In the maze of office blocks, shopping malls and connecting walkways that make up downtown Calgary, four young office workers make a bet to see who can last the longest without going outdoors. So far they’ve endured 28 days, but delusions are starting to set in: one (Fabrizio Filippo) keeps seeing a comic-book superhero, another (Last Night director Don McKellar) has begun stapling motivational messages to his chest. Funny, neurotic and surreal, this black comedy actually conceals a serious point: a meditation on the dehumanising urban environments in which we choose to spend our days.
Talented young independent director Gary Burns shot most of waydowntown in digital video on real locations. The results make for a fast-paced, edgy comedy about modern urban angst. The pace is breakneck, like a ’30s screwball comedy, yet the film’s insights are wholly contemporary. waydowntown won the best Canadian feature film award at the Toronto Film Festival, beating out bigger name productions from major directors like Denys Arcand, Robert Lepage and Denis Villeneuve. 2000. Colour. Dolby stereo. 83 mins. Plus Toy Soldiers, director Jackie May’s darkly humorous short about cereal box toys and the things collectors do to get them.1999. Colour. 7 mins.