Documentary captures Verdun playwright's epic struggle to stage work on WW1
Fennario: The Good Fight airs Saturday July 23 at 7 p.m. on CBC
When filmmakers Sergio Kirby (H2Oil, Roadsworth), Martin Duckworth (No More Hiroshima) and Robbie Hart (I Am Not A Rock Star) teamed up to produce a documentary about prominent Canadian playwright David Fennario, they knew they would be in for an intense ride.
The playwright behind Canadian classics Balconville and Joe Beef may be wheelchair-bound due to the onset of a paralyzing syndrome that has doctors baffled, but he remains a spitfire, a fierce advocate for social justice who brings wry social criticism to his championing of the proletariat.
In The Good Fight, the filmmakers chronicle the near-Sisyphean feat of Fennario's struggle to mount his play Motherhouse, about the First World War's devastating effect on working-class Verdun residents.
As Fennario works with actors to bring to life a historically accurate and psychologically convincing portrayal of Lillabit — an ageless woman who tells her story growing up in Verdun — he confronts his own physical shortcomings and attitudes about his native Verdun.
Ultimately, the film is as much a condemnation of war profiteering as it is a celebration of political theatre, uncovering a piece of Quebec history whose effects persist to this day.
Fennario: The Good Fight airs on CBC Television Saturday, July 23 at 7 p.m. as part of Absolutely Quebec.