The Great Borscht Kidnapping (1989)

One of these days, I will get my old videotapes out of storage and post some of my old student films online — not because they’re anything to write home about, but just because it would be handy to have them out there. In the meantime, I recently got back in touch with an old friend of mine who starred in The Great Borscht Kidnapping, a video that I shot back in November 1989 for my introduction-to-film class at UBC. My friend asked if I was going to post this film online, and I said I couldn’t at the moment, but he still had a copy handy, so he posted it instead. And here it is:

YouTube Preview Image
Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

I sure hope my copy hasn’t deteriorated as much as this one has; then again, the film is supposed to be a sort of silent movie, so perhaps all the signs of age just add to the pseudo-antique charm.

Some of the gags in this film didn’t work out anywhere near as well as I wanted them to, and there are some continuity problems with the lighting near the end because we didn’t have time to go back for another day’s shoot. But I think it’s okay for a video made by a bunch of teenagers running around in the pre-digital age.

Two things I definitely learned from making this film:

You have to be really economical with your dialogue when you’re making a silent movie. My professor did not permit the use of synchronous sound in our videos, and this forced me to focus on the structure of the screenplay, rather than on the dialogue, and to communicate as much as I could through the visuals.

That said, music can really make a film. I remember sitting in my parents’ living room and watching my friend Jason improvise the score on my mother’s piano as he watched the video. I was in awe then, and I am in awe now. I wish I had that kind of skill, and I simply cannot imagine this film without Jason’s contribution. If I ever had a sense of how the film would sound, before I actually made it, it has been completely supplanted by Jason’s music.

Two further points:

Yes, that is my sister Monica playing Anna. Some of her outtakes are very, very funny, and yes, that footage is also in storage.

Plus, any resemblance between this movie’s characters and my own mixed roots — as a half-Mennonite, half-British kid born and raised on a continent of cowboys — is not exactly coincidental.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15729167937433295927 Geosomin

    Oh my gosh…I remember watching this at the Hoy house…

    Did you ever end up filming “if it’s not there in 30 minutes it’s free”?

  • anna ganzha

    Peter, the movie is hilarious!!

  • Moosh

    There’s also a continuity problem involving a carrot …


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X