Home Video: Eleven Great Films to Watch for National Canadian Film Day and Where to Buy, Rent, or Stream Them

Today is National Canadian Film Day! Events are happening all around Canada to celebrate Canadian film, including free screenings, a tribute to the late Jean-Marc Vallée, and more! Check out the NCFD Homepage for event listing, and watch Jean-Marc Vallée’s 2005 masterwork C.R.A.Z.Y., either online or in a screening near you.

In celebration of the day, and if you can’t make it to a screening, here are eleven great Canadian films from the last few years and where you can buy, rent, or stream them.

Ed Note: Yes, the links are affiliate links, and we may receive commissions when you click. These links are powered by JustWatch and update as availability changes, so please check back later if you don’t see one! If you do not see the links, please consider turning off your adblocker or safe-listing this site.


Akilla's Escape

Akilla’s Escape

Told over one fateful night, a drug dealer attempts to steer a young man away from the cycles of crime and violence that he himself was caught up in some twenty years before. Saul Williams starred as Akilla and produced the soundtrack, and writers Charles Officer and Wendy Motion Brathwaite took home a Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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Black Conflux

Black Conflux

A young woman about to graduate high school and on the verge of self-discovery, and a frustrated man grappling with self-loathing and internalised misogyny whose lives are on an inevitable collision course. The less you know going in, the better, director Nicole Dorsey was nominated for the John Dunning Best First Feature Award at the 8th Canadian Screen Awards, and lead actor Ryan McDonald –who performs one of the most memorable dance scenes of 2019– also picked up a nomination for best actor.

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Body & Bones

Body & Bones

A young woman whose life has been knocked off track by personal loss latches onto a ne’er-do-well singer. A coming of age story follows Kelly Van der Berg’s Tess from child to adult, set against a stunning Newfoundland backdrop.

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Bootlegger

Bootlegger

A young woman returns to her childhood a home, a dry reserve caught in the grip of the local criminal element. Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs stars as Mani, who remains torn between her past and present, between her old life on the reserve and her new life in the city. It’s an excellent performance, and the film was nominated for the 2021 Directors Guild of Canada Discovery Award for Emerging Filmmakers.

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Chained

Chained

While running away from some bullies, a young man called Taylor (Marlon Kazadi) hides in an abandoned warehouse where he finds two men: one dead and the other, Jim (Aleks Paunovic), chained to the wall. Rather than free Him, Taylor elects to keep him chained up. Throughout the film, the two form a strange, paternal bond. While it might not change the world, Chained establishes Kazadi as a young talent to watch.

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Happy Place

Happy Place

Canadian icon Helen Shaver’s debut as a feature film director, this adaptation of Pamela Sinha’s Play of the same name is a powerful story of dealing with grief and trauma. It features an all-star cast featuring Canadian legends Sheila McCarthy and Mary Walsh alongside relative newcomer Clark Backo.

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The Oak Room

The Oak Room

During a snowstorm, a man walks into a deserted bar, and the bartender starts to tell a story. In the story, during a snowstorm, a man walks into a bar, and the bartender tells a story. Cody Callahan’s adaptation of Peter Genoway’s play weaves stories within stories that seem disconnected until they aren’t to stunning effect.

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Portraits From a Fire

Portraits From a Fire

A wonderfully heartfelt story about a young man grappling with family trauma that everyone but him remembers and his attempts to unpack his past through filmmaking. Set against the stunning backdrop of BC’s Tsilhqotʼin reserve and featuring great supporting turns from Nathaniel Arcand and local Sammy Stump, Portraits From a Fire was nominated for the 2021 Directors Guild of Canada Discovery Award for Emerging Filmmakers and won the 2021 Best BC Film Award from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle.

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Sugar Daddy

Sugar Daddy

Darren (Kelly McCormack), a young talented musician, dreams of making music as nobody has before. But she’s broke. Desperate for cash, she signs up for a paid dating website, throwing herself down a dark path that shapes her music with it. McCormack is excellent in her role, and she does triple duty as well: she wrote the screenplay and co-produced the film. Sugar Daddy was nominated for three Canadian Screen Awards, with Marie-Hélène L. Delorme winning for Best Original Song and Colm Feore winning for Best Supporting Actor.

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Underground

Underground / Souterrain

When a mine shaft collapses, a young man already angry and frustrated at the world must face down his past and his definitions of masculinity. Examining brotherhood and redemption, and with excellent performances from Joakim Robillard and Théodore Pellerin, Souterrain was one of the best Canadian films of 2020. It was nominated for four Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Joakim Robillard, and Best Director and screenplay for Sophie Dupuis.

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Violation

Violation

A brutal twist on the rape-revenge genre, Violation sees Madeleine Sims-Fewer doing triple duty as co-writer and co-director with her creative partner Dusty Mancinelli and starring. Where some films would go the violent, bloody path with this kind of story, Violation plays out in bleak, soul-crushing detail –from the strained relationships to the actual revenge itself. Violation was nominated for five Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Actress for Sims-Fewer, Best Supporting Actor for Jesse LaVercombe, and the John Dunning Best First Feature Award for Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli.

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National Canadian Film Day Coverage Banner

Today might be National Canadian Film Day, but remember that we Canadians make excellent films! I hope you take some time to explore some of these titles and, from there, the vast landscape that is Canadian Cinema. This year’s Canadian Screen Award nominees are also an excellent place to start.

And here’s one last reminder to check out CanFilmDay.ca for events near you!


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