Tag Archives: CBC

Photo gallery: CBC’s Alias Grace

A full summer of programming is still ahead of us—hello Killjoys, Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter and Orphan Black—but CBC has got us excited for the fall.

The network announced earlier today that Alias Grace debuts Monday, Sept. 25, at 9 p.m. on CBC. Based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning novel and inspired by true events, the six episodes are written and produced by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron. The miniseries tells the story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), an Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who—along with James McDermott (Kerr Logan), a stable hand—is accused and convicted of the infamous 1843 murders of her employer, wealthy farmer Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin).

Here’s a sneak peek gallery of some of the key cast. Are you as excited about Alias Grace as we are? Let us know in the comments below!


Alias Grace debuts Monday, Sept. 25, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.


CBC announces Alias Grace world premiere date; plus sneak peek

From a media release:

CBC today announced the world premiere of ALIAS GRACE (6 x 60) on Monday, September 25 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC. A first look at the highly anticipated miniseries from Halfire Entertainment is now available at cbc.ca/aliasgrace. ALIAS GRACE will stream globally outside of Canada on Netflix in fall 2017 following the CBC premiere.

Based on the award-winning novel by Margaret Atwood and inspired by true events, ALIAS GRACE is written and produced by Sarah Polley (Take This WaltzAway from Her) and directed by Mary Harron (American PsychoI Shot Andy Warhol). The six-hour miniseries tells the story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), a young, poor Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who — along with stable hand James McDermott (Kerr Logan) — finds herself accused and convicted of the infamous 1843 murders of her employer, wealthy farmer Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin).

ALIAS GRACE stars Sarah Gadon (Indignation, 11.22.63); Edward Holcroft (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Wolf Hall); Anna Paquin (True Blood, Bellevue); Paul Gross (Hyena Road, Due South); Rebecca Liddiard (Houdini & Doyle); Kerr Logan (Game of Thrones, London Irish); Zachary Levi (Chuck, Tangled); and David Cronenberg.

A CBC and Netflix original production, ALIAS GRACE is produced by Halfire Entertainment and written by Sarah Polley. The executive producers are Sarah Polley, Mary Harron and Noreen Halpern. Producing alongside Polley is D.J. Carson.


Another Side of Canada: The (Multicultural) Story of Us

The final two episodes of CBC’s controversial Canada: The Story of Us aired on Sunday night, and covered a good deal of territory. Episode 9, entitled “A New Identity,” takes us from Newfoundland’s journey to join Canada, to Rocket Richard’s influence on the Separatist’s movement and the emergence of the FLQ. Episode 10, “The Canadian Experience,” covers the Vietnamese Boat people, the Oka Crisis and the creation of Canada’s third territory: Nunavut.

The segment in “A New Identity” featuring Viola Desmond’s role to further civil rights in Canada and the segment on the Indian Residential School System (RSS), featuring the story of Blue Quills, were, I am sure for many, an eye-opening experience. Canada and Canadians often elide over the not-so-pretty aspects of our history, particularly those involving racism.

My own personal involvement with Indigenous communities, and the many residential school survivors I come into contact with, pretty much ensures I am particularly sensitive to the telling of the RSS. The public protests that challenged Blue Quills Residential School, was the impetus to close the schools across Canada. The government planned instead to send all Indigenous children to local public schools. But, First Nations communities fought for and won the right to run their own community schools; one of the first steps to self-government. My only problem with the telling of this story (and yes, time is still an issue) is producers told only the beginning of the end. They neglected to note this form of abusive structural racism had gone on for upwards of five generations, and as a result of the abuses perpetrated on innocent children, the survivors and their offspring now suffer multi-generational traumas that oft-times present as lateral violence in communities.

Further, because of current funding regulations and guidelines in Canada and the provinces, instead of providing mental health services to survivors, social service agencies strip children from communities for their protection, and pay families outside of the child’s home community to raise Indigenous children. This practice is commonly referred to as The Millennial Scoop.

The final episode of Canada: The Story of Us takes a look at Canada’s multiculturalism, tying nicely to current Trudeau policies regarding the Syrian refugee crisis. This, however, presents difficult challenges for long-standing institutions like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as demonstrated via Baltej Dhillon’s desire and proven ability to serve as an RCMP Officer whilst accommodating his religious and cultural need to wear a turban.

The creation of the Nunavut Territory tells the “how to” for Indigenous relations done right. However, the Oka Crisis is the “how to” for getting it miserably wrong.

The series close is filled with irony. The guest narrators, particularly Lorne Cardinal, Waneek Horn-Miller and Hayden King, discuss the chasm that still exists between mainstream Canadians and the Indigenous populations in Canada today. The primary complaint: there is a large part of Canada’s history that is missing from the textbooks; the very complaint that viewers and reviewers of Canada: The Story of Us have repeatedly bludgeoned producers and the CBC for.

