Do we need CanCon for movies?
Factoring out repertory theatres, of the 40 or so first run films playing in the Lower Mainland this week, only two are Canadian.
It’s not for lack of talent, but the Canuck film industry—for anybody living outside of Quebec, at any rate—is clearly just as anemic as it ever was. Will there ever be a solution to this dreary state of affairs?
Don Davies hopes to address this question with a town hall at the Trout Lake Community Centre, on Thursday (January 23). The Vancouver Kingsway MP was urged to hold the meeting by one of his constituents, actor-writer-director Tom Scholte, the much-admired local film vet whose most recent starring role helped to garner an inaugural Best B.C. Film award at VIFF 2013 for The Dick Knost Show.
They’ll be joined by former Festival Cinemas honcho Leonard Schein, Vancouver-Fairview MLA George Heyman, and film critic David Spaner—who took on this subject in powerful detail in his 2012 book, Shoot It!
“Canadians may be ambivalent largely about Canadian film, but they do seem to care a lot about fairness, especially in issues of trade,” Scholte told the Straight. What most cinemagoers don’t realize, he added, is that the lineup of predominantly American titles hogging all the space at your local multiplex reflects decades of bullying tactics by the Hollywood studios.
There are various ways to mitigate against this. In countries that adopt a quota system for the exhibition of indigenous product, like South Korea, the result, consistently, is a healthier domestic film industry.
“I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has said, ‘Why has there never been a CanCon regulation for Canadian film?’ It looms as a question over the whole industry for years and years and years,” Scholte said. He also conceded that, when it was instituted for the music industry in 1971, “people resisted CanCon.”
“But this is also the country where people resisted medicare with everything they had in them. It’s a Canadian pattern to be militant against government intervention and then, 40 years later, to go, ‘This is the pride of our nation.’ That’s true of medicare and in some ways I think it’s true of our music scene, too.”
Can it also be true for cinema? Canadian Dreams/Canadian Screens: Federal Alternatives to Support Canadian Film takes place at the Trout Lake Community Centre, on Thursday (January 23), at 7:00 PM