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When the lights went out and the city came together over two days in Toronto

‘The most ordinary things became kind of extraordinary.’

In the most widespread power outage in the history of North America, the Northeast blackout of 2003 left some 50 million people without power over two days. Combining several distinct animation styles, this short documentary chronicles several stories of those who experienced the blackout in Toronto. Through her brief oral history, the Canadian animator Sharron Mirsky reveals the powerless city to have been an otherworldly and exuberant place, where a sense of shared vulnerability brought people together. In doing so, her portrait seems to hint that, if society were to collapse, it might not result in the hellscape that post-apocalyptic fiction so often imagines – or, at the very least, there might be live music and a few days’ worth of free beer.

Director: Sharron Mirsky