Few remember the performance (really a staged re-enactment) of Yann Martel’s short story “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios” on CBC in 1996. It won Michael Riley a Gemini, but the actor who played the man dying of AIDS, Michael Mahonen, is also poorly remembered.

Title card for ‘The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios’

The production resembles some of the art videos, including music videos, created in that era, with blatant compositing, overly bright key, and direct address to the camera. It holds up well, though the captioning job, by the ever incompetent BCCS (the second-worst captioner Canada has ever known), was never good enough even on the air date.

I am still surprised at the untroubled and credible handling of the fact these men are not gay and are not lovers. I think that draws from the same reservoir that actors (not actresses) use when actually playing lovers. I know what chaste, ongoing care of a man with an illness really is like and I see more than enough points of commonality.

I have a suspicion there are fewer than five videotape copies of this short film in existence, and I have one of them. The most important of those copies – in all likelihood a Betacam submaster – sits in a vault at the Corpse waiting to be lost or accidentally taped over.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2013.12.01 13:00. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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