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Film Distribution in Canada

Film distribution is one of the three main branches of the film industry. It provides the link between film production and exhibition. It is also the most profitable of the three sectors and is dominated by large multinational conglomerates. Film distribution companies supply movies, television programs, videos and new media to outlets such as cinemas and broadcasters. They do so in territories where they have acquired rights from the producers. Traditionally, distribution companies are the prime source for financing new productions. The distribution sector has been called “the invisible art.” Its practices tend to only concern industry insiders and go unnoticed by audiences. American companies dominate film distribution in Canada. They have controlled access to Canadian screens since the 1920s. (See also: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938.)

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John Cabot

John Cabot (a.k.a. Giovanni Caboto), merchant, explorer (born before 1450 in Italy, died at an unknown place and date). In 1496, King Henry VII of England granted Cabot the right to sail in search of a westward trade route to Asia and lands unclaimed by Christian monarchs. Cabot mounted three voyages, the second of which, in 1497, was the most successful. During this journey Cabot coasted the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, possibly sighted the Beothuk or Innu people of the region, and famously noted that the waters teemed with cod. At the time, the land Cabot saw was thought to be the eastern shore of Asia, the fabled island of Brasil, or the equally fabled Isle of Seven Cities. Cabot and his crew were the second group of Europeans to reach what would become Canada, following Norse explorers around 1000 CE. Despite not yielding the trade route Cabot hoped for, the 1497 voyage provided England with a claim to North America and knowledge of an enormous new fishery.

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Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland, the youngest of the Canadian provinces, joined Confederation in 1949. Some portion of its coast was undoubtedly one of the first parts of the continent seen by Europeans. Its total area is 405, 720 km2, of which Labrador makes up almost three-quarters (294,330 km2). The island of Newfoundland is the easternmost region of Canada, while Labrador is located on the mainland to the northwest. Since John Cabot's arrival on the “new isle” the island has been referred to as Terra Nova, or in English, Newfoundland. Labrador probably received its name from the Portuguese designation, "Terra del Lavradors."

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ACTRA

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, better known as ACTRA, is the union that represents performers in Canada’s English-language radio, television and film industries. Through its Performers’ Rights Society, it secures and disburses use fees, royalties, residuals and all other forms of performers’ compensation. Some of ACTRA's other activities include administering health insurance and retirement plans for its 22,000 members, negotiating and administering collective agreements, minimum rates and working conditions, lobbying for Canadian content and a strong Canadian production industry, and promoting and celebrating Canadian talent.

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Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973

Filmmaking is a powerful form of cultural and artistic expression, as well as a highly profitable commercial enterprise. From a practical standpoint, filmmaking is a business involving large sums of money and a complex division of labour. This labour is involved, roughly speaking, in three sectors: production, distributionand exhibition. The history of the Canadian film industry has been one of sporadic achievement accomplished in isolation against great odds. Canadian cinema has existed within an environment where access to capital for production, to the marketplace for distribution and to theatres for exhibition has been extremely difficult. The Canadian film industry, particularly in English Canada, has struggled against the Hollywood entertainment monopoly for the attention of an audience that remains largely indifferent toward the domestic industry. The major distribution and exhibition outlets in Canada have been owned and controlled by foreign interests. The lack of domestic production throughout much of the industry’s history can only be understood against this economic backdrop.

This article is one of four that surveys the history of the film industry in Canada. The entire series includes: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938; Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973; Canadian Film History: 1974 to Present; Canadian Film History: Regional Cinema and Auteurs, 1980 to Present.

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R.H. Thomson

Robert Holmes Thomson, CM, actor, director, playwright (born 24 September 1947 in Richmond Hill, ON). R.H. Thomson is one of Canada’s foremost stage actors. He is also known for his extensive work in television and film, including as Matthew Cuthbert in Anne with an E (2017–19), the CBC/Netflix adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. He has won a Genie Award, two Gemini Awards, a Dora Awardand a Canadian Screen Award, as well as the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awardfor Lifetime Artistic Achievement. Thomson is a passionate advocate for arts and culture in Canada. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2010.

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Russell Peters

Russell Dominic Peters, comedian, actor (born September 29, 1970 in Toronto, ON). Russell Peters is one of the most successful comedians in the world. His trademark politically incorrect humour confronts racial stereotypes and draws upon his experience as an Indo-Canadian. His struggles to break through in the United States, combined with his record-breaking success virtually everywhere else, led Chris Rock to call him the “most famous person nobody’s ever heard of.” Peters was named Toronto’s first Global Ambassador in 2008 and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2011. Forbes magazine has listed him among the world’s highest-earning comedians numerous times since 2009.

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Isadore Sharp

Isadore Sharp, hotel executive (b at Toronto 8 Oct 1931). Sharp was educated at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute in Toronto and then attended Ryerson Institute.

