Month #4 – Movies and Television

Now we are getting serious.

Finding Canadian-made household goods has been a challenge, but switching toothpaste and deodorant is, by any standard, pretty much a foamy latte problem. The subsequent months–clothing and investments–have proved interesting distractions more than anything. There’s plenty more to learn in all three categories. However, April is where, to reference a famous American movie, the speeder bike hits the redwood tree.

I love going to the movies. Attending a weekday matinee by myself is one of the sweetest joys of my self-employed life. And I go to a lot of movies. In 2006, I saw 61 films in the cinema.

How many of those were Canadian? None, I’m afraid.

That’s not because I hate Canadian movies. There simply aren’t that many to see in the cinema. At any time in Vancouver, there are zero to one Canadian movies showing in the theatres. Those that are shown are often “good for me”–they’re the granola of movies. I don’t mind these movies, but it’s always an extra effort to go to them.

So, switching to only movies from the Great White North is going to be a sacrifice.

Everything Night in Canada

I don’t actually watch that much television. I’m an ardent Canucks fan, so I see most of their games. I also watch the occasional English soccer game.

After that, though, I download nearly all of my TV. Those shows are either middle-brow dramas like “Dexter” or “True Blood”, or middle-brow comedies like “Community” or “30 Rock”.

Am I loyal to any Canadian television dramas or comedies? Nope. Is that because most Canadian television can’t compare to the best American shows? I’m afraid so.

The saving grace, at least for a few months, is hockey.

What’s Canadian?

In discussing this month, people have been interested in  talking about the rules. How will I identify Canadian movies and television? Does Battlestar Galactica qualify because it was shot in Vancouver with a bunch of Canadian actors? Is Juno Canadian because it’s directed by and stars Canadians?

Others bring up the Canadian Content question. Will I just refer to the CRTC’s list of approved programs? I looked into the qualifications for CanCon Television (the CRTC doesn’t oversee movies), and the requirements are pretty byzantine. Here’s the summary provided on their site:

  • The producer must be Canadian and is responsible for monitoring and making decisions pertaining to the program
  • The production earns a minimum number of points based on the key creative functions that are performed by Canadians
  • A minimum percentage of program expenses is paid for services provided by Canadians or Canadian companies

I could go the CanCon route, but there’s actually a simpler criteria. It’s like that old maxim about pornography: we know it when we see it. Danger Bay? Canadian. Battlestar Galactica. Not so much. One Week? Canuck. Juno? Nice try.

That approach may seem overly simple, but I think it’ll work just fine. What do you think? Do I need a more sophisticated approach than “Canadians can spot a Canadian production a mile away”.

  1. Andre (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    “Repeaters” (shot in Mission, BC, all Canadian cast and crew I believe) is getting limited release in Vancouver & Toronto on April 22.

    Saw it at TIFF. Doesn’t scream Canadian production value to me at all.

  2. khrystena (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    Republic of Doyle is Canadian.
    Shot in St Johns’ and the crew is mostly local along with many local and Canadian Actors. Guest spots included Allan Doyle from Great Big Sea and Shawn Majunder.

    As for Canadian movies what about Bon Cop Bad Cop
    I have always enjoyed the movie and have watched a few times

    Also One Week
    with Joshua Jackson

  3. JL (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    But Republic of Doyle doesn’t start up again until January…

  4. Roshan (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    TV – Sanctuary is good, so is Flashpoint, I love Little Mosque and just started watching Men With Brooms.

  5. Laura (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    I agree, to a certain extent, with the “we knwo it when we see it” point of view, but there are some shows and movies (Flashpoint or Bon Cop Bad Cop, for example) that I believe surpass that argument.

    I think that using the CanCon summary would be a good idea. In fact, I would really like to see you actively search out and watch Canadian film and television, to see how much of it actually falls under the “know it when we see it” category and how much surprises you! You’re searching for and comparing other products, why stop at Canadian tv and film??

