By Sarah Klein
Winnipeg is being showcased in front of an international audience at the Toronto Film Festival this week in a flick titled “Negativipeg.”
The film looks at the story of Rory Lepine, who one night attacked legendary singer Burton Cummings with a beer bottle at a Winnipeg 7-Eleven.
Although the film includes Cummings’ name, it’s really a story about Lepine. “I want people to discover him, and to know him in his complexity,” said Matthew Rankin, the film’s creator. “He’s no angel and make no mistake, you would not want to get into a fight with him. But Rory is also a good guy. He too, like Burton, is an image of Winnipeg, and he is complex. There is something tragic about Lepine because he is forever chained to this one incident for the rest of his life.”
The title Negativipeg comes from Burton Cummings himself. After the incident, Burton began to speak negatively about his hometown and engaged in a war of words with Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gordon Sinclair Jr. over Winnipeg. It was in this context that Burton condemned Winnipeg as a city beyond redemption and dubbed thee “Negativipeg.”
Rankin is a TIFF veteran, who has had two other short films in the festival, 2006’s Où est Maurice?, co-directed with Alek Rzeszowski and 2008’s Cattle Call, co-directed with Mike Maryniuk.
The film’s first Toronto screening was Wednesday night and another will follow Friday afternoon.
A screening in Winnipeg will be held Thursday, October 21 at Gimme Some Truth — The Winnipeg Documentary Project, as part of the Cinematography in Documentary Series.
— With files from On Screen Manitoba