April 2014 Issue

April 2014

Canada’s Call Sheet

By Judith Klassen

Paint it Black

April 2014A young woman waiting at a train station sees a woman who looks exactly like her commit suicide by throwing herself in front of a train. This was the opening scene pitched by John Fawcett to Graeme Manson ten years ago. The journey to realizing what would eventually become their hit SPACE television series, Orphan Black, began with the question, “Who’s that girl?”

Initially inspired by groundbreaking films like Memento and Run Lola Run, Manson and Fawcett crafted a wholly inimitable world, shunning anything that smacked of familiarity. It took patience to see Orphan Black realized as a television series. The co-showrunners took their Canadian Film Centre beta- tested bible and package to myriad broadcasters on both sides of the border. Risky, expensive, and relying heavily on one actor, it took a change of leadership at BBC America for renewed interest to spark a Canadian co-pro and one of the most successful shows this country has seen. As for finding an actor who could convincingly play seven disparate women, the stunning, ferocious, and– according to Manson–completely grounded, Golden Globe-nominated Tatiana Maslany has wowed fans the world over. For its second season, premiering April 19th, Manson claims that while he, Fawcett, and the other writers, (including Ginger Snaps scribe Karen Walton) all push one another to create the most compelling product possible, they also feel a fierce responsibility to their growing fan base. From a glance at the season two trailer – they’ve delivered on that promise.

Orphan Black also stars: Maria Doyle Kennedy (Downton Abbey), Kevin Hanchard (Suits), Dylan Bruce (Unstoppable), Inga Cadranel (Kill Shot) and the fabulously funny Jordan Gavaris (Unnatural History).

Comedy & Mourning in Toronto

April 2014In the vigilante flick Death Wish angry architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) avenges his wife’s murder by cleaning up the mean streets of NYC—American style. Likewise, in the Canadian indie film Mourning Has Broken, an oddly heroic figure rages against the busted world that indirectly robbed him of his wife. Whereas Bronson’s Kersey is a man of big guns, fast fists and few words, Robert Nolan’s “Husband” is at his most menacing when attacking a lawn mower with a baseball bat, or ranting Network style to a movie theatre clogged with modern texting morons. In this darkly funny Butler Brothers’ urban road movie we ride along with Husband, a soulful, desperate man, as he grinds gears, battles a quiet rage at four way stops, disciplines a demon dad, and wraps a greedy mechanic in gaffer tape, all while checking off chores on his wife’s final to-do list. From the writing–to the outstanding cinematography (Michael J. Davidson)–to the many excellent comedic performances, Mourning Has Broken is an inspired piece of filmmaking. But it’s truly Nolan’s performance that burns down the house. Says Indiecan Entertainment’s Avi Federgreen; “I’d put Robert Nolan up against any Hollywood actor out there.” Possibly the most amazing thing about MHB is its price tag—winners of pUNK Films & The Royal’s 1K Feature Challenge, Brett and Jason Butler’s budget was literally $1,000. Using only natural light, and shooting in five days, the brothers pulled off an indie act of excellence, leaving the rest of us breathless, enthused, and reaching for our abandoned scripts and Cannon 5Ds.

The Ghost Hunters of Milton

April 2014Generation X-Files filmmaker Sean Cisterna may not be a true believer, but he has always had a fascination with paranormal concepts. When Cisterna first heard feisty ghost hunter Kim Hadfield and her Halton Paranormal group on CBC radio he raced to his computer to check them out on YouTube.

“Ghost hunting is a predominately male profession so right away I was intrigued,” says Cisterna, “And I felt like they had to do a lot of the same things I needed to do as a filmmaker, you know, if you don’t get a permit—you might have to hop a fence!” The title, 30 Ghosts is taken from the Arthur C. Clarke quote, “Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.” More fascinating than the paranormal is the normal: as a struggling rural horse farmer, and a heavily medicated single mother, Hadfield stoically endures hard times. From her dead- honest comedic outbursts (she cracks a great Justin Bieber joke) to a heartbreaking scene with her dying horse, Hadfield’s earthly presence is deeply felt.

In the spirit of cutting a small town girl a break, Cisterna shines an empathetic and celebratory light on Hadfield whose dream of having her own reality TV show looks like it just might come true!

Judith Klassen is a Toronto-based writer, comedian, filmmaker, and host of the celeb talk show Judecast.

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