A Thriving Cultural Economy Includes Independent Cinemas

Today, cinemas nationwide celebrate and showcase great movies on National Canadian Film Day. In order for Canadian film to succeed, we need Canadian independent film exhibitors.

On the heels of yesterday’s federal budget announcement, the Network of Independent Canadian Exhibitors (NICE) is delighted to see that Telefilm will grow its support of Canadian filmmakers. We know that nurturing our homegrown talent, especially with an eye to equity, is crucial to a thriving national culture.

But once the films are produced, how are we ensuring that they are seen by Canadians? Across the country, audiences trust their local cinemas, film festivals, and film clubs to introduce them to movies they will love. Many viewers prefer to watch movies at a cinema, and a theatrical release ensures better performance on other platforms.

Too often, cinemas are lost in the conversation between commerce, and publicly-funded cultural projects. It is time for that to change. Independent cinemas are champions of Canadian and international film, and your favourite neighbourhood hub. We are necessary to bring Canadian films to public audiences, a crucial part of our ability to tell our own stories as a country, and we play an active role in the economic well-being of our neighbourhoods.

We are encouraged to see forthcoming roundtables on the Theatrical Exhibition Program from Telefilm, as an endorsement of our importance to the nation’s cultural and economic landscape. In the UK and US, we have already seen great emphasis put on supporting independent film exhibitors for these very reasons, with targeted support for arts venues and cinemas reaching £1.57 billion and $16 billion respectively to date.

Venue closures to reduce community transmission of COVID-19 have hit cinemas hard this past year. Canada is at risk of losing its independent cinemas if directed support is not provided. We are an important Canadian sector, and it is time we are recognized.


Une économie culturelle florissante requiert des cinémas indépendants

Aujourd’hui, les cinémas à travers le pays célèbrent et présentent de grands films à l’occasion de la Journée du cinéma canadien. Pour que le cinéma canadien réussisse, nous avons besoin d’exploitants de cinémas indépendants canadiens.

Dans la foulée de l’annonce du budget fédéral d’hier, le Réseau des exploitants indépendants canadiens (NICE) est ravi de voir que Téléfilm Canada va accroître son soutien aux cinéastes canadiens. Nous savons qu’il est essentiel de soutenir nos talents locaux, en particulier dans un souci d’équité, pour que la culture nationale soit florissante.

Mais une fois que les films sont produits, comment s’assurer qu’ils sont vus par les Canadiens? Partout à travers le pays, le public fait confiance à ses cinémas locaux, à ses festivals de cinéma et à ses ciné-clubs pour leur faire découvrir des films qu’ils aimeront. De nombreux spectateurs préfèrent regarder des films au cinéma, et une sortie en salle garantit de meilleures performances que sur d’autres plateformes.

Trop souvent, les cinémas sont perdus dans la conversation entre le commerce et les projets culturels financés par les pouvoirs publics. Il est temps que cela change. Les cinémas indépendants sont les champions du cinéma canadien et international, et le centre de votre quartier préféré. Nous sommes nécessaires pour faire connaître les films canadiens au public, ce qui constitue un élément crucial de notre capacité à raconter nos propres histoires en tant que pays, et nous jouons un rôle actif dans le bien-être économique de nos quartiers.

Nous sommes encouragés par les tables rondes à venir sur le Programme d’exploitation des salles de cinéma de Téléfilm Canada, comme une reconnaissance de notre importance dans le paysage culturel et économique du pays. Au Royaume-Uni et aux États-Unis, nous avons déjà constaté que l’accent est mis sur le soutien aux exploitants de films indépendants pour ces mêmes raisons, avec des soutiens ciblés pour les salles de spectacle et les cinémas atteignant respectivement 1,57 milliard de livres et 16 milliards de dollars à ce jour.

Les fermetures des salles pour réduire la transmission communautaire de la COVID-19 ont  durement touché les cinémas l’année dernière. Le Canada risque de perdre ses cinémas indépendants si un soutien ciblé n’est pas apporté. Nous sommes un secteur culturel et financier canadien important et il est temps que nous soyons reconnus.

Relief for Cinemas: New Fund from Hot Docs

The Network of Independent Canadian Exhibitors (NICE) is delighted to partner with Hot Docs to support the Hot Docs Independent Cinemas Relief Fund. 

From March 23 to May 9, 2021 — inclusive of the dates of their annual festival — 100% of donations collected by Hot Docs will be allocated to a fund providing Canadian independent cinemas with urgent financial relief. 

Cinemas from coast to coast have been hit hard this past year, doing their part to reduce community transmission of COVID-19. NICE applauds Hot Docs for their commitment to keeping these treasured institutions open for audiences across Canada. We’re certain that when the economy reopens, our neighbours will want to reconnect and head out to the movies!

“Canadian communities need independent cinemas to survive and thrive,” reads the statement from Hot Docs. “For over a year, the pandemic has shuttered independent cinemas across the country, and many are fighting for survival. Hot Docs wants to ensure these cinemas continue to survive as a place where powerful documentaries can open hearts and minds, ignite conversations and forge community bonds.”

Hot Docs operates Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, a historic Toronto venue that shows documentaries year-round, which has been a stalwart member of NICE. This fund shows their dedication to the enormous impact of independent film exhibition, sharing stories and building community. 

All eligible cinemas across Canada are encouraged to apply to the fund. 

Apply to the Fund

There are 14 grants of $2,000 available, with the potential for more depending on donations. Applicants must:

  • Operate a physical space where the primary purpose is exhibiting films to public audiences year-round 
  • Be an independent cinema; you must not be publicly traded and must not have more than 4 locations
  • Be located in Canada 
  • Have exhibited at least three feature length documentaries in the 12 months prior to pandemic closures 

Join NICE

All Canadian film exhibitors, including film festivals, film clubs and professional film programmers, are invited to join NICE! 

NICE film exhibitors are community oriented; we provide a meeting space for audiences and present high quality Canadian and international films.

We facilitate information-sharing and advocacy through monthly meetings and an online forum. And yes — it’s totally free. 

Explore Hot Docs Festival

North America’s largest documentary festival, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, will run online from April 29 to May 9, and tickets are available across Canada! You don’t have to go to Toronto to explore their stellar lineup of documentaries from around the world. 

It’s also great to see Hot Docs bringing gender parity to its program, with 50% of the directors in the program being women.