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Sturk and a gang of talented Winnipeg artists basically blow up documentary conventions in ways both whimsically weird and seriously avant-garde. Using myriad forms of animation and representation, some heading toward out-and-out surrealism, they access some complicated truths.
— Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press ****4 Stars Rating
Rich in nostalgia, playful in narration and joyous in tone, El Toro is a masterfully crafted ode to the ties that bind.
— Aisha Jamal, Hot Docs
Soundtracked by audio recordings of her aunts and uncles trading stories about customers and crises – with particular attention paid to a 1966 blizzard – it’s a charming and meticulously constructed little film.
— Norman Wilner, Now Toronto
This viewing experience turns into something close to a heartfelt look back at a singular place in the world, through time, and infused with a kind of reverence usually reserved for something holy. Using a variety of storytelling and filmmaking techniques, it might be one of the best trailers I’ve seen this year.
— /films
Sturk actually recreates her family’s diner with gorgeous sets and staggeringly beautiful animation. Peppering the proceedings with lively interviews and creating a story that is clearly very personal and yet, like the best films, universal – El Toro is lovingly nostalgic, delivering a rich poetic portrait of a bygone time and place. Most of all, the film creates (and in so doing, recreates) a world we want to dive in to and never, ever leave.
— Greg Klymkiw, WFG Executive Director
Sturk has crafted a truly wondrous and whimsical mixed-media collage film tribute to her family’s dearly departed diner in the bowels of old industrial Saint-Boniface. The film is a testament to Sturk’s inexhaustible creativity and strong sense of family heritage, and will be a sure delight to any fans of not only documentary film, but art in general.
— David Knipe, Programmer, Gimme Some Truth 2018

synopsis

Romance and tragedy bind eight siblings who work with their parents at their family-run truck stop diner deep in the entrails of 1960’s industrial Saint-Boniface. El Toro no longer exists between the old Canada Packers and the Union Stock Yards but does very much so in the minds of the surviving DeGagné brood.

The film El Toro rebuilds the walls, stools, and atmosphere of the restaurant, recreating a surreal, rich, and imaginative world, evoking a lost time and place through the lens of memory, nostalgia and love. And yes, animals were consumed, filmed, drawn, and animated in this hybrid documentary.

Scene, El Toro 2018

Scene, El Toro 2018

That friggen El Toro had to be the worst parking lot in the world.
— Art Lagassé