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St. John’s Election Riot of 1861

On 13 May 1861, 2,000 protesters gathered outside the Colonial Building in St. John’s, Newfoundland. They objected to actions taken by the colony’s governor, Sir Alexander Bannerman, during the recent, highly contentious election; he had defied responsible government and install a new, Conservative government. The protest turned into a riot that damaged property and resulted in the deaths of three people. It took months to settle the political stalemate. The Conservatives won by-elections in disputed ridings and remained in power. The riot led to new laws that protected polling stations, saw police officers keep the peace instead of soldiers, and discouraged events and practices that could lead to violence.

timeline event

Battle of the Plains of Abraham

On the night of Sept 12-13, General James Wolfe led his soldiers up an unguarded footpath and set for battle before the fortress walls. Montcalm attacked in the morning but his line broke, and Québec fell into British hands. Both generals perished.

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Nunatsiavut

Nunatsiavut (meaning “our beautiful land” in Inuktitut) is the homeland of the Labrador Inuit (Labradormiut). The territory covers 72,520km2 of land and 44,030km2 of sea in the northern part of the Labrador Peninsula. On 1 December 2005, the Labrador Inuit celebrated the creation of the Nunatsiavut Government, their own regional government within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Labradormiut became the first Inuit in Canada to achieve self-government. Of the approximately 6,500 beneficiaries, about 2,500 live within the settlement area in five communities: Rigolet, Postville, Makkovik, Hopedale (the legislative capital) and Nain (the administrative capital).

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Catherine O'Hara

Catherine Anne O'Hara, actor, writer, singer (born 4 March 1954 in Toronto, ON). Catherine O’Hara is one of Canada’s most prominent comedic actors. She is perhaps best known for her work in television on SCTV(1976–79, 1981–83) and Schitt’s Creek (2015–20), as well as for her roles in Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), and her many collaborations with director Christopher Guest. The winner of Emmy, Gemini, Genie and Canadian Screen Awards, she is an Officer of the Order of Canadaand a member of Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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Hebron Mission National Historic Site of Canada

For generations, Hebron, one of Nunatsiavut’s (see Labrador Inuit and Newfoundland and Labrador) most culturally important and significant sites, was an important meeting place for the Inuit, as well as a primary hunting and fishing area. In the early 1800s, Moravian missionaries chose the site to establish their fourth and northernmost mission in Labrador, officially opening the mission in 1830 (although missions were later established farther north, at Ramah in 1871 and Killinek in 1905). For more than 130 years, Hebron was a thriving community where an average of 200 to 250 Inuit lived. In 1959, without consultation with the Inuit, the community was closed, forcing all Inuit to relocate. Declared a National Historic Site in 1976 by the federal government, the Hebron Mission has been undergoing major restoration since 2004.

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Ryan Gosling

Ryan Thomas Gosling, actor, musician, producer, director (born 12 November 1980 in London, ON). Ryan Gosling started out as a child actor before giving a breakthrough performance in the Sundance-winning indie drama The Believer in 2001. He has since created, in the words of the New York Times’ Dennis Lim, “a whole gallery of sensitive, intelligent, anguished young men, often with hipster tendencies or dark sides.” An A-list Hollywood star, he has proven equally adept at comedy ( Lars and the Real Girl, Crazy, Stupid, Love., The Nice Guys, The Big Short), drama ­(The Notebook, Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, The Ides of March, First Man) and science fiction (Blade Runner 2049). He has received two Oscar nominations and won a Golden Globe in 2017 for his lead role in the musical La La Land.

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Rachel McAdams

Rachel Anne McAdams, actor (born 17 November 1978 in London, ON). Rachel McAdams is perhaps best known as a leading lady in such Hollywood romances as The Notebook (2004), The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) and The Vow (2012). After graduating with a BFA from York University in 2001, she made a meteoric rise to stardom, going from a Gemini Award-winning role in the Canadian TV series Slings & Arrows (2003) to her breakthrough Hollywood performance in the hit high school comedy Mean Girls (2004). She was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2014 and received Screen Actors Guild and Oscar nominations for her supporting performance in the Oscar-winning Spotlight (2015).

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Politics in Newfoundland and Labrador

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a minority Liberal government, elected on 16 May 2019. The premier of the province is Andrew Furey and the Lieutenant Governor is Judy May Foote. Its first premier, Joey Smallwood, was elected in 1949, after the province joined Confederation. Prior to Confederation, Newfoundland was first a British colony, then beginning in 1907, a dominion of the British Empire. It has been governed in various ways throughout its history, beginning with naval law in the 1600s.

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Inuit Experiences at Residential School

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools created to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Schools in the North were run by missionaries for nearly a century before the federal government began to open new, so-called modern institutions in the 1950s. This was less than a decade after a Special Joint Committee (see Indigenous Suffrage) found that the system was ineffectual. The committee’s recommendations led to the eventual closure of residential schools across the country.