In the age of instant gratification and the 24-hour News cycle, journalistic integrity is more important than ever.  People can now get their information from countless sources so in an effort to attract readership, media outlets have resorted to sensationalized headlines and highlight reels.  What writers and reporters are now struggling with is how to present thoughtful, thorough, and truthful pieces when they’re constantly under pressure to find the next big scoop.  Austin Andrews and Andrew Holmes aim to stir up the conversation on this topic with their film Lord Jones Is Dead, an adaptation of Matthew Clayfield’s play and set against the backdrop of the competitive newspaper business in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Vincent (Daniel Janks), a newspaper columnist, and Clive (Jonathan Pienaar), a photographer, are sent on assignment to stake out the house of a woman who may be involved in a scandal with a government official.  They’ve been instructed not to leave without a scoop.  As they wait around for any kind of action, they’re joined by Samuel (Chad Krowchuk), a writer from a competing paper.  He too has been sent to get the jump on the story.  To pass the time while they wait, the three men begin discussing their careers, their past successes, and current state of journalism.  They see how their profession has devolved from the importance of telling a truthful story to writing content designed solely to sell papers.  In order to retain their jobs though, they must learn to begrudgingly change with the times.  Vincent finally reaches a breaking point as they descend further into this discussion and decides to take matters into his own hand to get them out of the situation.  His actions raise questions about doing what is easy versus doing what is right to uphold the principles of journalism.

Lord Jones is Dead showcases the importance of strong screenwriting when crafting a film.  With just three characters and sparse location settings, Andrews and Holmes have created an engaging film that uses snappy, witty dialogue and dry observational humour to place the focus firmly on the message being imparted to the audience.  The simplicity of it all allows the actors shine.

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The great thing about this film is that much like with the characters in this story, it has the ability to get the viewer thinking about these important questions.  Trying to find the balance between in-depth coverage and the rapid pace of the modern world is a reality that every news organization is dealing with.  How do they turn a profit while still holding onto their honesty?  Readers and viewers must now work to seek out the whole story and decipher fact from fiction when they’re often only fed sound bites and this film gets them questioning the authenticity of the content they are consuming.  Is this really the story or has it been fabricated to grab attention?  Why is it so difficult to obtain truthful information?

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Lord Jones is Dead will be screening on Sunday, July 24th at the Revue Cinema in Toronto.  To accompany the film, a discussion panel will be taking place to talk about transparency in the media and in our government.  Co-presented with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and moderated by Michelle Shephard, the evening will focus on the media-government relationship and why it is so difficult for Canadians to access information that is crucial for a healthy, functioning democracy.  Anna Mehler-Paperny from Global News and Robb Cribb & Jayme Poisson from The Toronto Star will also lend their voices to the conversation.

WHEN

Sunday, 24 July 2016 from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM (EDT)

WHERE

Revue Cinema – 400 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, ON M6R 2M9

Click HERE to register for tickets to the event.  Donation is encouraged at the event, with all proceeds going to Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.