Hot Docs Library


Fennario's War: The War to End All Wars

40 minutes. Documentary.

48-hour rental for $0.99

Cast and crew

In Fennario's War, David Fennario plays three parts, all with his own voice: the journalist Jerry Nines, the veteran Harry "Rosie" Rollins, and his best friend Private Rummie Robidou. The setting is a hotel bar in Montreal, Remembrance Day 1977, as Rollins tells Nines about the experience of being in the trenches during World War I. The account is light years away from the maudlin sentimentalism of "nation building" which often characterizes both conventional histories and documentaries when they deal with this period.

On Friday Oct. 26, 2007, David Fennario invited friends and family to his Verdun apartment where he read his newest play called Bolsheviki. The playwright sits at a plain, brown table. His audience listens to him deliver an account which slowly takes on the character of the past speaking directly to the present, speaking with power and truth. Rollins tells Nines about men pissing in their trousers, losing limbs, planning revolt against their vainglorious officers, dying, or returning home.

Fennario's latest play is a dramatic monologue which picks up on the author's lifelong concern with "the war to end all wars." The title Bolsheviki comes from the term applied by conservative Canadians back home to those returning Great War veterans who became the backbone of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

RTS Canada Films recorded this dramatic one-man show, accompanied with historically-relevant visual archives. Fennario's reading is wry and compelling, with commentary by Sally Nelson. Join the audience at his home as it slowly enters another world, the world of trenches and bravery, a world that depicts Fennario's War.

  • Alec G. MacLeod

    Your comments are welcome. I hope you enjoy the film.