Waterloo Day Eve, Friday June 17
Kitchener, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
About a month ago, I got a bee in my beret about organizing a public screening of the 7-hour film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (USSR 1966) on Saturday, June 18th.
June 18 is the anniversary of the 1815 Battle, the namesake of Waterloo the County, Region, City, Township and University. Two years ago, I wrote a couple of columns that proposed making this an annual event:
Waterloo, Waterloo, Waterloo
The film carries a special resonance in 2022, with war once again engulfing Russia and Ukraine. So does the historical connection of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada with the theme of peace.
The hope was, or is — I haven’t abandoned the idea entirely — that showing a great work of cinematic art from the USSR when it encompassed both Ukraine and Russia, based on the work of a writer from Russia in Tsarist times who was a committed pacifist, could help us cope with this deplorable war and its effects on our lives and livelihoods in 2022, and think about how to restore peace.
I just wish I’d thought of this earlier: all the places I contacted about the possibility of hosting an all-day film screening were booked, and the turnaround was just too quick for all the potential partners.
For the Waterloo Day idea, there’s always next year. There will still be room for a meaningful local/regional complement to the “Celebrate Canada” program run by the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, from National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21), to Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24) and Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and culminating with Canada Day on July 1st.
We can only hope that the current special relevance of War and Peace, the novel and the Soviet-era film epic, will no longer apply when we reach June 18, 2023. But these are art works for the ages, part of the inheritance of all humans, living and yet to be born. They warrant this kind of attention in the same way Shakespeare’s plays deserve a world-class annual festival.
Meanwhile, as the fighting continues in Eastern Europe, doing something along these lines here in Waterloo Country might still be worth a try. I’m sending this out to see if anyone is interested in being part of an impromptu “One Epic Film, One Community” initiative over the summer ahead.
The film was originally released in four parts, over a year and a half. My idea was to make it an all-day event, but it can also be watched in installments. I subscribe to the Criterion Channel, so I can watch it, and host screening parties with guests, anytime I like. The MUBI streaming channel is another option; both are relatively affordable and offer a free trial period. KPL and Idea Exchange have copies; there’s also a YouTube version.
If you’re interested in being part of something like this, let me know (email@example.com; 519 880 5454).
To help get things going, I just started a Home Range Film Club, “an association formed to carry on with the film screening, discussion and appreciation activities of the Multicultural Cinema Club / Commons Studio from 2008 – 2020, including the Local Focus Film Festival, Multicultural Film Screening Series, History of Film Club, Friday Movie Show & Tell and a Kitchener NFB Club project.”
There’s a Facebook group. I made it private, so only members can see who’s in the group and what they post. So far, there is one one member: me.
Home Range Film Club Project #1: Launching an open-ended “One Epic Film, One Community” initiative encouraging and facilitating watching the 7-hour Soviet era film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (USSR 1966) over the summer of 2022.
There’s no particular agenda. I’d like to watch the film again, and think about its relevance, especially as a great work of cinematic art. And I know that I’ll enjoy it more, and get more out of it, if I do this as part of a group of Waterloo Country friends and neighbours.