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FALLING BEHIND: Arguably, Toronto is Canada's cultural capital. But the city has stagnated in recent years. "Almost every U.S. city of any consequence has been making dramatic and expensive improvements to its cultural amenities even while Toronto has opted for retrenchment and inertness - counting too heavily on a reputation for comparative cultural sophistication that now seems shaky and outdated." Toronto Star 04/15/01

  • CULTURE ENVY: You can't tell the players without a scorecard. Here's what American cities have been investing in culture compared to Toronto. Toronto Star 04/15/01
  • ROADMAP: What Toronto ought to do to pull out of its cultural dive. Toronto Star 04/15/01

LOSING ARTISTIC CAPITAL: Ottawa is losing its artists at an alarming rate. Canada's capitol city spends far less on the arts than the country's other major cities, and its sparse facilities are often in disrepair. A new report sounds the alarm. Ottawa Citizen 04/10/01

ON AMERICAN CULTURAL DOMINANCE: An international summit on arts and culture hears Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien say US cultural dominance can be fought by being aware of one's cultural roots. Many of the delegates from 60 countries dispute the message: "You can't stop the transmission of U.S. culture, so it needs to be regulated." Ottawa Citizen 12/03/00

WORLD ARTS CONFERENCE: A major international conference with delegates from 60 countries has gathered in Ottawa to talk about protecting "the vitality of many of the world's cultures which are currently threatened by the dominance of U.S. popular culture, and a globalizing economy which is turning national cultures into commercial commodities." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/01/00

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES CONFERENCE: "Some people think because of the power of communication, the American culture is a problem around the globe. It's not a problem, as long as every nation finds a way to make sure that people are comfortable with themselves, they know who they are, they know their roots and they work to have their arts and culture well inside of themselves." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/01/00

WHAT DOES EUROPE KNOW ABOUT ART? "Cultural protectionism is in vogue throughout Europe, evidence of a growing fear that the continent's old national cultures are under threat. The EU's role is significant. Although it claims to act benignly, serving as a mere facilitator of culture, its policies display somewhat different, culturally integrationist aims. It believes in the propagation of an official European culture." The Telegraph (London) 12/16/00

PROTECTING DIVERSITY: Delegates to an international cultural conference in Greece have decided to form the International Network for Cultural Diversity. The organization will endeavor to protect local cultures. "We want this to be a legal and enforceable agreement that will give countries the ability to support culture and diversity and to stand up to trade measures that are infringing on their cultural sovereignty." CBC 09/29/00

OUR AMERICAN COUSINS: Americans are big players in London's current cultural boom. "Today, as London is seeing the greatest cultural expansion in its history — a $600 million millennium effort financed partly by England's national lottery and partly by private donations — a list of many of the largest donors reads like a Who's Who of American philanthropy. New galleries, courtyards, libraries, reading rooms and additions are being christened with names like Annenberg and Sackler." New York Times 09/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

CULTURAL AUSTRALIA: "Australian culture is for the most part deeply democratic, and joyously so as well. It is no longer "provincial", a distant and nervous response to norms generated in imperial centres. It is the result of a bloodless and slow-developing social revolution conducted over 40 years as a small society grew larger and immeasurably more complex, shook off its sense of derivative Englishness and its fear of American domination, and learned to trust its own talents." The Guardian 09/18/00

FIGHTING FOR CULTURE: In the so-you-can-rest-easier department, isn't it nice to know that NATO is protecting our interests in culture as well as in the skies? "The aim of NATOarts is to advance the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s goals in the cultural realm. There was also a feeling that an organization such as NATO should take a more proactive role in the formation of international culture." New York Press 09/06/00

SUCCESSFUL CULTURES: Do the values of a culture determine its economic success? A new book offers 22 various scholars and authors debating whether the cultural aspects of a people make a difference in their level of economic development. Boston Globe 08/20/00

