How true to life is Filth City, the Rob Ford–inspired film? We found out
King Kong. Wolverine. The Power Rangers. A legion of classic characters are making triumphant cinematic comebacks this year, so it’s only fitting that the biggest Toronto character in recent memory—the late mayor Rob Ford—is getting his own flick. Filth City, a controversial crime comedy premiering this Saturday at the Canadian Film Festival, chronicles the misadventures of Mayor Tom Hogg (Pat Thornton), the corrupt, drug-addled boss of the fictional city of York. Cartoonish and red-faced, he’s a familiar character (if a tad more maniacal than Ford), but how closely does the story stick to the facts of the former mayor’s life? We dipped into our wealth of Rob Ford trivia to find out.
The garbage strike
What happens in the film: At the beginning of the movie, Mayor Hogg endures his biggest political crisis yet—a garbage strike stretching into its third week. Viewers are treated to a war of words between Hogg and the leader of the garbage collectors’ union.
What happened in real life: We remember all too well the foul stench of 2009’s summer garbage strike, but we also remember that it happened on David Miller’s watch. Anger over the strike and dissatisfaction with its outcome helped catapult Ford into office, and privatizing west end garbage pickup would become a part of his legacy.
The waterfront debacle
What happens in the film: Hogg plans to revolutionize York’s waterfront with “Bowlopolis,” an enormous bowling-themed entertainment complex.
What happened in real life: Ford suffered one of his first major defeats when brother Doug’s cockamamie scheme to build a waterfront Ferris wheel and monorail was laughed out of council. We should note that Hogg appears to get much further along in development than the Fords ever did.
The Sarah Thomson scandal
What happens in the film: Inebriated at the Bowlopolis launch event, Hogg makes untoward advances on a political rival, telling her that his wife is out of town as he lays a hand on her breast. The newspapers christen the incident “Boobgate.”
What happened in real life: Well, the newspapers dubbed it “Assgate.”
What happens in the film: During a press conference, Hogg jokes about an Iranian developer, “It’s nice to meet an Iranian who’s into building buildings and not blowing them up.”
What happened in real life: Ford famously said, “Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out. They are workers non-stop. They sleep beside their machines. That’s why they’re successful in life… I’m telling you, the Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over.”
After the crack video
What happens in the film: When Hogg learns that a video of him smoking crack is on the market, he offers the video’s owner (a wayward youth whom he coached in football) a Mazda and $500 in exchange for the footage.
What happened in real life: Police documents alleged that Ford offered $5,000 and a car. The real Ford was apparently more generous than his cinematic avatar.
Truthiness: 4/5 (allegedly)
What happens in the film: During a peacemaking late-night vodka session with the head of the garbage collectors’ union, Hogg gets out of his car to answer nature’s call. “I’m pissin’ outside. The whole world is our urinal!” says the mayor. This scene was surely included as a special treat for true Ford connoisseurs, because…
What happened in real life: …police documents from Project Brazen 2 included photos of Mayor Ford bravely relieving himself in broad daylight in the parking lot behind Etobicoke’s Scarlett Heights Entrepreneurial Academy.
What happens in the film: Captain Schultz, the honest cop on the trail of the crack video, is killed in a shootout by Hogg’s Sandro Lisi–like fixer. The corrupt Lieutenant Diaz—Hogg’s man on the inside—ascends to take control of the force.
What happened in real life: Though the Fords butted heads with Toronto police chief Bill Blair, the feud didn’t end in bloodshed.