By Alex Lupul
From coast to coast, in all provinces and territories, film lovers will gather at their nearest movie house to celebrate Canada's rich film heritage during National Canadian Film Day.
This year, the fifth annual iteration, will see more than 800 events held across the country in an effort to connect Canadians with the work of Canada's filmmakers, a sense of familiarity that the initiative feels isn't as strong as it should be.
"Film — more than any other medium — has the power to capture the soul of a nation, and when we only watch movies from somewhere else, we lose a part of ourselves," National Canadian Film Day's "about me" page suggests. "There's nothing wrong with loving Hollywood films, but they're no substitute for the connection you can feel when you watch something from your own backyard."
St. Catharines will play host to its own event as part of the celebration on Wednesday, with FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre's (PAC) Film House offering a free screening of two documentaries at 7 p.m.
The free one-day event will feature documentary films from two St. Catharines filmmakers, Jay Cheel and Edward Burtynsky.
"I think for a long time there was this stigma, of not just Canadian films, but even Canadian culture, where it meant something negative," said Jordy Yack, PAC communications co-ordinator. "Now, I feel like we're beyond that, and it's a great opportunity to be inspired by Canadian film and local filmmakers."
The evening will begin with an official selection at TIFF, from Jay Cheel, where the filmmaker turns his lens towards local subject matter in his short film "Twisted." In the film, Cheel explores the urban legend of a tornado hitting the Can-View Drive-In in the summer of 1996, during a screening of the film "Twister."
This will be followed by the award-winning 2006 film, "Manufactured Landscapes," the first of two collaborations between Canadian director Jennifer Baichwal and photographer Edward Burtynsky. The film follows Burtynsky to China, where he photographs the gritty underside of the country's massive industrial waste sites, quarries, factories, mines and dams.
Cheel will also be in attendance following the screening of both films for a post-show Q&A.
Along with its Canadian-film screenings, the PAC will also host more than 30 Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School students, as they compete in an eight-hour video competition. Students will be split into five or six groups, working together to produce a short-film based on a specific theme.
"It's important that we recognize our local talent, but it's also important to support and nurture new upcoming talent," said Stéphanie Filippi, audience development co-ordinator at the PAC. "Through our imPACt Education Series, that's what we hope to do as well."