CanFilm Five: Programmer and Filmmaker Dion Conflict

“CanFilm Five” is the Canuxploitation blog’s ongoing guest column, which brings together prominent filmmakers, bloggers, critics and programmers to discuss their most loved offbeat Canadian films.

Dion Conflict is Toronto-based film historian/film maker/programmer. From its beginning showing film prints in the back room of Toronto Queen Street haunt The Rivoli , his CONFLICT ARCHIVES celebrates its 20th year of putting neglected celluloid back on the screen with eclectic programs that have entertained audiences not only in Canada, but also the United States, Estonia, and Finland (where one of his screenings clobbered Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE). Dion is the man behind many film screening series including Hunka Junk, Midweek Mondo Madness, Trailer Trash and, most recently, SHOCK AND AWE, the all-night Grindhouse film fest showcasing 16mm and 35mm film prints unseen on any big screen in Canada in decades. The latest SHOCK AND AWE marathon screens at Toronto’s Revue Cinema on June 23, 2012 and will include SLEEPAWAY CAMP, RAPPIN’, HORROR HOSPITAL and more (see Dion’s blog for more details and ticket info).

Dion is also the founder of the world’s first 24 hour online streaming video superstation (Paxels) which not only included 50% original content and ran endless short films, music videos, interviews, films, seminars and sports. Currently, Dion is developing his feature film script (a comedy) and speaking with other production companies and producers. He notes, “If I could have ideal casting for the project, it would have Boris Kodjoe, The Situation, Ron Jeremy, Tyler Medeiros, Canadian Ben Johnson, and Men Without Hats on the soundtrack.”

 Dion sez:

As a kid, and still today, one of my favorite cartoons is DAVY AND GOLIATH, the claymation religious cartoon with young Davey (wearing his checkerboard shirt which looks like it was made from a tablecloth at a Big Boy Restaurant) and his dog Goliath. They usually would get into some adventure where something goes wrong. Goliath would kinda egg the kid on, and his sister Sally would snitch. Davy’s Dad would go “Did you learn something Davy?” Davy would reply and God would also be thrown in the equation.

You don’t need to watch DAVY AND GOLIATH to learn some valuable life lessons, or listen to a Play-Doh dog egg you on to get in trouble. All of the most important lessons I have learned in life have been from Canadian cinema. Here’s my top five most valuable life lessons from Canadian film.

LE PARTY (1991)
When I went to Montreal to screen “Dion Conflict: Trailer Trash”, I told the audience that the best Canadian film ever was from Quebec was LE PARTY, a statement that made the audience both gasp and laugh at the same time.  The late Pierre Faladeau made this trashy little opus about a travelling troupe of “entertainers” doing their annual show at a Quebec prison–including a drag queen singing about his/her mother, a magician (who complained about working for the CBC and a fibreglass factory), a Francophone country singer belting out a song about penetration, a comedian named Leo with terrible jokes, and not one, but two strippers (and one fake leopard skin/rug).  While the show goes on, there’s plenty of copulation, contraband drug use, and crying.  The band “Rapid Fire”, looking like a Trooper cover band, plays on while the prison officials look away.  LE PARTY is so friggin awesome, I could talk about it endlessly, but I would rather you see it and agree with me that it’s the best Canadian film ever. 

LIFE LESSON LEARNED: If you have to get thrown in the clink in Canada, INSIST it is in Quebec.

It ran endlessly on First Choice Pay TV (before the crappy merger with Superchannel, and not the new one) and I would watch it every time.  Chris (Wally Wodchis) ends up getting shipped off to “Camp Bottom Out” where owner Hardy Bassett (a fairly sauced Foster Brooks) considers selling until his grand-daughter convinces him to give the summer camp a chance.  Can Mr. Skinner and his goofy son Chadwick sabotage the camp’s success in order to turn the camp into a shopping mall?  ODDBALLS is filled with tons of gags (complete with goofy sound effects) as Chris and the boys are endlessly looking to get laid.  Funny because most of them look like they are not old enough to have a wet dream (and it’s an all-boys camp).  You find yourself groaning so much at the gags, that it ends up being somewhat funny. ODDBALLS might be the Maury Povich BABY DADDY offspring of MEATBALLS.

LIFE LESSON LEARNED: Not everyone in Southern and Central Ontario will sell their land for shopping malls or condos.

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CanFilm Five: Producer and Writer Greg Klymkiw

“CanFilm Five” is the Canuxploitation blog’s ongoing guest column, which brings together prominent filmmakers, bloggers, critics and programmers to discuss their most loved offbeat Canadian films.

