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A Look into The Winnipeg Brutalist Manifesto

In celebration of Gimli International Film Festival’s brand new Manitoba Movie Night, we’re taking a look at Winnipeg filmmaker’s Ryan McKenna’s The Winnipeg Brutalist Manifesto.  McKenna co-wrote this love/hate memo with his fellow Winnipeg-Montreal transplant and editor Matthew Rankin. The manifesto is a great way to set the tone for McKenna’s seminal film The First Winter which plays during GFF’s Manitoba Movie Night’s double feature Wednesday, May 20.


McKenna shot The First Winter during a particularly rough winter in 2012 fuelled by the desire to make a film about Winnipeg. While talking about his film with Malcom Fraser for Cult MTL McKenna said “ You trash your city, but you love it, and you get defensive if anyone else trashes it. And part of what’s interesting about it are its flaws, so it’s important to bring those things up.”


Manitoba Movie Night will be available online for free every month! This series of classic Manitoba-made movies will screen on GFF’s website and GFF’s Facebook page on the 20th of each month, in celebration of GFF’s 20th anniversary, and Manitoba’s 150th anniversary in 2020.

May 20 | Double Feature: The Last Winter &
The First Winter

7 PM CDT” – The Last Winter

The Last Winter by Aaron Kim Johnston

9 PM CDT” – The First Winter.

The First Winter by Ryan McKenna



1. Winnipeg Brutalism is a new cinema of Winnipeg. Stark and austere, it is like a Québec cinema, but with jokes.

2. Winnipeg Brutalism is a cinema of winter and of darkness. Exterior shots are to be filmed only between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, and only at night.

3. Winnipeg Brutalism is very strict. Each Brutalist film must contain at least one (unfaked) blizzard.

4. Winnipeg Brutalism is an urban nightmare. The Brutalist film allows no beauty upon the Winnipeg landscape. The streets are empty, the buildings are abandoned, human drama is devoid of any warmth or compassion.

5. Winnipeg Brutalism is an outsider cinema. It must be pulled out of your own blood, uncontaminated by the neutering dogma of any Canadian “Institutes” or “Film Centres” or any other forced sterilization campaigns.

6. Winnipeg Brutalism becomes more brutal still if the director is kept in a perpetual state of discouragement. Living in squalour, avoiding sunlight, and eating only processed foods will only heighten the success of a Brutalist film production.

7. Winnipeg Brutalism is stark and it is real. The viewer must be Brutally exposed to the elements – there can be no reassuring lamb’s wool of artifice, formalism or phantasmagoria.