ENTERTAINMENT" BAN: Canadian news and documentary crews say that for the past two years American immigration officers have made it difficult for them to get into the US. Many crews have been denied entry. "Officials in the U.S. say they are enforcing a policy which allows them to bar foreign film crews who want to shoot 'commercial entertainment' in the US But Canadians say the policy is being widely used to delay film crews working on 'information programs.' " CBC 07/16/00

FEARS OF CULTURAL INVASION: A recent decision by the Korean government to open its door to Japanese culture have put the "local industries concerned on alert." The biggest causes for alarm appear to be pop music, software games, television...and "Japanimations" - several of which already have "cult" followings in Korea. Korea Times 06/29/00

PRETTY GOOD, EH? Canadian artists are invading Berlin and giving premieres and winning awards. "Why this sudden cultural blossoming from a nation generally assumed to be locked in snow, overridden with grizzly bears and obsessed with hockey? The Canadian government announced in February that the budget of Berlin's cultural section will increase fivefold in the upcoming year. From a pittance of less than forty thousand Canadian dollars last year, Canadian culture in Germany will now be supported at a "top priority" level. With the German capital's move to Berlin, Canada now has the opportunity to perform on stages that are at the center of much of the world's attention. An opportunity it is taking." Die Welt 05/08/00

CULTURAL INVESTMENT: Korea plans major investments in its cultural infrastructure to reshape the country's cultural profile over the next ten years. Plans include a massive new cultural center for Seoul. Korea Herald 02/23

Films outside the US

THE FAILING FRENCH: In the 50s, 60s and 70s French cinema was a vibrant art that caught the world's attention. No more. The industry is in the doldrums. "Last year, for the first time in history, the share of French films at the domestic box office dropped below 30 per cent - and at the same time, it's getting harder to export French cinema." The Telegraph (London) 03/24/01

CHINESE CINEMA LANGUISHES AWAY FROM HOLLYWOOD: "Chinese cinema has come into the media spotlight in the wake of Taiwanese director Ang Lee's martial arts box office smash 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.' But while Chinese directors in Hong Kong and Taiwan have wooed international markets with a vision of China gone by, mainland cinema is in the doldrums and getting progressively worse." China Times (Taiwan) 03/19/01

MAD FOR MOVIES: The audience for movies in Korea grew by 12 percent last year. But that audience wasn't wild about the home team. "The audience share of Korean films decreased 3.2 percent to 32.6 percent, with foreign films attracting 67.4 percent of the audience." Korea Times 02/28/01

VISIBLY CANADIAN: A number of Canadian films are losing funding from a government fund set up to support Canadian films. The reason? They've been judged not Canadian enough.  This year the fund introduced a ranking system judging their Canadianness, based on a system of points. One filmmaker denied funding says: "You couldn't get more Canadian unless you dressed in Canadian flags. I'm aghast at these new guidelines. It's a reason to leave Canadian filmmaking altogether." National Post 06/06/00

HOME FIELD (DIS)ADVANTAGE: Heralded as the rebirth of the martial-arts epic, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" has wowed audiences all over the world - everywhere, that it, except Hong Kong. "It might look exotic to foreign audiences but it has been done before, and better, in other Hong Kong films." China Times 2/15/01

TRANSATLANTIC ENVY: British film and media types are quick to criticize Hollywood fare as "too bland, too formulaic, too predictable, too dumb. If only, the argument goes, we had such resources: our films - edgy, relevant, cool and British - would surely sweep the world. But it's inescapable that America has the most diverse, intriguing and professional film culture of any country in the world. Their breadth and range shames our admittedly small film industry, which is obsessed by gangsters and clubbing." The Telegraph (London) 10/31/00

DOWN ON FILM DOWN UNDER: Why does the Australian film industry seem to be perennially in a state of crisis, in fear of cutbacks and dwindling audiences? And what exactly is the critic’s role in helping create a thriving local film culture? According to one critic, "they have a duty to make a positive contribution to film culture - otherwise, they are basically just glorified PR agents for the major movie corporations. Mainstream cinema is blinkered and amnesiac: it pretends that what's on screen, in the here and now, is all there is. Too many critics accept this pathetic reduction of cinema as their sole field of operations." The Age (Melbourne) 10/30/00

