REEL CANADA Blog : Tags : student programming

REEL CANADA's Day at Bloor Collegiate Institute

Reel Canada Don McKellar

Filmmaker Don McKellar discussing The Red Violin via Skype 


On the morning of April 23, 2012, over 450 students arrived at Bloor Collegiate Institute to find a front foyer dressed up to the nines with glossy student-designed film festival posters, salty popcorn popping, and a poem being read aloud by author and Bloor CI student, Amane Abdurhman. 


Reel Canada Bloor Collegiate Institute

Event flyer by students at Bloor Collegiate Institute 


The students had arrived to see HOW SHE MOVE and were in for a real treat; a live Q&A with actors Kevin Duhaney, Daniel Morrison, and Dwain Murphy! After the Feature Film, the Q&A, and a plethora of student paparazzi pictures with Kevin, Daniel, and Dwain, the students were ushered out of the auditorium for lunch and stopped in the foyer once more to watch Bloor CI's very own dance troupe perform! This was followed by an impromptu dance-off between Daniel Morrison and a Bloor CI student.  The match ended in a draw and everyone dispersed for lunch. 


Reel Canada Bloor CI Students

Cineplex Ticket Giveaway contest


When Grade 11 and 12 students returned to take their seats for The RED VIOLIN in the afternoon, they were met with a live, Violin Concerto performed by their peers! The RED VIOLIN sparked a lively Skype discussion with writer, actor, and filmmaker Don McKellar. The day ended on a very high note with Cineplex Ticket Giveaways to three lucky students. Special thanks to Ms. Evans, Sandy Macintyre, and the dedicated student volunteers from Bloor CI for all of their great work!

Welcome to Canada Program in Calgary

Reel Canada Calgary ESL


Welcome to Canada.


That’s the name of the REEL CANADA program that began last year with one event and this year is growing like the US Space Program in the Sixties. This season a five-fold increase; next year who the hell knows?  Ten events?  Twenty?


It’s called the Welcome to Canada Program because it is aimed at recent arrivals to this country, whom we reach via their English as a Second Language classes.  For this initiative we’ve begun to grow beyond our traditional high school audience to include special events for adult ESL students.


I can’t begin to convey how emotional these screenings are. The audiences – coming as they do from an astonishing variety of backgrounds and cultures – are so open in expressing their gratitude, their sense of literally being welcomed by these movies which give them an immediate sense of the fabric of Canadian life and the values we share as a nation.


reel canada calgary ESL


Last week 600 of them came to the Eau Claire Cineplex in downtown Calgary to view two feature films of their own choosing:  HOW SHE MOVE, the Toronto-based dance movie, and IRON ROAD, which dramatizes the experience of Chinese labourers building the railroad in the late 19th Century. (They were also treated to WILD LIFE, the wonderful Oscar-nominated short animation by Calgarians Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbes).


As it turns out, each of these films, in its own way, deals with the challenges that immigrants face as they try to build a new life in this country, and the audiences responded to that theme very viscerally. But the big thrill came when after the screening they found themselves face-to-face with the respective stars of the two features.


Luke Macfarlane Reel Canada Calgary ESL

Jack Blum (right) and actor Luke Macfarlane (right)


Luke Macfarlane (known to many from his five-year run on the ABC series BROTHERS AND SISTERS) set hundreds of hearts a-flutter when he took the microphone after the screening of IRON ROAD. Many female audience members began their “questions” with comments like “You are very handsome” and “I would like to know if you are married” (By happy coincidence, Luke, who lives in LA, was able to take advantage of the REEL CANADA appearance to enjoy an Easter celebration with his twin sister Ruth, who moved to Calgary a couple of years ago).


Dwain Murphy Reel Canada Calgary ESL

Actor Dwain Murphy (left) and Jack Blum (right)


Over in another screening room, HOW SHE MOVE star Dwain Murphy caused a similar sensation with an equally enthusiastic audience. Dwain considers himself an actor not a dancer, so when someone asked him to show some moves, he dodged the request charmingly, “It’s called ‘How She Move’, not ‘How He Move’.”


Given how critical it is to our country’s future to open our doors to hundreds of thousands of new immigrants each year, it is clear that REEL CANADA has stumbled on a way to speed up their integration into Canadian society that is exciting, emotional, human, and (most important) fun. If last week’s audience response is an indication, I’ve no doubt that the “Welcome to Canada” Program will continue to grow by leaps and bounds.