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Aim For The Roses


Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 7:00pm
Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 3:00pm

Aim For The Roses

John Bolton | 
Canada |
 2016 | 
102 minutes

Preceded by DOXA’s festival opening remarks and will include a post-film Q&A with the filmmaker.


PG (Coarse language; violence)

Every artist has his great white whale. For Melville, it was an actual whale. For Canadian daredevil Ken Carter, it was jumping the St. Lawrence River in a rocket-powered Lincoln Continental. Vancouver composer Mark Haney’s quixotic quest was writing a concept album for solo double bass inspired by Carter’s legendary stunt, and for filmmaker John Bolton, it was combining all of these things into a musical docudrama called Aim For The Roses.

The film is more than a portrait of three different (magnificent) obsessions. Beneath the gonzo jumpsuits, the merkin-like beards and flying rocket cars, there is something else — namely, a deep and abiding pathos. Homeric you might call it. Carter’s determination to lift his car into the air and soar came out of some very humble beginnings. In the NFB documentary, The Devil at Your Heels (a cult hit in Australia, naturally), he talks about growing up poor in a working class neighbourhood in Montreal. Mark Haney, an Archie Comics obsessive whose early musical influences included Roger Waters’ solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, also had something to prove. Georgia Straight critic Adrian Mack acts as a one-man Greek chorus, explaining between fits of giggles the inexplicable appeal of Haney’s album. Meanwhile, back in Ontario, two devotees to Carter’s career maintain a museum/shrine called the “Ken Carter Preservation Society” near the site of the legendary jump.

Orchestral in its heft, Bolton’s glorious collision of documentary cinema, automotive carnage, and song and dance numbers combines elements of Greek tragedy, Kubrickian lushness, and the archetypal Hero’s Journey to reveal the true cost of following one’s muse. Like Haney’s album that traverses the “space between highbrow art and complete trash,” Aim For The Roses is itself imbued with the very thing it examines — ambition, glory, and finally, the desire for greatness. Or as Ken Carter called it: “The ultimate statement.” -DW


John Bolton

John Bolton is an award-winning filmmaker from Vancouver, Canada preoccupied with revelation, consolation and transcendence, sometimes even in that order.  He produces, writes and directs dramas, documentaries, performing arts pieces and the occasional disaster film through his production company Opus 59 Films.