AND LITTLE PRAISE FOR THREE DECADES OF BRITISH FILM: As the London Film Festival opens this week, the first in a four-part series on the state of British film over the last 30 years. Don’t look here for aggrandizing praise. "British film has for the most part been second-rate, the culture of film-makers has been undernourished, the cinema-going public has been too shy of invention, and, without the brilliant, redeeming system of television funding and production in this country, British film would be dead in the water." The Telegraph (London) 10/30/00

SHOW ME THE MONEY: In India, where the average income is about $215 a year, the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" has become a wild hit. "Streets are half deserted when 'KBC' comes on, suddenly it's easy to get a seat at late evening movies, pubs in some cities say business has been hit, and bookshops are packed with books to guide you through the quiz programme." The Times of India 09/26/00

BOLLYWOOD v. HOLLYWOOD: As exported Indian movies get increasingly sophisticated (no longer just those epic musical romances), they are becoming big draws in Britain and are giving Hollywood a run for its money at the box office. Three Bollywood productions recently entered the UK’s top-10 list, and cinema chains showing Indian flicks are opening up all over Britain. The Age (Melbourne) 06/19/00

ARE THEY SCREENING GLADIATOR? The Berlin International Film Festival, which opened this week, seems to be struggling to find German films to screen as part of its main competition. Europe at large is well-represented, as is the U.S. But most of the German features have been relegated to the smaller side shows, and the festival continues to be dominated by Hollywood. Boston Globe (AP) 02/09/01

HOLLYWOOD EAST? India already has the biggest film industry in the world. Now it is "riding a growing wave of television, internet and computer animation technologies along with an expanding international audience to become a potential alternative to its State-side big brother, Hollywood." New Zealand Herald (Reuters) 04/19/00

Production outside Hollywood

PUMP EM UP, MOVE EM OUT: Vancouver is the third-largest film-making city in the world (after Los Angeles and New York), and the second-largest TV-series factory. About $1.8 billion is spent on making movies there. But here's a secret no one talks about: they're almost all bad movies. The reason - the cheap Canadian dollar lures cheap, mediocre productions. Ottawa Citizen 03/12/01

..BUT HOW MANY CANADIANS HAVE SEEN IT? Canadian films account for only two percent of the Candian box office gross. Why? No big-name stars. Tiny promotional budgets. And that movie juggernaut to the South. One frustrated film maker says, "[N]o civilization.. has survived without protecting its culture. If we want this one to survive, we have to, too." National Post (Canada) 01/29/01

TORONTO'S BIG MOVIE PLANS: "Despite an 87 per cent growth rate over the past five years, Toronto ranks second to Vancouver in terms of film production." That's why a new mega-studio proposed by Toronto's mayor is controversial. CBC 11/12/00

RUNAWAY FILM: A new report says that the number of film and video productions leaving Hollywood to be shot elsewhere is increasing. "It cites one study showing domestic production of made-for-TV movies declined by more than 33% in the last six years, while production at foreign locations rose 55%." Variety 01/19/01

WHY ARE MOVIE PRODUCTIONS LEAVING HOLLYWOOD FOR OTHER COUNTRIES? "These countries are offering an ever-growing list of financial incentives to U.S. producers in an effort to build their own production capacity and increase their share of the worldwide production industry. There is no "free market" at work here. Other countries, recognizing the value of film and television production to their future economic health, are virtually bribing U.S. producers to make their films and TV series outside the United States." Los Angeles Times 10/09/00

PRODUCTION DOWN: Some parts of the film production business in Los Angeles are down as much as 30 percent this year, and the business is in a big slump. 10/09/00 

HOLLYWOOD'S "SLEEP-AWAY CAMP": Movie productions are filming everywhere in Vancouver, Canada. Tax breaks, cooperative workers, beautiful scenery - what's not to like? It's no wonder the movie-makers are desserting Hollywood. Los Angeles Times 10/01/00

