This time last year, I spent my sixth annual National Canadian Film Day wondering how the industry’s numbers might add up in 2020. Back then, the figures were both hopeful and depressing: According to Telefilm, 122 feature-length Canadian films were released the year before. Yet I doubt any Canadian film fan, even those who go out of their way to celebrate the well-intentioned NCFD, could name a quarter of those titles. Maybe, I thought, things will look better 12 months from now. Oops.
Then again, the Canadian film industry is used to seemingly unmovable obstacles. And so this year, Reel Canada, the non-profit organization behind NCFD, has pivoted: Instead of hosting 1,000 in-person screenings and events across the country April 22 as originally planned, the seventh-annual NCFD will be a digital affair.
An interactive livestream will be broadcast Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m., featuring conversations with such homegrown film heroes as Atom Egoyan, Mina Shum, Philippe Falardeau, Don McKellar and Colm Feore, and Reel Canada has offered a curated list of where to find the best Canadian films across domestic streaming services and television channels. But, well, it’s a lot of suggestions. And just because a production is Canadian and currently available to view, doesn’t make it especially worth your time. (These hard times call for hard truths, people.)
So to help winnow down the offerings, The Globe and Mail presents its own list of enough Canadian movies – all available to stream, and often for free if they’re on CBC Gem – to program your very own 24-hour National Canadian Film Day (if, again, you somehow find yourself right now with any free hours to fill). Let’s begin!
6 a.m. through 7:42 a.m.
The F Word on CBC Gem Michael Dowse’s 2013 charmer is the platonic ideal of the rom-com. Not only do you get the sparkling chemistry of Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, you get the even better dynamic between supporting players Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis, plus scenes of Toronto at its most sparkling.
7:43 a.m. through 7:59 a.m.
Breakfast poutine break (that’d be eggs, fries, gravy, cheese curds, bacon, more eggs, and maybe some French toast for good measure; listen, it’s a pandemic, go nuts).
8 a.m. through 9:17 a.m.
Fubar on CBC Gem Why not make it a Michael Dowse double-header comedy morning with this still-holds-up-well ode to homegrown headbanging idiocy?
9:18 a.m. through 9:59 a.m.
Strap your school-aged children down in a chair and put on Canadian creation Paw Patrol for the umpteenth time. Or, for the childless and blissfully bored, I dunno, go take a shower to wash out that breakfast poutine smell.
10 a.m. through 11:52 a.m.
Maps to the Stars on CBC Gem David Cronenberg’s 2014 show-business satire is at times shaky, but it does feature an all-time Cancon moment when a character uses a Genie Award to smash another’s skull to bloody bits. The film is also a great reminder of how dearly Cronenberg is missed from the current cinematic landscape. But if this is indeed his last feature film, so be it – it’s not like anyone else is making movies these days, either.
11:53 a.m. through 11:59 a.m.
Drink a homemade double-double-double-double – that’s a traditional Tim Hortons double-double, but times two – because why the heck not?
12 p.m. through 1:29 p.m.
Sleeping Giant on CBC Gem The early afternoon is the perfect time to enjoy Andrew Cividino’s sleeper hit, a coming-of-age drama that resists the easy urge to dip into melodrama, and instead presents a compellingly raw portrait of the ugliness that is growing up.
1:30 p.m. through 3:03 p.m.
Firecrackers on Crave Keep the micro-budget coming-of-age theme rolling with Jasmin Mozaffari’s startling 2018 feature debut, which is as powerful as Cividino’s work but from a completely different perspective.
3:03 p.m. through 3:29 p.m.
Enjoy a late lunch of Kraft Dinner, the only meal you can muster the energy to make.
3:30 p.m. through 5:05 p.m.
Pontypool on CBC Gem It’s about that time of the day when the dire fate of the locked-down world really starts to creep in on you, so why not just feed the fire and watch Bruce McDonald’s 2008 riff on the zombie movie, starring a wonderful Stephen McHattie? You won’t feel better, but you also might not feel worse.
5:06 p.m. through 5:59 p.m.
Shower time! I mean, only if you haven’t showered in the past five days. If you’re still on the four-day mark, feel free to just stare blankly at the wall.
6 p.m. through 7:44 p.m.
Les affames (Ravenous) on Netflix Don’t let a good zombie theme die so early on in the day, and queue up Netflix to watch this tightly wound Quebecois spin on the living-dead genre.
7:45 p.m. through 7:59 p.m.
Popcorn time. Add some maple syrup to feel especially Canadian. Or just down some Canadian Club instead. Don’t forget to check on the children’s Paw Patrol consumption.
8 p.m. through 9:27 p.m.
Chien de garde (Family First) on Crave The early evening is the perfect time to wallow in this sordid crime thriller from first-time filmmaker Sophie Dupuis. And to marvel at leading man Théodore Pellerin’s live-wire performance.
9:28 p.m. through 9:59 p.m.
Time to put those kids to sleep, if Ryder and the Pups haven’t already. And if you don’t have kids, take this moment to send your parent friends a comforting message of solace in these tough times. Or order them some wine online. Either way.
10 p.m. through 11:56 p.m.
Take This Waltz on CBC Gem Time to get teary and wistful with Sarah Polley’s underrated drama about a Toronto couple going through a breakup. You won’t necessarily become sad over the story or the strong performances from Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby, perhaps because so much of the film is spent outdoors.
11:57 p.m. through 11:59 p.m.
Time to change out of your daytime sweatpants and hoodie into your nighttime sweatpants and hoodie.
12 a.m. through 1:30 a.m.
The Twentieth Century on Crave It’s midnight-madness time with Matthew Rankin’s truly gonzo reimagining of the life and times of former Canadian prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.
1:31 a.m. through 1:59 a.m
Sleep about half an hour. You deserve it. Unless your nightmares are haunted by Rankin’s bizarre imagery. In which case: sorry about that.
2 a.m. through 3:20 a.m.
Werewolf on CBC Gem and Crave You’re barely keeping it together, unsure of your mental state ... maybe now is not the time to watch Ashley McKenzie’s haunting, beautiful micro-budget drama about two recovering drug addicts on Cape Breton Island. Or maybe it is the best time.
3:21 a.m. through 4 a.m.
Check back on those kids. Either they’re fast asleep by now or Paw Patrol is their new parent. If childless, then time for a early-morning jog around the local parking lot, each step a reminder that this is totally normal right now.
4:01 a.m. through 5:42 a.m.
Little Italy on Crave Your brain is by now mush, so it’s best to just indulge the mindless what-the-heck idiocy of this ultra-cheesy 2018 rom-com, which is an absolutely terrible movie. But dammit Canada, it’s our terrible movie.
5:43 a.m. through 5:44 a.m.
Feel good about yourself for a moment by renting a 4K restoration of Philip Borsos’s underrated 1982 western The Grey Fox through Canadian distributor Films We Like, which is splitting the proceeds of the virtual screening opportunity with shuttered indie cinemas such as Toronto’s Revue and Vancouver’s the Cinematheque.
5:45 a.m. through 5:59 a.m.
Brew your next double-double-double-double as you prepare to face another morning, which is mostly indistinguishable from the last. Until next year, National Canadian Film Day!
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