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In its 35th year, the Toronto International Film Festival resumed its tradition of officially opening last night with a Canadian film. In fact, one might call Score: A Hockey Musical an ostentatiously Canadian film, jamming our national sport with the musical-comedy genre in the hopes of nailing that movie-going demographic who loves both hockey and musicals. Why, there must be dozens. But while TIFF continues to attract a who’s who of international filmmakers and stars (this year including Clint Eastwood, Danny Boyle, Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro, Helen Mirren, and Bill Murray), it can also serve more subtle forms of Canadiana. In fact, the fest’s Manitoba-produced content alone covers turf that is as specific as Winnipeg’s North End and as global as the concept of “micro-nations.” This year’s TIFF-Manitoba film slate includes: ❚ Negativipeg The title of Matthew Rankin’s 15-minute short film is what Burton Cummings termed Winnipeg after having a beer bottle broken over his head in a fracas in a North End 7-Eleven one late night in 1985. As a member of the film collective l’Atelier-National du Manitoba, Rankin’s past collaborations with Atelier members Walter Forsberg and Mike Maryniuk included Death by Popcorn, a sardonic 2005 mock-documentary about the demise of the Winnipeg Jets, which featured a comically bogus interview with the fan who threw a box of popcorn on the ice in Game 6 of the 1990 Stanley Cup playoffs, allegedly sealing the doom of the Jets’ momentum in their battle against the Edmonton Oilers. In this film, Rankin has a legit interview with the similarly demonized Rory Lepine, the guy who threw that beer bottle at Cummings after the singer-songwriter intervened in Lepine’s late-night altercation with a 7-Eleven store clerk. Where the irony was explicit in Death by Popcorn, it’s implicit in Negativipeg. Lepine is a volatile guy, quick to fight, who insists he had no idea the guy he clocked on the head was the city’s most successful recording star. (He subsequently served a four-month jail sentence.) Like Cummings, he has some bad things to say about Winnipeg, and like Cummings, he left town. But both he and Cummings came back. When the Cummings project was conceived, Rankin and Forsberg intended a satire along the lines of Death by Popcorn. But Rankin split off to do his own non-satiric take on the incident which examines both Cummings’s subsequent condemnation of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg media’s reaction to that renunciation (including Gordon Sinclair’s Bye-Bye Burton column in the Free Press) and Lepine’s reaction to his subsequent notoriety. While Cummings might have come off as a comic figure seen boosting the Winnipeg Jets in Death By Popcorn, Rankin says he’s sympathetic to both Cummings and Lepine in Negativipeg. “I think Burton reacted to the ‘7-Eleven Incident’ in exactly the same way that any Winnipegger would,” Rankin says. “In renouncing Winnipeg, he really just affirmed his belonging to it. Because that’s what Winnipeggers do! “It is a city of contradictions and sometimes, when we are affronted by those contradictions, it difficult to love in a coherent way.” “For Burton, this beer bottle seemed to contain the weight of all of Winnipeg’s negative energy, and all of us can understand that,” he says. “Sometimes, our city feels overly defined by its acts of nihilism. I think it has to be very complicated to be Burton Cummings in Winnipeg because he means so much to us. Unfairly, I think, we expect him to be a 24/7 goodwill ambassador to the rest of the planet. “But those winters are hard on us all!” Rankin’s film screens Wednesday, Sept. 15, at 9 p.m. at Bell LightBox 2 and Friday, Sept. 17, at 2:45 p.m. at Jackman Hall in the Art Gallery of Ontario.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/09/2010 (4353 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In its 35th year, the Toronto International Film Festival resumed its tradition of officially opening last night with a Canadian film. In fact, one might call Score: A Hockey Musical an ostentatiously Canadian film, jamming our national sport with the musical-comedy genre in the hopes of nailing that movie-going demographic who loves both hockey and musicals.
Why, there must be dozens.
But while TIFF continues to attract a who’s who of international filmmakers and stars (this year including Clint Eastwood, Danny Boyle, Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro, Helen Mirren, and Bill Murray), it can also serve more subtle forms of Canadiana. In fact, the fest’s Manitoba-produced content alone covers turf that is as specific as Winnipeg’s North End and as global as the concept of “micro-nations.”
This year’s TIFF-Manitoba film slate includes:
Negativipeg
The title of Matthew Rankin’s 15-minute short film is what Burton Cummings termed Winnipeg after having a beer bottle broken over his head in a fracas in a North End 7-Eleven one late night in 1985.
As a member of the film collective l’Atelier-National du Manitoba, Rankin’s past collaborations with Atelier members Walter Forsberg and Mike Maryniuk included Death by Popcorn, a sardonic 2005 mock-documentary about the demise of the Winnipeg Jets, which featured a comically bogus interview with the fan who threw a box of popcorn on the ice in Game 6 of the 1990 Stanley Cup playoffs, allegedly sealing the doom of the Jets’ momentum in their battle against the Edmonton Oilers.
In this film, Rankin has a legit interview with the similarly demonized Rory Lepine, the guy who threw that beer bottle at Cummings after the singer-songwriter intervened in Lepine’s late-night altercation with a 7-Eleven store clerk.
Where the irony was explicit in Death by Popcorn, it’s implicit in Negativipeg. Lepine is a volatile guy, quick to fight, who insists he had no idea the guy he clocked on the head was the city’s most successful recording star. (He subsequently served a four-month jail sentence.)
Like Cummings, he has some bad things to say about Winnipeg, and like Cummings, he left town. But both he and Cummings came back.
When the Cummings project was conceived, Rankin and Forsberg intended a satire along the lines of Death by Popcorn. But Rankin split off to do his own non-satiric take on the incident which examines both Cummings’s subsequent condemnation of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg media’s reaction to that renunciation (including Gordon Sinclair’s Bye-Bye Burton column in the Free Press) and Lepine’s reaction to his subsequent notoriety.
While Cummings might have come off as a comic figure seen boosting the Winnipeg Jets in Death By Popcorn, Rankin says he’s sympathetic to both Cummings and Lepine in Negativipeg.
“I think Burton reacted to the ‘7-Eleven Incident’ in exactly the same way that any Winnipegger would,” Rankin says. “In renouncing Winnipeg, he really just affirmed his belonging to it. Because that’s what Winnipeggers do!
“It is a city of contradictions and sometimes, when we are affronted by those contradictions, it difficult to love in a coherent way.”
“For Burton, this beer bottle seemed to contain the weight of all of Winnipeg’s negative energy, and all of us can understand that,” he says. “Sometimes, our city feels overly defined by its acts of nihilism. I think it has to be very complicated to be Burton Cummings in Winnipeg because he means so much to us. Unfairly, I think, we expect him to be a 24/7 goodwill ambassador to the rest of the planet.
“But those winters are hard on us all!”
Rankin’s film screens Wednesday, Sept. 15, at 9 p.m. at Bell LightBox 2 and Friday, Sept. 17, at 2:45 p.m. at Jackman Hall in the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Hauntings
Even when Guy Maddin doesn’t have a film programmed at TIFF, he still remains something of a fixture following his triumphant TIFF showcases such as My Winnipeg and The Saddest Music in the World.
Hauntings is a series of short counterfeit “lost” films Maddin and a few collaborators shot concurrently with his upcoming feature Keyhole only a few weeks ago. A selection of the Hauntings films are being screened as installation art at TIFF’s new Bell Lightbox headquarters, which officially opens Sunday, Sept. 12.
“A film can summon before our eyes, like ghosts invoked from the beyond, performances from the past, performances by actors no longer with us, in settings changed forever,” Maddin writes in his official statement on the films. “Out of concern that the sensational TIFF Bell Lightbox might be too spanking new for the sad ectoplasms that really should be a movie venue’s luminous principal denizens, I have offered to haunt the joint.”

