You’re so polite. Is it winter all the time? Do you know Jimmy in Toronto?
These are the three things people typically said to Calgary-born, Los Angeles–based screenwriter and producer Rob Cohen (The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons). In fact, he found people were often stunned to discover he was Canadian.
“I think that was the biggest shock, Craig, is when…I’d say ‘sorry’ or ‘borrow’ and they would just flip out,” he said on the line from New York City.
After enduring a long-term “comedic, quiet frustration”, he decided to make the amusing documentary Being Canadian to explain who Canadians are.
He filmed a road trip across Canada in 2013 in which he interviewed everyone from Seth Rogen and Jason Priestley to the Trailer Park Boys and the Royal Canadian Air Farce, all of whom were unanimously “incredibly enthusiastic” to discuss being Canadian.
Made with “100 percent affection”, he calls the film his “love letter to Canada”. “It was great for me…and re-energized me with all this stuff I knew and loved about Canada.…It recharged my Canada batteries.”
As for what has contributed to misconceptions and lack of awareness of Canada, Cohen chalks it up to Canadian humility. “We don’t go beating the drum as aggressively as some other countries.”
The film will screen, appropriately enough, on National Canadian Film Day (April 29) at the Vancity Theatre.
The Cancon lineup includes works by local filmmakers, among them Kris Elgstrand’s Songs She Wrote About People She Knows and Andrew Huculiak’s Violent, both with the filmmakers in attendance. Also in the mix are Mars Horodyski’s Ben’s at Home, Kyle Thomas’s The Valley Below, and a free screening of Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, which was named best film at the Canadian Screen Awards in March.
For more information on the Vancity Theatre’s program, visit www.viff.org/.