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This article was published 4/9/2019 (422 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The moviegoers are queueing, the red carpets are unfurling and the movie stars are glamming it up in anticipation of the 2019 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.
But Winnipeg filmmakers? Officially, they’re a no-show. Manitoba Film & Music, which hosts an annual TIFF party on the first Sunday of the fest, does not have any specific Manitoba-made films to tout this year. Their invitation to the party, instead of highlighting any specific films, is simply an offer to network and shmooze.
Yet there will be a Manitoba presence at the festival, if you know where to look.
Rachel Shane, producer of Motherless Brooklyn
The Winnipeg-born Shane almost fell into film by accident. She was on track for a legal career when she took a film course at the University of Manitoba with George Toles and found herself seduced by the movie medium. A later encounter in Mexico led to her taking a job on the set of The Mask of Zorro, and Shane subsequently found herself neck deep in the movie biz, a gig that has taken her to the Oscar ceremonies as the executive producer of the 2016 best picture nominee Hell or High Water.
For the past two years, Shane has been the chief creative officer of MWM Studios, a position that led her to the producer job on the TIFF special presentation Motherless Brooklyn, Edward Norton’s adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s best-selling novel about a private eye with Tourette syndrome out to crack the case of his murdered mentor (Bruce Willis). Norton also stars and directs.
"Edward has been putting this together for many years," Shane says.
"We were given the script and as soon as we read the project, we fell absolutely in love with it," she says. "He just did a terrific job with the material itself and the end product has been incredibly exciting for us.
"For me, it’s great to come home and attend the festival every year," she says. "I love to discover international films and filmmakers and local fare. The audiences at the festival in Toronto are really terrific."
Shane says Motherless Brooklyn, though set in the ’50s, is a timely work.
"The issues are timeless and relatable in today’s world. A lot of what we try to accomplish is telling relevant stories from perspectives that aren’t being told," she says.
Shane may be back with more works. An upcoming production for MWM is The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a dramatic adaptation of the 2000 documentary of the same name, with Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield set to star as Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, the duo whose televangelist empire imploded more than 30 years ago with accusations of corruption, malfeasance and infidelity.
Matthew Rankin, director of The Twentieth Century
The Winnipeg-born Rankin, now based in Montreal, has been a frequent guest of TIFF in the short film programs, with works such as the 2017 short Tesla World Light and the 2014 short Mynarski Death Plummet. His feature film debut The Twentieth Century is a visually bold fantasia based on the early years of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.
"This is not a Kevin Sullivan-style period piece," Rankin says, referring to the producer of more soothing TV shows such as Road to Avonlea and Anne of Green Gables. And he’s not kidding; set just before the dawn of the twentieth century, the film shows a young Mackenzie King (Daniel Beirne) struggling with his workboot fetish in "the fleshpots of Winnipeg" and competing for future prime minister status in Toronto, proving his mettle playing whack-a-mole with live baby seals.
While studying at McGill University, Rankin discovered King was a diarist like himself.
"He kept a diary from 1893 until three days before his death," Rankin says. Rankin related to the future PM on the film’s Instagram page: "Finally, someone who was very nearly as maudlin, repressed, congenitally lonesome, Oedipus-demolished and pathologically self-pitying as me."
The sheer strangeness of the film put Rankin’s movie in TIFF’s Midnight Madness program, usually reserved for films in the horror genre, but Rankin is happy to be there.
"Typically, a film like this might end up in the Discovery program, where they can get a little lost," he says. "Midnight Madness is a program I’m new to, but I’m very excited to be there."
The Toronto International Film Festival runs to Sept. 15.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.