Burlington filmmaker delights in bringing her hometown to the big screen


Published March 17, 2023 at 9:43 pm

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Writer and director Chandler Levack/ Cotey Pope photo

“Everybody in Burlington should go see my movie,” laughs Chandler Levack on the other end of the phone line.

She is kidding, of course, but perhaps you ought to take her up on the advice.

After all, her film, I Like Movies, has been a hit with both critics and audiences since its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last September and pretty much puts Burlington on display for film buffs around the world.

Levack herself expects to find a spot this weekend in her hometown SilverCity Burlington Cinemas to gauge the reaction of friends, neighbours and filmgoers in general.

Written and directed by Levack, I Like Movies is set in the early 2000s and captures life in Burlington from the not-too-distant past when life was a little simpler yet no less anxious-ridden for a socially awkward teenager obsessed with movies.

“Just the idea that the film is playing in the same theatre that I saw Titanic for the first time, and Mean Girls and all of these movies that shaped me very deeply when I was a teenager and young adult, it’s unbelievable,” Levack says.

The film centres on 17-year-old cinephile Lawrence who gets a job at a video store to pay his way into a prestigious New York film school. He bonds with the store’s manager but his obsessions test the relationships he has with others.

Levack says Lawrence is, essentially, based on her teenage self who worked at Blockbuster Video contemplating the future while dealing with her own anxieties and never quite fitting in with the rest of the crowd.

Touching, funny and relatable in a very down-to-earth Canadian way, with I Like Movies Levack shows that you don’t need New York, London or even Toronto to provide the backdrop for a successful film…it can be set in your own backyard.

“I think that is what the audience connects to,” Levack explains. “The suburban landscape is universal. Most films are not found in Burlington, but most of Canada actually looks like Burlington. People can identify with that, they can see themselves doing the things they see in the movie like waiting for your mom to pick you up in the parking lot after work.”

The Burlington audience can also see some familiar landmarks such as LaSalle Park, the Skyway Bridge, Maple Skatepark, Tansley Woods and even Aldershot High School which Levack attended as does the movie’s protagonist.

Levack says the success of the movie has been overwhelming, especially since it’s a personal reflection of her own life, a life that is now open, vulnerable and fully on display.

“It was terrifying, especially at the first screening, I didn’t know if it would connect with people,” she says. “But if you write something that is really personal and take a lot of risks, it is something that people connect with. The more honest and revealing that you are can make people really respond.”

As well as TIFF, the film has also been shown at festivals in Taiwan, Norway and the U.S. and has opened in theatres across Canada. And while future trips abroad to promote the film await, Levack looks forward to contemplating her next project.

In the meantime, she hopes her audience can take as much comfort in I Like Movies as she did in those films she immersed herself in while growing up.

“Films were so important to me,” she says. “If anyone can relate or take comfort in I Like Movies then I’m pleased. Besides, I had to make one for all the Blockbuster and video store dorks out there, because, you know, I was one of them.”

I Like Movies is now playing at SilverCity Burlington Cinemas, 1250 Brant St. Show times can be found here.

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