Roadkill (1989), one of the most original films to emerge from the Ontario new wave of filmmaking of the late 1980s and early 1990s, is director Bruce MCDONALD's debut feature.
Described as a rock 'n' roll road movie, it concerns the adventures of a Toronto rock promoter's assistant, Ramona (Valerie Buhagiar), sent to track down a band called the Children of Paradise that has gone missing in northern Ontario. Characters she meets include a pot-smoking cab driver (Larry Hudson), a film director (Bruce McDonald) with big dreams whose film's subject matter is dead animals on the highway, and a serial killer wanna-be (Don MCKELLAR). Ramona eventually does find the band, but it ultimately matters less than what she discovers about herself.
Roadkill was made as the result of a grant McDonald received from the Ontario Arts Council to shoot a documentary on a real-life band. However, when the lead singer quit unexpectedly, the film turned into a film about shooting a documentary. Its funky rock 'n' roll energy, with a diverse soundtrack including Stompin' Tom Connors and the Ramones, made a huge impression at the time and established McDonald as a director to watch. The film, and the director, caused a sensation by winning the 1989 Toronto Festival of Festival's Best Canadian Feature Film Award over Denys ARCAND's Jesus of Montreal.