Greg Klymkiw is an Ontario-based writer, producer and journalist. He programmed a Winnipeg rep cinema specializing in cult movies and served as a film buyer for small-town movie theatres (including tons of drive-ins). As the Director of Marketing for the Winnipeg Film Group, he developed the brand of the Winnipeg style and masterminded the marketing that turned Guy Maddin’s TALES FROM THE GIMLI HOSPITAL into an international cult sensation. He produced John Paizs’s early shorts, Maddin’s first three features (GIMLI, ARCHANGEL and CAREFUL), the Berlinale Best Feature Film Award Winner THE LAST SUPPER and, among others, the notorious BUBBLES GALORE. For 13 years he was the Producer-in-Residence and Senior Creative Consultant at Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre. He is currently producing, screenwriting, consulting and script editing. As a film journalist, his writing appears at: Klymkiw Film Corner, Electric Sheep, Canadian Film Corner, Daily Film Dose and the legendary Joe Kane’s “Phantom of the Movies Videoscope”. Greg sez:

I’ve always loved genre pictures and in one way or another they have all inspired my life and career in terms of trying to make movies that defied expectations (while also fulfilling them). What’s kind of cool, is that I could probably name about thirty of so Canadian films that delivered the goods in this respect, but for the sake of brevity, here are my Top Five Most Inspirational Canadian Genre Films (in ALPHABETICAL order):

Yeah, yeah, I know, full disclosure and all that; John Paizs is one of my best friends and colleagues. However, I’m also a worshipper and student of the Paizs Method. I have seen CRIME WAVE so many times that I stopped counting after 50 viewings (not including just watching and re-watching my favourite scenes). The movie never fails to delight and inspire me. The combination of sun-dappled and lurid colour, the clear joy and love for B-movies, the brilliant use of narration, humour that is always absurd, perverse and just plain laugh-out-loud funny are just a few things that place this movie in the top five of this list, but frankly, also in the Top Five of all Canuckian movies. Importantly, Paizs’s humour is reverential and NEVER tongue-in-cheek. I learned more about the art of actual filmmaking from Paizs and CRIME WAVE is a huge part of that.


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CanFilm Five: Toronto Filmmaker Ryan Noel

“CanFilm Five” is the Canuxploitation blog’s ongoing guest column, which brings together prominent filmmakers, bloggers, critics and programmers to discuss their most loved offbeat Canadian films.

Ryan Noel is a Toronto-based filmmaker and owner of Retro Films Entertainment. Building upon the success of his award winning gangster mockumentary THE NOTORIOUS NEWMAN BROTHERS, Ryan is currently crowdfunding his latest dark comedy web series MANUEL LABOUR through Kickstarter about the misadventures of a pair of beer-swilling junk collectors. For this installment of CanFilm Five, Ryan offers up his top five trashiest characters in Canuxploitation film:

For most, the 1980s were a creative rollercoaster. Every high was accompanied by a seemingly lower low and Hollywood was no exception. This was the decade that gave birth to the sequel, saw Coca-Cola acquire Columbia, capitalized on movie merchandising and spawned the VHS revolution.

Yet for me there was no greater high than the comedy films of the 1980s, and it was Canadian heavyweights such as John Candy, Rick Moranis and Dan Aykroyd who were dominating the silver screen with their unique sense of Northern humour.For an aspiring filmmaker like myself, growing up in Toronto in the ‘80s provided the perfect blend of patriotism and inspiration and allowed me to believe that I could one day represent this great nation’s twisted sense of humour. So in light of my trashy new web series MANUEL LABOUR, here’s my top 5 trashiest characters in Canadian cinema:

5. Bob and Doug McKenzie, STRANGE BREW
This film is a rite of passage for any Canadian filmmaker and one that I can’t seem to escape. Perhaps it’s because I live a few blocks away from the “Elsinore Brewery” or the fact that the film gets funnier and more ridiculous upon every viewing. Whatever the reason, Bob and Doug McKenzie are two hosers that are definitely trashy enough to make the top 5.

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CanFilm Five: MONSTER BRAWL Director Jesse Thomas Cook

“CanFilm Five” is the Canuxploitation blog’s ongoing guest column, which brings together prominent filmmakers, bloggers, critics and programmers to discuss their most loved offbeat Canadian films.

