‘Tower’ Paints a Gloomy Portrait of Toronto Through One Man’s Existential Crisis

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A city is often very different things depending on whose viewpoint you’re looking at. In Tower, the latest film from Toronto film distribution company College Street Pictures, urban life with its often-attendant malaise is presented through the eyes of 34-year-old Derek, whose life appears to be a futile series of starts and stops.

I recently reviewed the film, set in Toronto, for blogTO, and also had the chance to interview director Kazik Radwanski – already acclaimed for his previous short films – and producer Dan Montgomery of MDFF Films. Tower is their debut feature.

What was your intention when you set out to make Tower?

To capture a certain type of crisis that maybe is hard to pinpoint, the sort of vague mindspace that I felt is the only way I could articulate it. Does the character know where it’s coming from, and does the audience? What exactly is going on? It’s still, I think, hard for some people to watch the film. I just became fascinated with a character with a dilemma that was totally created by them; there’s no sort of outside circumstance that was putting them into trouble.

You’ve called it “a strange beast of a film,” and you did say it’s about exploring a hidden part of Toronto. Tell me about that.

I’ve had a few conversations about it with different people, like Canadians from other cities, and a few filmmakers from Montréal, [about] it maybe being like a sick anthem for Toronto? In North America, I think Toronto is the fourth or fifth biggest city, but out of all of them, it’s definitely the safest. It seemed like Toronto could be the epitome of a certain kind of Western city. A total middle ground but a big city, if that makes sense: but is it a happy city?

I still feel like there’s alienation found here. Early on, I was sort of describing it as Toronto’s answer toTaxi Driver. At the same time I feel like the sort of Taxi Driver story – of big city violence – isn’t as relevant anymore.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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