Friday 27 April 2018

DEATH BY POPCORN: THE TRAGEDY OF THE WINNIPEG JETS - Review By Greg Klymkiw: Hot Docs 2018 Hot Pick - REDUX series

Little did Burton Cummings know that the WHA Jets
would be gone with the wind, forever.

Death By Popcorn: The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets (2006)
Dir. Matthew Rankin, Mike Maryniuk, Walter Forsberg

Review (sort of) By Greg Klymkiw

In honour of the Hot Docs 2018 25th Anniversary, ace programmer/critic Kiva Reardon put together a selection of Canadian documentaries in a series entitled "Redux". When she asked me to recommend Canadian documentaries from the city of Winnipeg, I put together a long and detailed list of films I loved from my beloved Winter City where I'm currently residing and helming the legendary Winnipeg Film Group as its Executive Director.

From that list, which I might publish sometime since it contains fairly extensive assessments of said films, Kiva chose Matthew Rankin, Mike Maryniuk and Walter Forsberg's classic piece of prairie post-modernism, Death By Popcorn: The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets. The film, of course, targets that horrible time when Winnipeg lost its beloved team. However, the team is back and actually in the midst of playoff fever.

For me, the real tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets was not losing the team, but rather, that the Winnipeg Jets joined the NHL and that furthermore, the beloved WHA disbanded. (The other tragedy was the decimation of the historic Winnipeg Arena in favour of a cold, corporate, ugly new arena in downtown Winnipeg which was built on the spot which once housed the beloved, historic Eaton's department store at Portage and Donald. But, I digress).

In any event, I'll just reprint Kiva's capsule note in the Hot Docs 2018 program book which quotes me extensively. I do this because I am, like most Winnipeggers, in need of a nap.

Here it is:

SUGGESTED for Redux by Greg Klymkiw, executive director of the Winnipeg Film Group, Death by Popcorn is an unsung Canadian tragicomedy. "A collaboration," writes Klymkiw, "twixt the inimitable Matthew Rankin (heir apparent to John Paizs and Guy Maddin), Mike Maryniuk (who just had a world premiere at Rotterdam) and Walter Forsberg (a film archivist with uber-artistic flair)," the found-footage documentary explores the star-crossed romance between Winnipeggers and their ill-fated Jets. Containing footage from the local news and Jets games, and including familiar faces like Wayne Gretzky and Gary Bettman, Death by Popcorn is a postmodern portrait of corporate greed and Winnipeg itself. Though a sell-out at the Winnipeg Cinematheque upon its release, Death by Popcorn seemed destined to suffer the same fate as the NHL team it followed, as copyright issues plagued subsequent screenings. Now, come relish the highs and lows of the film billed as "sadness on ice."


Death By Popcorn: The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets, plays at Hot Docs 2018 in the Redux series.