Leading off my official reactions to SIFF this year, I wanted to start with a movie that comes right from back home. I’M JUST HERE FOR THE RIOT played at last fall’s Vancouver International Film Festival to high acclaim. As I wasn’t at that festival last fall (Toronto is so close that it gets in the way), I was thrilled to hear that her doc was playing SIFF! The movie shows May 10th and 11th.

ABOUT: On June 15, 2011, thousands of Vancouver Canucks fans descended into the city’s downtown core to watch their beloved team face the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The home team had won each of the previous six games, and Vancouverites, cautiously optimistic, hoped this pattern would hold. The Bruins emerged victorious, 4-0, and Vancouver descended into chaos. Police cars were overturned and burned, windows shattered, stores looted, and countless numbers of young people were caught up in the mayhem. Startling images of the rioters and their actions—captured by legions of cell phone cameras—were soon posted on every social media platform. The mob mentality in the streets led to a similar atmosphere in cyberspace as online vigilantes used the pictures to identify and disgrace the offenders, indifferent to any potential long-term consequences. But was justice ultimately served or harmed by such sanctimonious samaritans? Which mob’s actions were the more traumatic? Through interviews with Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo and author Jon Ronson, among others, directors Asia Youngman & Kathleen Jayme delve into the aftermath of these events, scrutinizing deeper issues around sports fandom, online culture, and how each can give way to the raw, violent power of an angry crowd. (Credit: Dan Doody) 

Reaction: It’s funny that I come down from Canada to see a documentary set and produced in Canada with interviews filmed in Victoria, Vancouver and Whistler where I am very familiar with all the territory, months after its premiere, but here we are. And it’s all very much worth it, even if the subject matter still stings, over 13 years after it happened. The movie takes great care in sharing some of the stories from many perspectives from police, media along with some of the rioters themselves who still refuse to go on camera and want their face hidden. Along with seeing old footage that brought back a lot of horrific memories (I was living on Vancouver Island at the time this happened, but came over soon after to see friends and I remember signing one of the boarded up walls, which everyone was doing there at the time), I’M JUST HERE FOR THE RIOT gets a lot of mileage on showing the true horrors of social media, online bullying and the earliest form of being publicly exposed by cell phone footage, and it hasn’t been any better since. I Kat Jayme is someone I have admired for years after her wonderfully entertaining doc FINDING BIG COUNTRY. Sports and filmmaking is in her blood, and you can really see her passion for the material even though this is less about hockey and more about the horrors that come with some sports fans. Along with co-director Asia Youngman, this takes on a very serious tone that is absolutely necessary viewing.

SIFF Media

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