  6. Rach (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    Might have to look into Canadian-made webseries to fill your days.

  7. Kerry (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    A little tip: The Clova Cinema (in Surrey-Cloverdale) is a family owned theater (does that make it even more Canadian?) that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 70′s (in a good way!) and they consider their patron’s requests when it comes to showing movies. So if you have any Canadian suggestions, try there. It is by far my favorite movie theater – they even tell a joke to the audience before every movie and sing happy birthday (if you’re brave enough to admit it’s your birthday). Oh -and bring your own reusable containers and you get all you can eat popcorn and pop for a few bucks each! Definitely worth the trip to Cloverdale!

  8. Christina (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    Hey Darren :
    Just to confirm, you ARE writing a book about all this when UR finished – right ?
    A suggestion – what about those films that are premiered at the Toronto and Montreal film festivals ? Aren’t they supposed to be Canadian ? I have heard that some of them over the last couple of years have been great productions. Perhaps if you do a google search ?
    And, as mentioned elsewhere, Flashpoint, The Listener, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Rick Mercer Report – I personally think they are all pretty good ! And you’ve got the re-runs of (OMG) – Beachcombers, Corner Gas, Littlest Hobo, etc. I know we’re reaching, but if you want to keep it “Canadian” !! :-)

  9. Sarah (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    Hey Darren (posted this on your other website and reposting it here).

    I’m a big lover and big supporter of Canadian cinema. Vancouver is a great place to be if you want to check out films by Canadian directors. There’s a new one screening pretty much every weekend! Get yourself on the First Weekend Club mailing list. They’ll send you an email every week with local screenings of Canadian films. I think you’ll find switching to Canadian cinema is a joy, not a sacrifice :D

  10. Teresa (Reply) Posted on April 10, 2011

    Republic of Doyle if you haven’t already watched it. You may get reruns on the CBC web site. Season 2 just ended.

  11. LB (Reply) Posted on April 11, 2011

    You didn’t ask for suggestions of stuff to watch, but here it comes anyway:

    movie: Bon Cop Bad Cop – very cool French/English cop movie. Definitely not “good for you”. :)
    tv: Hiccups is quite funny (season 2 will be starting soon), and I’m rather addicted to The Listener.

  12. Vic (Reply) Posted on April 11, 2011

    Watching Canadian content shouldn’t be a sacrifice! A challenge maybe, but a rewarding one!

    Another suggestion nobody has mentioned is “InSecurity”. It’s a cute little Canadian dramedy mocking shows like CSI and started this year on CBC. You can check it out on Tuesdays nights, but I think the seasons almost finished, so you will have to look for it online. Its one of my favourite new shows of the year.

    Also, Barbarian Invasions was a good film, and won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars so it has some street cred…and I agree with Sarah, has some great films worth checking out!

    Go Canucks!

  13. Ms. Nancy (Reply) Posted on April 11, 2011

    Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is so Canadian it’s funny scary, and ” is a tip of the hat to 80s teen and horror flicks that is best described as Breakfast Club meets Evil Dead.”

    It’s also available for download for a dollar an ep on iTunes.

    Also, Being Erica is a really terrific show and can be watched streaming on CBC.

    I’m all about the CanCon.

  14. bobby (Reply) Posted on April 19, 2011


    This will be a challenging month as i know you like your movies.

    Good luck


  15. Khrystena (Reply) Posted on April 27, 2011

    You might want to check out

    he is a Canadian Entertainment Blogger out of Calgary. He might be able to guide you towards some all Canadian ideas too

  16. Izzy (Reply) Posted on May 4, 2011

    I suggest you watch the Showcase drama Endgame (it’s based in Vancouver, and the first episode has a fueding married gay couple which can’t happen in the USA)

    Score! The Hockey Musical for light entertainment

    and then for a giggle, Mulroney: The Opera :)

  17. bobby (Reply) Posted on May 10, 2011


    How is this month going for you?