Charlemagne

Erik discovers he’s descended from the King of the Franks.

Creative team

Writer/director/producer/DP/actor/editor: Erik Anderson
Camera operator/”mom voice”: Meghan Bradbury

Filmmaker’s statement

It’s true. I’m a direct descendant of Charlemagne. Of course, the way that genealogy works, they say anyone with European ancestry is a descendant of Charlemagne, which is apparently several people. However, I feel that particular ‘fact’ cheapens things. I like to think that any day now, a knock will come at my door and a footman holding a regal box of jewels and a golden crown will present me with my birthright.

I’m also a genealogy hobbyist (see: ‘nerd’). And I’m not alone in my family. A distant cousin in Norway has built an extensive family tree and, through his work, I found out the impressive Charlemagnic news.

When it happened, I think I allowed myself a moment of not-so-ironic pride then realized how ridiculous it was considering the ubiquity of the finding. Indeed, there will be no footman with a purple velvety lined box of jewels any time soon.

That said, one still needs to have fun. And I kept up the false pride around friends – preciously whispering the word “Charlemagne” into the air just to draw out the pompousness, each letter like a generation of greatness. A black and white image of that popped into my head and the idea snowballed from there.

Incidentally, I was headed to Europe for a film festival shortly thereafter, so I figured it might be the perfect opportunity to snatch some glimpses of those whispers against a more Charlemagne-appropriate backdrop which I could then juxtapose to the harsher real world of my life (more or less) in Toronto once I got back, which is far less romantic and kingly. Indeed, the backdrops alone spoke to the prince-to-pauper symbolism, and the rest is sending up the discovery itself and the irony that being descended from an emperor doesn’t necessarily make you one.

But emperor or not, you still gotta try and be productive in this life. So, I borrowed a camera and, with the help of the intrepid Meg Bradbury, I made a short film … hope that ‘gramps’ would see the humour in it.

About Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson is an orphan of Canadian cinema. Born on the west coast and self taught in cinema, he began making short films out of pocket in 2002 and, by 2011, completed his first no-budget feature while pursuing an honours degree in political science at Concordia University in Montreal. The film, The Second Times of Troubles, won best feature at both the Os International Film Festival in Norway and the Hamilton Film Festival.

Since then, he’s continued to make challenging work that defies both genre and formal convention. His latest no-budget feature, the meta-cinematic My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson, began as a graduate film for an MFA in film production at York University and is most reminiscent of a literary work of auto-fiction (it might also be the longest film in Canadian history).

It screened at TIFF Lightbox last fall and won the prestigious Norman McLaren Award at the Montreal World Film Festival as well as best narrative feature at the Brussels Independent Film Festival.

He lives below the poverty line in an apartment with mice in Toronto and hopes to one day find a producer and a budget to keep making films.

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