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film review

Lorne Perry, the former design manager at CN Railway, stands in front of the company’s logo in a scene from Design Canada.

  • Design Canada
  • Directed by: Greg Durrell
  • Classification: PG
  • 80 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

“What makes us Canadian?” just might be a question that Canadians are sick of asking themselves – most any time, but especially a year after sesquicentennial celebrations. But if you augment the query to “What makes a Canadian design?”, the conversation becomes more animated, even exciting. For his debut documentary, director Greg Durrell (a designer himself, responsible for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics logo) crafts a light and briskly paced history of homegrown creativity, concentrating on the so-called golden era of graphic design in the 60s and 70s. Various talking heads, some more obvious candidates (Douglas Coupland) than others (George Stroumboulopoulos), pop up to rhapsodize about symbols of our heritage, ranging from the logos for the CBC and Canadian National Railway to the cute little beaver forever synonymous with Roots. More importantly, the actual people behind these iconic designs get their due – all in a sprightly, sharp and self-aware 80 minutes. If you let your guard down, the production just might make you feel patriotic – in a self-aware, extremely modest Canadian way, of course.

Design Canada opens June 22 in Toronto, June 28 in Vancouver, and June 29 in Montreal