This December marks the 40th anniversary of the Winnipeg Film Group and we are planning some exciting programming over the next year.
Earlier this year, I was in touch with Steve Gravestock at TIFF about collaborating in some way at their 2014 festival to mark this occasion and was very excited to hear that he was in the process of organizing a new 2K restoration of John Paizs’ 1985 Winnipeg masterpiece of Prairie post-modern cinema, Crime Wave. I have vivid memories as a child of my dad taking me to a screening of Crime Wave at Cinema 3 on Ellice Avenue (where I purchased a stale chocolate bar covered in spiderwebs that nearly cracked my baby teeth).
I have always looked back on this moment as the main reason I became an avid cinephile, and later a filmmaker myself, and I think I am not alone in saying that it was and still is a huge influence on me. It was also my introduction to local actor Neil Lawrie (who plays the insane Dr. Jolly) who at the time was a lead actor in many plays put on by Shakespeare in the Park, which I avidly attended just to see his frightening acting and strange facial expressions. Since then, the film has fallen into distribution limbo and has become a cult legend with no proper release other than a cheap out-of-print VHS from the late 80s (former WFG Distribution Coordinator Greg Klymkiw recalls this entire history in great detail on his website), so it was very exciting for me personally as a fan to hear that TIFF was planning on restoring this film – as well as a staff member at the Winnipeg Film Group to know that this wonderful gem from our history was being carefully preserved and honoured with a screening at TIFF to a new generation of cinephiles.
Earlier this year, Jonathan Ball had released his book “John Paizs’s Crime Wave”, an in depth examination of the film that situates it in within the landscape of early Canadian and Manitoban cinema. We had a sold-out screening/book launch at Cinematheque in February of Crime Wave and two early Paizs short films. Both Jonathan Ball and John Paizs as well as many cast and crew of Crime Wave (including Eva Kovacs and Dr. Jolly himself!) were in attendance.
To celebrate the screening of Crime Wave at TIFF, we saw this as a great opportunity for our organizations to partner on presenting the Toronto Book Launch of John Paizs’s Crime Wave and WFG Alumni Party. The event was held prior to the TIFF screening on September 12th on the gorgeous rooftop bar of the Beverly Hotel and was very well attended by fellow Crime Wave fans, TIFF programmers, former Winnipeggers, former and current WFG staff and of course Jonathan Ball and John Paizs. Thank you to the Beverly Hotel for hosting us and providing such a delicious spread which those who attended are still raving about!
We look forward to bringing the restored copy of Crime Wave to Winnipeg for a screening soon!
Thank you to TIFF and the University of Toronto Press in co-presenting our Crime Wave Book Launch & WFG Alumni Party.
Cinematheque Programming Director
Winnipeg Film Group
(204) 925-3456 ext 114