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Kubasa in a Glass // The Fetishised Winnipeg TV Commercial 1976-1992
by Aaron Zeghers // Published to Cineflyer // Aug 27, 2012
"There's plenty of reason's to live in Winnipeg," proclaims Bill Norrie, Winnipeg Mayor, in an infomercial circa 1985. Kubasa in a Glass ranks among the top.
Originally released in 2006, Kubasa in a Glass is a collection of Winnipeg’s finest examples of locally produced television from the “golden era” of no budget and public access TV, compiled by Atelier National du Manitoba's Matthew Rankin and Walter Forsberg. In 2011 the filmmakers re-edited the film and presented it to a small Montreal audience, leaving the self-obsessed, inward-looking fools of Winnipeg out in the cold once again.
Kubasa in a Glass is perhaps the most under appreciated example of Winnipeg’s filmic navel-gazing, often overshadowed by fellow Atelier project, Death by Popcorn: The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets, and Guy Maddin’s dream memory My Winnipeg. But unlike these films that employ a heavy-handed approach in mythologizing Winnipeg’s history and self-image (through both fact and fiction), Kubasa in a Glass merely presents a digitally warped reflection of Winnipeg’s brief and disposable self-image, as seen through the no-budget and public access television of the 1980s.
Filmmaker Matthew Rankin suggests in his “NOTES ON KUBASA” that this is the purest form of Winnipeg’s “national cinema”: a “disposable filmmaking” with the lifespan of a mosquito that is but a metaphor for Winnipeg’s own constantly paved over and re-gentrified image. Kubasa in a Glass is a skeleton in the closet of Winnipeg’s leaders. They would rather forget these embarrassingly honest moments and paint them over with emotionally void murals of Adam Beach and Cindy Klassen.
Lucky for us, Winnipeg’s bastard children and artistic riff-raff continue to reclaim these and other images, forcing us all to appreciate that Winnipeg does have a history and a voice, albeit fleeting and self-deprecating. In what is clearly a time of transition for Winnipeg, Kubasa in a Glass serves to preserve our city’s cinematic history and define a voice for its future.