restricted access The Cinema We Need (Canada, 1985)

The ongoing and seemingly endless debate about what constitutes a truly (Anglo-) Canadian cinema came to a head with the publication in 1985 of experimental filmmaker and critical theorist R. Bruce Elder’s manifesto “The Cinema We Need.” Elder—whose films include The Art of Worldly Wisdom (Canada, 1979) and "1857” (Fool’s Gold) (Canada, 1981)—attacks the attempt on the part of Canadian filmmakers to make “New Narrative film”: a cinema that differs from Hollywood cinema’s desire for traditional storytelling by drawing on the aesthetics of the Canadian avant-garde. Elder claims that Canadian narrative cinema will never be able to compete with American product and that this “New Narrative film” engages in a process of vandalization and commercialization of the Canadian avant-garde tradition. Elder also claims that technology is overwhelming our ability to introduce new experiences and new insights into our conditions of living, and that this colonization is American. For this reason, Elder argues, Canada needs an avant-garde cinema that redresses this technological imperialism.