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Sunflower Hour

Montreal Premiere
  • Canada
  • 2011
  • 90 mins
  • HD
  • English
Hosted by Director Aaron Houston and Actor Amitai Marmorstein

“A rabid Christian homophobe, a feeble parkour wannabe, a nihilistic goth, a semi-schizophrenic Irishman: these are the four contestants for a new role on The Sunflower Hour, a children’s puppet show produced by porn producer Donald (Peter New) and his embittered wife Melissa (Johannah Newmarch). This raunchy mockumentary follows the four puppeteers through humiliating auditions, tragicomic personal revelations and too many pratfalls to count as they fight to gain recognition for their art. Aaron Houston’s film is not for delicate sensibilities, to put it mildly: we're talking foul language, cruel jokes and enough sexual and personal pathology to fill five Jerry Springer episodes. If you can stand it, though, this is a barrel full of belly laughs, with superbly vivid characters and a razor-sharp satire of the entertainment industry in all its backstage hypocrisy. The contestants — all too convincingly played by four game-for-anything thespians — are superb comic creations. They’re endearing and pitiable, grotesque and human, funny and sad--often all these things and more within the same scene. The portraits of family life, artistic aspiration, financial desperation and showbiz decadence ring horribly, hilariously true. Think of this movie as Canadian Idol via South Park and you're halfway there: it's a taboo-smashing, raucous belch of a movie, but not without a sense of feel-good triumph at the end.” — official film press kit

“About five years ago, I was watching a popular children’s show and I happened to notice that when the puppeteer’s name for the main character came up in the credits, it was bigger than the others. I found it interesting that even in children’s television there was that kind of class separation… It made me think about the human ego and how it affects all of us and I started to wonder what these puppeteers were really like behind the scenes when they weren’t playing pure and moralistic characters.” — Aaron Houston, filmmaker.

Inspired by Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries, Houston’s irreverent Canadian production has cult classic written all over it. This is THIS IS SPINAL TAP for the Sesame Street generation, BEING ELMO meets Twin Peaks. Delectably tasteless and always hilarious, this film showcases great actors, superb characterization, a solid direction and above all, a great lesson in how to make movies with a shoestring budget. In other words, the subject and treatment sits comfortably with the film’s micro budget. SUNFLOWER HOUR will never play in any children’s film festival, that’s for sure.

— Marc Lamothe