The sweet here and now for Canada

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Indy Lifestyle Online
NEW ZEALAND had one, thanks mainly to the efforts of women. South America had one with a backdrop of dusty, expansive landscapes, music and guns. China had a lengthy and traumatic one that led the way for the rest of Asia. And Canada, too, has recently undergone a cinematic renaissance.

The Canadians haven't really received the full attention they deserve: Atom Egoyan's tense and beautiful The Sweet Hereafter earned only one Oscar nomination (for screenplay adapted from another medium); the film was shamefully overlooked for Best Picture, and Ian Holm's grieving lawyer with an axe to grind was passed over for Best Actor, in favour of Jack Nicholson's misogynist mania. But starting on Saturday, the Lux Centre is holding Distinguishing Features: the Pinnacles of Canadian Cinema to celebrate not only 50 years of Canadian filmmaking, but the reopening of Canada House (previously only famous in artistic circles as the building which facilitated the swastika projection on to South Africa House, making cross-Trafalgar Square relations a little frosty). The festival concentrates mainly on films of the last 10 years, and includes David Cronenberg's infamous Crash, Robert Lepage's love-letter to Hitchcock Le Confessional (starring Lothaire Bluteau, above, the man with the most mournful eyes in cinema), Egoyan's Calendar and Exotica, and Denys Arcand's Love and Human Remains and The Decline of the American Empire. Also giving interviews are Atom Egoyan (Sat 16 May) and Winnipeg's magic realist, Guy Maddin (Sat 30 May). (Distinguishing Features: Lux Centre, N1, 0171 684 0201, Sat to 31 May.)