Bygone St. Boniface restaurant remembered at Winnipeg documentary festival

The story of eight siblings and their experiences at a restaurant in the heart of industrial St. Boniface is airing Sunday.

El Toro is a documentary about its namesake restaurant

Filmmaker Danielle Sturk said her documentary is about her grandparents' lives, running a restaurant in Winnipeg's St. Boniface-area. (CBC)

The story of eight siblings and their experiences at a restaurant in the heart of industrial St. Boniface is airing this weekend.

El Toro is a documentary about its namesake restaurant, a St. Boniface-area truck stop diner, nestled between Canada Packers and the Union Stockyards in the 1960s and 70s.

The restaurant was owned by filmmaker Danielle Sturk's grandparents. In the documentary, Sturk details the experiences of the family's eight children.

"The film is really an effort at reconstructing it through memories, through the audio stories of my aunts and uncles," Sturk said.

Still image from El Toro, a documentary by Danielle Sturk. (Danielle Sturk/El Toro)

"It recounts their experiences and many times, they have the same experiences told from different points of view."

While the restaurant is no more, it was recreated through film and animation to help tell the story of the DeGagné family's life, and El Toro's role as a hub to the family and in the community, Sturk said.

A documentary film brings the El Toro restaurant back to life, using film and animation. (Danielle Sturk/El Toro)

The 45-minute documentary was recorded over multiple years, Sturk said, and has nine chapters. One of them tells the story of the blizzard of 1966, which swept across swaths of North America.

"A few [people] were caught in the restaurant over night and had to sleep on tables," Sturk said.

She said during the blizzard, her family provided for the community by cooking for people who were stuck in the surrounding area.

The documentary is part of  Winnipeg's annual documentary film festival, Gimme Some Truth.

El Toro airs Sunday at Cinematheque. The first showing at 7 p.m. is sold out. Its popularity has prompted a second screening, which follows at 8:30 p.m.

with files from Radio-Canada


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