Jesse Thomas Cook is a Collingwood, Ontario-based writer, director and producer of independent horror films, including SCARCE, MONSTER BRAWL and EXIT HUMANITY. For this instalment of CanFilm Five, Jesse offers up his top five Canuxploitation films shot in the Georgian Bay region:

I live in Collingwood, Ontario – formerly a sleepy manufacturing hamlet that has now transformed into a bustling sea and ski resort town of 20,000 people. It is a Great Lakes community situated on the shores of Georgian Bay and shadowed by Blue Mountain and the Niagara Escarpment. And ever since Renny Harlin and Geena Davis stormed into town in 1996 to shoot scenes from their follow-up to CUTTHROAT ISLAND, a deplorable Hollywood action film called A LONG KISS GOODNIGHT (that would even make Canadian trash cinema blush), I was hooked on making movies in the local area. Nearly half the town was cast as extras in a Santa Claus parade scene, in what amounted to millions senselessly spent for just under 30 seconds of footage that made the final cut. Needless to say Mr. Harlin showed us firsthand the virtues of going ultra-low budget for genre filmmaking.

Our history of shooting in the area began with a slasher short called FORLORN (2005) and has since spanned three features with three more on the way. A little research into local film lore and we find that Georgian Bay and the towns and wilderness that dot its coastline have been used as locations for several piles of Canadiana film trash, including our very own 2007 abominable cannibal-torture porn effort SCARCE (shameless plug).

From Hollywood genre tripe like SKINWALKERS, which turned the nearby brew-town of Creemore, Ontario into the site of a werewolf turf-war, to Disney holiday dud ONE MAGIC CHRISTMAS, which showcased Meaford, Ontario as the stomping ground for the creepiest angel ever (Harry Dean Stanton, who haunts kids in their bedrooms wearing a cowboy hat and a big ’80s duster), to more epic regional portrayals like the use of the Bruce Peninsula for scenes from the Oscar-winning film QUEST FOR FIRE, Georgian Bay and its surrounding terrain have been featured in a variety of films, but mostly Canadian schlock.

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CanFilm Five: THE CORRIDOR Screenwriter Josh MacDonald

“CanFilm Five” is the Canuxploitation blog’s ongoing guest column, which brings together prominent filmmakers, bloggers, critics and programmers to discuss their most loved offbeat Canadian films.

Josh MacDonald is the writer of THE CORRIDOR, which will be released by IFC Midnight (U.S.) and D Films (Canada) March 30th, In Theatres and On Demand. For this CanFilm Five, Josh presents his top five “Surprise-Stirrings of Patriotism While Watching Movies.”  Take it away, Josh:

Growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the 1980s, I was a movie-struck kid who—like most Canadians, I figure—predominantly consumed American pop culture. Out here on the East Coast, I felt pretty far away from where movies actually got made, and pretty far away from seeing my own nation, province, city, or self reflected on the big screen. (I also spent a lot of time finding movies like MON ONCLE ANTOINE or JESUS OF MONTREAL in the Foreign Film section of my local video store: now what kind of cultural schizophrenia was that, I ask you?)

Discovering unexpected Canadiana (or better yet, “Maritime-ishness”—a word I’m now coining) in my movies has always given me a happy jolt, and it’s an experience which usually time-stamps itself onto my movie-going grey matter.Recently, I had this out-of-left-field, knee-jerk “hey, it’s us!” moment while watching WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. Tilda Swinton’s character has a wanderlust wish to escape her maternal bonds because, well, her baby son is an asshole. Just before Tilda’s Bad Seed can deface her study-room, we see it decorated in a wallpaper collage of world maps, the most prominent of which is a close-up of the Province of Nova Scotia (its shape sorta resembling a lobster-in-profile). My heart high-fived itself.

I’m hoping that GAME, a short horror movie I’ve recently finished writing and directing, also might trigger some memories in Canadians who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s. As GAME is only seven minutes long, I do want to hold back some surprises about it, but let me say it tries to invoke a generation’s televisual understanding of our hinterland outdoors… I’ve got my fingers crossed for GAME to make it into some festivals later this year, and I’ve also got my fingers crossed that—should you check it out—it’ll startle unexpected patriotism out of you, too, for our True North, Strong and Free.

Top 5 Surprise-Stirrings of Patriotism While Watching Movies

The first time I experienced this joy-buzz recognition was while watching a sold-out screening of GHOSTBUSTERS during its first-run at Halifax’s Oxford Theatre. I was too young to know that Ivan Reitman or Rick Moranis were Canadians, but when Moranis’ Louis Tully held his apartment party and told his guests, “This is real smoked salmon from Nova Scotia, Canada: $24.95 a pound! Only cost me $14.12 after tax, though,” the entire Oxford Theatre blew up in cheers and laughter. I can say with confidence this line didn’t provoke a reaction anywhere near as strong anywhere else on the planet, but in Halifax we couldn’t hear the movie again until Moranis wondered, “Okay… who brought the dog?”

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