A Canada-wide film festival — billed as the largest of all time — will extend all the way west and include Victoria as part of its national celebrations.
The National Canadian Film Day 150 is an initiative designed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. Various cities across the country will host film screenings on Apr. 19, providing the opportunities for everyday Canadians to interact with the work of their compatriots they may not have otherwise watched.
CineVic, a Victoria-based society that provides equipment and a community for local filmmakers, will play their part by hosting a showing of “Remember”, the 2015 film from prominent Canadian director Atom Egoyan on Apr. 18.
Egoyan will also give a talk on Apr. 19, the film day proper, discussing his storied career as a prominent Canadian filmmaker in a Hollywood market that does not often feature artists north of the border.
Both the showing and the talk will be hosted at the newly renovated Empress Hotel. David Geiss is a filmmaker and the Executive Director of CineVic, who says the combination of film, director, and setting made for too good of an opportunity to miss.
“It seemed like it would be silly to pass up,” says Geiss. “We jumped on board.”
The Empress may seem like an odd place to screen a film, but there is a connection—Egoyan, best known for his 1997 Oscar-nominated film The Sweet Hereafter, grew up in Victoria and used to work in the kitchens of the hotel. The National Canadian Film Day was started in 2014 by Reel Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to the celebration and promotion of Canadian films. With that said, Geiss is quick to point out that ‘Canadian film’ as a concept or a genre is difficult to pin down.
“At this point that’s almost part of the whole stereotype and cliché; [trying to] figure out what a Canadian film is,” says Geiss. “And I think that just because this country is so huge and so diverse … that’s really hard to answer.”
With differences in budget, genre, and subject, there may only be one thing shared between the films being shown on Apr. 19 — the opportunity to be appreciated by a Canadian audience. But for Geiss, and for the organizers of National Canadian Film Day 150, this is an opportunity not to be taken for granted. “[It’s] bringing people in front of screens to watch Canadian films,” Geiss says, “when otherwise . . . they would never have had the chance to see them. That’s got to be a good thing.”