Montreal filmmaker Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ coming-of-age drama A Colonywon best picture at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards, has played at international festivals, and will screen in about 20 theatres in Sweden.
But in Canada, its presence outside of its home province has been largely kept to the festival circuit and screenings through special events and tours, including this past weekend’s Quebec On Screen in Toronto.
It’s a pervasive problem for most Québécois films trying to reach English-Canadian audiences, says Dulude-De Celles, who wants to see more focus on distribution and marketing.
“It’s so hard to get our films onscreen because all the theatres already have those screens for American films,” she says.
“When you have the chance to meet the audience, they’re kind of surprised … like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know a Quebecer film could be like that.’ Yes, it can be entertaining. Yes, it’s accessible. But I think we have to do education.”
Toronto-based distribution company Game Theory Films created Quebec On Screen as part of its efforts to shine a light on films from the province. The event screened Dulude-De Celles’ film as well as Maxime Giroux’s allegorical drama The Great Darkened Days and Philippe Lesage’s adolescence-focused Genesis.
Game Theory also set up screenings for A Colony and Great Darkened Days in Halifax and St. John’s, N.L., on Monday, and will release all three films digitally through iTunes on Tuesday. A Colony is also playing in Sudbury, Ont., over five nights spread throughout June and July as part of their Samedi Cinema series.
Such efforts come after a year in which Québécois films dominated the awards circuit and box office in Canada.
At the Canadian Screen Awards in March, the leading film contenders were from Quebec and all of the best-picture nominees were French-language. A Colony, about a 12-year-old girl trying to fit in at school, got three trophies in total, and The Great Darkened Days got five.