Benjamin Rivers had been planned to spend his wedding anniversary at the Peter Pan Bistro. That was until the cool-as-ice restaurant, made special by it’s indie vibe and hidden garden patio, was plucked from it’s location on Queen Street West without explanation.
Although businesses and the personal landmarks they become come and go, for those whose lives are tied to their neighbourhoods keynotes such as the bistro can adopt an intrinsic importance. For Rivers, Peter Pan was a regular spot shared by him and his wife, a cornerstone of their relationship.
“I just waked there one day … and it was gutted, no rhyme or reason just gone,” says Rivers.
The ever mutating cityscape, and the effect it has on those who find themselves in the midst of it was the main inspiration for River’s graphic novel SNOW, which serves as a love-letter to Queen Street West and profiles a fictional—but all too real—question of identity that comes along with the transformation of our street corners.
Told through the lens of his main character Dana, a resident of Queen Street West and bookshop employee forced to cope with the closing of her shop, Rivers tackles the theme head on.
Set for release today, the imagined world of SNOW, which has been available online for some time and at select comic bookstores, including the Silver Snail and The Beguiling, is set to be released as a film adaptation directed by Toronto filmmaker Ryan Couldrey.
“I think for some people seeing something like that is presented in a comic may not be as effective for them,” says Rivers “What it actually seems to gain is a lot more depth so I find now reading the comic book is a lot more fun because now you get a lot more insight on things that weren’t necessarily in the book.”
The film was made by a plethora of local talent, including Torontonian Nina Lordanova, as well Kira Hall who plays supporting character Julia.
With the two actors being residents of Toronto and regulars to Queen West they found themselves in the unique position of adapting their own personal experiences with the city for their roles.
“I know what it’s like to take a more watchful role and not know what to do,” says Lordanova in regards to the shifting city narrative that resonates at the film’s core. “But I find that in real life I try not to be like that, so doing the Dana character was an interesting experience because it was very much about giving into something I try to fight against.”
The film is set for a one time screening tonight at the Revue Cinema at 7:00pm and then will be made available online thereafter.
Dylan Freeman-Grist is a staff writer for Toronto Standard. Follow him on Twitter.