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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Toronto Stories: The film

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Billed as Four cameras — Four Stories — One City, Toronto Stories is an especially rare kind of film produce here in Hollywood North because it actually takes place in Toronto. We’ve all walked through a film shoot and suddenly felt like we were some place else because of the Chicago police cars, New York Cabs or American flags. I’ve often remarked that I think one of the reasons why Toronto has such difficulty defining itself is due, in part, to the city never getting to play itself, but rather it’s the “stunt double” for American cities. This is changing slowly, with feature films like 2005’s Lie With Me and now Toronto Stories. Canadian literature has a long tradition of setting narratives in this city — hopefully these new independent films are a sign of that industry catching up.

This Friday Toronto Stories starts a week-long exclusive run at the Royal Cinema (check the Facebook group here). We’ll have a number of tickets to give away on Wednesday night at our Fifth Anniversary Party. We’re not sure how we’ll give them away, but it will likely involve the telling of a Toronto story.

Opening on the chaos and confusion of Pearson International Airport’s arrivals lounge, a young immigrant boy arrives in Toronto, alone and not speaking a word of English. Before the authorities have a chance to figure out where he’s from, he disappears and an amber alert is issued that reverberates through the city. Meanwhile, the boy finds his way into the centre of town, where he bears accidental witness to a covert mission of two kids to find the infamous Cabbagetown Monster, a budding romance, and an escaped ex-con reconnecting with an old friend – all the while managing to remain undiscovered despite the widespread search for him. Finally, a once established man fallen from grace and now inhabiting the streets and alleys around Union Station spots the lost boy, but when he approaches the authorities his mental illness causes the credibility of his discovery to be questioned.

An engaging tale in the tradition of New York Stories, Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth, and Paris, Je t’Aime, Toronto Stories is a feature film in four chapters bound together by one interwoven narrative and set in Toronto. The four-part screenplay is written and directed by Aaron Woodley (Rhinoceros Eyes, Tennessee), Sook-Yin Lee (Shortbus, Unlocked), Sudz Sutherland (Doomstown, Love, Sex and Eating the Bones), and David Weaver (Siblings, Century Hotel).

 Toronto Stories stars Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption, Ally McBeal, Terminal City), Sook-Yin Lee (Shortbus, 3 Needles), Samantha Weinstein (Siblings, Big Girl), Tygh Runyan (Normal, Snakes On A Plane), K.C. Collins (Poor Boy’s Game, Doomstown), Joris Jarsky (Blindness, The Incredible Hulk), Lisa Ray (Water, Bollywood Hollywood), Carly Pope (Young People F**king, The French Guy), and introduces Toka Murphy as the mysterious ‘lost boy.’