Right off the back of the widely reported success of everything from Brother to Riceboy Sleeps and I Like Movies — and the dubious success of the Canadian Screen Awards’ attempt to highlight them — there are still more reasons to think about, and celebrate, movies in the Great White North.
And on Wednesday, the 10th annual National Canadian Film Day aims to do just that: highlight the country’s cinema and everything its creators have accomplished.
But while the Canadian Screen Awards recently honoured some of the best movies of the past year — and CanFilmDay organizers have compiled some of the best choices from the past several decades — it can be difficult to stay on top of Canadian movies you can still look forward to watching.
To help with that, CBC has compiled some of the brightest productions to expect over the rest of the year, and — when possible — let you know when you can expect to see them.
Release date: May 12
Arguably one of the most talked about Canadian releases coming this year, BlackBerry looks back at the creation of the iconic cellphone, as well as the company — and the men — behind it. Casting Glenn Howerton and Canadian Jay Baruchel as CEO Jim Balsillie and founder Mike Lazaridis, respectively, BlackBerry — directed by Canadian Matt Johnson — details first the rise, then precipitous fall of Research In Motion in a story as high stakes as it is frenetic.
A feature film is scheduled to release next month, with an eventual three-part series slated for release on CBC Gem in early 2024.
Release date: TBA
BlackBerry isn’t Jay Baruchel’s only project in the works. Humane, described by Deadline as an “environment-themed thriller,” fronts Baruchel in Caitlin Cronenberg’s directorial debut, as she follows both her father and brother into the world of surreal horror. Also starring Schitt’s Creek‘s Emily Hampshire, Flashpoint‘s Enrico Colantoni, Alanna Bale of Cardinal and The O.C.‘s Peter Gallagher, the Michael Sparaga-written film documents a family dinner in the aftermath of an environmental collapse. Humanity has lost 20 per cent of its population, and — according to its synopsis — things go “horribly awry” after the father announces his plans to enlist in a government euthanasia program.
A four-week shoot wrapped in Hamilton late last year, but a representative for the movie confirmed to CBC that no release date has yet been confirmed.
Bones of Crows
Release date: June 2
Although Marie Clements’s Bones of Crows has already seen a few theatrical showings as part of its national Indigenous community screening tour, a wide release is still in the works. The movie, which boasts a nearly all-Indigenous cast, tells a multi-generational story centred around Cree matriarch Aline Spears — played at three separate ages by Secwépemc actor Grace Dove as an adult, Seneca/Mohawk and French Canadian Carla-Rae at older ages, and 10-year-old Summer Testawich as a child.
Having already screened at film festivals in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Santa Barbara, Calif., among others, it is scheduled for a June 2 theatrical release. Like BlackBerry, it will be recut as a miniseries, with the five-part version being released sometime in late 2023 or early 2024.
When Morning Comes
Release date: TBA
Another TIFF debut, When Morning Comes is Canadian Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s feature film debut, and it’s already seen considerable success prior to its release. It was named to the Jean-Marc Vallée DGC Discovery Award’s long list and was the recipient of a $50,000 endowment from the Toronto Film Critics Association and David Cronenberg. Largely shot in Jamaica, the film tells the story of young Jamal (Djamari Roberts), who is about to be sent to live with his grandmother in Canada — prompting him to run away.
In an interview with Yahoo Canada, Fyffe-Marshall said the narrative was partially based on her own memories of Jamaica while she was growing up.
Release date: May 26
While the six-part Little Bird is a miniseries and not a film, the ambitious Jennifer Podemski-created production is no less anticipated for it. Telling a tale rooted in the Sixties Scoop (when a large number of Indigenous children were removed from their families and placed in foster care), the series follows Bezhig Little Bird. After her adoption by a Montreal family when she was five years old, she journeys across the Canadian Prairies to find the family she was taken from.
Like Bones of Crows, the series is fronted by Indigenous actors, including Darla Contois (who plays the titular Little Bird), Ellyn Jade (Vikings, Letterkenny) and Eric Schweig (The Last of the Mohicans), and the production featured a training program for Indigenous filmmakers. Humane‘s Alanna Bale and Lisa Edelstein, who starred in the TV medical drama House, round out the cast of Little Bird, which will premiere May 26 on Crave.
Release date: TBA
Bottoms is not technically a Canadian production by the strict rules governing that classification, but it is still the followup to Canadian director Emma Seligman’s much-applauded Shiva Baby. That film was a comedy of errors about a woman juggling awkward encounters with her parents, ex-girlfriend and sugar daddy — all at a shiva. Going by early reviews, her new effort has a similar flavour. The high school comedy follows PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri), two deeply unpopular girls on a mission to lose their virginity before they graduate. While that half of the script may seem done to death, their plan to accomplish that mission is refreshingly original, if bonkers — the two decide to start a fight club to hook up with cheerleaders.
After a premiere at SXSW, Bottoms is currently sitting at a 95 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — although it doesn’t yet have a scheduled release date.
North of Normal
Release date: mid-July
Borrowing its story from the similarly titled memoir, North of Normal puts B.C. writer Cea Sunrise Person’s wild childhood at centre stage. Raised in a countercultural family in the Canadian wilderness, North of Normal stars both Amanda Fix (Daisy Jones & The Six, Orphan Black: Echoes) and River Price-Maenpaa (Tales from the Loop, Blue’s Clues) as Person at different ages, living with — and then escaping from — dangerously unconventional parents. Canadian actor Sarah Gadon plays the mother, Michelle. The film is directed by Carly Stone.
Although it doesn’t have a firm date, a representative for the film confirmed that it is currently set for a mid-July release.
Before I Change My Mind
Release date: Fall/Winter 2023
Alberta-born, Montreal-based Trevor Anderson’s Before I Change My Mind had its premiere at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival last year and quickly picked up an award for its star. But the coming-of-age film saw success even earlier than that, as it was named to GLAAD’s curated list of the 10 most promising unmade scripts that focus on LGBTQ-inclusive themes.That script would eventually become Before I Change My Mind, Anderson’s first feature film in a 17-year career that documents the life of Robin (Vaughan Murrae), a non-binary teen in the 1980s. Refusing to be pigeon-holed as either a boy or a girl, Robin is forced to make “increasingly dangerous choices to fit in.”
There is no firm release date, although a representative for the film said there is a possibility it will be released in North America in the fall or winter of 2023.