Special Ed

Canada 2013. Director: John Paskievich
With: Ed Ackerman

VANCOUVER PREMIERE! Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times alarming, this Crumb-like portrait of an eccentric Canadian artist comes from John Paskievich (Ted Baryluk’s Grocery, The Gypsies of Svinia), one of Canada’s premiere documentary filmmakers. Paskievich, who is also a noted photographer, was the subject of a career retrospective at The Cinematheque in 2002. In Special Ed, which received its world premiere at this year’s Hot Docs Festival in Toronto, he turns his lens upon another filmmaker: animator, shit-disturber, and own-worst-enemy Ed Ackerman. Ackerman’s groundbreaking animation work with text and typescript – Primiti Too Taa is the best known — once earned him a Genie nomination and screenings around the world. Now, Ackerman lives in a rundown, crime-ridden Winnipeg neighbourhood, where he attempts to resuscitate his stalled career and save his three derelict houses from the wrecking ball, all the while waging quixotic fights against city hall — and the hydro company, phone company, tax department, and police. Ackerman’s impractical dreams seem to keep coming up hard against his apparent history of failed relationships, losing battles, and doomed projects. His hopeless runs for public office — city council, parliament — garner mere dozens of votes. Paskievich’s special documentary captures its wayward subject with great poignancy. Colour, HDCAM. 100 mins.


preceded by

Primiti Too Taa
Canada 1986. Directors: Ed Ackerman, Colin Morton

Concrete poetry in motion, with nonsense phrases and primitive sounds meeting their typed representation. A witty tribute to the absurdist tradition of Dada and to Canada’s master of abstract animation Norman McLaren, the film was nominated for a Genie. B&W, 3 mins.


“An offbeat and often hilarious story about a modern day composite of Don Quixote, Peter Pan, Chaplin’s Tramp, Job, and Sisyphus.”

Hot Docs | full review

“Ed is definitely ‘special’ ... A documentary that is equally, and oddly, sad, funny, and inspiring.”

Exclaim | full review