Christopher's Movie Matinee
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 87 min
National Film Board of Canada
Christopher’s Movie Matinee is one of the most peculiar, engaging and telling examinations of the sixties. Its thematic concerns are comparable to several other Canadian films of the period, most notably Robin Spry’s Flowers on a One Way Street (1967) and Claude Jutra’s Wow (1969). But the film’s approach is markedly different: intending it to be a study of student behaviours, attitudes and beliefs, director Mort Ransen – at the request of the participating students – turned his camera over to them and provided only technical assistance in the making of the film.
Entirely unscripted, Christopher’s Movie Matinee provides a record of youth consciousness during the summer of 1967. As with Flowers on a One Way Street, one focus of Ransen’s film is the concern over the control of Toronto’s Yorkville district; as with Wow, it attempts to capture a self-image, a dream of freedom, using a mixture of styles ranging from direct cinema to the theatrical. As with both, it remains a remarkable historical document.
During the film’s production, the National Film Board recalled Ransen and his crew to Montreal following newspaper stories that claimed they were provoking demonstrations in Yorkville; their departure forms the film’s ending. Christopher’s Movie Matinee was shown widely in high schools and received its first screening for a general audience on CBC television in April of 1969.