In 2010 Canadian movies are to die for

We’ve even stopped dressing in black and cutting ourselves

How awesome has Canadian cinema been this year? Gunless Chloe The Trotsky and Splice not only kicked ass they were also shown in multiplexes alongside way-more-expensive Hollywood fare. English-speaking Canadians aren’t used to having Canuck films so readily available; we usually have to book a flight on Air Canada to see this stuff on the back of a padded headrest. Now 2010 is halfway over but if Canada can keep this pace up all year we might actually get to the point where mainstream filmgoers start watching Canadian movies on purpose.

That goal is more difficult than it should be — Canadians are notoriously reluctant to support their own film industry. Ask a random person if they like Canadian cinema and you’ll most likely get an apologetic grin or a full-on cringe as they describe some half-forgotten tedious melodrama they watched years ago that put them off the stuff for good. Imagine if we gave up on Hollywood films so easily!

We barely even celebrate our best film achievements anymore. Did you watch the 30th annual Genie Awards this year? Me neither. Instead I spent that evening at the Plaza theatre watching the Calgary Underground Film Festival’s 48-hour filmmaking competition hanging out with a bunch of people who actually make Canadian films. If anybody is passionate about Canadian film it’s these guys and most of them either didn’t care (or weren’t aware) that the Genies were being awarded that night. Even if we wanted to we couldn’t have watched the Genie Award ceremony on standard-issue TV; it was only available on premium cable (IFC) and on the Internet. CBC hasn’t broadcast the Genie Awards since 2003. Weren’t these awards a big deal just a few years ago?

We’re more than happy to watch Canadian actors — that is once they start making American films. A long-running gag is that the best way for Canadian talent to get exposure in Canada is to move to Los Angeles.

Perhaps things will improve now that Canadian cinema has matured past its angsty emo phase. Don’t get me wrong — I love our movies but holy crap did we ever make a lot of films with suicide endings. I Love a Man in Uniform (1993) The Fly (1986) Videodrome (1983) M. Butterfly (1993)… for a while there it was almost a given that the protagonist of any Canadian movie was going to kill himself. David Cronenberg one of our most celebrated directors made several suicide movies in a row. Yeesh!

The apex of the Canadian suicide genre has got to be Lynne Stopkewich’s infamous Kissed (1996). This film stars Peter Outerbridge and Molly Parker the Rock Hudson and Doris Day of Canadian cinema. The mood of the film is lyrical and gently romantic as we root for the young lovers to finally get together. Bizarrely the only way this “romance” can have a happy ending is if Outerbridge’s character kills himself — because Parker’s character is a necrophiliac! Ah the things we do for love…