September 18, 2019

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Lights, cameras, action at annual Manitoba TIFF party

TORONTO — In past years, the Manitoba Party at the Toronto International Film Festival has been used as a launch pad for Winnipeg films playing at the fest.

But in the absence of Manitoba product at this year's TIFF, the party, sponsored by Manitoba Film & Music and On Screen Manitoba, served as a symbolic launch pad for MFM's acting CEO Rachel Rusen Margolis, who took over the job from Carole Vivier, who just retired after 26 years from the statutory corporation in charge of developing film, television, video and music projects in the province.

Clad in an unmissable silver sequinned blazer, Margolis took to the shmoozing requirements of the job like a seasoned pro, facilitating meetings like she's been doing it all her life in the Drake Hotel's open, breezy Sky Yard.

Margolis attended the TIFF party as a guest multiple times in her former job as entertainment lawyer, but she says her new position has demanded a shift in focus.

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TORONTO — In past years, the Manitoba Party at the Toronto International Film Festival has been used as a launch pad for Winnipeg films playing at the fest.

But in the absence of Manitoba product at this year's TIFF, the party, sponsored by Manitoba Film & Music and On Screen Manitoba, served as a symbolic launch pad for MFM's acting CEO Rachel Rusen Margolis, who took over the job from Carole Vivier, who just retired after 26 years from the statutory corporation in charge of developing film, television, video and music projects in the province.

Rachel Rusen Margolis, Acting CEO of Manitoba Film & Music. (David Spowart photo)

Rachel Rusen Margolis, Acting CEO of Manitoba Film & Music. (David Spowart photo)

Clad in an unmissable silver sequinned blazer, Margolis took to the shmoozing requirements of the job like a seasoned pro, facilitating meetings like she's been doing it all her life in the Drake Hotel's open, breezy Sky Yard.

Margolis attended the TIFF party as a guest multiple times in her former job as entertainment lawyer, but she says her new position has demanded a shift in focus.

"As an entertainment lawyer in Manitoba, I’ve always been producer-centric and so I’ve attended the festival to represent and show support for my clients," she says.

Since taking the job, she's committed to a wider perspective. "Having that 360-(degree) view allows me to do the job in a very authentic and transparent way to make sure that every decision I make, I can validate.

"So it’s actually very heartwarming to be here, because I know everybody in this room, practically, and it’s very welcoming."

Margolis says she is keenly aware of the challenges ahead, even as the film industry expands in Manitoba, with $269 million of production clocked last year.

Manitoba Film and Music CEO Rachel Rusen Margolis and Kenny Boyce, manager of film and special events for the City of Winnipeg. (David Spowart photo)

Manitoba Film and Music CEO Rachel Rusen Margolis and Kenny Boyce, manager of film and special events for the City of Winnipeg. (David Spowart photo)

"We’re piercing the ceiling of what we’ve accomplished so far and we’re going to do it even better," she says. "My mandate is to focus on infrastructure and labour force, while continuing to grow our film and music industry.

"We’re going to have to be able to keep up," she says. "We have some outstanding crews and we want to build more, and the natural evolution of that is to have more stage spaces, so I’m very excited about having those conversations."

Demonstrating some hometown savvy, Margolis arranged to mix up the usual appetizer offerings at the party with samplings of Jeanne's cakes brought in for the occasion from the Notre Dame Avenue bakery — a source of great amusement for former Winnipeg actor/writer Jonas Chernick.

"I grew up on Jeanne's cakes, obviously… I had it every birthday," Chernick says. "I love it so much. It has so much nostalgia and I think it’s delicious.

"But anyone you try to introduce Jeanne's cake to, who did not grow up eating it, they think you’re crazy," he says, laughing. "They don’t get it. 'What is this?' They think it's weird and flavourless and the cookie is stale, and I say, 'Yeah that’s the point!'"

From left, ex-Winnipegger Corey Marr, Jonas Chernick and Mark Gingras, executive producer of James Vs. His Future Self. (David Spowart photo)

From left, ex-Winnipegger Corey Marr, Jonas Chernick and Mark Gingras, executive producer of James Vs. His Future Self. (David Spowart photo)

Chernick has just wrapped production on the fourth season of the CBC series Workin' Moms, playing a new "Russell Brand-type character," and later this year will be hitting to road to première a sci-fi-infused, time travel/romantic comedy he wrote and produced titled James Vs. His Future Self. Chernick also stars in the film, which will be released theatrically before getting a berth on Crave TV.

The Toronto International Film Festival wraps up on Sunday.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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