“Noah Cowan, the guy in charge of the new building project, commissioned these things,” Maddin says. “He’s installing a great show involving the consecration of what TIFF honchos consider the ‘Essential 100,’ their filmic canon. My Hauntings are designed to show in the unconsecrated ground in the gallery beside these essentials.”
Maddin says he’ll be at the “official cocktail party bottle-smashing launch” but says he doubts “anyone will even be able to see the projections at this opening.
“The light will be splashed all over visitors instead of screens, but this is typical of all openings – more about the people than anything else, and that’s fine with me.”

A scene from the Manitoba-produced documentary How to Start Your Own Country, which is being shown at TIFF.

How to Start Your Own Country
This documentary on “micro-nations” is the only Manitoba-produced feature film at TIFF by virtue of the fact it was produced by local production company Buffalo Gal Pictures in association with Toronto-based director-producer Jody Shapiro.
One of Guy Maddin’s frequent collaborators as a producer and cinematographer, Shapiro, has nurtured this project since before working on My Winnipeg.
Country was commissioned by the Documentary Channel (which likewise commissioned My Winnipeg), which has now transmogrified into the CBC’s Documentary cable station. Shapiro was diverted from the project to work on My Dad is 100 Years Old and My Winnipeg.
“After My Winnipeg, I told Guy and Isabella I have to stop working with you for a little bit because I need to make my film.”
“It’s definitely got some interesting characters but stylistically, it couldn’t be farther from a Guy Maddin film,” Shapiro says of the movie, which examines how a group of special individuals simply declared their own countries, for reasons that range from the ideological to purely practical.
“I’d never heard of people who wanted to start their own countries,” Shapiro says. “When I asked around, nobody had heard of it but when I researched around, there are a lot of people doing it … everything from a kid in his parents’ basement working on a computer, saying that he’s declared the basement his own land and he’s the king … to Prince Leonard of the Hutt River Principality who has 75 square kilometers of land and claims that he has legally seceded from Australia.”
Screenings are Saturday, Sept. 11, 5:15 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 12 at 2:45 p.m. and Wdnesday, Sept. 15, at 2:30 p.m., AMC theatres.

Warchild
Filmmaker Caroline Monnet goes two for two with this experimental short about a young man on a journey and reflecting on his life between a backdrop of wilderness and desolate cityscapes. Monnet debuted her first short film IKWÉ, at the festival in 2009.
Warchild screens with a selection of other shorts on Sunday Sept. 12 at 2:30 p.m and Monday, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. at Jackman Hall in the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Open Window
Cam Woykin is originally from Calgary and is currently working on a degree in film production at York University in Toronto. But in the interim, he lived in Winnipeg. His dramatic short, distributed by the Winnipeg Film Group, depicts family tensions on the boil during a backyard birthday party, all documented in a single continuous shot.
Screens Tuesday Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesday September 15 at 4:30 p.m. at Jackman Hall in the Art Gallery of Ontario.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Our man at  TIFF
Free Press movie writer Randall King will be filing daily reports from the
Toronto
International
Film Festival.

Matthew Rankin
A scene from Guy Maddin’s Hauntings.
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