Province a power broker Movie moguls tout endless opportunities at TIFF's Manitoba Night party
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This article was published 10/09/2018 (1731 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO — Only two movie titles appeared on the poster and lanyard passes to the Manitoba Night party at the Drake Hotel Sunday night: the feature film Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy and the short film Accidence.
Yet dozens of movies, either in the can or in the planning stages, were the buzz at the annual Toronto International Film Festival fete sponsored by Manitoba Film & Music and On Screen Manitoba.
One of the people doing the buzzing was arguably the biggest mogul in the room, Cassian Elwes, producer of Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy, the Winnipeg-lensed drama starring Kristen Stewart as the woman who impersonated the persona of the made-up author/sexual outlaw in the film that serves as TIFF’s closing-night gala.
Elwes had shot a film in Winnipeg before, the low-budget 2016 horror thriller The Midnight Man, as well as the Keanu Reeves thriller Siberia. Elwes said, with the help of Jennifer Beasley, head of development for Buffalo Gal Pictures, he saw the potential in Winnipeg to shoot an international story with locations substituting for San Francisco, Tennessee, Cannes and Paris.
“I found it amazing,” said Elwes.
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Guy Maddin and fraternal filmmakers Galen and Evan Johnson showed up for their TIFF short film entry Accidence, along with their producer Juliette Hagopian.
The film is a one-take (but not really) variation of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, focusing on an apartment building where all manner of strange behaviours are unfolding in one complex spectacle.
Galen acknowledges it’s pretty much impossible to follow all the action in one sitting, but it is a film meant to be seen on the big screen.
The team, including Hagopian, were also at work at TIFF trying to secure funding for a planned feature film, sparking an intense consultation with City of Winnipeg culture czar Kenny Boyce, who celebrated the milestone of his 20th TIFF.
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If TIFF turns up the hype on some films, other projects come out of the province with few people noticing.
After being tipped by Tangent Animation producer Ken Zorniak, Phyllis Laing, the executive producer at Buffalo Gal Pictures, confirmed the local animation house just released the animated feature Next Gen on Netflix on Sept 7.
A story about a young girl’s friendship with a robot, with voice work by the likes of Jason Sudeikis and Michael Peña, the film was budgeted in the US$30-million range and employed 60 people in Winnipeg and 100 more in Toronto.
Laing also revealed Buffalo Gal is also in mid-shoot on the horror film We Summon the Darkness facilitating the return of Alexandra Daddario to the city after her work here on Nomis opposite Henry Cavill and Ben Kingsley.
(While Daddario has played the distressed damsel before in films such as Bereavement and Texas Chainsaw 3D, this movie offers her the rare opportunity to play the terrorizer and not the terrorized.)
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Winnipeg director Gary Yates showed up at the Manitoba Party, but departed relatively early, and you couldn’t blame him. Yates has been busy shooting films for Cartel Pictures Canada, which just opened an office in Winnipeg earlier this month.
Yates said he has shot seven films back-to-back — including a romance titled Pearl in Paradise in Fiji, mostly for the commercial cable network the Hallmark Channel.
The director, who launched the con-artist comedy Seven Times Lucky at TIFF in 2004, says the average viewership of a Hallmark film — on first viewing alone — is in the range of 7 million.
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The Don McKellar-directed film Through Black Spruce is an Ontario project, but it does star Manitoba actress Tina Keeper, who also has a producer credit on the adaptation of the Giller Prize-winning Joseph Boyden novel.
Tina and sister Joy hit the Manitoba Night party where Tina asserted the movie, about a Cree girl’s search for her missing sister, was appreciated at its Saturday public screening for the urgency of its story pertaining to missing and murdered Indigenous women.
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Winnipeg filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy also appeared at the party to tout her shot-in-Hamilton sci-fi film Level 16, which has just been accepted into Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, later this month, to be followed with a berth in the Vancouver Film Festival in October.
The Toronto International Film Festival wraps Sunday.
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In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.