Straight Up is a film about the curious case of alcohol retail and distribution in Ontario directed and produced by two former Blackberry employees, Peter Lenardon and A.J. Wykes, who decided to do something about it or at least bring the issue to the forefront in a feature film documentary. You can watch the hour and 15-minute film here as it makes its debut today.
Said Allan Schmidt, chair of the Wine Council of Ontario, who viewed the film at a special screening and plays a prominent role in the film:
“This is the first time we have ever had such a concise, user friendly, and even entertaining portrayal of the evolution of alcohol distribution in Ontario.
“The timing of this documentary is also perfect given the government’s recent indication that they will be acting upon Mr. Ed Clark’s recommendations of the Premiers Advisory Council on Government Assets. Recommendations that include the establishment of private wine stores to operate along side the LBCO and the other two private monopolies of the Beer Store and 300 private wines stores controlled by a couple of the largest wineries in Ontario that have excluded over 150 other Ontario wineries.”
Lenardon and Wykes have achieved what they set out to do, which is make a straight-forward film about the issue of booze retailing through a KickStarter campaign that raised $11,752 from 132 backers. Lenardon is a photographer and videographer while Wykes is a sound engineer.
“We’ve travelled all over the world, and we are fans of good wine and especially tasty craft beers,” they said.
“We came to make this documentary with a lot of the same simple questions that many people have about the alcoholic beverage retailing system in Ontario. Why does it seem like there are a lot of products we see elsewhere that you simply can’t get in Ontario? Why is the same product in Ontario often so much more expensive than just across the border in New York or Michigan, or even Quebec? Why can’t we open a craft beer store of our own? Why does the Ontario government allow three foreign-owned companies to operate a near monopoly on 80% of the beer sales in the province?”
Two takeaway quotes in the film said a lot for me:
“We inherited a system of liquor control which was nothing but a patchwork of unsatisfactory compromises which had been carried forward bit by bit from the days of Prohibition, without ever facing the problem at one time and dealing with it boldly and honestly.”
— Hon. George A. Drew, 14th Premier of Ontario, 1946
“The current system is a patchwork of policies dating back to the 1920s and the end of Prohibition.”
— Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, 2005