Organizers of a film project to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, backed by $10.5 million in taxpayer money, are still confirming venues to show it to Canadians after the collapse of their plan to haul a giant dome theatre across the country.
Sesqui Inc., a Toronto-based non-profit that got the biggest slice of cash from the $210-million Canada 150 fund, had expected corporate Canada and the provinces to pay for a “dome village,” a model of which was unveiled with fanfare last spring by Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.
The 20-minute live-action film Horizon has been completed using new 360-degree technology that projects it onto a dome surface. The film drew on lively scenes from every part of the country, including images of a caribou herd that took two weeks to capture.
Horizon features 90 scenes filmed in every province and territory, with images of 386 Canadians skating, singing, rapelling, boating, dancing as well as wildlife such as belugas and caribou,
But the corporate cash for the “dome village” never arrived, and only one province – Ontario – has signed on, with a $2-million contribution. For that money, Ontario gets a seven-community tour starting next month in a smaller dome theatre – 17 metres in diameter instead of 25 metres – that’s being trucked between communities on two tractor-trailers.
For the rest of Canada, Sesqui is booking time and space in existing planetariums or domed theatres, or is scheduling “virtual reality” events in which Canadians can see the film individually, using special goggles, as well as view some ancillary material.
The Ontario viewings, using an 80-person dome, are all locked in, between June and August in seven cities. (The originally planned national touring dome would have seated up to 160 people, and appeared in dozens of communities.)
Working out details
Sesqui Inc. premiered the film last week in the Telus Spark dome theatre in Calgary, to some 600 people. But officials are still working out details of opening dates or theatrical runs at five other fixed-dome theatres in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Sudbury, Ont., Halifax and Edmonton.
Showings are also being worked out at four much-smaller inflatable domes, each seating no more than 30 people, in Prince George, B.C., Ottawa, Fredericton and St. John’s.
The touring program is scaled back significantly from the original $25-million project proposed back in August 2015, during the federal election campaign.
The project was approved for $9.5 million in funding just days before the October 2015 election, and was topped up by $1 million in March last year by the Liberal government, which announced the project’s travelling giant dome as an integral element. No other project has drawn as much money from the Canada 150 Fund, the pot of cash that pays for federally sponsored sesquicentennial events.
‘We had to downsize the project…