Gettin' weird with Canada's Top 10 movies
Is Asphalt Watches the strangest film to make it into the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual top 10 for Canada? “I would say yes,” cowriter-director Shayne Ehman deadpans in a call to the Straight from his home in Thunder Bay.
Animated in Adobe Flash by Ehman and creative partner Seth Scriver, aka the Delusional Brothers, Asphalt Watches is an alternate-universe road movie pitched somewhere between Adventure Time and a melatonin overdose, only weirder.
Ironically, Ehman views the film as “a borderline documentary in a very twisted way”, since the entire production is based on a cross-Canada hitchhiking trip the two friends made in 2000, beginning in Chilliwack and “jotting down and doing character studies along the way.” Anybody who's spent time on the road in Canada will recognize the film's parade of grotesqueries as only slightly removed from reality.
“It was kinda more like a journal that we intended to turn into a zine,” Ehman says. “I’d say, in 2006, we really started buckling down and working on it as a feature. We thought we were gonna finish it in three months, and then seven years later it was done.”
The $25,000 movie ended up taking the best Canadian first feature film award at TIFF 2013. It gets its Vancouver debut today (January 17) at the Cinematheque—where Ehman used to work as a janitor—as part of the 13th annual Canada’s Top 10 festival.
The only other film with a local connection on this year’s Quebec-dominated roster is Kevan Funk’s “Yellowhead”, which screens as part of the shorts program on Sunday (January 19).