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CFI Anniversary at city hall celebrates Canadian film diversity

Photo: Courtesy of Keltie Duncan

Canada’s oldest film institute celebrated its 80-year milestone with the Ottawa community on August 27th in the Jean Pigott Place, at city hall.

The free event was facilitated by Canadian Film Institute (CFI) staff, active supporters and sponsors, local embassy partners, Canadian filmmakers and actors, alumni of Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, and local film fans.

Tom McSorley, the executive director of the CFI and a film studies professor at Carleton University, has been with the organization since 1986 and was one of the speakers at the event.

“Some people divide and conquer, but we want to unite and conquer,” McSorley said of the organization during his speech.

The CFI’s mission to unite and conquer is apparent in their work that helps preserve and nurture Canadian cinema. By organizing public film programming, distributing a small collection of films, and being involved in the publication of books on Canadian cinema, the organization has been integral in supporting Canadian filmmakers.

CFI’s work also includes organizing festivals of different film styles and cultures including the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which begins on Sept. 16, Bright Nights: The Baltic-Nordic Film Festival, and the 30th European Union Film Festival, which McSorely announced would be screening at the Bytowne Cinema starting on Nov. 20.

Jean-Jacques De Grange, a U of O alumnus, was one of the many passionate film fans in the audience.

“(Film) allows the opportunity to truly understand other cultures, like a window into different lifestyles,” said De Grange after the presentation.

The CFI’s celebration of different cultures through their festivals echoes Canada’s own pride in being a “cultural mosaic.”

During the celebration the audience was presented with a screening of CFI’s 80th anniversary trailer, which showcased different Canadian films from the organization’s history. The projection was a retrospective montage of Canadian film, showcasing the different styles, genres, and movements that have defined Canadian film, from realism and animation, to film noir and indie avant-garde expressions.

The expansion of the Ottawa Art Gallery, which will feature a new multidisciplinary screening space for the CFI, will help keep the organization and Canadian film exciting, accessible, and diverse for the next 80 years.



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