HOLLYWOOD NORTH? The betting now is that Hollywood will be paralyzed by strikes next year as writers, actors and directors all negotiate new contracts. Will that stop the insatiable worldwide demand for entertainment? Not hardly. Much of the production figures to head north. "In Toronto and Vancouver, the main English-language production centres, directors, actors, technicians, casting agents and craft industries are already experiencing an unprecedented boom in demand - and reaping the dividends of Hollywood's woes." The Globe and Mail 10/05/00

COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION TO CANADA: The actors strike in the US against producers of commercials has been a boon to the Canadian production industry as producers head north to get their projects done. CBC 07/27/00

MOVIE INVESTIGATION ICED UNTIL AFTER ELECTION: This spring, US presidential candidate Al Gore launched an investigation into why so many movie productions are heading north to Canada. Now completion of the report has been delayed because of potential political ramifications. If the report attacks Canadian tax incentives to the movie industry, "state incentives (in the United States) may be vulnerable under international trade rules, just as (states) would argue that what Canada is doing is vulnerable under international trade rules. Toronto Star 07/06/00

FLEEING NORTH: "This is a record-breaking year for Hollywood films shot in Canada, entertainment-industry figures on both sides of the border agree. In past years, U.S. producers have taken advantage of the weak dollar to shoot low-budget feature films and made-for-TV movies in Canadian cities. This year, though, the studios have brought their big projects north and a long list of marquee-topping stars such as Sean Connery, Christina Ricci and Robert de Niro." Toronto Globe and Mail 07/03/00

HOLLYWOOD BEWARE: Indian movies are being taken more seriously internationally than ever before, and are carving out a wider non-Indian audience. "The fact that Hindi films are appearing more often on the UK and US charts and the regular stage shows have made the world sit up and take notice." Times of India 06/30/00

TRUE NORTH: A new survey shows that more than a third of the 161 films shot in North America in 1999 were filmed in Canada. Productions in search of lower costs were "blamed" for the exodus of work from Hollywood. CBC 06/26/00

PULLING BACK FROM A RECORD YEAR: Last year was the best ever for the Korean film industry. The country produced its top blockbuster of all time, earned record revenues at the box office, and this year sent five films to the Cannes Festival, including Korea's first-ever to the main competition. But this year the number of tickets sold to domestic films plunged from 3.94 million last year to 2.52 million this year. Korea Herald 06/22/00

AND AUTORI: Italian film lovers are bemoaning the fact that not a single Italian film was selected in the main competition at Cannes this year - reflecting the absence of a new generation of filmmakers to rival the postwar greats Fellini, De Sica, and Passolini. “Italians are talking again, as they have been off and on for 30 years, about the "crisis" of cinema, a word usually reserved for falling governments and train strikes.” New York Times 05/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

SUBVERSIVE SCOTS: Scottish filmmaking is enjoying a renaissance, with more than 5 films by Scots to be released in the next 5 weeks - many linked by unconventional plots and narratives. “Ultimately, it is this subversive streak that unites so many Scottish film directors, whether they are making films about oil magnates, public schoolboys, London gangsters, or Hebridean islanders determined to outwit the English Home Guard captain and make off with the whisky.” The Herald (Glasgow) 05/25/00

FIGHTING US MOVIES: South Korean filmmakers call for an international coalition to break the domination of Hollywood internationally. They "urged governments to resist what they say is the United States' attempts to use free trade treaties to expand the reach of American movies," echoing sentiments expressed last week in Cannes by French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. CBC 05/17/00

RAISON D'ETAT! At the Cannes opening ceremony, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin urged European film companies to fight Hollywood domination by creating European-centered film groups. He promised the French government would do more to promote foreign cinema. “Besides the cultural dimension, cinematographic diversity is also important for democracy. It is not just an image that cinema projects onto the big screen. It is a vision, a vision of society." Times of India 05/12/00 (Reuters)





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