Toronto: Pirates? (Arrrrrr!)

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Taking the stage at the Ryerson for a Q&A following Wednesday afternoon’s screening of “Slumdog Millionaire,” director Danny Boyle said a special hello to the balcony, where he had sat for a screening of “The Hurt Locker.’

So, when taking a question from the balcony, Boyle was asked when the “Slumdog” DVD is coming out. Playfully taken aback, Boyle countered with, “Are you a pirate?” This was met with a smattering of “Arrr”s from the crowd. (Imagine the typical sound a pirate makes.)

I have been wondering about these “Arrr”s all through the festival. Before every public screening, a card goes onscreen warning that piracy will not be tolerated and night-vision technology may be used to monitor the crowd. In nearly every screening, this card has been meet by pirate calls.

Where and how did this curious ritual start? I had written this very question earlier in the day to the festival’s Midnight Madness programmer, Colin Geddes, usually the man to turn to for the oddball and arcane.


“The pirate calls all started last year, and I think it was in Midnight Madness.” Geddes e-mailed back. “I can’t take credit for it, but I think that I encouraged it all through the MM screenings. And on the last night someone gave me an eyepatch to wear when I read the ‘turn off your BlackBerries, etc.’ bit for the last time.”

-- Mark Olsen

(Johnny Depp in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,’ courtesy Stephen Vaughan / Disney Enterprises)