I know how to fix the Canadian film industry. I know how to make it lucrative, at little cost, and how to make it successful and vibrant so that Canadian audiences would stand in line for the next big Canadian film. Doesn’t that sound amazing? It is true and I have been saying it to the Canadian entertainment industry for seven years now.
This decision comes at a high point for the Canadian Film Review. After developing a successful publication, TV show and web series, the CFR has not only accomplished what it set out to do, but it shattered myths that these types of things could not be done. We are extremely popular with Canadian audiences. I am so incredibly proud of what my team and I have accomplished. We have proven that Canadians love Canadian content and there is an audience out there for it. This is groundbreaking in the eyes of the entertainment industry but it isn’t enough.
I am moving onward at a high point of my career in this industry. What I am creating is being noticed and respected, especially by Canadian film audiences, but I am also moving forward during a Canadian film industry all-time low. After years of investing in, developing ways, and lobbying the Canadian film industry for effective change from within, it has crystallized to me the implausibility of that happening.
I am closing down the Canadian Film Review.
Those sat in jobs of power, dictating how Canadian films should be funded are missing the point completely. They don’t get it and aren’t passionate about it, and as a taxpayer, who is funding their jobs, you should care why they don’t.
Maybe I am being too hard on them, maybe it isn’t a matter of caring but a matter of business acumen. After all, celebrating a film’s success over a year later with tens of thousands of dollars – that would fund another indie Canadian film – for being the biggest box office success from a year ago is not only not newsworthy, but redundant. Why give a pat on the back with a paycheck for something that has already occurred instead of investing in the future?
Funding for Canadian film, and the promotion of it, should go to organizations that are passionately dedicated to connecting Canadian audiences to homegrown cinema, not those that vainly imbibe on red carpet events and cocktail/swag parties for a select few in the name of CanCon that don’t resonate with larger audiences. I can name Reel Canada as an organization that truly affects change and is raising awareness for youth to love Canadian films. If only all organizations were as dedicated to such a premise. No flash and glitz, just a commitment to getting the word out like the Canadian Film Review did.
Who loses out when funding is so poorly misspent? The filmmakers. The audiences. Most of all, a thriving future for our film industry. Over six hundred jobs cut at the CBC isn’t the deepest cut that will happen to arts funding in Canada and the terrified looks in those higher ups who all too often wanted meetings to merely pick my brains have every right to be concerned because they are missing the mark completely and those shortcomings are being duly noted by more than just myself.
I feel blessed for the people I have met along the way who are the champions of Canadian films such as the under-appreciated and scarcely recognized Canadian Film Festival (it is called the CANADIAN Film Festival for goodness sakes!), the perennially innovative National Film Board, the outstanding team at the Toronto International Film Festival who actually understand the value of promoting Canadian films, tireless indie publicists, and those who take the time to build a Canadian film industry despite a closed-door policy.
Most of all, I am grateful for my team of writers and editors who believe in Canadian films as I do, the fans of the CFR who support Canadian films not because they are Canadian but because they are good, and the filmmakers who I have met and interviewed over the years who make some beautiful movies – you have moved me in ways that only a great story well told can.
Thank you to Alana Marchetto for being as dedicated as I, to the passionate filmmakers who have made me believe in this industry for years, and especially to Director Jean Marc Vallee for telling me I was genuine and authentic, that being the nicest compliment I have ever received from one I feel the same way about.
The Canadian film industry needs an influx of business sense that will allow it to transition from government funding dependency to becoming a viable business, whether that is achievable is no longer a question for me at least.
So it is, I will sign off one last time with that one question I have asked every fan, filmmaker and industry heavyweight “Canada, what was the last great Canadian film you saw?” Do you have an answer?
Kindah Mardam Bey
Publisher | Editor-in-Chief | Canadian Film Advocate | Fan
Canadian Film Review