Gary Burns has no Problem With Fear

Hometown boy makes good? No, that’s stupid. Closing night gala to feature local celebrity? I think this story can do better than that, people notice these things. George Burns speaks to inept student journalist about the upcoming release of his latest film, A Problem With Fear? I suppose, but what, oh what, will I do if the readers don’t like it?

On Sun., Oct. 5, the Calgary International Film Festival will close with a sold-out screening of the latest film by local writer/director Gary Burns, A Problem With Fear. From the irrational to the common, Burns’ latest production examines the degree to which fear can rule our lives.

Following the introduction of a wristband that promises to warn clients of potential dangers, the allegorical city of A Problem With Fear is soon gripped by a "fear wave" that sends it into chaos. Clothes are tossed away, kisses are exchanged and soon, it becomes obvious coincidence has little to do with the sudden outbreak of fear.

"I wanted to make a film about the smallest of fears, banal fears," says Burns. "Then of course, other things pop up–media, advertisers, technology. It’s kind of funny, the way products are able to scare you into buying them."

Despite the comically alarmist mood of the film, however, Burns doesn’t believe we are all waiting for the opportunity to let fear consume us.

"There are always flakes on the periphery, people who would succumb more easily than others," he says. "These are the same people running out to buy duct tape and plastic wrap in the U.S. We haven’t really succumbed to the kinds of images we see on CNN, Calgary still feels like one of the safer cities in Canada."

With footage from the Montreal Metro and several familiar Calgary malls, A Problem With Fear is clearly an urban movie, a motif familiar to fans of Burns’ waydowntown. However, the Calgary-based director is quick to point out that remote, rural locations are not immune to fear.

"Even if you live out on the farm, you’ll still watch TV," he says. "The relationship is just different in cities. Here, we rely on our traffic lights and elevators and, even then, you’re not really afraid of elevators unless you start to feel them shake underneath you."

So, enjoy the last few days of the film festival, go to see a local artist’s work. Just remember not to trip on the red carpet, there’s nothing worse than embarrassing yourself at a public gala.

Gary Burns will be speaking in ICT 121 on Thu., Oct. 9 at 2:00 p.m.

Though the Oct. 5 closing gala is now sold out, rush tickets will be available before the show. Everyone, stay calm.

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