1919. A time of mass migrations of people fleeing war-torn countries, the rise of international labour movements, and of conflicting and shifting socio-economic values.
Stefan and his father Mike have left family in Ukraine, fleeing for the New World, where they struggle day to day to earn enough to re-unite the family. Settling into a crowded immigrant tenement, Stefan is smitten with his Jewish suffragette neighbour, Rebecca and is drawn into her world of protest and emancipation. Soldiers returning from WWI and angry at the lack of jobs after the war, violently threaten the city’s new immigrants. When a labour movement develops for workers to leave their jobs in protest of poor working conditions, AJ Anderson, a wealthy lawyer, pits all parties against each other in an attempt to thwart a dramatic and inspirational final stand.
Based on a true slice of history, and adapted from Danny Schur’s original stage musical, Strike!, the film was shot entirely in Winnipeg, Manitoba and was directed by Rob Adetuyi. The city has a wealth of extant architecture from its heyday as an economic hub in the teen years of 1900, which offered tremendous potential to create a believable and textured world that visually pits the wealthy against the struggling poor.
Even with these excellent architectural bones to build upon, every location required retrofitting and dressing, and in some cases full builds were also necessary, and with an overall production budget of just over 6 million, this was a challenge. However, inspired by an important and compelling story, combined with the pleasure of working on a musical, and inspired by my fabulous creative collaborators, STAND! represents one of the most rewarding and exciting projects I’ve worked on in recent years.