The Best Truck Stop in Town.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer/Animator Danielle Sturk
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
The stories my aunts and uncles told at family gatherings evoked strong images, smells, and vague memories from my early childhood of the abattoirs, truckers, great home-cooked meals and my Mémère and Pépère’s hard work ethic. The cacophony of the siblings' voices, one outdoing the other’s story, is a strong memory for me and gladly, is the powerful basis of this film. A unique time and place now gone along with my grandparents is a stiff reminder of the impermanence of all things. I wanted to put a marker on this time and place with my people.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I want people to FEEL connected to themselves and to their loved ones, to their aunts and uncles and the family members they may have lost touch with, and to be curious about the ones they know little about. Because they all have stories to tell.
I want people to think about community, about family. Appreciating some of the tough stuff that makes us who we are. How it is all so meaningful, and ironically so completely insignificant in the end when we are gone.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
My god. It started with me recording my aunts and uncles at family gatherings as research to a potential film, to considering a dramatic script to an experimental film. The work shifted into its current form through many years of consideration, exploration of styles and play. The problematic of the place of El Toro not existing in life nor in a photograph pushed me to re-create, and in its recreation, the freedom to interpret, to remember in my own way, inspired by everyone else's memory. Now it is optioned as the basis for a fictional 6 part one-hour television series that I am writing, in development with Radio Canada in French.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Many in Manitoba remember the place, and if not, remember the Blizzard of 1966 or the Canadian vs Russia hockey series. Most everyone has a diner experience, so the film is very relatable and accessible, and yet the visual treatment is fairly complex and layered, using so many visual styles. The audio and visual treatment seem to keep the audience deeply engaged in the story.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Fabulous feedback from people of diverse backgrounds and ages. Audience response has been wonderful as people relate to the audio treatment of the film to their own visceral experience of chaotic but warm family parties where aunts and uncles speak over each other, laugh, and bullshit well into the night.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I am hoping to raise interest in the film, to connect with other artists who work in multiple formats like I do, to connect with the audience as well as festival programmers so that this little film can be shared with a greater number of people. Hopefully sold to a broadcaster, as I have done with my previous work.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I am hoping that this unique film reaches a wide audience. I feel that although the film is situated in a specific time (1960's) and place (industrial St-Boniface, Manitoba), it has a very wide potential audience: anyone who has lived in a small town, or eaten at a diner, or worked in agriculture or trucking, has a place at a stool in this diner! I am looking for a sales agent or a distributor as well as festival programmers to program the film to their international audience.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like this film to inspire other artists to mix media in their work. I would like the film to touch people. I would like the film to receive a prize! A small film with a big heart - would be nice to have the artistry that is deep-fried into this work be recognized!
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
How valid or meaningful is personal subjective memory to history? How important is it to remember the past and what does that do?
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
One of my contributors, renown Canadian visual artist Diana Thorneycroft who drew the illustrations for El Toro, is now exploring the world of animation in her next project, due to the collaboration on El Toro.
I am in development and writing my 6 part x one-hour television series for Radio Canada based on El Toro.
Interview: April 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
The Best Truck Stop in Town.
Director: Danielle Sturk
Producer: Danielle Sturk
Writer: Danielle Sturk
About the writer, director and producer:
DANIELLE STURK began her career as a dance artist and choreographer, performing nationally and internationally from 1986-1997. As a filmmaker, her combined films d’auteur have been screened at over thirty film festivals and broadcast on most major Canadian English and French networks, such as CBC, Radio Canada, APTN, UNIS, TV5, MTS TV, Vision TV and for the National Film Board of Canada.
A recipient of multiple art awards from national, provincial and municipal arts councils, DANIELLE STURK is a bilingual multidisciplinary artist with a BA in Film/Theatre from the University of Winnipeg. Currently in development with Radio Canada with producers Manito Média, STURK is writing a 6 episode x one-hour television drama series based on the documentary El Toro.
DANIELLE STURK has been commissioned by the Canada Council for several web-based video projects, including artist portraits of Governor General Award recipients in Visual and Media Arts. Alongside her screen-based projects, she continues to produce live multidisciplinary stage events and acts as National Artistic Director for the national broadcast concert “Indigenous Day Live” on APTN.
Key cast: my illustrated Mémère & Pépère DeGagné and some cows and pigs
Looking for: distributors, sales agents, film festival directors
Funders: Canada Council For The Arts, Manitoba Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts Council