Living in Canada and working in Canada has advantages and disadvantages: I get a healthy does of American movies, which for the most part are released on the same day as they are in the US and I also get to see a lot of Canadian films. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the Canadian film industry and Canadian filmmakers, most of these movies remain largely unseen by the Canadian public. I've touched upon this time and again with every Canadian filmmaker I've spoken to but the reality is the majority of Canadian audiences aren't willing to spend their hard earned dollars on an unknown product. Homegrown features are rarely advertised through theatrical trailers and they receive even less exposure on TV which, like it or not, is how most people outside the film community find out about what's new in theaters. Furthermore it's hard for Canadian studios like Alliance Atlantis, Seville, Lions Gate and TVA to compete with the multi-million dollar ad campaigns mounted by Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox to market their commercial films. Consequently, for a Canadian movie to get seen in theaters takes a lot of hard work and they must also rely on word of mouth through Internet sites like the like the First Weekend Club and people telling their friends. For every movie like The Corporation and The Delicate Art of Parking, both of which enjoyed long runs in Vancouver there are several movies of equal quality, like Don McKellar's Childstar, that doesn't find an appreciative audience and vanish from the theater a week later.
Luckily for fans of Canadian cinema, many of our local productions are spotlighted at various film festivals throughout Canada, though for those who miss them, video and DVD becomes a more viable option. One such film festival is Moving Pictures: Canadian Films on Tour featuring a rotating collection of both feature length and short subject films that travels throughout Canada, stopping in major areas like Vancouver as well as smaller communities like Kelowna and Nelson.
The Vancouver portion of the festival runs from March 16th through the 22nd and showcases a number of award-winning features and audience favorites. Opening night features a screening of the Academy Award-winning short film Ryan as well as Oscar-nominated Hardwood and Weird Sex & Snowshoes -- a favorite at the recent Reel2Real Festival, Whistler and several other festivals. Saturday, March 19th marks the Canadian premiere of Ethan Mao, a stylish thriller by filmmaker Quentin Lee. Fans who may have missed Annette Bening's Golden Globe-winning performance in Being Julia have a chance to catch it on March 18th. Other gems that may have been overlooked during their theatrical runs include the aforementioned Childstar, Elles Etaitent Cinq -- which has yet to be released, and Clean -- which were released a mere two weeks back in local theaters but has already been squished out by lackluster Hollywood fare. Canadian documentaries Shake Hands with the Devil -- which played to rave reviews at Sundance and Toronto, and What Remains of Us -- shot with hidden cameras inside the Chinese-controlled Tibet, are also screening. In the shorts section, look out for the sharp and fresh Commentary On from Toronto filmmakers Rob Lindsay and Rudolf Mammitzsch, as well as Riverburn and the exciting Light Rapid Transit which details a trip on BC's Skytrain. Special mention should also be made of first-time director Bill Marchant's Everyone, an ensemble piece which proves that strong writing and a lot of love can make for a great finished product.
Although the lineup may vary from city to city, this year's edition of Moving Pictures: Canadian Films on Tour is as strong as ever and truly represents an interesting and broad cross section of what to watch for in Canadian cinema. Shying away from the commercial films and instead focused on films with artistic value, this provides audiences with a good opportunity to catch some movies they might have otherwise never gone to see. For more information on Moving Pictures, including a full schedule and ticket information, please visit www.movingpictures.ca. Advance tickets can be purchased at Biz Books, 302 West Cordova Street, Vancouver, B.C., and tickets can also be purchased the day of the show at the Tinseltown box office. All screenings are taking place at Cinemark Tinseltown located at International Village, 88 West Pender Street, Vancouver.
Keep it locked to MovieContests.com for reviews of many features playing the festival as well as interviews with some of the creative talent involved in this year's features.
Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.