Perhaps the best “Take Home Lesson” for Canadians is the recognition of our own deep seeded need to see our story told—an impossible task in just 440 minutes. It is interesting to note that those who were most upset were those who failed to see their own histories told, or they were told in ways that were not recognized to the lived experience that is theirs in Canada. However, this lack is the lived experience for many who continue to be marginalized in Canada; they have yet to see their stories told. They have never seen their own “Story of Us.” Maybe now the majority of Canadians who were upset at not seeing themselves adequately portrayed here in one television series might translate that experience and place themselves into the “othered” shoes for just a moment. Perhaps then the underlying bitterness that persists between cultures could be understood.

Elder David Plain of Aamjiwnaang, weighs in with his final comments about the final two episodes of Canada: The Story of Us.

The last two episodes of the series were much more balanced. If the whole series were like these two, it would have been first class. There were “feel good stories” like 1979’s Vietnam boat people and Baltej Singh Dhillon’s turban. But, there were also some “not so feel good stories.” I was pleased to see the producers tackle some of the country’s blights, such as Viola Desmond, a black Nova Scotian, and her story of discrimination, which was compounded by the courts. “English Canada’s” treatment of “French Canada”, was also related, both stories from the 1950s. However, some of them spoke to me louder because they affected me in a more personal way, like the story of Blue Quills and the residential schools.

When my parents married in the late 1920s, they were both widowed. Each had families and their own homes. My father’s house was on the reserve and my mother’s house was in the city. They had to choose where to live and they chose the city. When I was a boy, I asked my mother why we didn’t live on the reserve with our relatives. She said, “because I didn’t want you kids to go to ‘Indian school.’” I just assumed that she was talking about the quality of education, so I didn’t ask any more questions. That was the only time and all I ever heard about the horrors of the residential school system until I was in my 40s, and stories began to surface in the general public. But in our family and in the reserve community, it was just not talked about.

When the news of the trouble at Oka broke it spread, as they say, like wildfire through the native community. My sister, Muriel and myself were living in Toronto at the time. She asked me if I wanted to go to support the Mohawks, but I was employed at the time and could not get the time off work. However, that didn’t hold her back. She left the first night and was there for the duration. That was one of those decisions in life, which makes me wish I had a do-over.

The story about the creation of Nunavut was particularly heartening. I see it as recognition of Indigenous people’s sovereignty over their own land base and the right to self-determination. It’s what should be happening throughout the country. Until it does reconciliation will remain just a dream.

But the relinquishing of power doesn’t come easy. In our last election, a lot of grand promises were made to the Indigenous community. Now a lot of them are being broken. The current government promised to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights for Indigenous Peoples. Now they say they can’t but with no plausible explanation. The real reason is that if they did, it would give Indigenous peoples a seat at the table, a right to veto anything affecting traditional territories. Canada would much rather keep us at the “right to consult” position, whatever that means.

Nunavut is an example of the meaning of the treaties. We need to start moving towards this direction if reconciliation is ever to become a reality.

Chi Miigwetch to David Plain for his insight during the airing of  Canada: The Story of Us. I am sure our readers learned a great deal from your shared thoughts.

On Tuesday, May 16, at 8 p.m. on Facebook Live, CBC Montreal host Mike Finnerty will be hosting a live round table to discuss Sunday’s episodes.

David Plain B.R.S., M.T.S., is the author of five books with a sixth, The Exmouth Chronicles: A Memoir due out later in  2017 . You can reach David on Facebook or Twitter.


New original digital series takes a kaleidoscopic look at Canada’s brand

From a media release:

Big Cedar Films, founded by award-winning filmmaker Geoff Morrison, launched their original digital series, Brand Canada, on the CBC TV app and at CBC.ca/brandcanada today. Part of CBC’s 2017 programming, Brand Canada is a kaleidoscopic exploration of Canada the ‘brand’ – from the artwork and images that first symbolized Canada, through the building and appropriation of a collective identity, to how the country is viewed today. With 10 episodes varying in length from two to six minutes, this unique series covers a broad spectrum of stories relating to Canada’s brand.

Each episode is directed by a notable emerging or mid-career Canadian filmmaker, including shorts from Josh Raskin (I Met the Walrus), Aleysa Young (Baroness Von Sketch Show) and Tess Girard, whose contribution Canada the Good? premiered at Hot Docs this year. The filmmakers incorporated their own unique style, offering varied perspectives as well as creative approaches. Directors were encouraged to choose a filmmaking form that best suited their subject, rather than follow a prescribed series construct. This process fostered creative exploration and experimentation in a highly contemporary format.

Episode list:

Canada the Good?
Directed by Tess Girard
Official Selection: Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, 2017
Simon Anholt, the renowned policy analyst behind the Good Country Index, assesses the international perception of Canada — and whether or not we’re as ‘good’ as we think we are.

America’s Canada
Directed by Aleysa Young
A pop culture-fuelled audit of how American TV influences Canada’s brand — through the perspective of the denizens of Mexico City.

