Canadian Film Studies

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Performing & Fine Arts
Course Code
PEFA 1216
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course is designed to facilitate an understanding of Canadian film history, development, themes, and possible future directions. This goal will be achieved through the viewing and discussion of the range of Canadian film production from its beginnings through the National Film Board years of documentary and animation, to the rebirth of Canadian features, and up to the contemporary auteur directors.
Course Content

Any study of film becomes a study of culture as well. This course will be looking for signs of Canadianness in the films that we study, as well as regional differences of films from the disparate parts of Canada. It will also necessarily make some comparisons and contrasts with the dominant industry of Hollywood.

Silent Era

  • First films in Canada: scenics and the roles of government and business
  • Hollywood’s Canada
  • First wave of Canadian feature films and their struggles

Documentary Film

  • John Grierson and the National Film Board: a social purpose
  • The NFB after Grierson: diversification and theatrical releases
  • Television and cinema direct
  • Independent documentary, including features

Animation and Experimental Film

  • The McLaren years
  • Michael Snow and the role of experimental film

Rebirth of Canadian Feature Films

  • NFB documentary influence in the ‘60s and ‘70s, in English and French
  • The evolution of an independent industry: beyond realism
  • Canadian auteurs (French, English, and diversified voices; from Halifax to Bollywood)
  • Recurring themes; emerging styles
  • “Hollywood North,” government policies, and consequences

The Possibilities and Challenges for Canadian Film Now and in the Future

  • The digital age and its inevitable effects on production and distribution
  • Vancouver’s role as a film centre

Studios and production houses

Vancouver International Film Festival

Film schools

Learning Activities

The course will combine lecture and discussion with the viewing of film excerpts as well as some complete films (especially, but not exclusively, non-feature length). Intermittent quizzes will focus students’ attention on the facts and ideas they should be retaining from readings and lectures. Discussion about readings and viewings will be integral to the class structure. A research term paper will permit some guided individual instruction and a deeper understanding of a narrowed topic within the subject matter of Canadian film (and require viewing films outside of class). In class meetings students will share brief oral summaries of their research topics.

Means of Assessment
Quizzes 25%
Midterm Exam 20%
Term Paper 20%
Final Exam 25%
Participation/discussion 10%
TOTAL  100%







Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to

  1. Trace the development of Canadian film from its origins at the beginning of the 20th Century, including the special challenges of maintaining a film industry neighbouring and sharing a language with the United States and the reasons for doing so.
  2. Understand the role that government has played in the development of Canadian film and analyse the pros and cons of that role.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the themes and stylistic characteristics that distinguish the works of French and English-Canadian directors.
  4. Demonstrate successful research and writing methods applied to a specific topic within the subject matter of Canadian film.
Textbook Materials

A list of recommended textbooks and materials is provided on the Instructor’s Course Outline, which is available to students at the beginning of each semester.

The instructor will designate the following text or select an alternate text of a similar type.

  • Monk, Katherine. Weird Sex and Snowshoes. Vancouver, B.C.: Raincoast Books, 2001.


  • Beard, William and Jerry White, North of Everything. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta Press, 2002.




No prerequisite courses.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for PEFA 1216
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU ARTS 1XXX (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG ENGL 2330 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU CA 1XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU FILM 2XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU COMM 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO FILM 200 (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV FIST 200 (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HIST 1XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV FILM 320 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC AHVS 2XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU MEDI 2nd (3)

Course Offerings

Fall 2022