‘There is something interesting about this city’

University of Winnipeg alumni setting tone for film in Winnipeg

Despite the vast computer-generated images, digital enhancements and fictional storylines seen in film, there must be an aspect that makes a film relevant and connective to its audience, which is something Tapeworm showcases throughout. These aspects are its shooting location, subject matter and darkly humorous approach.

Debuted at the Vancouver International Film Festival in September, Tapeworm arrives at Cinematheque on Nov. 14, and filmmakers Milos Mitrovic and Fabian Velasco, who are University of Winnipeg alumni, hint at the seriousness of their film.

University of Winnipeg film instructor Milos Mitrovic (left) and Fabian Velasco co-directed the upcoming feature film Tapeworm. // Supplied image

“When making this film, we were heavily influenced by filmmakers that produce anticomedy, movies that are depressing in nature about people that are left behind in society,” Mitrovic says.

“We were really intrigued to tell stories of characters that are forgotten in cinema today, and (we wanted to use) Winnipeg as the prairie backdrop for these people.”

Velasco says “it is a movie about how abstractly mundane Winnipeg is, and how it can be tragic and miserable.”

Shot entirely in Winnipeg on 16mm film, the movie is centred around five characters: a hypochondriac, a failed comedian, a loner and two naive stoners. Their lives intertwine, and each character freely comes in and out of each other’s stories as they seek to escape their tragic lives.

Described by the Winnipeg Film Group as a “dark comic gem,” the filmmakers point out several reasons for highlighting characters in deprived situations.

“Characters who are more down-and-out and feel forgotten are the most interesting,” Mitrovic says.

“It makes for a more interesting plot for characters who are unconventional. In today’s cinema, you are going to get characters that have very interesting, superficial lives, and I think that it is important to show there are other characters.”

Velasco agrees and says “this film presents an easy way for audiences to form a connection with those characters in that humane aspect.”

As an independent filmmaker, Mitrovic points out that making films is not easy financially, but he encourages film enthusiasts to pursue their dreams as well as they can.

“We made this film with the generous support of the Winnipeg Film Group and the Winnipeg Arts Council, but we predominantly self-funded,” Mitrovic says.

“Our passion and excitement to make a movie was more important than the money we had to spend. (So, we want to say to) the people (who) are passionate but feel that they are not getting funding or support, to just make their own movie.”

With gear-rental places like Real Time Audio Video Lighting and artist groups available on meetup.com to help indie filmmakers, Mitrovic adds “make (your) vision, even without the funding behind it and tell the cool stories about Winnipeg, because the world needs to hear more about Winnipeg.

“There is something interesting about this city, and there are a lot of important people here with great stories to tell.”

Cinematheque is located at 304-100 Arthur St., and tickets can be purchased at winnipegfilmgroup.com/product/tapeworm/.

Published in Volume 74, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 14, 2019)

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