Thursday, June 01, 2006

Blockbuster Canada: Parts I & II

On 31 March 2006, I wrote in my old hand-made blog:

"I recently started writing a paper for my Canadian Foreign Policy class assessing and arguing in favour of the government's strategies in regard to the protection and promotion of Canadian culture, and it has motivated me to write a letter. Last summer while living in Ottawa, Jennifer and I rented from the Blockbuster on Rideau Street. I do not have a Blockbuster membership, and have long been a proponent of my local video rental stores (Sydney Video, and Video Difference in Halifax). While browsing the Rideau Blockbuster on a hot summer day, I noticed The Red Violin was shelved under 'foreign film'. For those of you who don't know, The Red Violin is a co-production of Canada, Italy and Britain, but was written and directed by Canadians Fran├žois Girard and Don McKellar. I believe the CRTC would deem it a Canadian film. I then noticed that other Canadian films are shelved with the foreign films. I had never been motivated enough to complain until now. Here is the e-mail I sent to customer.servicecanada@blockbuster.com yesterday.

Hello:

I have noticed while browsing the shelves in a number of Blockbuster Canada locations that Canadian films are shelved in the Foreign Film section. I realize that Blockbuster is an American company and in the USA, Canadian films would be shelved in this section. However, I question why Blockbuster Canada considers films created in this country to be "foreign". Is there some sort of shelving policy that designates where Canadian films are to be shelved? If so, where can I find such a policy?

Thank you for your time.


I received a reply just shy of 24 hours later, which reads as follows:

Greetings Lisa,

Thank you for taking the time to write. Blockbuster Canada proudly supports Canadian films. We do not give direction to put Canadian films into the foreign language section. If we could get the name of the film, or at least the store where you found this, we will correct this error.

Canadian films are not pulled together separately from all other titles, as we proudly feel that all customers should browse these titles, not just customers wanting to rent Canadian specific movies.

Customer Service
Blockbuster Canada


This isn't a completely unsatisfactory response, but i do intend to follow up. When I have the time, I plan to go to the Blockbuster on Quinpool Road and check out their foreign film section. While I don't think they need to go so far as to have a section devoted to Canadian film, it would be nice if they somehow acknowledged them (a Canadian flag sticker on the case, for example). I would also still like to know who deems a film "foreign" (ie. the store manager or the distribution company). And if we're going to get technical, all those big Hollywood movies that they advertise in the windows should be in the foreign film section seeing as we don't live in America."

Last weekend I finally got around to going to the Blockbuster on Quinpool Road, and today I sent this response to Blockbuster:

Hi Jezrin:

Thanks for your quick response to my initial e-mail.

The first store where I noticed a Canadian film in the foreign section was at the Rideau Street branch in Ottawa. They shelved The Red Violin in the foreign section though it was written and directed by Canadians and is a co-production of Canada/Italy/Britain. I am now living in Halifax, so I visited the store on Quinpool Road to see if their shelving was similar. The only Canadian film I noticed in the foreign section was Les Invasion Barbares. Though this is considered a Canada/France co-production, it represented Canada when it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

I don't think it's necessary that your stores have a Canadian Film section, but it would be nice if Canadian films were somehow acknowledged (a Canadian flag sticker on the case, for example). I would also still like to know how the individual stores deem particular films "foreign". For example, at the store on Quinpool Road, it seemed like all the foreign films were also foreign language films. Does this mean a British film (the Monty Python films, for example) are not foreign? Is it up to the store manager or does the distribution company specify if they'd like the film shelved a particular way?

Thanks.