1970s Canadian Independents

Series Site

As a special sidebar to our series, GIMME SHELTER: HOLLYWOOD NORTH (which focuses on the Canadian ‘tax shelter’ era), we offer this weekend of screenings devoted to a handful of remarkable Canadian films that were made immediately preceding the advent of the Capital Cost Allowance, or were produced – truly independently – outside that financial framework. Commonly celebrated as one of the greatest Canadian films of all time, Donald Shebib’s GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD was enormously influential, launching the so-called “loser” trend in 1970s Canadian cinema: a series of downbeat, working-class oriented films that depicted protagonists whose trajectories inevitably ended in heartbreak and disappointment.

Filmmaker Larry Kent had made an even earlier independent work, THE BITTER ASH, in 1963; his 1971 film, THE APPRENTICE, starring a young Susan Sarandon, was the first fully bilingual Canadian narrative feature. Just a few years later, Frank Vitale, Allan Moyle, and Stephen Lack launched a collaboration that would result in three highly unusual films – including MONTREAL MAIN and THE RUBBER GUN – that blurred the line between fiction and reality.

These rare screenings will provide a glimpse of another side of Canadian film production leading up to the more commercially oriented tax shelter era.

Special thanks to Larry Kent, Allan Moyle, Donald Shebib, Frank Vitale, Jonathan Hertzberg, and Paul Gordon, Tina Harvey & Douglas Smalley (Library and Archives Canada).