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Film and the City

The Urban Imaginary in Canadian Cinema

Examining fourteen Canadian films produced from the late 1980s onward, including Denys Arcand’s Jésus de Montréal (1989), Mina Shum’s Double Happiness (1994), and Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg (2007), Film and the City is the first comprehensive study of Canadian film and “urbanity”—the totality of urban culture and life as refracted through the filmmaker’s prism. Drawing on insights from both film and urban studies and building upon issues of identity formation long debated in Canadian studies, Melnyk considers how filmmakers interpret and employ the spatiality, visuality, and orality of urban space and how audiences read the films that result. In this way, Film and the City argues that Canadian narrative film of the postmodern period has contributed to the articulation of a new, multifaceted understanding of national identity.

250 pages

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Urban Imaginary in Canadian Cinema

The City of Faith: Navigating Piety in Arcand’s Jésus de Montréal (1989)

The City of Dreams: The Sexual Self in Lauzon’s Léolo (1992)

The Gendered City: Feminism in Rozema’s Desperanto (1991), Pool’s Rispondetemi (1991), and Villeneuve’s Maelstrom (2000)

The City Made Flesh: The Embodied Other in Lepage’s Le Confessional (1995) and Egoyan’s Exotica (1994)

The Diasporic City: Postcolonialism, Hybridity, and Transnationality in Virgo’s Rude (1995) and Mehta’s Bollywood/Hollywood (2001)

The City of Transgressive Desires: Melodramatic Absurdity in Maddin’s The Saddest Music in the World (2003) and My Winnipeg (2006)

The City of Eternal Youth: Capitalism, Consumerism, and Generation in Burns’s waydowntown (2000) and Radiant City (2006)

The City of Dysfunction: Race and Relations in Vancouver from Shum’s Double Happiness (1994) to Sweeney’s Last Wedding (2001) and McDonald’s The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess (2004)

Conclusion: National Identity and the Urban Imagination




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