Magic mushrooms and Margaret Atwood double bill in the Yukon

Ron Mann is flying from Los Angeles to Whitehorse next week to give Yukoners a taste of Margaret Atwood and magic mushrooms.

Ron Mann is flying from Los Angeles to Whitehorse next week to give Yukoners a taste of Margaret Atwood and magic mushrooms.

The documentary filmmaker has been trying to get to the territory for years, ever since the Yukon Film Society contacted his production company to show some of its films at the Available Light Film Festival.

Mann was supposed to make it up for the Dawson City Short Film Festival a few years back, but that fell through.

“He’s a super busy guy,” said film society programmer Andy Conners.

“And it’s a week-long commitment to come up here and go to two communities.”

Mann made a name for himself with Grass, the first documentary to delve into the marijuana debate.

His films “follow pop culture and counterculture in a fun way,” said Conners.

“He explores the margins of North American culture.”

It took more than a decade before Mann tackled drugs again.

This time, it’s fungus.

Know Your Mushrooms combines footage shot at the Telluride Mushroom Festival with animation and archival footage, set to a Flaming Lips soundtrack, to explore mushrooms’“recreational mind-expanding use and their culinary use,” said Conners.

But cooking is only a small part of the film.

“The focus is on ingesting them for widening perceptions,” he said.

In the Wake of the Flood follows a very different trip, as Atwood travels the world on an unusual book tour.

Instead of giving traditional reading, Atwood turned a section of her novel, The Year of the Flood,

into a script, and left it up to organizers at each tour stop to mount their version of the production.

Atwood’s novel offers an apocalyptic glimpse of how environmental degradation will compromise the planet and its inhabitants. To cut her carbon footprint, in keeping with the book’s dystopian vision, Atwood travelled by train for the tour, and hosts served up healthy vegetarian fare.

Mann has filmed poets before.

In the early ‘80s, he hung out with Tom Waits, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski at a poetry gathering in LA, then made a documentary about it.

Mann also immortalized two comic book artists in film with Tales of the Rat Fink, and Comic Book Confidential.

In the Wake of the Flood premiered this month in Toronto.

“So it’s brand new,” said Conners.

Mann’s double bill is screening at the Yukon Arts Centre on Monday, November 1.

The show starts at 7 p.m. and Mann will be on hand to take questions.

The films will screen in Dawson City on November 2, followed by a documentary workshop on November 3, from 7 to 10 p.m.

Mann is also giving his documentary workshop, The art of making counter-culture films, in Whitehorse on Thursday November 4 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. It’s at the Centre de la Francophone. To pre-register call 393-3456 or e-mail yfs@yukonfilmsociety.com.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com