Toronto On My Mind
Our first stop took us to the Varsity Theatre and Edison and Leo, the first stop-motion feature ever produced in Canada. That aforementioned fun fact was spouted by the director, the producers, and the 27 other members of the cast and crew standing at the front of the theater for the Q&A following the film. "This is the first stop-motion feature ever produced in Canada." "As the first stop-motion feature ever produced in Canada..." "Seeing as this was the first stop-motion feature ever produced in Canada..." And so on, until I was left to ponder this whiff of defensiveness for the rest of the Q&A and the entire walk back to the hotel. I wondered if this well-honed publicity talking point that is "Edison and Leo was the first stop-motion feature ever produced in Canada" was supposed to settle in the reviewers' psyche and then translate in the reviews to either:
a) "We're not freaking Tim Burton, and we didn't have any The Nightmare Before Christmas money, so get off our back if it sucks."
b)"Um, we're Canada, so we're not used to doing things first. I mean, there's poutine. And there's Bryan Adams. But other than that, we're perfectly happy with our nine silver medals in Beijing. Don't blame Canada for just being Canada. Now who wants some poutine?"
Come on, Canada! You can do better than that! Either way, the first stop-motion feature ever produced in Canada was the perfect opening night film for TIFF: it was weird and quirky, it was Canadian, and it was made for less money than the filmmakers would have liked and released, in the end, "against the odds." Yay, film festival buzzwords!
Edison and Leo tells the story of George Edison (Powers Boothe), a 19th-century inventor who also happens to be a shameless lothario and a collector (read: robber) of precious cultural artifacts. When he poaches a sacred text belonging to a mystical tribe that dwells on the outskirts of western Canada (told you it was weird), they retaliate by engaging George and his family in a years-long battle that leaves his wife dead and his son so full of electrical current he must wear rubber gloves and risks killing anyone he so much as touches. I told you that I told you it was weird. Think about it.