Passchendaele was considered a success?!? Is a successful Canadian film one that only recoups 25 percent of its cost?

Zombie romance, sci-fi horror, singing vampires among Canadian flicks for ’09
Genres collide in next year’s crop of Canadian films, with upcoming storylines incorporating trailer park hijinks, teen tragedy, zombie romance and rock ‘n’ roll vampires.
Projects in the offing include Bruce McDonald’s Pontypool, Mike Clattenburg’s Trailer Park Boys sequel, Atom Egoyan’s Adoration, and newcomer Rob Stefaniuk’s musical vampire comedy Suck.
“There’s some really, really exciting things happening,” Telefilm Canada’s Dan Lyon said of the broad spectrum of films slated for 2009.
“What we’ve noticed is increasing genre diversity. In other words, a little less reliance on traditional drama and moving more toward comedies, thrillers and other genres.”
One of the most highly anticipated films is McDonald’s Pontypool, about a zombie-like invasion that traps the staff of a small-town radio station in a church basement studio on a snowy Valentine’s Day.
McDonald, the renegade director behind cult favourites Hardcore Logo and Highway 61, is loathe to slot the picture in the horror genre, insisting that Pontypool is more of a love story with an edge.
“We’re sitting down with the marketing dudes and the company that’s going to present it to the world [and there’s] a lot of thought [such as]: ‘Well, what is it going to look like? What’s the poster and the trailer? What’s the vibe we put out there?”‘ he said at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
“It shares some things with zombie movies, but they’re not zombies and we don’t want to disappoint the zombie people.”
All-star appearances
The melding of genres continues with the outrageous Suck, a wild romp billed as a rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy starring Rob Stefaniuk (who also writes and directs) and Jessica ParÈ, with appearances by Malcolm McDowell, Alice Cooper, Moby, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Carole Pope and Dave Foley.
“I’ve been watching dailies and it is absolutely a crowd-pleaser,” said Lyon, who expects Suck to be ready for theatres next fall.
Big things are also expected of the sci-fi/horror movie Splice, directed by Vincenzo Natali of Cube, and starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley.
“It’s about a couple of scientists, played by Adrien and Sarah, who are crossing ethical lines in creating a human-animal hybrid, with disastrous results,” Lyon said, noting that the film is now in post-production.
Steve Gravestock, with the Toronto International Film Festival, said he is most excited by the scheduled May release of Egoyan’s family drama Adoration. Starring Scott Speedman and Rachel Blanchard, the politically tinged tale touches on lies, technology and racism. It garnered mixed reviews on the festival circuit last year, but netted Egoyan the Ecumenical Jury Prize, which honours directing, at Cannes.
Other TIFF-screened films hoping to find audiences include the Inuit film Before Tomorrow, by directors Madeline Piujuq Ivalu and Marie-HÈlËne Cousineau, which will screen at the Sundance Film Festival next month, and Michael McGowan’s road movie One Week, starring Joshua Jackson, which is due in March.
Coming-of-age story
First-time feature filmmaker David Bezmozgis is preparing to debut his coming-of-age story, Victoria Day, at Sundance in January. The story follows 16-year-old Ben as he grapples with budding romance, family pressures and the role he may have played in a boy’s mysterious disappearance.
“It’s not a genre film, it’s not an either-or film, it’s not a comedy, it’s not a tragedy,” Bezmozgis said earlier this year about the movie, which takes place over the course of one week in 1988.
“With teenage life you have all these roiling emotions ó the romantic, the domestic and all the things happening with friends. So that was really the impetus ó to write a good film about teenage life.”
Also in production is Defendor, with first-time director Peter Stebbings. Starring Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Sandra Oh and Kat Dennings, it’s about a man who thinks he’s a superhero and tries to clean up his city.
More arty fare comes by way of Cairo Time, directed by Ruba Nadda and starring Patricia Clarkson as a Canadian woman who joins her husband in Cairo but ends up forging a close friendship with an Egyptian man.
Those looking for sheer escapism have the Trailer Park Boys sequel to look forward to, and some are already predicting boffo box office success for the delinquent Julian, Ricky and Bubbles.
The foul-mouthed, pot-smoking troublemakers scored big with fans and critics with 2006’s Trailer Park Boys: The Movie, and are slated to return to the big screen next fall with Trailer Park Boys ñ Countdown to Liquor Day.
Lyon says the recent box office success of Paul Gross’ war epic Passchendaele and the smaller film, YPF (a.k.a. Young People F—ing), has many in the movie business optimistic that homegrown fare can thrive.
“We’re feeling pretty inspired by the success of`Passchendaele,” Lyon said, noting that the film hit $4.4 million at the Canadian box office. “It’s just given them a tremendous spike of confidence, for films at all levels.
“The tide is really changing in Canada in terms of English language film,” Lyon continued, noting that last year’s Oscar nominations for Away From Her and Eastern Promises were an added morale boost.
“When you combine that kind of success with the continuing good news of all the Canadian films coming up at Sundance in January, and the commercial success of Passchendaele and YPF and so on, we have really a lot of reason to be optimistic.”