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National Canadian Film Day means getting excited about what’s playing on big and small screens

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.

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BlackBerry

Seven men pose in a grainy photo. Behind them is a blackboard with mathematical formulas on it. Above is a sign that says "Research in Motion."
A scene from the film BlackBerry, which stars Baruchel as Mike Lazaridis, and Glenn Howerton as Jim Balsillie. The movie, directed by Matt Johnson, will later be released as a three-part miniseries. (Elevation Pictures)

Release date: April 27

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 for release later this month, with an eventual three-part series slated for release on CBC Gem in early 2024.


Humane

A black and white image of a house is shown. Underneath are red lines the evoke the the image of dry salt flats.
A poster for the movie Humane, which documents a family dinner in the aftermath of an environmental collapse. The film, directed by Caitlin Cronenberg, was shot in Hamilton. (Victory Man Productions)

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

Woman standing in field.
Grace Dove in a scene from Bones of Crows. The movie has already seen a few theatrical showings as part of its national Indigenous community screening tour, and has been shown at several film festivals. (TIFF)

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

A small boy looks off camera as he receives a haircut.
Djamari Roberts stars as Jamal in Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s feature debut When Morning Comes. The film follows Jamal as he struggles with the news that he’s being sent from his Jamaica home to live in Canada. (TIFF)

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. 


Little Bird

Two women pose in front of a grass field. The woman on the left is younger than the other. The older woman gently rests her hand on the other's arm.
Darla Contois, left, and Lisa Edelstein star in Little Bird. Created by Jennifer Podemski, the six-part series is rooted in the Sixties Scoop. (Bell Media)

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. 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. 


Bottoms

Two women wearing polo shirts give confused expressions. The woman on the left has a black eye and a bandage across her nose.
Rachel Sennott, left, and Ayo Edebiri appear in Bottoms. The comedy is a followup to Canadian director Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby (Orion Pictures)

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

A young woman carrying a girl on her back.
Sarah Gadon, right, and River Price-Maenpaa in a scene from North of Normal. It tells the story of a girl who was raised in the wilderness and hopes for a normal life when she moves to the city with her mother. (Submitted by Cinéfest Sudbury)

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

A teenager wearing heart-shaped glasses and a partially unbuttoned, multicoloured button-up plaid shirt lies on their back, looking up into the camera.
Vaughan Murrae plays Robin in Before I Change My Mind. The film by Trevor Anderson tells the tale of a non-binary teen in the 1980s. (Loud Whisper Productions)

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.

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