Canada undeniably has every ingredient required to make great movies: Top-notch actors, gifted directors, world-class production professionals, state-of-the-art facilities, access to government funding and cities with filming policies and tax incentives that are more than accommodating. So why does 'Porky's' remain one of the highest-grossing movies in Canadian history? Why aren't we churning out blockbusters that people can't wait to see?

It's a given that Canadian studios don't have the kind of promotional budgets that can compete with the Hollywood marketing machine. But there's more to it than that. For whatever reason, Canadians just aren't interested in Canadian movies - unless, of course, the movies garner international acclaim. Then we're all over it, proudly declaring that it came from Canada.


Canada undeniably has every ingredient required to make great movies: Top-notch actors, gifted directors, world-class production professionals, state-of-the-art facilities, access to government funding and cities with filming policies and tax incentives that are more than accommodating. So why does 'Porky's' remain one of the highest-grossing movies in Canadian history? Why aren't we churning out blockbusters that people can't wait to see?

It's a given that Canadian studios don't have the kind of promotional budgets that can compete with the Hollywood marketing machine. But there's more to it than that. For whatever reason, Canadians just aren't interested in Canadian movies - unless, of course, the movies garner international acclaim. Then we're all over it, proudly declaring that it came from Canada.

The one notable exception to this phenomenon appears to be director Sook-Yin Lee. Her new film, 'Year of the Carnivore', opens this year's Canadian program at the Toronto International Film Festival. It has yet to rack up international accolades, but is still generating its fair share of buzz here in Canada. It follows a quirky heroine, Sammy Small, who falls for a boy who thinks she's bad in bed. She begins to pursue more experience in hopes of eventually impressing him with her newfound sexual prowess.

Ellen Page is another Canuck whom Canadians actually appear to be interested in. She, however, has gained international attention via her breakout role in 'Juno'. Now that our American cousins have accepted her, we seem to be very proud and supportive of all her future endeavors. Page will also be attending TIFF this year, though in an American production: Drew Barrymore's 'Whip It!', about a Texan teen who trades in her beauty queen title to join a roller derby league.

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Five Homegrown Films to See at TIFF
'Cooking With Stella'
The latest effort by the team behind 'Water' and 'Bollywood/Hollywood' is a clever and enjoyable satire about Canadian diplomats in New Delhi and the local servants who aren't so servile at all.
TIFF
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Five Homegrown Films to See at TIFF

    'Cooking With Stella'
    The latest effort by the team behind 'Water' and 'Bollywood/Hollywood' is a clever and enjoyable satire about Canadian diplomats in New Delhi and the local servants who aren't so servile at all.

    TIFF

    'Defendor'
    This nifty dark comedy stars Woody Harrelson as the masked and somewhat dim-witted protector of all that is good and decent in...Hamilton, Ontario.

    TIFF

    'J'ai tue ma mere'
    A prizewinner at Cannes, this energetic debut feature by former child actor Xavier Dolan is the sometimes-abrasive, sometimes-tender story of a warring mother and son.

    TIFF

    Leslie, My Name Is Evil
    Imagine 'Inglourious Basterds' except with the Manson Family instead of the Nazis, and you're halfway to getting this gleefully gonzo effort from Reginald Harkema ('Monkey Warfare').

    TIFF

    The Wild Hunt
    Set among live-action role players who do battle with foam-covered swords in the forest outside Montreal, Alexandre Franchi's debut is a mythic adventure story about play-fighting with a very serious edge.

    TIFF

It could be argued that both Lee and Page embody a certain intangible Canadian hipster quality that has been popularized of late by the likes of Feist, Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire. Canadian indie music has been declared cool stateside, so Canadians are taking ownership of this newfound "it" factor.

We as Canadians have never been considered cool, or particularly interesting, for that matter, by anyone. Now that we're getting the desperately craved nod of approval from our intimidating neighbour to the south, we're clinging to the intangible quality that secured us this nod in the first place. We are indie, we are cool, we produce interesting, counter-culture things.

When our American neighbours inevitably recognize our latest purveyor of cool, Lee, we will be able to proudly declare that we have supported her from the start. We will not be late jumping on this bandwagon, as we have been with other artists, like Toronto's Peaches, who had to find fame in Germany before gaining an audience at home. No, not this time. We have figured out the formula, and we won't be made fools of again. Lee is ours, and we recognize her talent and her effortless sense of cool.

Now, this "it" factor theory doesn't take into account the phenomenal success of Paul Gross's 'Passchendaele', which has surpassed 'Porky's' as the highest grossing Canadian movie of all time. The war epic doesn't boast an inkling of cool, nor does it have an indie soundtrack. It is, however, a movie. Not a film, like most Canadian productions. 'Passchendaele' speaks to the masses with a clear narrative and few alienating high-brow concepts. It resonates with basic human emotions. It speaks to people.

Will Lee's 'Year of the Carnivore' be able to combine the indie brand of Canadian cool with a quirky narrative that resonates with people? If it can, it just might follow in 'Passchendaele' footsteps as a Canadian movie Canadians actually want to see. Though we might have to wait for the US to chime in before we can offer a real answer.