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Schur bringing big-screen offering home


Danny Schur is heading to Dauphin to go to the movies and he hopes a full house of local residents will go with him.
Schur will be in Dauphin, Dec. 13, to attend the opening night of his movie Stand! at Countryfest Community Cinema.
“I’m pumped as hell,” said Schur, the former Ethelbert resident who wrote the music, lyrics and score for the movie musical adaptation of his popular stage show Strike, as well as co-writing the script with Rick Chafe.
“Canadian movies, you’re lucky if you get two screens in your hometown per weekend, right, but Cineplex gave us 24 cities. So right now it’s in 24 cities then starting this Friday (Dec. 6) we get the major centers. And then the following week We are coming to Dauphin. So we’re really excited.”
Stand! is set back 100 years against the backdrop of civil unrest and the violent Winnipeg General Strike. The story follows an immigrant “Romeo and Juliet” in 1919, as they battle for love and a better life on the streets of Manitoba’s capital, amid political and social turmoil.
The change in title from the stage adaptation of the story is due to a new song Schur wrote for the film which he intended to play during the closing credits. Once director Robert Adetuyi, whose credits include Stomp the Yard, Code Name:The Cleaner and Turn It Up - heard the song, he insisted it be featured more prominently in the movie.
As a result, the script was altered, Schur said.
“All of a sudden that song, that took over the movie and everyone was saying, ‘oh you gotta call the movie Stand’,” he said.
“And it really, really works. This song is just super inclusive. Like anyone who has ever been disadvantaged, whether it’s, you know race or anything, they really equate to this song. So it took the movie to a whole new and different place. ”
That different place included the metamorphosis of some characters including that of Emma Jones, who sings the song, who was transformed from a white Irish immigrant to a black immigrant from Oklahoma.
“Because we found out some history that not many people knew, which was that a whole bunch of people from Oklahoma came to Manitoba between 1907 and 1919,” Schur said, adding the portrayal of Emma Jones by Winnipeg actress Lisa Bell will, “blow your mind.”
Other changes included making a formerly white first world war veteran into Gabriel the Metis veteran.
“This great Winnipeg actor Gabriel Daniels, he just knocks that role right out of the park,” Schur said, adding the arc of the story is the same as the stage version.
“But you know all these little trimmings just make it all stronger.”
The changes that were made seem to add to the widespread appeal of the story, Schur said, a situation he would have never predicted when he set out to write it.
“In my mind when I was writing it was, ‘who’s going to care about this’,” Schur said, adding at the time, in 2003, he had an, “immigrant chip” on his shoulder.
While growing up Schur felt inferior because of his Ukrainian heritage and all the historical baggage which was attached to that.
“It’s almost comical because me, a really advantaged white kid, I had no problems. But I sure felt that weight of immigrant shame,” he said, adding the immigration situation in Canada over the last 10 years or so has made the story even more relevant.
“I often say times change but people don’t. There will always be someone below your stature to pick on. So the story is, unfortunately universal.
“I never could have predicted the kind of broad appeal this story from 100 years ago could have. But that’s the cool thing about a period piece, it’s a metaphor for today, you know. Of course it’s 100 years ago, but you get into the story in about three minutes and you go, ‘oh my gosh I am watching today’.”
There will be two shows at Countryfest Community Cinema, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Schur will be present at both, to bring greetings and answer questions following the show.
He will also introduce his life-long friend and supporter Terry Cholka who has an Executive Producer credit in the movie.
The movie is worth seeing on the big screen, Schur said, rather than waiting for it to be included in Netflix listings, especially considering the work of its director of photography, Roy Wagner, who was chosen one of the top 100 directors of photography of the last century by the American Cinematography Society.
“It looks so beautiful you could turn the sound off and just watch the pictures,” Schur said.
“This movie was made to be 40 feet wide. It was made to enjoy with the big sound system and you have got to see Roy’s DOP work on a big screen It’s a thing to behold.”