Canada suits the White Stripes for one reason in particular, said Emmett Malloy, who directed the upcoming documentary about the band's comprehensive cross-Canada tour in 2007.
True, a major band playing places such as Iqaluit, Nunavut, and Glace Bay, N.S., is out of the ordinary - and that reflects the band's natural idiosyncrasies. And the rock duo had never really done a proper Canadian tour, odd given that the band came into being in neighbouring Detroit. Also, the tour was a nice way for Jack and Meg White to celebrate their 10th anniversary playing together.
All of that helped to make the cross-country jaunt and the resulting film, The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights, a landmark event. But the real reason it's a good fit is that Canada is the ultimate backdrop for the band's red-and-white colour scheme, Malloy said. It particularly struck him in Iqaluit. He was looking for shooting locations and saw a house with two red doors and a red boat parked in front. Then on the street corners, there were the red-and-white stop signs with Inuktitut text, to say nothing of our national flag.
"I'm, like, oh my God, this whole city feels like it's art-directed for this band. This whole country does. It's red and white everywhere I looked," said Malloy. And then there's the majestic, often harsh terrain, which Malloy took advantage of in the film - and which also suits the band's roots-laden blues.
Malloy is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, who has also made music videos with the band. Earlier in his career, he began Brushfire Records and the surfing film collective Woodshed Films with musician Jack Johnson. But from his work with the White Stripes, Malloy has come to see Jack White as a friend and collaborator. The new documentary will be part of a collection of DVDs, live CDs and a coffee-table book commemorating the White Stripes' Canadian tour.
The timing of all this, though, is still to be determined, as the film's producers have come to the Toronto International Film Festival looking for a distributor to show the film theatrically. It debuted at the festival yesterday and is showing again today, the final day of TIFF.