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“The Future is Female,” as the popular slogan goes, but the fifth edition of Reel Canada’s National Canadian Film Day is showing how that affirmation also applies to the past, too.
Free screening events happening nationwide Wednesday now number 850, including 100 in the GTA, and this year there’s a big emphasis on female filmmakers and stories told by Canadian women, now and in decades past.
NCFD is an annual event showcasing Canadian cinema, with screenings coast-to-coast in theatres, libraries, schools, public squares, legion halls, military bases and drive-ins. Highlights this year range from Patricia Rozema’s 1987 award-winner I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing to Aisling Walsh’s more recent Maudie, the champion at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards.
A hot ticket in Toronto is “Trailblazers: A Conversation with Deepa Mehta and Alanis Obomsawin,” a live event at 7:30 p.m. pairing two of Canada’s most celebrated filmmakers for the first time. They’ll be speaking in the Al Green Theatre in the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, moderated by Aliya Pabani, an artist, filmmaker, podcaster and host of The Imposter, Canadaland’s arts and culture podcast. (This is a not a free event: tickets are $ 15 general, $ 10 for students/youths/arts workers.)
“Deepa and Alanis are both Canadian women whose work has had a global impact,” said Sharon Corder, Reel Canada’s artistic director.
“Deepa’s films have garnered dozens of awards, including an Oscar nomination. Alanis is widely recognized as a pioneer of Indigenous filmmaking. Their unstoppable determination and mastery of their craft is an inspiration to women everywhere and we are so honoured to be the first to bring them together in celebration of their accomplishments.”
Among the GTA events Wednesday are a 7 p.m. Revue Cinema screening of I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Rozema’s groundbreaking LGBTQ creation which won the Directors’ Fortnight Prix de la jeunesse at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.
Another 1980s Canuck film favourite is My American Cousin, a 1985 coming-of-ager set in rural B.C., based on the memories of writer/director Sandy Wilson. It will screen at various times and locations across the GTA Wednesday.
Also at 7 p.m. Wednesday, there will be a screening at Humber Cinemas of Kate Melville’s Picture Day from 2012, an early big-screen success for Tatiana Maslany of TV’s Orphan Black fame.
Local NCFD 2018 happenings will also include a very Hip evening at the Royal Cinema. A 9 p.m. screening of Long Time Running, a 2017 documentary on The Tragically Hip by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, will be preceded at 8 by a performance by the all-female Hip cover band, BARBcaygeon.
Full details on these and other NCFD events are online at canfilmday.ca.