THE SUN DOESN'T SET anymore. You've known for months that the world was about to end, and now it's your last night on earth -- what do you do? That's the Twilight Zone-like premise of Last Night, the first feature of Canadian film sensation Don McKellar (screenwriter of Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, The Red Violin, and many more; actor in eXistenZ, Exotica, and many more). One of 10 films made in conjunction with the French-funded Year 2000 film series, Last Night broke away into its own orbit, and, consequently did not play as part of the series hosted by the Grand Illusion this summer (only seven of the 10 original films did).

An ensemble piece, the movie follows several different people as they make preparations for their final night. Duncan (David Cronenberg, partaking in that awkward but authoritative director-turned-actor style pioneered by Roger Corman) works for the gas company, and he's spent the last several months calling all their customers to thank them for their loyal patronage and assure them that they'll keep the service running as long as possible. It's a self-appointed job that is both noble and a bit insane. Patrick (McKellar) is a widower who needs to spend time with his family before greeting the apocalypse alone. Sandra (Sandra Oh) has a glorious double suicide planned with her husband. Craig (Callum Keith Rennie) has made a list of sexual acts he has never done, and is knocking them off one-by-one before the end arrives. And Jennifer (Sarah Polley) just wants to find the right party.

"I wasn't trying to suggest [the film] is a complete view of society," McKellar told me when he brought the film to town for the Seattle International Film Festival. "I wanted to focus on people who had dealt with [the end of the world], who came up with some sort of system to get them through and protect them -- a ritual or something like that. Within that, I wanted to suggest the main options that people would have. When I told them the premise, people would say, 'Oh, what would you do?' There would be a number of choices. Sex came up more than anything else. Being with your family, having a romantic dinner with your loved one, going somewhere important and contemplative, or doing something creative you never had a chance to do. Those kind of issues. I guess I was trying to suggest the major options in that circumstance."

For the Year 2000 series -- which included Hal Hartley's The Book of Life, Tsai Ming-liang's The Hole, as well as films from Spain, Belgium, Mali, and elsewhere -- the French producers looked for semi-undiscovered filmmakers (McKellar had a short film that did well in France), and supplied half the budget for an hour-long film. The only rule was that each film had to be set on December 31, 1999. "I thought that meant your reFLections, your feelings about that," says McKellar, "but actually, what they meant was it was supposed to take place on December 31. So mine is the only one that doesn't. I sort of disobeyed the rule. I don't say it isn't December 31, 1999, but chances are it isn't."

He also made it a feature instead of an hour-long film, but he got permission for that beforehand. The French had the idea that the filmmakers could supply the other half of their budget by selling the TV rights of the 10-film series. "In English-speaking countries you don't get a lot of money from the TV sale of an hour-long Hungarian film. In fact, they won't even play it. That's one of the reasons it had to be a feature -- it was purely financial." The best chance of turning a profit was to release it as a feature, and go for theatrical, cable, and video revenues.

Next up for McKellar is, well... he doesn't know. "If I had a big dream project I would be very happy now," he says, "because I'm in a fairly good position to get some money from some people, but I've been really lucky in that almost everything I've written has been produced. Do you have a suggestion?" Oh yeah, I've got one: that we should all be so lucky... and talented.

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