Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dear Toronto, I Love You, Please Stop Sucking?

So I already mentioned earlier today that Torontoist is going out of business because it's not as lucrative as the US cities that have blogs on the Gothamist network. What I said about that relates, in large part, to this:

Last night I was at the premier of Toronto Stories at the Royal Cinema on College Street. This was kind of a big deal: Toronto Stories was shot in Toronto, by Torontonians about Toronto and (as far as anyone can tell) is the first fictional feature film with the word Toronto in the title. This was the first public screening of the film. Bruce McDonald was there. Richard Crouse was there. But there is a very good chance that you weren't. There were, by my estimation, 100 or so empty seats for the first screening.

Now I haven't lived, or even been, to every city but I think that if this had been Halifax Stories, or Winnipeg Stories, or Sudbury Stories that the theatre would have been packed and, very likely, it would have been a major, red carpet event with the Mayor in attendance and weeks of local media interest. I have heard many Quebecers say that English Canada needs to keep Quebec in confederation because we have no culture of our own. That's not entirely true. We have our own culture, English Canada (in case you don't go to Canadian films, read Canadian books, watch Canadian television, listen to Canadian music) has its own unique voice. It's own distinct culture, but most English Canadians are not a part of it, most
English Canadians are really participants in American culture, while still claiming to be proudly Canadian.

English Canada has it's own stars, it's own directors, it's own artists and musicians and writers. It operates as a community - by the time you go to 5, 6, 7 or so events you'll start noticing that you keep running into the same people over and over: That the audience for many of these events is made up of people who are themselves - actors and filmmakers, writers and musicians and, unlike the Hollywood set in the US, you can be a member of that community just by walking through the door and introducing yourself.

Anyway, enough ranting: Toronto Stories is a collection of four very different short stories about lives lived in Toronto, all tied together by a common thread. It is running at the Royal Cinema on College St. through Dec. 18 and will be playing in other cities across Canada in 2009: You've missed the premier but you can still go and see Torontonians tell stories about Toronto. Don't go see it out of obligation though. Go see it if you believe in Toronto and in Canada. Go see it if you think our city is unique and has stories worth telling in its own right.

p.s. Look for my name in the "Special Thanks to" part at the end of the credits: A few years ago I walked through the door and introduced myself. = )


Anonymous said...

Richard CROUSE was there?!?!

Had I known there would be that sort of star power present, then ... :^)

I got introduced once to Bruce MacDonald; he never acknowledged my existence again.

What you refer to as a "community" could also be considered a "clique."

Chances are, they like making movies for each other, which could explain the limiting drawing power to those outside their rarified circle.

Yet if we don't go genuflect before their work, it's because we're bad Canuckistanis or t-dot-ers?

I'll go see it because it's worth taking a chance on seeing how others interpret the same space that defines the boundaries of my day-to-day world.

But to support the "community"? Don't think so.

Justin Beach said...

As long as you're going. I'll refrain from pointing out some of the glaringly obvious problems with the rest of your rant. =) said...

I wish I could go to these events. One day I plan on it, but with my situation going anywhere even to T.O. may as well be to the Arctic for distance and ability at this time. I would love to support Canadians, all Canadians and show my support by shaking the hands of those Canadians who keep Canada alive. One day I hope to join in the pleasure of the company of many Canadians and their unique talents.

historyjen said...

" can be a member of that community just by walking through the door and introducing yourself."

For real, man. I love my indie music set (v. broadly defined). It's really just about going out and supporting, and saying hello, and thanks. They'll say hello and thanks back, and they will remember you. What a wonderful city.

Anonymous said...

Saw it.

2.5 stars out of four.

Generic human interest stories, awkwardly acted, set in Toronto.

Some decent cinematography, but did I get a fresh perspective on my adopted city? Nope.

There was a lot more than 100 empty seats last night. Perhaps the word-of-mouth isn't so good -- or, as I suggested, such films aren't made for wider audiences.

In any event, thank you so much for not dealing with the glaringly obvious problems in my previous rant.

Kathleen Molloy said...

It's so easy for Torontonians to throw around the C word. Here is west Quebec we don't have such a cavalier attitude as to how we use the word "culture". We can't afford to be so smug here in western Quebec because everything is riding on who can get away with what when the culture flag is hoisted. Regardless of which culture is being upheld, culture is always comes into play. I love it and hate it.

More than that,I love to hear Torontonians whine about the Centre of the Universe - makes me homesick.

Kathleen Molloy, author - Dining with Death