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Travelling festival The Rail City Roadshow gives indie films the rock star treatment

After spending more than half his life playing music and seeing friends travel with their bands for gigs, local filmmaker Adam Reider realized that movies and film festivals should also have the opportunity to tour. From this germinal idea came the Rail City Roadshow, an eclectic travelling film festival replete with innovative independent content. If the festival’s name sounds familiar, that’s because Reider’s production company Rail City Media is responsible for the success of the web series Dinner With TJ, a reality show about a “31-year-old man-baby who is terrified and disgusted by food.” Reider is also the director behind the short film Dogsitter, which the now-defunct Montreal Mirror called “disturbingly funny,” and the documentary Where I Belong , an on-the-road look at Montreal’s titans of metal, Endast. 

The Roadshow kicks off this Wednesday at Théâtre Ste. Catherine. The tour itinerary is modest for now because it’s in “beta testing phase,” which is why Reider is calling it the “Pilot Tour.” Next year, the plan is to take the Roadshow across the country. The content is mostly Canadian, though there are some international entries. Furthermore, filmmaker Jovanka Vuckovic’s The Captured Bird bills Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) as executive producer. From the sounds of it, the line-up will inspire a variety of audience responses. Reider describes some of the flicks: “One of the films that got the biggest reaction out of me is probably Don't Hug Me, I'm Scared. That short is just so perfectly twisted and makes me laugh every time. I can't wait for people to see it. Cry Baby is a really cute short. Anybody who doesn't like it probably has no soul. Birthday Boys is creepy as all hell.” Reider’s own film, Where the Heart Is, will also screen at the Roadshow. Inspired by a huge extinct camper van that was stuck in his backyard, the director describes the short as a sort of “feel-good movie,” which he readily admits is quite out of the ordinary for him.

Birthday Boys by Rafael De Leon

What’s fun about Reider’s festival is his sense of showmanship and excitement. The Rail City Roadshow will mix up the traditional viewing experience in order to produce a more engaging and involved event. Reider explains that “the thing with this festival is the format is different. Audiences don't just sit in the dark for two hours watching film after film. Here, films are broken up into segments, so we'll watch two or three and then have a Q&A with the directors before moving on. This way, we get a chance to let each short sink in. Also, comedian Andrew von Rosenbach will open the show in Montreal.”

One of the Roadshow’s stops is John Abbott College. This shift in setting from downtown theatre to suburban CEGEP speaks to the versatility of the event. “The cool thing about this festival is that it can play anywhere. In a theatre, a school, a bar, a community center. The idea is to get these movies out to as many places as possible. I think non-traditional venues are good because if my festival is a success, these venues might be open to having more screenings. It would be amazing if venues got used to hosting indie films the way that venues are used to having small touring acts passing through.”

Sweet tooths and salt fiends, fear not— the Roadshow will boast both merch and concession-stand snacks. While it’s still a surprise as to what kind of goodies will be available to shovel down your gullet, Reider admits that his favourite movie-viewing grub is “popcorn or Skor Bits. Or both together.” Like moving pictures on silver screens of yore, The Rail City Roadshow promises merriment, wonder, and possibly some raw, bloodied meat.


The Rail City Roadshow launch
September 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Théâtre Ste. Catherine | 264 Ste. Catherine E. |