From TIFF to York: Reg Harkema’s Monkey Warfare comes to campus

If you didn’t make it to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last week, here’s your chance to catch one of the most talked-about Canadian productions at the festival.

The Department of Film presents filmmaker Reg Harkema and his hit feature film Monkey Warfare on Sept. 21 at 7pm in York University’s new state-of-the-art cinema in the Accolade East Building.

York film student Nadia Litz (left) stars in the film, along with veteran Canadian actors Don McKellar and Tracy Wright (see Sept. 15 issue of YFile).

Written and directed by Harkema, Monkey Warfare opens in a decrepit house where two aging, pot-smoking radicals, Dan (McKellar) and Linda (Wright), eke out an existence scavenging in garbage dumps and rummaging through yard sales. Their evenings are spent getting high and staring listlessly into space. Their strange lives become even stranger with the arrival of a young, less-innocent-than-she-seems drug-dealer named Susan (Litz). As the couple grows accustomed to their guest, the relationships amongst the trio changes. Click here for more details about the film.

The film features an inspired soundtrack, edited by urban-legend DJ Hans Lucas (Harkema), and includes songs by The Fugs, Weird War, Outrageous Cherry, Pink Mountaintops and Leonard Cohen.

Monkey Warfare premiered at TIFF on Sept. 10, as part of the Contemporary World Cinema program, and was nominated for Best Canadian Feature. It received an honourable mention during the festival’s highly-anticipated awards reception at Toronto’s Hilton Hotel. This year’s festival showcased 352 films from 52 countries, including 37 feature titles from Canada.

Right: In a scene from Monkey Warfare, Don McKellar (left) is offered a marijuana cigarette by Nadia Litz

NOW magazine praised Monkey Warfare for its “originality, talented actors and kick-ass soundtrack,” while the Globe and Mail‘s Guy Dixon referred to the film as a “Canadian must-see”, and eye Weekly’s Jason Anderson described it as: “Acerbically funny, yet imbued with surprising emotional heft”.

Recognized nationally for his work, Harkema directs Monkey Warfare with a pop-art vivacity, driven by a sly comic take on Bohemia, counterculture politics and disillusionment. The film was shot in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood in two weeks on a shoestring budget of $30,000.

A native of British Columbia, Harkema has edited many notable features, including Bruce McDonald’s Hard Core Logo (1996) and Don McKellar’s Last Night (1998) and Childstar (2004), all of which earned him Genie nominations. His directorial credits include A Girl Is a Girl (1999), Bang (2001) and the documentary Better off in Bed (2004). Monkey Warfare is his most recent production.

Seth Feldman, director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies and professor in York’s Film Department, will host the presentation of Monkey Warfare and moderate a discussion with Harkema and the audience following the screening.

The event starts at 7pm. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. For more information, contact Marcia Orlowsky, graduate program assistant, Department of Film, at ext. 55149 or e-mail