It is May 1988 in Toronto. The school year is coming to a close. The Victoria Day long weekend heralds the beginning of summer. In Boston, Wayne Gretzky’s dynastic Edmonton Oilers are playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. Best of all, Bob Dylan is coming to town. Ben Spektor, 16, attends the concert with his two closest friends, Sammy and Noah. Though the year is 1988, they exist as if in a time warp, idolizing the music and culture of the 1960s. Outside the concert, Ben sees what looks like a routine exchange: two teenagers buying drugs. In a way he could never have predicted, the consequences of this drug deal will alter the course of his summer and, quite possibly, the rest of his life. This one event, barely significant at the time, initiates Ben into love, as well as death, and forces him to confront his conscience, his friends, and his family. Over the span of one week, seemingly disparate forces converge on him—the search for a missing boy, his romance with the boy’s sister, the Stanley Cup finals, the fortunes of his own hockey team, and a peculiar Vietnam reenactment with Victoria Day firecrackers. These events conspire to displace the certainty of childhood with the disorientation of adulthood.
Sundance Film Festival, Shanghai International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Athens International Film Festival, Seoul International Family Film Festival, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Toronto Jewish Film Festival
“’Victoria Day’ ... is expertly put together, the editing and framing so sturdy and right that the twin currents of the film flow over the viewer unimpeded. On one hand, Ben is living a standard existence: He’s torn between the virginal Cayla and Melanie, who gives him sex; his father is on his back about hockey, which Yuri sees as a way to help Ben avoid the kind of life he’s had. And at the same time, the dull drone of Jordan’s disappearance, which everyone chalks up to a drug binge, can be heard between every line of dialogue.
‘Victoria Day’ is not a thriller by any means, but as a morality tale, it has an edge as well as a professional sheen.”
“Even if you didn’t know Toronto’s David Bezmozgis is a talented short story writer, you might guess it from the way he weaves detail into Victoria Day, his feature film debut. He has the authorial eye for the small reveals that add up to a complete character.”
— Toronto Star
“Victoria Day accomplishes the tricky task of depicting Ben’s moral struggles with all due gravity without becoming deadeningly earnest. For that reason, it may be a rare kind of indie teen film: one that connects with actual teenagers as well as it does with nostalgic geezers.”
— Eye Weekly