You've got to be pretty fearless to live in this city and make a film called Let's All Hate Toronto. If anyone's up to the task, it's Albert Nerenberg, the Trailervision.com founder and filmmaker, who's literally made a career out of in-your-face, gonzo reportage. The film, which follows eye-patch-sporting co-director Rob Spence (aka Mr. Toronto) across the country waving a Toronto Appreciation Day banner, opens at Hot Docs this weekend. See listings, this page, for details.
What's up with Mr. Toronto's eye patch?
He really is blind in one eye. We didn't include the backstory because it distracted from the story. What's funny is that everyone thought somebody had punched him at the previous city.
So it's a myth that the UN called Toronto the most diverse city in the world. Who knew?
Somebody, somewhere invented this. We discovered the Ryerson professor who claims [that it's a myth]. That's one mystery. Another is how the city can have the disastrous Toronto Unlimited marketing campaign and then hire the same people behind it to create the Live With Culture campaign, another incomprehensible, mixed-metaphor campaign; they have posters of people dancing with books. The first thing you learn in art is not to mix your metaphors.
One of the biggest audiences of the film will be Torontonians, right?
The film's done with a lot of affection for T.O. We toured the country collecting venom and could have made a hate flick. But during editing, I couldn't help but contrast what people were saying with my own experiences. I'd be working on a section about how nasty and cold Toronto was and I'd be having coffee at the Drake and treated so well by the staff. A Somalian immigrant cab driver would tell me he had no clue why people would hate Toronto. That forced us to go deeper.
What don't you like about the city?
We're still uptight. But I think the tightness used to be driven by culture and now it's driven by money. People worry about making their rent and paying their bills. If I hear that phrase "Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods" one more time I'm going to barf. As if other cities don't have neighbourhoods. It's a real estate ploy to inflate housing prices.
You were hijacking press conferences way before anyone else.
What offends me is that people say we're like This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Still, where else could you put an actor next to the prime minister without getting shot? With all due respect to our political system, you can horse around at these events without terrible consequences. I've been detained by the RCMP and, instead of coming away thinking they're a bunch of jerks, I've always come away thinking they're good at assessing threats. They could tell we were buffoons rather than terrorists pretty quickly.
Why didn't you want the film reviewed?
It's not us, it's Hot Docs. Programming director Sean Farnel said we should let the audience have first crack at the film.
Additional Interview Audio Clips
Why Nerenberg left out the prairies
If Nerenberg didn't live in T.O. he would live ...
What Nerenberg likes best about T.O.