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From the Drain to the Screen: How David Cronenberg Made Underground Film Accessible

What do two men sitting in a bathtub and the politics of Canadian film distribution have in common?
From The Drain
By  · Published on April 22nd, 2020

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A deadly plant lurks out of sight, biding its time for the perfect moment to strike as two fully clothed men sit in a bathtub grieving their psychological scars. Think Waiting for Godot meets The Happening. David Cronenberg‘s second short film, From The Drain, was created while the director was a 24-year-old student attending the University of Toronto. But for anyone to see the picture, it needed a way to be distributed. Which, in late 1960s Canada, just wasn’t possible.

Frustrated with the lack of access and government funding afforded to “underground” films, Cronenberg, along with a handful of local filmmakers including  Bob Fothergill, co-founded the nonprofit Canadian Filmmakers’ Distribution Centre in May of 1967. The “more or less co-operative” organization was set up to establish a collective of young filmmakers intent on testing the boundaries of the medium and finding audiences for underground cinema. The organization, modeled after the filmmakers’ co-op in New York, still operates today. The CFMDC continues to promote alternative Canadian film culture in Toronto, including works from historically underrepresented communities.

Here’s an interview where Cronenberg and Fothergill discuss underground cinema and the mission of the CFDC:


Who made this?

The above clip is a portion of a 1967 interview for the CBC Toronto program The Day It Is, which covered current affairs. If someone could track me down a dupe of Cronenberg’s corduroy blazer that’d be great.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.