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Department of Writing at the University of Victoria Volume 2, Issue 1
 
 

   

An on-line journal from the University of Victoria

 
 
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Welcome to the Rabbit Review

Thank you for checking out our first issues. The Rabbit Review is designed to promote critical thinking and analysis on contemporary film. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the journal is our contributing writers-- our reviews represent the best student work submitted for Writing 412: Topics in Film at the University of Victoria. We are proud of the work presented herein. Take a look around and tell us what you think.

 

A Message From The Editor

Can Con Blues

Oh, the conundrum of Canadian film! Why does the average Canadian show disdain and often complete ignorance when it comes to Canadian Cinema? Perhaps I should be more specific: the challenge is English Canadian Cinema. Québec has never had a problem finding an audience for local films and, I’d argue, the best Canadian Cinema is, in fact, Québecois (Mon Oncle Antoine, Les Invasions barbares). Last year, the Quebécois film C.R.A.Z.Y. was neck and neck at the Québec box office with Harry Potter.

With American media conglomerates controlling over 95% of Canadian screens it’s no surprise that the average Canadian never watches homegrown movies. It’s not that there aren’t critically acclaimed and even fun Canadian films out there— I’d argue that per capita, our batting average is as good as, if not better, than Hollywood’s. We just need an audience.

Though US ownership of Canadian screens is a challenge, distribution and promotion lie at the core of the current dilemma. The marketplace is never blind to the power of the dollar— if Canadian films turn a profit, Cineplex Odeon will screen them. But with the pittance spent on marketing local cinema, English Canadian films are doomed to gather dust in the corner of your local Blockbuster.

Many argue that the phenomenal global success of Canadian recording artists can be traced back to Canadian Content regulations. Could screen quotas help our ailing English Canadian film scene? The idea of quotas surfaces every decade. This time around the Citizens Coalition for the Protection of Canadian Films is at the helm, but it seems the time for quotas has come and gone. The Canadian government should have taken action back in the 1920s when England instituted a 20% quota on domestic screens. In the era of soft wood lumber woes, screen quotas are unlikely to be tolerated in the global (read US) marketplace. In 1987, US interests loathed the idea of tariffs and quotas so much that the Film Products Importation Bill (from the desk of Federal Communications Minister Flora MacDonald) was seen as a potential NAFTA deal-breaker— and promptly squashed with help from MPAA president Jack Valenti.

Instituting quotas without a massive increase in the successful marketing of Canadian films will backfire. Unless we promote these films, nobody will go see them. Canadian culture shouldn’t be bad for business.

Perhaps there are modest, more Canadian solutions that can tip the balance. What if you saw a friendly red maple leaf on the marquee of your local Cineplex? Would you consider buying a ticket for an unknown Canuck film if Lord of the Rings was sold out? Production is booming in Canada thanks to federal and provincial tax credit incentive programs. How can we use similar incentives to boost promotion of Canadian films? How about tax credits for theatres and broadcasters airing Canadian trailers?

The Rabbit Review Issue #2 explores the best in recent Canadian film. Though the box office numbers are dismal, these writers contend that it may just be a matter of time before English Canadian Cinema stands its ground alongside Can Lit and the Canadian music industry.

And if you’ve made it this far, then join the First Weekend Club to keep abreast of the latest Canadian releases.

Bon cinéma,

Maureen Bradley
Editor-in-Chief

 

 

 
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