In the wake of National Canadian Film Day and with the First Weekend Club launching Canada Screens, a video-on-demand service for Canadian films making accessing Canadian films easier, we thought we'd ask film folk what their recommendations are for Canadian films when looking for something to watch online or on TV.
But we didn't ask for just any Canadian films; we asked for underrated, obscure, or just plain weird Canadian cinematic gems that Canadians should check out.
The first person to respond was screenwriter Peggy Thompson.
Thompson, who recently retired as a screenwriting professor in the UBC Creative Writing department, wrote the screenplay for the locally shot 1999 lesbian romcom Better Than Chocolate, directed by Anne Wheeler.
Thompson chose the 1987 film Loyalties, also directed by Anne Wheeler and shot in Alberta.
In the film, an upperclass English woman relocates with her children from the U.K. to a northern Alberta town where her doctor husband has already settled. There, she hires a part-Native housekeeper who she becomes close friends with, until the dark secret that forced the family to relocate surfaces.
Here's what Thompson had to say about the film and why you should watch it:
It’s a film about we give our loyalty to. In this case, the loyalty is ultimately between two women, Rosanne Ladoucer (the great Tantoo Cardinal) and Lily Sutton (Susan Wooldridge of Jewel in the Crown fame). With a superb screenplay by Sharon Riis and powerful directing by Anne Wheeler, the film explores betrayal, racism, and sexual assault. It was and still is a groundbreaking film and though I may make it sound grim, the intimacy in the film is beautiful and luminous. I’m guessing there may be a generation of younger filmmakers and film fans who haven’t seen it. I’ve seen it several times and it wears its years well, with great supporting performances from Tom Jackson and Kenneth Welsh. The film won many deserved awards and played around the world. But at the end of the day, it’s Tantoo Cardinal’s onscreen power that stays with you and has stayed with me for decades.
Stay tuned, true believers, as there are many more Canadian flick picks to come.