXOTICA.
- Atom Egoyan also appeared in Victoria for a conversation with CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers and a sold-out screening of REMEMBER at the Empress Hotel (where he worked his first job).
- EMPIRE OF DIRT was shown at the Shatford Centre in Penticton. The event was part of a partnership with the En’owkin Centre, who worked with the local arts council to present a mini-film festival of their own, including workshops and artist talks from local filmmakers.
- UBC Theatre & Film welcomed alumna and REEL CANADA board member Mina Shum for a screening of her film DOUBLE HAPPINESS at the Frederick Wood Theatre in Vancouver. Shum graduated from the UBC Film Production program in 1990, four years before making her feature debut with DOUBLE HAPPINESS. She joined guests at the theatre for an emotional Q&A after the film.
- Telus Storyhive and NFB partnered to present a pair of pop-up locations in downtown Vancouver. Audience members with a few minutes to spare could drop into installations at Vancouver Public Library’s Main Branch Atrium and at Jack Poole Plaza to experience Canadian short films. NFB also held a day-long presentation at NFB Atrium, which included classic Canadian and BC short films, in addition to a digital studio featuring an interactive 360° camera demo.
- The Crazy8s Film Society sent a crew of three independent short filmmakers on a VIA Rail adventure from Vancouver to Kamloops on an overnight train for a creative tour and screenings. The trip was documented through social media and the filmmakers chatted with and showed their films to fellow passengers on the train and at an evening screening in Kamloops.
- Six cities and towns in Yukon hosted screenings, including Teslin, where ANGRY INUK was shown at the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre, and Whitehorse, where Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre held an ‘Indigenous Film Night!’ and showed EMPIRE OF DIRT along with four Indigenous short films.
- From April 13 to16, Dawson City held the Dawson City International Short Film Festival, which included a selection of Canadian shorts screened on April 15 in recognition of NCFD 150. The series featured bold Indigenous shorts like THE GRANDFATHER DRUM and GOD’S ACRE.
- In our furthest-north public NCFD 150 screening, Kitti Hall in Tuktoyaktuk screened THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT, which prominently showcases the landscape of the Northwest Territories. It is the first feature film ever to be shot and produced in the region of the Arctic Circle.
- Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik held a screening of ANGRY INUK at the Aurora Research Institute, a division of Aurora College dedicated to improving the lives of Northwest Territorians through the application of scientific, technological and Indigenous knowledge.
- A screening of the documentary ANGRY INUK at the community centre in Pangnirtung had some special guests in attendance: community members who appear in the film!
- Broadcaster and TIFF’s Director of Film Programmes, Jesse Wente, facilitated a screening of ATANARJUAT: THE FAST RUNNER at the Astro Theatre in Iqaluit as a presentation of TIFF Film Circuit and Canada on Screen. The screening was attended by the film’s star, Natar Ungalaaq.
Across the Globe
NCFD 150 featured dozens of international events, including:
- A screening of THE SNOW WALKER in Reykjavik, Iceland, featured a Skype appearance by star Annabella Piugattuk.
- The animated film WINDOW HORSES had its Chinese premiere at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, with filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming in attendance. The film also screened on April 21 at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival in Iowa, where it was awarded Best International Film. The award was accepted by actor Don McKellar, who gave one of the vocal performances in the film.
- For the first time in its 19-year history, the Festival du film francophone in Vienna showcased a Canadian title on opening night. PAUL À QUÉBEC screened for hundreds of dignitaries, an event that featured producer Nathalie Brigitte Bustos.
- The Canadian consulate in Los Angeles presented a marathon of Canadian films including comedy classics MEATBALLS and STRANGE BREW, complete with Canadian snacks like poutine and “Elsinore” beer. Acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve attended for a special screening and Q&A for his film INCENDIES, an event also attended by our Minister of Canadian Heritage, Hon. Mélanie Joly.
- Hockey-loving film fans in Astana, Kazakhstan, watched MAURICE RICHARD (THE ROCKET). The screening—for which we were able to obtain Russian subtitles—was attended by 140 people, including Canada’s ambassador to Kazakhstan, Shawn Steil. The organisers hailed the event as “an excellent opportunity to showcase Canadian cinema, culture and life.”
- The High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, were anticipating an audience of 50 for a private picnic lunch screening of THE F WORD on the lawn of the High Commission. They actually got an audience of over 100, proving that employees were hungry not just for a picnic lunch, but for Canadian film too!
- Sixty Canadian Forces locations in Canada and around the globe participated in NCFD 150, in countries as far away as South Africa, Kosovo and Venezuela, just to name a few! Most of these bases showed films by Paul Gross — PASSCHENDAELE and HYENA ROAD — which portray the work of Canadian Forces members historically and today. Gross, who is the son of a Canadian Forces tank commander and grandson of a WWI veteran, recorded a special video introduction to thank the troops for their service and for celebrating Canadian film.
We wish we could mention the hundreds of additional NCFD 150 events and thank every single person by name! But the list of supporters of every kind would literally be thousands of people — incredible, generous and enthusiastic Canadian film fans from around the world. So we’ll just say a heartfelt “THANK YOU!” from the bottom of our hearts to every one of you.
For more details about events that happened near you and across the country, visit canfilmday.ca and check out the #CanFilmDay hashtag on social media for stories from around the world.
About National Canadian Film Day 150 (NCFD 150)
National Canadian Film Day 150 (NCFD 150), an initiative of REEL CANADA, was created as a new way to celebrate this great nation, embrace Canadian cinema, and have some FUN! For 2017, NCFD 150 will become the world’s largest one-day film festival in the world. Canadian film will be everywhere — on foot, online and on-screen — thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. NCFD 150 would not exist without our sensational major sponsors: Cineplex, CBC, Telefilm Canada, Quebec Cinema, Entertainment One, Google Canada, TIFF, Landmark Cinemas, VIA Rail, REDspace, Air Canada, William F. White International Inc. and Mercury Filmworks. Major broadcast partners include CBC, Bell Media, Hollywood Suite, Sportsnet, Corus, APTN, CHCH, OUTtv, Vision TV, Super Channel. Major distributor partners include Elevation Pictures, Mongrel Media, dFilms, KinoSmith, WFG, TVA, CFMDC, IndieCan Entertainment, Pacific Northwest Pictures and Canadian Indie Film Series.
About REEL CANADA
REEL CANADA is a non-profit organization that celebrates Canada through film. Canadian films are the stories we tell about ourselves — they open the door to so many conversations about place, nation, identity, and what it means to be Canadian. REEL CANADA promotes the power and diversity of Canadian film and encourages this ongoing conversation through three core programmes: Our Films in Our Schools, Welcome to Canada, and National Canadian Film Day. REEL CANADA has presented over 1,100 festivals of Canadian films for more than 400,000 high school students and new Canadians across the country since 2005. Through these programmes, REEL CANADA increases audiences for our films, encourages dialogue and, most crucially, provides an opportunity to enjoy our great nation through the wonderful stories we tell. By celebrating Canadian cinematic storytelling we can build a stronger and prouder Canada.