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Fantasia ’13 exclusive: Comments and poster for “REWIND THIS!” director’s “CANUXPLOITATION”

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One of the most exciting portions of this year’s Fantasia festival in Montreal has been the Frontières International Co-Production Market, where genre filmmakers from all over the world pitched their new projects to producers, financiers and sales agents. Fango got a bunch of exclusive interviews with those directors and producers and will be sharing them with you daily over the next week or so; we lead off with the Canadian-exploitation documentary CANUXPLOITATION.

This celebration of Great White North B-movies, part of the market’s Off-Frontières selection, is directed by Josh Johnson, whose docu on the home-video revolution REWIND THIS! played to a sold-out crowd at Fantasia on Monday. “I was starting to consider what I was going to do for a next project,” Johnson (who gave Fango an exclusive first look at early poster art below) tells us. “I was friends with Paul Corupe, who coined the term ‘Canuxploitation’ and has a website by that name. As somebody who’s very interested in and even slightly obsessed with obscure films, I had been going to his site for a number of years to find interesting titles that had not really received any love. I had been talking to him about documentaries that were starting to come out about particular film industries, like NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD and MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED!, focusing on specific regions and their movies.

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“While the cinema covered in those had a kind of cultural identity, the thing about Canadian films is that they have a kind of identity crisis; they don’t want to be perceived as Canadian,” Johnson continues. “I thought that was a really interesting angle to explore in a feature film—this lack of a cultural identity, and the resistance to appreciating the work of one’s own country. We bounced the idea back and forth, and it seemed like enough people were still living that we could capture the historical account while also telling the present-day story of the industry.”

The director adds that that lack of identity has given these movies a unique feel that will also be explored in CANUXPLOITATION. “One of the defining factors of Canadian exploitation films is that they have a sense of placelessness,” he explains, “because they don’t want to be perceived as Canadian, and in fact have emulated or tried to work within the Hollywood industry. They don’t feel as though they’ve been made in Canada, but they also don’t feel like Hollywood films. They tend to feel like they’re set in a world that doesn’t really exist. The most famous example, of course, is David Cronenberg, who makes movies in Canada that nonetheless often seem otherworldly. That tone is pervasive throughout these movies; they almost seem to come from an alternative Hollywood that never quite existed.”

With Derek Clayton on board as a producer, CANUXPLOITATION will feature interviews with what Johnson aims to be a Who’s Who of the country’s screen notables. “We haven’t started conducting the interviews yet,” he says, “but we intend to talk to most of the people you’d imagine would be involved: David Cronenberg, [MY BLOODY VALENTINE’s] George Mihalka, contemporary filmmakers like [MANBORG’s] Steve Kostanski and [HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN’s] Jason Eisener and also a lot of actors from that time—everyone from Michael Ironside to Dyanne Thorne, and whoever is available to speak. We’re looking to secure a producing entity and start bringing together the funding; most of it will probably come from Canada, but there are opportunities for other countries and regions to get involved as well.” You can learn more about REWIND THIS! at its official website.

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor, the position he holds to this day while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews.
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