Rant & Rave
Directed by Daniel Roher
How a marketing guru inhaled Canadian identity and exhaled a new Canadian pride in Molson’s seminal TV ad, “The Rant.”

The Canadian Dream
Directed by Haya Waseem
A poetic exploration of Canada through the eyes of immigrants, as early impressions of their new home evolve into everyday experience.

Design is a Process
Directed by Randall Okita
An illustrated exploration of the power of Canadian design through iconic images of branding and culture.

Origin Story
Directed by Ryan J. Noth
How the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company created the first vision of Canada as a branded nation.

Meanwhile in Canada
Directed by Josh Raskin and Justin Broadbent
We meet the person responsible for the “Meanwhile in Canada” memes. All of them.

Brand Ambassadors: Drake & Shania
Directed by Geoff Morrison
Canada has a grand tradition of producing global pop superstars, but few of them rep their home country quite like Drake and Shania Twain.

Trudeaumania Redux
Directed by Ramon Perez and Mike Valiquette
As Trudeaumania returns, can a social media superhero survive the reality of 21st century leadership?

O Canada (Karaoke Video)
Directed by Josh Raskin and Justin Broadbent
A karaoke video of O Canada, featuring ketchup chips.


Links: Anne with an E

From Sarah Larson of The New Yorker:

Link: How not to adapt Anne of Green Gables
So we see flashbacks to Anne’s life with an abusive family and in the orphanage—another fine idea in principle. In one flashback, vicious girls, spitting threats and insults, taunt Anne with a dead mouse in a grimy alcove; afterward, she comforts herself by stroking its fur sorrowfully. When we cut back to the present, she says, in a hollow tone, “I’ll be as quiet as a mouse,” as dead-eyed as the twins in “The Shining.” We should empathize here, but we’re too busy seething. Continue reading.

From Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair:

Link: Anne of Green Gables: Netflix’s bleak adaptation gets it all so terribly wrong
Still, none of the many, many other Anne adaptations stray so disastrously far from the spirit of Montgomery’s original books—and the result is a gloomy series with grim, life-or-death stakes draped over the bones of something beloved, warm-hearted, and familiar. The milestones are still there—currant wine, broken slates, puffed sleeves—but seen through a glass darkly. Brave as the concept may be, it falls flat—and feels particularly unwelcome in an already grim 2017. Continue reading.

From Marissa Martinelli of Slate.com:

Link: Netflix’s dark, gritty reboot of Anne of Green Gables has all the subtlety of a chalkboard smashed over your head
The show’s lack of nuance is especially evident while trying to assert its modern sensibilities. Walley-Beckett’s adaptation of Anne is so worried about announcing itself as feminist that it forgets that its source material already was. Continue reading.

From Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic:

Link: Anne with an E is the best kind of adaptation
So Anne With an E, created by Moira Walley-Beckett, a longtime writer and producer on Breaking Bad, isn’t exactly inventing darkness for the story so much as reading between the lines. It’s Anne of Green Gables for 21st-century audiences, who are perhaps more sympathetic to the idea that children can suffer. That’s not to say darkness defines the show. Anne With an E captures the winning exuberance of Anne Shirley—who, played by AmyBeth McNulty, is entirely irresistible—while finding some deeper potency in her story. The first two episodes offer a gripping and moving setup for the rest of the season, portraying how Anne, despite improbable odds, persuades the elderly Cuthberts to love her. Continue reading.

From Jen Chaney of The Vulture:

Link: Anne of Green Gables fans, you will love Netflix’s Anne with an E
Lifelong fans of the Anne of Green Gables series should find much to admire here, but the newly initiated will be just as easily drawn into the town of Avonlea, where Anne and the Cuthberts live, and enchanted by the open-hearted wonder with which Anne greets the world and spins her creative yarns. Continue reading.

From Lorraine Ali of the L.A. Times:

Link: Netflix moves to Green Gables with scrappy, irresistible Anne with an E 
If only television treated all its teenage girls with the same respect “Anne with an E” affords its whip-smart, scrappy protagonist. Continue reading.

From Allison Keene of Collider:

Link: Netflix’s Green Gables adaptation has grit
Once Anne arrives at Green Gables, it’s a spiritual transformation. She is given hope and new focus on fulfilling her dreams of friendship, education, and both familial and romantic love.  Continue reading.

From Mark Dawidziak of Cleveland.com:

Link: Anne with an E pursues a darker shade of Green Gables
While remaining true to the spirit of Anne and the book, this Netflix series reminds us that Montgomery wrote her novel for all ages. She did not consider it just a children’s book. And it wasn’t designated a children’s book until many decades after its publication. Continue reading.

From Gwen Ihnat of The AV Club:

Link: Anne with an E offers a winning, darker take on a familiar tale
Amybeth McNulty defies her youth with a performance that’s less a portrayal of Anne than an absolute possession. It can’t be easy to make Anne’s fanciful language sing the way she does, and McNulty captures the endearing awkwardness that enables Anne to win over everyone she comes in contact with. Continue reading.