The first edition of the “Canadian Film Festival of Madrid” will be held from January 26th to 28th at the Cineteca Matadero with the screening of six feature films that show the richness, diversity and quality of the national cinematography. The event has the support of the Embassy of Canada in Spain and Lattin Magazine is official media.
The Festival was created by María Aparicio, Carmen Mateos and Laura Marino. Three professionals belong to the field of culture and communication in Spain´s capital, and are also linked to Canada, as they lived here for long periods of time.
The Canadian cinema is a great unknown among the Spanish public and this Festival seeks to overcome the stereotypes still in force over Canada and promote its interesting and dynamic cultural scene.
In this interview, María Aparicio, a journalist with great knowledge of Canadian cinema, talks about the challenges of this first edition and the objectives that they would like to achieve.
Why did you decide to create this Festival?
After living in Canada for a couple of years I came back to Spain and realized how the Canadian culture, and specifically its cinema, was really unknown here. Except directors like Xavier Dolan or David Cronenberg, Canadian films were unnoticed or mixed with productions or artists from the USA.
So my passion for cinema and my obsession for pointing out everytime something is Canadian (inherited directly by Canadians themselves) brought me to think of a film festival like a good idea.
I contacted immediately my old roommate in Toronto, Carmen Mateos, who was also in Madrid and had previous experience in cultural events, and we started building the project together. Later on, Laura Marino, expert in communications and marketing, and enthusiastic with this crazy idea, joined the team.
“The main characteristic about Canadian cinema is that there are many different kinds of Canadian cinemas.”
What was the selection process of the films? What criteria did you follow?
We thought it was important to show the wide variety of “Canadian cinemas”, since it’s hard to put it all together in one cinema. We wanted to pick films from the most film-developped québecois scene, to the projects shot in other provinces like New Foundland or Nunavut. It was a must to show the different languages and cultures that are part of Canada. We also wanted to combine from the already recognized directors like Léa Pool to the rising stars like Alethea Arnaquq-baril.
I would like to mention as well, that even it wasn’t specially planned, half of the directors of our program are women filmmakers. It’s important to point out how Canada has always supported gender equality in this aspect, enhancing amazing directors like Chloé Robichaud or the already mentioned Alethea Arnaquq-baril.
What were the main challenges and difficulties when organizing this first edition?
Even though the three organizers of the Festival come from a culture management and communication background, it was the first time we were involved in something like this. It was challenging to present our project from scratch without really having any contacts with the Canadian institutions. But some of them saw a big potential in the event and helped us make it happen.
How have institutions such as the Canadian Embassy in Madrid or Quebec Bureau been involved?
The Canadian Embassy in Spain and the Bureau du Québec à Barcelone were esential to make the festival happen. Appart from helping economically, they served as a linking point and an institutional support that really opened many doors. Having them behind us gave the festival more presence and stability.
It’s important to mention as well institutions like Telefilm Canada who offered us support to bring hosts to the festival.
What do you expect from this first edition of the Festival, what are your objectives?
This first edition is a preview to Spanish audiences of what is being produced in Canada and how wide the film culture in this country is. We want this to become an annual event that will create a space for Spanish audiences to know a bit more about Canada, as well as a meeting point for the Spanish and Canadian film industry.
What do you think is the knowledge of Canadian cinema in Spain?
On one hand, Spanish audiences barely recognize the great amount of Canadian productions or artists. Even though many of the films or shows we watch (“Blade Runner 2049”, “Arrival “, Big Little Lies”) are directed by Canadians, stared by Canadian actors (Ryan Gosling, Ellen Page, Keanu Reeves, etc) or produced in Canada (“Room”, “Enemy”, “Resident Evil”), we tend to indentify them as “made in USA”.
But on the other hand, it’s also true that there is this high respect for recognized Canadian auteurs like David Cronenberg, Xavier Dolan, Léa Pool or Atom Egoyan that makes Spanish cinephiles admire Canadian culture.
We just need to show that there are many different productions growing in this country.
It’s also important to mention that, thanks to the tax shelter working in Canada, it’s growing a new boom of Spanish producers and directors that are doing co-productions with this country or filming their projects in Canada. Names like Isabel Coixet, Alejandro Amenábar or Nacho Vigalondo have been working in the country.
So this quiet exchange between the Spanish and Canadian film industry should be emphasized a bit more to open more communication and business routes between the two countries.
You have published several reports about the film industry in Canada. Could we talk about specific Canadian cinema characteristics and what makes it different from the American film industry?
The main characteristic about Canadian cinema is that there are many different kinds of Canadian cinemas. From super productions to experimental cinema, from animation to documentary. Film shot in English, French or first nations languages which provide a large variety of film options.
Having all this mix of languages, societies, themes etc, makes it really hard to have a strong Canadian cinema identity, but at the same time, it makes it richer and unique.
Writer: Benoit Pilon
Stars: Marie-Josée Croze, François Papineau, Natar Ungalaaq
Travelling to the Arctic for the first time, Carmen arrives in Iqaluit to tend to her husband, Gilles, a construction worker who has been seriously injured. Trying to get to the bottom of what happened, she strikes up a friendship with Noah, Gilles’ Inuk friend, and realizes they share a similar story. Together, Carmen and Noah head out on the Frobisher Bay – she, looking for answers to her questions; he, trying to stop his son from committing what can’t be undone.
Director: Louis Bélanger
Writers: Louis Bélanger, Alexis Martin
Stars: Alexis Martin, Gilles Renaud, Emmanuelle Lussier Martinez
Jacques is an actor who runs away to the countryside to escape his gambling debts. He meets Simon, a rough and wily farmer who manipulates him into a business relationship. After a difficult start, the men help each other grow marijuana. They happen to meet Francesca, a sharp young woman who soon embraces their venture. By the time they get to the winter harvest, the three have learned to live together, but outside forces threaten the delicate balance of their little business.
Writer: Chloé Robichaud
Stars: Emily VanCamp, Serge Houde, Macha Grenon
Emily Price tries to balance family life and leading crunch negotiations between a Canadian politician and the president of a country whose natural resources are being exploited.
Director: Léa Pool
Writers: Sophie Bienvenu, Léa Pool
Stars: Mehdi Djaadi, Jean-Simon Leduc, Isabelle Nélisse
Worst Case, We Get Married (English), is a 2017 French-Canadian movie. It is an adaptation by Lea Pool of the original novel by Sophie Bienvenu, starring Sophie Nélisse and Karine Vanasse. It won the VIFF “Vancouver Women in Film and Television Artistic Merit Award”.
Writers: Daniel MacIvor
Just after the end of the Vietnam War and in the midst of the American bicentennial celebrations of 1976, runaway Kit and his girlfriend Alice hitchhike their way along the east coast of Canada.
Director: Alethea Arnaquq-Baril
An Inuk filmmaker takes a close look at the central role of seal hunting in the lives of the Inuit, the importance of the revenue they earn from sales of seal skins, and the negative impact that international campaigns against the seal hunt have had on their lives.