CFP: “Revisiting a Golden Era: Canadian Cinema of the 1980s and 90s”

Call for essay proposals for an edited volume about Canadian films, filmmakers, and film culture (for submission to McGill-Queens University Press)
Edited by Lee Carruthers and Charles Tepperman

This volume proposes a reconsideration of the aesthetic, cultural, and industrial development of motion pictures in Canada between (approximately) the years 1980 and 2000. This period has often been described as a ‘golden era’ of Canadian cinema, seeing the rise to prominence of a new generation of Canadian filmmakers and the emergence of new institutions to support them. Piers Handling has characterized this phenomenon as the emergence of a distinctive Canadian cinema that is “esoteric, diverse, and multifaceted.” As he writes, Canadian cinema was newly mobilized in this phase through festivals, finding an equal standing with literature: “Cronenberg, Arcand, Egoyan and Maddin stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Atwood, Ondaatje, Martel and Richards.” Significantly, this emergence also coincided with the maturation of academic Film Studies in Canada, a parallel development that resulted in robust critical and scholarly responses. While the films and film contexts of this period were much discussed in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, they demand a new assessment.

We invite essay submissions about Canadian cinema of the 1980s and 90s, deploying established critical approaches (textual and cultural analysis, stylistic analysis) as well as new critical methods (such as transmedia and transnational analyses, data-based research, and media industry studies). The collection particularly values close readings of the films of this period, reassessed through the lens of the present, which might serve as exemplary essays for undergraduate and graduate coursework. We encourage reassessments that are critically agile and historiographical in approach, reflecting on the distance that separates us from these films and filmmakers and also the discourses and methods that scholars have brought to them.

Articles may address French-, English-, and/or Indigenous-language filmmaking, and films and film cultures from diasporic communities and international co-productions. We ask these contributions to consider the following questions: What does it mean to (re)consider this film / filmmaker / topic in our current moment? What does this reconsideration show us about Canadian cinema of the 1980s and 90s and about contemporary film practice? How do contemporary critical / theoretical / methodological / historiographical resources freshly illuminate the topic, forming contrasts and continuities with earlier examinations? How, for example, do recent conceptualizations of (trans)national cinema, decolonization, anti-racism, gender, and/or media industries reposition our perspective on the films/contexts of Canadian cinema in this period?

Contributions can be in various forms and may include short essays (4000-5000 words), long essays (6000-8000), and interviews.

Possible topics:

  • reconsideration of a prominent film or filmmaker ie) Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Denys Arcand, Patricia Rozema, Léa Pool, Deepa Mehta, Don McKellar, Alanis Obomsawin, Robert Lepage, François Girard, Micheline Lanctôt, John Greyson, Robert Morin, Guy Maddin and others.
  • consideration of a film, filmmaker, or context that has been overlooked by scholars but that can be productively retrieved for the present
  • Indigenous filmmaking, decolonization
  • gender, cultural difference, and diversity in Canadian cinema
  • queer and LGBTQ films and cultures
  • examination of film styles, trends, genres, popular cinema, and art cinema
  • film festivals (rise of TIFF, other festivals)
  • film policy (CCA, Telefilm, tax credits)
  • film distribution and exhibition (theatrical, community, TV)
  • independent, avant-garde, and experimental film in Canada
  • developments in documentary film
  • video, transmedia, new media
  • film culture, audiences, and reception
  • co-productions, transnational cinema in the Canadian context
  • local scenes, regional contexts
  • other topics related to Canadian cinema in the 1980s and 90s

Article proposal/abstract (300-400 words + bibliography/filmography) will be due on January 15, 2024. Final essays will be due by Sept 1, 2024.

Please send your proposals and inquiries to Lee Carruthers ( and Charles Tepperman (


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