Staying with Crofts’ problematic view that Australian and Canadian cinemas are “imitations of US cinema” brings us to our abstract on Canadian cinema(s) from Christopher E. Gittings (note the optional s).
This chapter was a big ask. Canadian cinemas are complex, multifarious and very little known outside of the art house and horror genre. This chapter thus needed to map as well as remap Canadian cinema, bearing in mind that if Crofts is (partly) right, then an imitative cinema can shape ideas of national identity too.
Christopher E. Gittings is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Film Studies at the University of Western Ontario. His work has appeared in Cinema Journal, Canadian Journal of Communications, Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Great Canadian Film Directors (2007) and Making Avonlea: L.M. Montgomery and Popular Culture ( 2002). He is the author of Canadian National Cinema: Ideology, Difference and Representation (2002) and editor of and contributor to Imperialism and Gender: Constructions of Masculinity (1996). He recently contributed the essay “Parsing the Transnational” in John Greyson’s Queer Cinema.
Here’s his abstract.
The chapter will provide an introduction to Canadian cinema(s) by delineating the simultaneously interconnected yet separate terrains of Anglo-Canadian, Québec, Indigenous and Diasporic cinemas in Canada in the contexts of political economy, distribution, and ideology.
The chapter will be structured around several topics, including historical development of Canadian cinema(s) including pioneering silent films and the significant roles played by government policy and the Toronto International Film Festival and Cannes in the development of Québec and Anglo-Canadian Art House cinemas. It will consider Canadian cinema(s)’ relationships with Hollywood through ‘runaway productions’ in Vancouver and Toronto and coproductions between the two countries during the Tax Shelter years, and will utilise transnational and cross-cultural comparative methodologies for analysis of, firstly, Queer films like John Greyson’s Proteus (Canada/South Africa, John Greyson and Jack Lewis, 2003) and Bruce LaBruce’s Raspberry Reich (Germany/Canada, Bruce LaBruce, 2004), and secondly, diasporic films such as Deepa Mehta’s Elements Trilogy (Fire (1996), Earth (1998), Water (2005)) and her production of Midnight’s Children (2012).
This chapter will examine the art house vs. popular genre cinema debate in Québec and Anglo Canada and will refer to the cinema of auteurs like Denys Arcand, Denis Villeneuve, Jean Marc Vallée, Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg and more recently Xavier Dolan and Sarah Polley. However, this chapter will also examine how funding models and audience demand has seen directors and producers in both industries turn to popular genres like horror at various points over the last forty years in films like Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974), Shivers (David Cronenberg, 1975) and more recently Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett 2000) and La peau blanche (Daniel Roby 2004).
Indigenous cinemas and the transition from documentary to fiction feature production will also be examined, as will the representation of indigenous peoples from early ethnographic documentaries of colonialism to the decolonizing documentaries of Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin in a section that will examine the importance of documentary in colonizing and decolonizing processes and the shifts in funding models that enabled such indigenous fiction features as: Atanarjuat (Zacharias Kunuk, 2001) and Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Jeff Barnaby, 2013). Finally, questions of audience and distribution will be explored through the streaming of Canadian cinemas on digital platforms such as iTunes, First Weekend Club, and the NFB web site.
All that in 6000 words or so? At 250,000 words The Routledge Companion to World Cinema was beginning to seem a size too small.