Given its name, one can understand how Canadian Music Week is generally is seen solely as a music festival. While that is the primary drive, from conferences and awards ceremonies to its ample film spectacle, there are actually many more facets to the longstanding extravaganza running March 10-14.
At that, the film portion is far from miniscule. A two-day event taking place on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13, it offers many premieres, historical favourites and narratives running at two-hour intervals.
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Opening at the National Film Board of Canada Mediatheque, Friday’s selection of films hones in on two classic rock musicals. At 7 p.m. Walter Hill’s 1984 vision Streets Of Fire kicks off the evening with its portrayal of a mercenary (Michael Pare) who struggles to liberate his rock star love (Diane Lane) from a gang of bikers fronted by Willem Dafoe. See if you can catch the multiple musician cameos. Not to be outdone, 1974 rock-opera Phantom of the Paradise ups the ante with its glam-rock take on the legendary Phantom Of The Opera saga courtesy of Brian De Palma.
Shifting over to the Royal Cinema for its day-long engagement, Saturday’s program offers and endless spectacle of docs, be they genuine or mockumentary, commencing at 1pm with the international premiere of Seperado!, a film by/revolving around Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys as he makes the connection between his Welsh ancestry and South American homeland.
Equally stunning and unusual, 3 p.m.’s showing of Michelle Gun Elephant Thee Movie by Shuichi Banba captures the tragic life and tale of its namesake band as they rose from blues-punk garage band to Japanese stars in the 1990s and early naughts.
Seeing its North American introduction, the film pays homage to deceased guitarist Futoshi Abe. Taking the middle 5 p.m. slot is Shane Meadows’ fictitious comedy Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee, focusing on a laughable roadie who must live up to unattainable promises made to a rapper in order to realize his dreams of grandeur.
Generating the most anticipation, however, are the festival’s closing documentaries making their Canadian debuts and offering in-depth looks into musical revolutionists The Doors and John Lennon.
Narrated by Johnny Depp, Tom DiCillo’s feature-length When You’re Strange focuses the life and career of seminal ’60s rockers The Doors, boasting new interviews with insiders and rare unearthed footage. Says Depp, “When You’re Strange is a meticulously crafted ode to one of music’s greatest ensembles ... Jim has been resurrected to remind us that he remains one of the most significant poets to ever grace a stage, while the band behind him kept the music alive, adding fuel to an already raging ride into history.”
Closing out the film portion of CMW comes highly-anticipated feature Nowhere Boy, a film by revered photographer Sam Taylor-Wood.
In her hour-and-a-half opus, Taylor-Wood recounts the early struggles of then-fledgling Beatles founder John Lennon. The film delves into his abandonment as a youth and focusing in on key events that led him to engage music and eventually form one of the world’s most successful rock acts.