Anna Mae Routledge & April Telek in Amazon FallsThe acting business is by far one of the most difficult to break into with a limited number of jobs and an endless number of aspiring applicants (though the writing racket can’t be too far behind in this aspect). While you can find your fair share of waitressing, would-be thespians in Toronto, Hollywood is most hopefuls’ goal – as well as the place many dreams go to die. “This town will rip you apart if you’re not careful” is a cliché uttered steadily by everyone in the business because they’ve seen it happen repeatedly to so many. Amazon Falls is one of these tragic tales of the town triumphing.

Jana (April Telek) is a fading B-movie actress who was famous for her roles in Amazon movies playing a variety of pre-Xena warrior-princesses.  Nearing 40, she is desperately trying to keep her foot in the B-movie door and decides to pursue her fading career with a zealous fervour. But new roles are elusive and the clock is ticking. Jana’s refusal to give up the Hollywood dream may have disastrous consequences for her personal and professional relationships, ending in a variety of heartbreak.

The story is based on director Katrin Bowen’s B-movie experiences in Los Angeles and unapologetically exposes the grit behind the glamour. Beginning with Jana’s complete confidence and polished presentation, it looks like nothing can stop her from achieving her goal. But as the story continues, it becomes obvious most of what Jana puts forward is a façade and the illusion is beginning to unravel. However, she’s been living the fantasy for so long, she’s begun to believe her own illusion.

Jana relives her glory days, re-watching her movies – which consist of actual midnight movie footage from Bowen’s brief foray as a Troma Films actress – and struggling to regain her former stardom. Keeping up the smokescreen, Jana maintains the attitude of a smiling cheerleader even though she’s crumbling on the inside.

Telek is a former beauty queen, which likely gave her some insight on the pressure a woman feels to prove herself when she reaches a certain age. Her ability to schizophrenically jump from one emotion to another is to be applauded. Telek truly captures the increasing desperation Jana experiences as she watches a new generation of actresses take over the industry. Furthermore, the added reinforcement of a great supporting cast – including Anna Mae Routledge, Zak Santiago, Ben Ratner, William B. Davis, Tom Braidwood and Gabrielle Rose – helps fuel Telek’s emotionally-charged performance.

While the title evokes a simple, serene setting prior to the film’s viewing, Amazon Falls assumes a far less stable meaning post-screening.


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