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TitleA History of Narrative Film
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size42.5 MB
Total Pages865
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David A. Cook
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

F I F T H E D I T I O NF I F T H E D I T I O N

A H I S TO R Y O F N A R R AT I V E F I L M

n
W.W. NORTON & COMPANY

NEW YORK • LONDON

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CANADA 415

and animated shorts, as in the brilliant experimen-
tal work of Norman McLaren (1914–1987). With the
arrival of television, Canadian filmmakers turned in-
creasingly to cinéma vérité techniques (the cinéma
direct movement, in fact,  was founded in the early
1960s by French-Canadian filmmakers at the NFB,
including Michel Brault, Pierre Perrault, and Claude
Jutra, under the influence of Jean Rouch).

For all of Canada’s success with documentary and
animated cinema, feature filmmaking was left almost
exclusively to the Americans until 1963, when the
NFB produced two remarkable semi-documentaries.
Don Haldane’s Drylanders is an account of the harsh
existence of a Canadian farming family during the
first thirty years of the century, and Paul Perrault and
Michel Brault’s Pour la suite du monde (So That the
World Goes On/Moontrap) is about the attempt of the
people of an isolated St. Lawrence River island to revive
the hunting of beluga whales.

By 1964, the NFB was supporting feature produc-
tion in both French and English. Yet Canadian feature
production averaged only four films per year, and many
Canadian directors (e.g., Norman Jewison, Sidney J.
Furie, Arthur Hiller, Silvio Narizzano, Ted Kotcheff )
and actors (Donald Sutherland, Christopher Plummer,
Michael Sarrazin, Joanna Shimkus) migrated south
to work in the American industry. And it was a rare
Canadian feature indeed—such as Irvin Kershner’s
The Luck of Ginger Coffey (U.S.-Canada, 1964), shot
on location in Montreal—that enjoyed even modest
success beyond its own borders.

In an effort to reverse this trend, the Canadian Film
Development Corporation (CFDC) was established by
an act of Parliament in 1967 with a fund of $10 million
(now a revolving annual fund of $4.5  million) to
promote the national feature industry through grants
and guaranteed loans. By 1972, the annual feature
output had risen to twelve. In 1974, the CFDC scored
an unprecedented international success with Ted
Kotcheff’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which
won the Golden Bear at Berlin, as well as an Oscar
nomination for Best Foreign Film. Nevertheless, by
1977, less than $6  million in private funds was being
invested in Canadian feature films.

In 1978, however, two things occurred that radically
changed the nature of the Canadian industry. The first
was a policy change at the CFDC in which the seed
money for Canadian feature projects was lent to pro-
ducers rather than to directors, increasing investment
incentive within the business community. Second,
and infinitely more important, the Canadian govern-
ment enacted wide-ranging tax-shelter legislation

Bones (2009), and The Hobbit trilogy (2012–2014).
The most prominent New Zealand woman director
(aside from Jane Campion, who has been adopted by
Australia) is Alison Maclean (b. in Ottawa, 1958), whose
first feature, the dark psychological thriller Crush
(1992), won several international awards. In 1999, she
directed the independent American feature Jesus’
Son, a film about heroin addiction in the early 1970s,
financed by Lion’s Gate.

The New Zealand film that has spoken the most
directly to women’s issues, however, was written and
directed by a man, Gregor Nicholas (b.  in Auckland,
1959). Broken English (1996) is the story of a familial
war between a reactionary Croatian immigrant living
as a successful drug dealer in Auckland and his two
defiant daughters, both thoroughly modern young
adults; it speaks to the hybridization of New Zealand
urban culture. The film became the third most popular
of the 1990s with domestic audiences, after Once Were
Warriors (1994) and its sequel, What Becomes of the
Broken Hearted (1999), suggesting that New Zealand is
very much a contemporary society in transition.

Canada
Canada is another Commonwealth nation whose
cinema has experienced sudden and unexpected
growth. Although Canada is one of the largest and
wealthiest countries in the world, its film market
was dominated until very recently by American
productions, much as British cinema had been during
the 1930s. Before 1978, film production in Canada
was  basically a cottage industry under the tight con-
trol of the National Film Board (NFB). Founded in
1939 by British documentary producer John Grierson,
the NFB coordinated all government film activities in
an attempt to end Hollywood dominance and establish
a national cinema that would, in Grierson’s words,
“interpret Canada to Canadians and the world.”

For this purpose, Grierson gathered about him
a group of talented documentarists: Stuart Legg,
Stanley Hawes, Raymond Spottiswoode, Joris Ivens,
John Fernhout, and Irving Jacoby. During World
War  II, Canada became the world’s leading producer
of Allied war propaganda films—the World in Action
series (1942–1945) and Canada Carries On (1940–
1945)—as well as other types of nonfiction film. After
the war, Grierson returned to England, but the NFB
continued to produce distinguished documentaries

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416 CHAPTER 14 NEW CINEMAS IN BRITAIN AND THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING COMMONWEALTH

Canadian character troubled some observers, but there
can be no question that the kind of filmmaking activity
financed in Canada during this time represented a solid
economic achievement.

With twenty-four entries at the 1980 Cannes
Festival, Canada announced its intention to become a
“world class” force in cinema but, in fact, its success in
this arena has been limited at best. Although Canada has
continued to produce a number of interesting films ith
uniquely Canadian content, the majority of them are
either shot out of the country with CFDC funding or
use Canadian locales to represent other places entirely
(particularly aggravating to Canadians in this regard
are the hundreds of so-called Stars and Stripes films,
which feature Canadian towns as cities or unidentified
locations in the United States and employ mainly
American actors). With major production facilities in
Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, much of Canada’s
film industry services American producer/distributors,
so that it has been nicknamed “Hollywood  North.”
In 2011, for example, Toronto ranked third in total
industry production, behind only Los Angeles and New
York City.

that allowed a 100  percent write-off for film invest-
ment, which rapidly became the second most popu-
lar form of tax relief in the country (after oil depletion
allowances). The result was a boom in the produc-
tion of commercial features, the likes of which few
countries have experienced in modern times: $6 mil-
lion was invested in Canadian feature production in
1977, more than $150  million in 1979, and $300  mil-
lion in 1980.

At the same time, co-productions with the United
States, France, Italy, and Japan, as well as domestic
productions on a previously unthinkable big-budget
scale, have combined to produce one of the most
commercially lucrative production environments any-
where in the world today. Between 1979 and 1981, more
than 150 features were shot in Canada, stretching the
industry’s technical capacity very thin. Among the
first big winners were Ivan Reitman’s Meatballs, with
$40 million in receipts in 1979; and Bob Clark’s odious
Porky’s (1981), with $100  million, which, though shot
on location in Florida, became the highest-grossing
“Canadian” film in the industry’s brief history. That
the environment and the films lacked a specifically

Richard Dreyfuss in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Ted Kotcheff, 1974).

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