Our History and Programmes

FOUNDED

Founders Sharon Corder and Jack Blum gather with members of our national film industry and some dedicated educators to discuss the possibility of a programme to introduce students to the wealth of great Canadian films. An idea emerges to bring a travelling film festival into high schools. The idea is endorsed by an Advisory Committee including David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Norman Jewison, Robert Lantos, Deepa Mehta, Gordon Pinsent and Veronica Tennant.

INCORPORATED AS A NON-PROFIT

Canadian Film in the Schools (REEL CANADA) is incorporated as a non-profit and engages a Board of Directors, including Atom Egoyan, Reg Bronskill and our Founding Chair, the late Doug Dales. Telefilm Canada and Cineplex are founding sponsors.

OUT OF TOWN

After two successful seasons in our home base of Toronto, we are eager to branch out and bring our programming to other communities. In the fall of 2007, we serve our first out of town school in Windsor, in partnership with the Windsor International Film Festival.

THE NATIONAL

Provincial expansion continues as we visit schools in Kingston and Ottawa, and earn our first national news coverage on CBC’s The National. Host Sandra Abma and her crew catch the action at two REEL CANADA events and talk to special guests such as Don McKellar, Niv Fichman and Gordon Pinsent. Check out the piece!

OUT OF PROVINCE

By our third season, we are ready to fly even further. Our first event outside of Ontario is held at Templeton HS in Vancouver, BC. Director Andrew Currie presents his hilarious zombie comedy Fido and Tara Spencer-Nairn speaks after a screening of the timeless coming-of-age film New Waterford Girl.

WELCOME TO CANADA

In the spring of 2010 we are approached by ESL teachers from LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada). They want to bring their adult English learners to one of our high school festivals. We decide to mount an event tailor-made for an audience of newcomers, and our first event for Adult English-language learners takes place at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Stars Wendy Crewson and Kristen Thomson participate in a Q&A after a screening of Away From Her and filmmakers Michael McGowan (One Week) and Peter Lynch (Arrowhead) present their work. The event is so moving and powerful that it becomes an immediate staple in our annual calendar and launches our successful and fast-growing Welcome to Canada programme for new Canadians.

EN FRANÇAIS

During the 2011-12 season we take the first, important step to becoming a bilingual organization. Our first French-language event is held at Collège catholique Franco-Ouest, and the school is an annual partner to this day. We now offer all our programmes in French to Francophone Canadians and French-language learners across the nation, and even have a dedicated French-language Festivals Coordinator at our Toronto office.

NATIONAL CANADIAN FILM DAY

In April 2013, we find ourselves planning three school events spread out across the country (in Vancouver, BC, Saskatoon, SK and Montague, PEI) and jokingly refer to it as “National Canadian Film Day”. The following year, we formalize this great idea and bring the Canadian film party to all Canadians. On April 29, 2014 the first real NCFD is held – with over 70 events in every province and territory. What started out as an inside joke among our office team has grown into an annual national celebration!

THE TOUR IS BORN

During our 2013-14 season, REEL CANADA launches our “tour model” of festival delivery – bringing a specific film and filmmaker on tour to appear live at schools in several cities and provinces across the nation. Filmmaker Charles Officer tours his documentary Mighty Jerome (about African-Canadian track star Harry Jerome). 18 deeply impactful screenings in 15 schools across 5 provinces are held during the month of February as a special Black History Month offering.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, REEL CANADA STYLE

Everyone at the REEL CANADA office dresses up as their favourite Canadian film (or film character) for Halloween. The costumes range from classics like Bob & Doug McKenzie from Strange Brew, the log driver from the NFB animated classic The Log Driver’s Waltz and Spaz from Meatballs (played in real life as in the movie by our Executive Director, Jack Blum), to more contemporary characters such as the iconic partners from Bon Cop Bad Cop, and the titular character from Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster, to more abstract, creative interpretations of the theme, such as “the cube from Cube”.

INDIGENOUS FILM PROGRAMME

While REEL CANADA has always showcased great films by Indigenous filmmakers as part of our school programmes, in 2016 we consolidate these offerings into a cohesive selection, which quickly becomes one of our fastest-growing programmes.

THE LARGEST FILM FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD. EVER!

The sesquicentennial edition of National Canadian Film Day (NCFD 150) is truly an unprecedented cultural event in the life of our country. Over 1800 events are held from coast to coast to coast, including 70 around the world, bringing together French, English and Indigenous cultures in a massive party that truly united us as a nation. Stars and filmmakers including Atom Egoyan, Deepa Mehta, Don McKellar, Mina Shum, Colm Feore, Patricia Rozema, Bruce McDonald, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and dozens of others participate in Q&As across the nation. 172,000 Canadians attend a screening with over 1 million more watching from home.

WHAT’S NEXT?

As we embark on our 14th season, we’re excited about what the future holds. Our programmes are steadily growing and people across the nation are embracing Canadian film in a way we hardly thought was possible when we started out.

WHAT IS THE INDIGENOUS FILM PROGRAMME?

The programme is a selection of Indigenous -made films by filmmakers from diverse nations across Canada. These films reflect Indigenous experiences and provide an opportunity for dialogue, cross-cultural exchange and greater understanding.

While the majority of films offered as part of this programme are intended for students in grades 9 to 12, a limited selection is also available for younger viewers. If you teach elementary or middle school, write to [email protected] to discuss the options.

We offer these films for in-class viewing, or for a larger screening in front of multiple classrooms or an entire school. They can be shown on their own or as part of our other school festival offerings. To read more about the types of school festival models we offer, visit our School Festivals page.

This programme also includes our Connected Classrooms initiative.

You can browse the Indigenous-made films we offer on our:

INDIGENOUS FILM CATALOGUE

You can also download a PDF of our Indigenous Film Programme booklet.

OUR FILMS IN OUR SCHOOLS

Our Films in Our Schools is REEL CANADA’s founding programme, in which we help high school teachers and students across Canada organize festivals of Canadian film in their schools, and integrate Canadian film into the classroom.

WELCOME TO CANADA

Our programmes have always been inclusive and reflective of the broad multicultural fabric that makes up our nation. The Welcome to Canada programme expands the reach of our core school festivals to include new Canadians and English-language learners of all ages.

NATIONAL CANADIAN FILM DAY

National Canadian Film Day is a massive one-day celebration of our nation’s cinema and culture. It’s an opportunity for all Canadians across the nation and around the world to embrace the diverse stories that represent us.

INDIGENOUS FILM PROGRAMME

A selection of Indigenous-made films by filmmakers from diverse Nations across Canada. These films reflect diverse Indigenous experiences and provide an opportunity for dialogue, cross-cultural exchange and greater understanding.