So Close to the State/s: The Emergence of Canadian Feature Film Policy


210 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8043-X
DDC 791.43'0971




M. Wayne Cunningham is a past executive director of the Saskatchewan
Arts Board and the former director of Academic and Career Programs at
East Kootenay Community College.


The goal of this study by Carleton University professor Michael Dorland
is to clarify “the ambivalence of the historical record of feature
film policy in Canada, thereby helping to diminish some of the wishful
thinking that has animated much of the scholarship on Canadian film.”
In the book, Dorland exposes the contradictions between Canadian film
scholarship and the federal policies and legislation created to support
Canadian filmmaking efforts by drawing on a wide range of primary
sources, including the publications and journals of film scholars,
government records of cultural agencies, the position papers and policy
proposals of government mandarins, and personal interviews.

In discussing Canadian film scholarship, Dorland observes that it is
underdeveloped relative to that in other countries, “entangled in
conceptual difficulties of its own making,” largely chauvinistic, and
grounded more in idealism than in reality. In discussing federal film
policy prior to the Massey Report, he agrees with Ted Magder’s
summation of it as “a featureless policy” characterized by “
benign indifference [more] than anything else.” He argues that film
policy following the landmark $10 million funding allocation in 1968 was
based on shaky assumptions and wishful thinking. Central to his
discussion is the Massey Report’s suggestion that federal cultural
policy in general, and film policy in particular, is necessary to save
Canadian culture from the American onslaught. According to Dorland, this
concern was the driving force behind film policy in the years following
the release of the Massey Report. Indeed, that report’s thesis of
cultural protection was reiterated in the 1996 report by Pierre Juneau.

This closely argued and meticulously documented book is an important
contribution to the literature on Canadian filmmaking policy.


Dorland, Michael., “So Close to the State/s: The Emergence of Canadian Feature Film Policy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,