Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 17/7/2019 (265 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Danny Schur, the co-author of Strike: the Musical, fought for years to get a film made of the historic drama he co-authored with Rick Chafe, memorializing the events of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.
Now that the film, renamed Stand!, is completed, Schur will be premièring the film in Toronto in September during the Toronto International Film Festival.
The pesky fact that the film wasn’t accepted by TIFF programmers for a berth at the fest isn’t going to stand in Schur’s way.
"I have to respect the artistic decision of TIFF," Schur says. "They choose what they choose. There’s only so many films that can be shown.
"Our perspective is: It’s the biggest film festival in the world and we’ve got to be there. We know we have an audience for it."
To that end, Schur and the film’s producers have booked a repertory cinema in downtown Toronto to screen the film. The Royal Cinema on College Street will screen Stand! on Sept. 9 for its world première, and for the next two days after that. On opening night, they will have the film’s stars, including Gregg Henry (who plays the doomed Mike Sokolowski) and director Robert Adetuyi, fly in from Los Angeles to represent the movie.
"Air Canada is going to make a lot of money from us, that’s for sure," Schur says.
While a few blocks from TIFF’s epicentre on King Street, the Royal is located in Toronto’s Little Italy and that ethnic colour suits Schur just fine.
"There’s also a Ukrainian community in that area too, and a Ukrainian constituency is just really handy," he says. "We’ll be going after all the ethnic communities that are represented in the film, and all the screenings will be open to the public."
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Schur said the fact TIFF is a magnet for the film industry was simply too big an opportunity to pass up.
"Our goal is distribution, so we need to have as many opportunities as possible to get the industry to see it at the biggest film festival in the world," he says.
"We’ve got a big fat story to tell, and we’re just coming to tell it. For us, it’s opportunity knocking very loudly, so you don’t want to miss the biggest and most important film festival — arguably — in the world."
Schur says Stand! will premiere in Winnipeg on Sept. 24 with a gala screening at the Centennial Concert Hall followed by a theatrical run soon after.
Randall King Reporter
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.
In going to TIFF through the back door, the Stand! producers are employing a renegade tactic used by producer (and current Winnipeg Film Group executive director) Greg Klymkiw in 1988, when he took Guy Maddin’s feature debut Tales from the Gimli Hospital to Toronto for TIFF, despite the fact had not been accepted into the festival.
“I had the benefit of the film being screened just prior to TIFF at the once-formidable Montreal World Film Festival where numerous important American film critics, including Boston’s Gerald Peary, saw the film and loved it,” Klymkiw recalls.
“Of course, many of them were surprised when they arrived at TIFF, expecting to recommend it to other critics and discovering that it was not playing in Toronto at all.
“This allowed me to hold private screenings in the TIFF Industry Centre at a time when it was much easier to hijack TIFF facilities for films not actually playing the Toronto Film Festival. I’m not so sure how easy it would be to do something like that today within the much more rigorous gate-keeping at TIFF,” he says.